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The Kangal Dog is Not a Personal Protection Dog

People who learn of the Kangal Dog's impressive athletic and livestock protection abilities may wonder whether the Kangal Dog can be trained for personal protection. However, study of Kangal Dog heritage and temperament leads to the conclusion that the Kangal Dog is unsuited to personal protection training. Misguided efforts to "train" these dogs for this inappropriate role will endanger the dogs, the breed, and public safety.

 

When we think of a personal protection dog, many of us envision a dog who instinctively protects a home or property from intruders or its owner from malicious people when they are out together. Professional trainers use the term to refer to a dog trained for "Schutzhund" or "police dog" work, threatening or attacking humans on command, and ceasing this activity instantly when so commanded.

 

"Schutzhund" work is highly specialized work. Reputable professional trainers know that only a minority of the dogs within a few dog breeds can be trained in this work because of the specific mental traits required. You will never see a Kangal Dog performing Schutzhund work for police or the military. If they were suitable for this work, it would have become well known by now. In fact, the Kangal Dog, the national dog of Turkey, was tested by the Turkish military for "police dog" work some years ago. They concluded that the breed is unsuitable, and German Shepherds and Malinois are used for this work in Turkey.

 

If you hear the term "herding dog", you probably think of Border Collies or Australian Shepherds. In the midst of the chaotic movement of the sheep and while performing their (modified prey chase) herding behaviors, the dogs are able to be attentive to very specific commands. You probably don't envision German Shepherds herding sheep, but in the distant past, they and other dog breeds that today do Schutzhund and personal protection work moved livestock. The ability to be attentive to commands while engaging their “high prey drive” to move stock contributed later to the ability of some members of these breeds to undergo the specialized training which results in a police dog capable of threatening or attacking a suspect, and ceasing immediately, on command.

 

In contrast, livestock protection dogs, including the Kangal Dog, do not herd livestock. They have been bred specifically not to chase or intimidate livestock. Rather, they move placidly as gentle giants among the sheep. In contrast to the precise obedience seen in herding dogs and police dogs, the supremely important trait of a good livestock protection dog, working with livestock or living in a home, is an excellent ability to make sound decisions independently, including displaying aggression only when necessary, and only to the degree necessary to maintain peace and safety. This ability to behave appropriately without being commanded is the result of thousands of years of selective breeding and the healthy upbringing of the individual dog. Misguided "training" to attempt to use this kind of dog in an inappropriate role results in a dog with poor judgment. If these independent animals, bred to protect livestock from animal predators, are trained to be hostile toward humans, the results can be disastrous.

 

Various livestock protection dog breeds have been tested for mental aptitude to perform "police dog" or "Schutzhund" work, and trainers quickly learned that they are mentally unsuitable for this work. They cannot be trained to attack and to cease attack on command. Rather, the "agitation" methods used in this training result in an agitated dog who is not attentive to commands.

 

To work with livestock or to live in a home as a companion, Kangal Dogs must be consciously socialized to accept that most of the strange behaviors of humans, including delivering mail and reading utility meters, are harmless. They must not be encouraged to be aggressive toward people. The innate peaceful nature of these calm and gentle giants must be respected and nurtured for their own well-being and that of society.

People who seek a watchdog or protective companion are disappointed that the young Kangal Dog loves everyone it meets. Misguided "training" to change the dog's friendly nature is contrary to the young dog developing sound judgment. The protective nature of the Kangal Dog becomes apparent as the dog matures. The unprepared owner, sure that his dog is unusually tolerant and easy-going, is surprised by the maturing dog’s sudden antipathy toward other dogs. If the dog has been taught to be suspicious of, or hostile toward, humans, the result can be regrettable. There is no need to encourage such behavior - or worse, to attempt to provoke aggression toward humans. It can only bring trouble. Sound judgment in a Kangal Dog is developed through gentle but firm nurture of a tolerant and calm temperament. Excessively harsh methods of basic obedience training are also detrimental to healthy character development in the Kangal Dog.

 

To work with livestock or to live in a home as a companion, Kangal Dogs must be consciously socialized to accept that most of the strange behaviors of humans, including delivering mail and reading utility meters, are harmless. They must not be encouraged to be aggressive toward people. The innate peaceful nature of these calm and gentle giants must be respected and nurtured for their own well-being and that of society.