It was minus 14 degrees Celsius and snowing when I arrived in the village of Gubin, Poland in February 2014.
I spent 4 days there visiting my new puppy Max, meeting all his relatives and enjoying the hospitality of his breeders, Darek and Ewa Kostanowicz.
Why Poland to buy a dog you might ask? And why import?
Since first becoming enamoured with Anatolian Shepherd Dogs in 1990, I have spent considerable time researching, visiting and documenting all the bloodlines in Australia. As a result of that process, myself and other breeders have come to realise, that of the 19 Anatolian Shepherd Dogs imported into Australia between 1984 and 1997 plus 3 Kangal dogs, 11 have been lost from our gene pool. This means that, until recently, every single living ANKC registered Anatolian Shepherd Dog in Australia comes from a mixture of 8 original Anatolian Shepherd Dogs and 3 Kangal dogs.
Since pedigrees only show 3 generations, it is often difficult for people to realise that many of our dogs were being bred on quite high inbreeding co-efficiencies. The overall exceptionally good health of our breed in general in Australia tells us that those original dogs must have been very sound animals.
The ANKC for a short period of time allowed us to import dogs with no generations (ie parents from Turkey with no pedigrees) as long as the country of export provided an FCI approved pedigree. Unfortunately, at the time of writing in 2017, the ANKC has now revoked this decision, which restricts greatly our importing options.
However, during that window of time, I was able to import Max and two semen imports – Tosum and Dali.
It is not possible to import direct from Turkey to Australia for two reasons:
- Australia does not have a quarantine/import arrangement with Turkey.
- It is illegal to export a Kangal dog from Turkey.
However, there is in fact a lively, albeit illegal, trade of usually very young puppies by road (and occasionally by air) across borders into the various neighbouring European Union countries, such as Bulgaria and Romania. Sadly many of these dogs end up in cellars in Germany and are kept and bred entirely for illegal dog fighting purposes.
I was witness to the sad results of this activity on my visit to Germany in 2014.
The lucky ones end up in the hands of a small number of passionate Kangal and Anatolian breeders, where they are well cared for, inspected by accredited Judges and granted FCI Pedigrees as registered Anatolian Shepherd Dogs. This can be quite a long and expensive process.
Incidentally, whether the imported dog is considered to be Kangal, Akbash, Asksaray or any of a myriad of dog types to be found in Turkey, the FCI (International body) only accepts the name Coban Kopegi which is translated into English as Anatolian Shepherd Dog. Therefore, if they meet the standard, they are all registered as Anatolian Shepherd Dog. It is then up to individual breeders to keep the various types separate as Kangals, Malakli, etc., or to interbreed as is currently allowed by FCI. Max is considered by some to be pure Kangal from impeccable Kangal lineage and others would consider him not a Kangal as he does not have a KIF (Turkish Kennel Club) pedigree but a Polish Anatolian one.
It’s a bit complicated!
One of the best forums for seeing many dogs around the world is actually Facebook. Over time, one breeder’s dogs in particular kept appealing to myself and Tribocie Kennels.
Unfortunately it’s not simply a case of finding nice looking dogs, making the purchase and shipping them to Australia. We also had to find a breeder who was complying with FCI regulations so that the imported dog/dogs could be registered with ANKC in Australia and who was willing and able to undertake the immense amount of paperwork and official government testing required to bring a dog into a disease free island like Australia.
Via a translator, Tribocie first approached Darek in relation to importing semen from two of his stud dogs – Tosum and Dali. This requires almost the same amount of testing as a live dog. The transaction went smoothly, all thanks to Darek and Ewa’s ability to negotiate the complicated paperwork and deal with the often unhelpful and inefficient Official Polish Government Vets. As a result we now have Tosum and Dali’s semen safely in storage in Australia.
In March of 2013, Ekin and Ash of Tribocie Kennels visited Turkey and also Darek in Poland to see his dogs in the flesh and felt that the photos we had seen, hadn’t done justice to the quality of his dogs. Their opinion was that we had nothing in Australia that compares to any of his dogs.
The dog that most impressed them was Panter Cobra, who has gone on to beat virtually every dog in Europe and is considered by many to be the best living example of the s0-called Panter Lines. Scroll down this page to see more photos of Panter Cobra.
At the time of their visit, Panter Cobra’s first litter had just been born to the fully imported Turkish bitch, Karakiz Onur’s Kanli, an impressive bitch of near perfect type and conformation who comes from a long line of some of the most well respected Kangal dogs in Turkey.
And so the big decision was made for me to purchase a male puppy from this litter. A year long project!
Since my pup would be almost 1 year old when he would finally be released from Australian Quarantine and since he would most likely be bigger than me at this time and perhaps not entirely happy with humans after a long flight and a far longer stint in a cage in Sydney’s summer heat in Quarantine, I thought it might be prudent on my part to go to Poland and make friends with him!
And so February 2014 found me running around in the snow with my 8 month old puppy in Poland and meeting the huge number of dogs who enjoy good food and good care on Darek and Ewa’s large landholding in rural Poland.
It needs to be pointed out that Darek and Ewa are not just occasional breeders with a couple of nice dogs. Not only have they have been avid collectors and exhibitors of the breed since the late 1990’s, but they have also been in the enviable position to travel to Turkey, usually 3 times a year, to inspect dogs all over Turkey, make contacts and arrange for exporting of these dogs to Poland. It is thought by many, that as a result of these frequent travels, they have in their possession a collection of the best Kangal dogs in Europe.
Max is a result of perhaps his best breeding to date.
Not only were Darek and Ewa kind enough to undertake the extensive travel and testing required for entry into Australia but now that he is here, Max’s temperament continues to amaze me. Nothing seems to faze him. He goes in cars, in buildings, up staircases, down the shopping mall, out with the horses, doesn’t touch the chickens, doesn’t chew, doesn’t dig, doesn’t yap and is good with other dogs. He is also extremely protective of me and turns into a lion if he thinks I’m threatened. All testament to his good caring upbringing in Poland for his first 11 months.
Please enjoy some of the photos taken at the home of Darek and Ewa during my visit there in February 2014 in winter and some taken by Tribocie in Spring 2013 .