The Kuvasz is thought to be the oldest of three Hungarian breeds that boast a long and fascinating history. This ancient breed is a gorgeous looking dog with wonderful almond shaped eyes and very dense white fur that gives the Kuvasz such a striking look. The breed is strong and well muscled which means they are superb endurance dogs boasting loads of stamina, yet they are incredibly elegant canines too. The Kuvasz is capable of travelling at a trot for 15 miles or more without missing a beat. They are tremendous guard dogs, always remaining aloof, suspicious of people they do not know yet there are very affectionate and loyal to their owners.
Originally bred in Hungary as herding dogs, the Kuvasz boasts a superb white coat that at one time meant the breed was prized as a “fashion dog”. However, these lovely looking dogs were bred to have such magnificent white coats so that shepherds would see them in their flocks and distinguish them from any wolves that were around. The breed is thought to one of three very ancient Hungarian breeds with the other two being the Komondor and the Puli. Some people believe they arrived in Hungary with the Magyar tribes when they invaded the country around 1,200 years ago, although there are stories of the dog being found in Hungary way before that. Their name is thought to be derived from a Turkish word namely “kawasz” which translated means “body guard” - although again there's a bit of debate about this, with some people believing the name comes from a Sumerian word “Ku assa” which translated means a dog that not only guards but also runs alongside their masters when they are on horseback. During the 15th century, the breed was highly prized by many, including King Matthias who took his guard dogs everywhere he went. It is thought the king even gave Vlad Dracula (the count) two Kuvasz when he got married. When the king passed away, interest in the breed declined and it was not until the late 1800s that breeders once again started to express an interest in the breed. Then in the twenties, the breed became one of the most fashionable dogs to own among the elite of Hungary and Western Europe. Luckily, the breed was brought back from the brink of extinction after World War II, although it has been a struggle with many breeders having to use Pyreneans to save the Kuvasz and create new bloodlines. Today, this magnificent breed is recognised by the AKC.
The Kuvasz is a striking looking dog, they are extremely intelligent and renowned for being superb guard dogs. Males tend to be anything from 2.2” to 2.6” tall at the shoulder with their female counterparts being slightly smaller. Weight wise, males can be between 70 to 115 lbs and again the females tend to be a little lighter weighing in at anything from 70 to 90 lbs. Their coats are gorgeous, very dense and may grow to 6” in length. The are very muscular well built dogs, but with this said, they are very elegant looking canines too – in the 1920s, the breed was considered a “high fashion” dog by many Hungarians and was popular in other countries in western Europe for this reason too.
These very charming looking dogs do in fact make one of the best guard dogs on the planet. Their instinct to watch over and guard is extremely strong. However, they are incredibly loyal and affectionate towards their owners and make very good family pets, as long as they have been well socialised and trained from a very early age. They are quite suspicious of strangers and if they think someone they love may be in danger, they will protect them. The breed is highly intelligent, curious, courageous and extremely sensitive by nature which means when being trained, they need lots of praise. Puppies can be a little boisterous which means if you have very young children, you need to keep an eye on them, just in case they get knocked over by an over exuberant pup. However, an adult Kuvasz is a very gentle and patient character and they love children. However, they are definitely not the best choice for people who are first time dog owners or for people who have toddlers.
Generally speaking, the Kuvasz as a breed are strong healthy dogs but much like other breeds, they are prone to certain health problems. However, some dogs may go through their entire lives without getting any of the conditions at all, but it is best to know about them, should you be thinking of either adopting or buying a Kuvasz so you can recognise any symptoms early. The health issues they tend to suffer from are as follows:
Gastric dilatation-volvulus, also known as bloat, is a life threatening condition and if you think a dog may be suffering any of the symptoms, you would need to get them along to see a vet as soon as possible.
The Kuvasz like most larger dogs boasts a life span of anything from 10 to 12 years. They are considered as heavy shedders, especially during the spring and then again in the autumn. Their lovely, dense white coats need quite a lot of grooming to keep them looking good and any loose fur off the furniture, although regular brushing is needed to prevent their longer coats from tangling and becoming matted too. When it comes to bathing a Kuvasz, this should not be done too often as you might end up stripping all the valuable protective oils out of their coats, which may well result in them getting dirtier quicker. It is a good idea to trim the fur between their toes to prevent them from collecting mud or turning into ice balls in the winter. Being such large dogs and so intelligent, the Kuvasz needs lots of daily exercise as well as mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy, you have to bear in mind they are herding dogs which means they are active by nature. You should always make sure you buy a Kuvasz from a reputable breeder who is known to social and train puppies from an early age. If you adopt a Kuvasz, then make sure you have all the time in the world to spend with them and continue their training using a gentle but firm reinforcement technique, always offering your new pet lots of praise. The breed is not a good choice for people who live in apartments because they need to be out and about in a well fenced off garden as often as they can. They are definitely not the ideal pet for families with toddlers or first time dog owners because a Kuvasz may just get the better of them. Like all dogs they need to have regular health check ups with the vet, not only for their boosters, but as they grow older to make sure they are in good health.