A Smart, Beautiful, Devoted Family Dog with a Strong Protective Instinct
If you're in search of an affectionate companion that, while loving and beautiful, will at the same time provide protection for your property and your family, the Kuvasz is a wise choice. One of the few dogs that will not warm to friends and guests, the Kuvasz will be polite to those you welcome into your home, but will remain cautiously vigilant about your safety at all times. An independent and intelligent dog with strong protective instincts, this breed will require expert socialization and obedience training.
Recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club) as a member of the working group, this breed is one of the oldest, with scholars tracing its origins back to the beginning of Mesopotamian civilization in western Asia's Ural mountains. At that time, the breed was used to protect sheep, cattle, horses, and other livestock, and was considered primarily a guard dog.
Believed to have traveled with a nomadic tribe in Mesopotamia, the Kuvasz moved along the trade routes of the steppes en route to Hungary's Carpathian Basin, which the Magyar conquered in 896 A.D. Supporting the theory that the Kuvasz is one of the most ancient breeds known to man, a fossilized skeleton of a 9th century Kuvasz-type dog was discovered in 1978 which was nearly identical to the breed of today.
Following the Magyar’s settlement in Hungary, the Kuvasz exclusively served to protect livestock as the tribes devoted more resources to animal husbandry in the higher mountains. The breed was also found in King Matthias Corvinus's imperial court during the 15th century where it was so highly esteemed that visiting dignitaries received Kuvaszok puppies as a royal gift. Tragically, as World War II came to an end, the breed became nearly extinct as a result of military atrocities by German and Soviet soldiers who repeatedly killed Kuvasz dogs as they fiercely protected their Hungarian owners. However, many breeders loyal to the species dedicated new attempts to revive it. The Kuvasz name came from the word kuwasz which means protector, or possibly kavas, a Turkic word meaning soldier or guard.
At 70 to 115 pounds and 26 to 30 inches tall as an adult dog, the Kuvasz is a very large but beautiful pet. Adult females are typically a bit smaller than males. With a thick, white coat and what many consider a beautiful (or even handsome) head, this sturdily-built dog is well-muscled but neither bulky nor lanky. A true Kuvasz will be pure white with no markings. Often described as stately, this sheepdog has dark, expressive eyes which are usually almond-shaped; V-shaped ears; a black nose; and black lips.
Extremely intelligent and dependable, the Kuvasz is slower to mature than many other breeds, with the female maturing a bit more quickly than the male. Unlike many breeds who were developed to work with humans, Kuvasz dogs work independently and are "smart" when it comes to making decisions on their own. Affectionate and sometimes even humorous, the Kuvasz can be entertaining and will respond well to family enthusiasm.
However, you should not adopt this dog based on its beauty or affectionate personality alone. This breed is also highly suspicious and requires rigorous training and positive reinforcement to teach it to be civil to strangers, at the very least.
According to the AKC, the Kuvasz will sacrifice its own life to protect its family. Because the breed has been a working dog since ancient times protecting horses, goats, sheep and other livestock, it instinctively "needs" a job to do, and naturally wants to protect its family. When properly trained, the breed will behave well out in public, at family functions, and even around strangers.
Since the Kuvasz needs a substantial amount of exercise and plenty of room, apartment living is not recommended. A rural setting is ideal, particularly a farm or ranch where the Kuvasz can get its daily workout while "on the job" herding livestock. Otherwise, a suburban setting is fine as long as there is a sizeable yard and you take your pet on a long walk each day. A temperate or cool climate is the ideal environment if your pet will live outdoors. However the breed adjusts well to indoor living with the family as well.
In general, a healthy, well-cared for Kuvasz can be expected to live approximately 10 to 13 years. While this breed is quite robust, Kuvaszok are more likely than other breeds to develop bone problems, particularly in the growing stages. Owners should be diligent about providing proper nutrition and avoiding play that is overly rough in order to protect the bones through puppyhood and adolescence. Like many other large breeds of dogs, the Kuvasz may develop a painful condition known as hip dysplasia.
The Kuvasz has a dense, stiff coat which may grow to approximately six inches in length. A dog given a healthy diet usually will have no odor, and requires little grooming other than brushing once or twice weekly. A pin-brush with rounded tips or a grooming rake are both good choices for brushing. Should your pet develop stubborn knots in its hair, a large-toothed comb will remove them.
Bathing should only be considered as a last resort if your pet develops odor or becomes excessively dirty, as this removes the natural oils in the coat. In most cases, this breed is very adept at keeping clean when left to its own resources.