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The Kangal: A Turkish Shepherd's Best Friend

A large white sheep dog from the cold mountains of Anatolia is a national symbol in Turkey. The Kangal is considered such an important cultural heritage that the Turkish government funds efforts to protect the breed.

One of the myths about the big beast with the menacing bark is that it sprang from the union of a dog and a lion. Not true, of course. But adults can easily weigh around 140 pounds, and they were bred to fight wolves. Now they're so closely protected that to export a Kangal, you need a permit from the Turkish military.

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Ivan Watson
Ivan Watson is currently based in Istanbul, Turkey. Following the 9-11 terrorist attacks, he has served as one of NPR's foreign "firemen," shuttling to and from hotspots around the Middle East and Central Asia.