Kuvasz (plural is Kuvaszok)
The Kuvasz is a large, muscular working dog with Asian roots. The head is wedge-shaped and flanked by V-shaped ears with rounded tips. The large nose is black, and the eyes are almond-shaped and set far apart. The feet are interesting — they are black, well padded, and shaped tight and round like a cat’s.
The medium-length, double coat is coarse on top with a fine undercoat. The only color is white, and there are no markings. A mane is typical around the neck and hangs down over the chest, and the back of the legs are usually feathered with hair. The coat can be wavy or straight.
Heights for the Kuvasz are 26–28 inches for females and 28–30 inches for males. Females weigh 70–90 pounds, and males are 100–115 pounds. Kuvaszok live 10–12 years.
The history of the Kuvasz dates to 2000 B.C., possibly longer.
Travel opened up between Europe and Asia, and Magyar tribes and their livestock traveled this route. They also brought dogs and eventually reached Hungary. Hungary is where the Kuvasz developed further and became a favorite of Hungarian King Matthias. The king would gift a Kuvasz from one of his kennels to visiting dignitary, and it was said to be a great honor.
The dogs nearly went extinct during World War II. They were such fierce protectors of their lands, and invading forces may have targeted the dogs so they could get closer to the properties.
After the war, a factory owner wanted a Kuvasz but could only find a limited number left in the country. So he started a breeding program, and the numbers flourished.
The first Kuvasz to appear at a dog show was in Vienna in 1883. The breed standard was written in 1885, and the American Kennel Club formally recognized the breed in 1931. The Kuvasz Club of America was formed in 1966.
The Kuvasz is a livestock guard and may still work as one today. Kuvaszok are also companion pets who participate in tracking, conformation, therapy, obedience, agility, drafting and coursing.
Kuvaszok are loyal, fearless, intelligent, assertive and protective dogs.
Their protective instinct is so strong they will sacrifice themselves to protect their loved ones or their flocks. They can be wary of strangers and are picky when choosing people to trust. Thorough socialization is necessary; otherwise, the dog may perceive anything out of the ordinary as a threat.
Training should start at a young age. Ideally the same person would do the training throughout the dog’s early life. This is because the dog chooses who to obey and may not respond well to multiple trainers. Positive reinforcement training works best for this breed because the dogs are sensitive to harsh discipline.
The dogs get along wonderfully with children and are protective of them. They should not be left alone with children they do not know. Sudden movements or boisterous activity could be seen by the dog as a threat that needs to be handled.
Kuvaszok are good with other household pets. They can suffer from separation anxiety and should not be left alone or crated for a long time.
This breed needs daily exercise. The dogs have high endurance and stamina and are accustomed to working for a long time, even over rough terrain.
Brushing a Kuvasz a few times per week is sufficient. However, they dog does blow the coat (shed heavily) seasonally, and additional brushing is recommended during this time. In warmer climates, it is not unusual for a Kuvasz to shed its longer outer coat.
Be sure to brush the teeth, clip the nails and clean the ears regularly for optimum health.
This video shows a Kuvasz with a slightly wavy coat and displays how one gets along with a cat:
Common Health Problems
There are a few health issues to be aware of:
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
- Hip dysplasia
- Osteochondritis dissecans
- Hypertrophic osteodystrophy
- Skin problems
Is the Kuvasz the Right Dog for You?
Kuvaszok are protective dogs who need socialization and training. They are great with children and other pets, but they should not be left alone with children they do not know. They are wary of strangers and will be picky when choosing whom to trust. They should not be left alone for very long.
Daily exercise is a must. These dogs also need regular grooming and can shed heavily a couple of times per year.
Keeping regular veterinary visits and feeding a quality dog food will give your Kuvasz the best chance at a healthy life. The double coat makes them ideal for colder climates, but they can live in warmer climates and will shed the outer coat.
If you are looking for a protective family dog and can commit to socializing and training a dog, consider the Kuvasz for your next pet.
Adopt, Don’t Buy
Kuvaszok can be difficult to find because they are not a common breed. Check rescue and adoption resources first.
If you do contact a breeder, ask for health clearances/tests on the parent dogs and beware of signs that the breeder is operating a puppy mill.