The development of the Kangal Dog breed outside of Turkey required, as a part of the gentrification process (see Glossary for definition), the establishment of a breed society to maintain a stud book and to promote the breed to the public. The Kangal Dog Club of America, Inc. (KDCA) was organized to accomplish this objective.
The Kangal Dog Club of America, Inc. was founded in 1984 and incorporated as a non-profit corporation in 1989. The first president of the Kangal Dog of America, Inc. was David D. Nelson who, with his wife Judith, became the first Western observer to report in international canine copyrighted literature the Kangal Dog name and to link this name with its status as an independent Turkish dog breed. This information appeared in the book Akbash Dog: A Turkish Breed for Home & Agriculture. (Nelson & Nelson, 1983)
The mission of the Kangal Dog Club of America, Inc. (KDCA) was to preserve the breed identity and name of the famous Kangal Dog of Turkey. In so doing, the KDCA founders and other foundation breeders joined elements of Turkish society, private individuals as well as the Turkish government, in a crusade to save this magnificent animal, an endangered dog breed, from extinction.
Our contribution to this worthy enterprise was the creation of an enclave of pure Turkish Sivas-Kangal Dogs in the United States of America. This dedicated group of people also worked to educate the public about the nature of the Kangal Dog and what this breed means to the Turkish people.
The foundation breeders and KDCA members promoted the breed in a variety of ways. They published articles. made information (including a color club publication) available, purchased breed and club advertising in national publications, and as early as 1994, had breed information on the web.
To this day, we are very proud of those early accomplishments. Likewise, we are proud of those early foundation kennels and breeders, such as Kangal Aga Kennels (David and Judith Nelson), Turkmen Kangal Dogs (Tamara and Michael Taylor), and Ashkabad Kennels (Nancy Rix). Their dedication and work laid the basis for the Kagnal Dog breed in North America. The early KDCA was in the Vanguard of foreing dog breeders seeking to preserve the Turkish name “Kangal Dog” and all that it means to the Turkish people.
However, the rewards of their work did not end at this country’s borders. In 1996, with encouragement from the then KDCA President, David Nelson, Anne Nippers of Australia traveled in Turkey to Sivas and to Kangal with the KDCA’s founders, David and Judith Nelson, and Tamara Taylor. Upon returning from her trip, Ms. Nippers was able to provide adequate documentation to the Australian National Kennel Club to prove that the Kangal Dog was a unique, pure breed. The result was recognition of the Kangal Dog in Australia, and shortly thereafter in New Zealand.
The KDCA promoted equally the use of the Kangal Dog companion animals in the home and as livestock guarding dogs in agriculture. However, having experienced firsthand the difficulties of importing good foundation stock and realizing the dangers to dogs that work as livestock guardians, the foundation breeders placed only a few imported dogs in livestock guarding homes. However, working together with experienced livestock producers who needed help in reducing predation, a small group of the early KDCA members focused on making working Kangal Dogs available to western sheep and goat producers, primarily.
Valuing the preservation of the working disposition of the breed above monetary return, a few early Kangal Dog breeders, placed dogs with livestock producers in order to get an objective evaluation of the breed and its ability to fill the unique needs of the North American livestock producers.
Thus, in the mid to late 90s, Kangal Dogs were placed in different situations, such as exotic game ranches in south Texas, where the Kangal Dogs were reported to have protected the exotic hoofstock against bobcat and coyotes, as well as potentially rabid skunks. Kangal Dogs were placed on range in Washington state and in Utah’s Bitterroot Mountain Range, where cougar and bear were real threats to sheep and shepherd alike. This special effort, while no longer a function of the new KDCA, has been ongoing thanks to the continuing efforts of those few, independent foundation breeders who are still breeding Kangal Dogs to meet the original KDCA criteria.
The traditional path for rare breed dog clubs to follow in the United States until they are "recognized" by a major American or international, multi-breed professional kennel club is to "club register" the founders group and subsequent generations of animals.
For many years, the KDCA maintained its own registration records and issued pedigrees in the name of the club. This served to anchor the developing Kangal Dog breed and was central to the ongoing gentrification (see Glossary) process outside of Turkey.
In 1997, the KDCA chose to affiliate itself with the American UNITED KENNEL CLUB (UKC) --the second largest, multi-breed, professional kennel club in the world. It was felt that development of the Kangal Dog had reached a stage where the breed would have a more secure future in association with a disinterested third party, a professional canine organization known for its support of the working dog.
The UKC, founded in 1898, sponsoring some 10,000 dog events each year, and registering approximately 250,000 dogs of many breeds per year, is a progressive and reliable organization. Very importantly, it also offers a secure venue to deposit irreplaceable historical pedigree information and to provide ongoing registration services.
On January 1, 1998, the UKC announced its recognition of the Kangal Dog breed and the assumption of Kangal Dog registry operations on behalf of the KDCA. The KDCA remains the national club and maintains all its functions with some modifications to conform with UKC procedures.
Left to right: Susan Kocher, Judy Nelson, Nancy Rix, Cindy Cooke (UKC Vice President), and Tamara Taylor sporting breed "T-shirts" designed by Lynne Fancher at UKC's Premier. Aga Kangal Kirli bred by the Nelsons and owned by Sue Kocher is in the foreground.
The KDCA: Breed Club Challenges
The KDCA’s partnership with the UKC , in accordance with the contractual agreement forged by the KDCA Board of Directors in 1996, David and Judith Nelson, Tamara Taylor, and Nancy Rix permits the importation and registration of Kangal Dogs from Turkey in perpetuity. The KDCA’s responsibility is to approve the registration of imported dogs, a process called Single Registration, which is dependent upon basic documentation and proof of purity and origin. It is upon the rules governing Single Registration and their fair application that much of the integrity of the breed lies, and it is there that a primary duty of a rare breed club, such as the KDCA, rests.
Single Registration applies only to Kangal Dogs whose sire and dam are not already registered with the United Kennel Club. The offspring of UKC registered parents do not require approval of the breed club. They must, however, meet certain standards for the breed set by UKC and agreed upon in the original KDCA contract with UKC.
Thus, the UKC Kangal Dog Registry will never be closed, as is the case with some kennel clubs, to the ongoing imports now that the breed has been "recognized." In this manner, through an ever expanding gene pool, we will preserve the vitality and health of the breed by avoiding excessively close line breeding and inbreeding.
The real challenge for the KDCA, as with any breed club dedicated to a working breed, is to maintain the high standards established by the breed founders, standards which enabled the breed to be recognized officially by the UKC in 1997. Those standards for the Kangal Dog were expressed, in part, in the original Single Registration contract with UKC. This Single Registry agreement is also a contract with the KDCA members and potential members, who rely on the KDCA to protect the integrity of the United Kennel Club recognized breed by registering only pure Turkish Kangal Dogs, a responsibility that requires experience (both historical and ongoing), objectivity, and a real sense of fairness. Only then can breeders continue to breed healthy, long-lived UKC registered Kangal Dogs that are able to perform as farm and family guardians.