The KDCA/UKC Standard predates the KIF/FCI document by more than two decades. The KDCA Kangal Dog Standard was officially adopted by the United Kennel Club in 1998, when the UKC recognized the Kangal Dog and our national club. This recognition of the Kangal Dog was among the first internationally. The Kangal Dog Club of America has always supported the recognition of the Kangal Dog by the FCI through the work of KIF, the Turkish national kennel club. As historic landrace breeds, both the Kangal Dog and the Akbash Dog should be under the direction of their homeland. We celebrated this official recognition which occurred in 2018.
The KDCA/UKC Standard is based on working Kangal Dogs found in the Sivas region in the 1970s and 80s, before the breed's popularity exploded in its homeland and the subsequent dissemination of Kangals across Turkey, away from their working homes. Judy and David Nelson conducted fieldwork on livestock guardians in Turkey in the 1970s, which led to the use of imported Akbash Dogs in the USDA Livestock Guardian Dog Program studies. Continuing to promote the use of livestock guardian dogs in North America, the Nelsons also imported Kangal Dogs to America in 1985. Other independent imports occurred soon after. Since more traditional sheep operations still operated in Turkey during these years, there was also a larger population of dogs still being used in real predator pressure situations for importers to select from. There was always diversity in size among the landrace breed, but from the earliest days, Kangal Dogs were known for their substantial size.
In Turkey, the growing popularity of the Kangal Dog across the country and in Europe has also at times resulted in frequent crossbreeding with other types for even larger size and for dog fighting. Because of these ongoing issues in Turkey, many people, including a number of respected Kangal Dog breeders and authorities with decades of experience, believe that the KIF Standard is excessively restrictive as a reaction to this crossbreeding issue, both with respect to size and head type. Further, there are significant differences of opinion within KIF itself when it comes to what should be considered the correct type, with some arguing in favor of smaller, lighter boned dogs and others pointing out that the traditional dogs had heavier bone and size in order to deal with the serious predator pressure of the past.
We have recently proposed some changes to the UKC Kangal Dog Standard to slightly expand the acceptable range for size and weight to allow for the smaller dogs recognized under the FCI/KIF Standard but not to penalize in any way the larger dogs we have always seen here in North America. We feel this position actually allows for more diversity within our breed and, importantly, meets the requirements of North American livestock guardian dog work. Just like in Turkey, we also see a range of dogs and, at times, atypical dogs. This is to be expected in a recent landrace breed, which by definition, has much more diversity than a long established and registered breed. Atypical dogs or dogs with major faults should not be bred, but can and do make outstanding work and companion dogs.
We will continue to dialogue with the international Kangal Dog community over the very small areas of difference between the KDCA/UKC Standard and the KIF/FCI Standard. Our primary mission has always been to promote and preserve the traditional Kangal Dog here in North America, where it has found a new home as a highly valued working livestock guardian as well as a mentally sound companion dog. An important part of that work is to create and maintain a healthy genetic population. As a rare breed, we value diversity within the boundaries of our Standard. As a club, we are committed to continue this mission.