Turkish Kangal dogs protect American cattle across the Atlantic
Kardelen Koldaş - ISTANBUL
Turkey’s Kangal dogs have begun spreading across the globe and are represented by the Kangal Dog Club of America in the U.S. They have been in North America since the 1980s, the club’s staff said and there are around three million Kangal dogs in the U.S
Elizabeth Jensen, for example, is a 53-year-old woman who feels at ease when Kangal dogs are watching over her family’s 50 Angus cattle on their 37-hectare land in Kentucky.
“After [the cattle] are born, vultures flop down on the infants. I knew Kangals would do the best job at protecting them,” said Kensen, who is also on the Kangal Dog Club board.
Jensen currently has five Kangal dogs. Their names are Sasha, Monk, Zeynep, Betsy, and Blutarsky.
She first met the Kangals in the central Anatolian province of Sivas, which is the dogs’ hometown when she came to Turkey 29 years ago to work in an Istanbul office of a U.S. company.
Jensen was not able to adopt the Kangal that was offered to her as a gift at the time, but now she counts on her Kangal crew for her farm’s protection from both perpetrators and disease-carrying animals.
Jensen and her husband also breed and sell the dogs in the U.S., where it’s a tough job finding a purebred Kangal dog.
“Almost every day, I receive emails from people wanting to own Kangal dogs,” Jensen said.
However, she has standards when giving away the giant furry beings: She asks for names of reference.
“I had six puppies and had some 60 applications for them,” she said, also adding that her Kangals receive military training.
Meanwhile, Mary Hughes, a 56-year-old American woman and a big-time Kangal fan, sees the dogs as her children.
“I did not want to become a mother. I see the Kangal dogs as my children,” she said.
"I feel safe and loved in their presence,” added Hughes, referring to her two Kangal dogs.
Kangals are large dogs, which is one of the reasons why most shepherds prefer to use them to protect their cattle herds.
According to the Sivas Provincial Governorship, Kangal dogs are strong, intelligent, herd-protecting dogs. Their weight varies between 50 kilograms (110 pounds) and 60 kilograms (132 pounds) for males, and 41 kilograms (90 pounds) and 59 kilograms (130 pounds) for females.
Breeds such as the Anadolu whitehead dog are also popular. This particular breed was recently selected as the best herd-protecting dog in America, Akif Metin, owner of a 20,000-square meter ranch in central Çankırı’s Eldivan district, told Anadolu Agency in October 2017.