EARLY PUPPY SURVIVAL RATE IN KANGAL BREED OF TURKISH SHEPHERD DOGS IN THEIR HOMELAND PROVINCE
The aim of this study was to determine the early survival rate (SR) of Kangal puppies and the effects of some environmental factors on this characteristic. In the study, 1024 live born puppies from 168 Kangal dog litters in Sivas Province between 2003 and 2010 were used. The difference between the average SR of the puppies in the first (77.9%) and the second month (96.1%) was significant (P<0.001). The litter size (small, medium and large) and puppy sex (male and female) had no effects on the SR of the puppies (P>0.05). In the first month, the average SR of the puppies from the young (<= 3 years) (82.7%), the middle-aged (>3 years and <7 years) (76.3%) and the old (>= 7 years) (65.5%) dams were significantly different (P<0.01). However, in the second month, the average SR of the puppies from the old dams (87.5%) was lower (P<0.001) than those from the young (96.5%) and the middle-aged dams (97.5%). The average SR of the puppies born in cold weather conditions (72.3%) was lower (P=0.004) than those born in moderate weather conditions (81.7%) and warm weather conditions (80.1%). The puppies born at the farms (97.5%) had significantly higher (P=0.004) SR than those born in the villages (93.1%) only in the second month. In conclusion, it is recommended that the factors identified as favorable to puppy survival in this study should be taken into account at the reproductive stage, which is an important step in the breeding of Kangal dogs. This study also emphasizes a need to correct the living conditions of puppies and their dams, especially in villages, in order to improve the reproduction and achieve higher survival rates in this valuable breed.