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Hungarian Kuvasz

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Origin / History The Hungarian Kuvasz is an ancient dog of the sheepdog family. Conventional wisdom holds that it evolved in Hungary in the age of the Huns, but many believe it has been around as early as 2000 B.C. However, the earliest records found date back to 1200, describing the Kuvasz as a large sheepdog that escorted Turkish shepherds and livestock as they sought refuge in Hungary from the invading Mongols. Its name is Turkish for “protector.”

The Kuvasz spent many years as a livestock guardian, until the Middle Ages when King Matyas I declared it a noble breed fit for the royals. Kuvasz dogs were given to kings and were trusted more than men. After the King’s death, they went back to being sheepdogs and were trained for hunting as well. It is believed that the Kuvasz contributed to the development of other sheepdog breeds, such as the Maremma and the Great Pyrenees. Today, it is a popular working companion and family pet in Hungary and many European countries.

Appearance The Kuvasz has a large, well-proportioned body covered by a medium-length coat, which can be straight or slightly wavy. There is a thick mane around the neck which grows more noticeable in the winter. The head is long and a bit wide, and the muzzle tapered but not pointed. The eyes are dark brown and almond-shaped, giving them a kindly but somewhat serious expression. The ears lie close to the head and are folded forward. The tail is usually carried low, but rises when the dog is provoked or excited.

Colours The Kuvasz’s coat should be light-colored. There is some debate on which shades are appropriate, but the generally accepted coats are white, cream, and ivory.

Temperament The Kuvasz is a naturally intelligent breed, but it is better known for its clumsiness and somewhat clownish manners. Kuvasz are very loyal and affectionate, sometimes to the point of being clingy. They can be temperamental at times, though—a Kuvasz can be very playful one day and quiet and aloof the next. Because of their shepherding lineage, they are also very protective of their families and make excellent guardian dogs.

Height and Weight Males should stand 27 to 28 inches at the withers, and females should be 26 to 27 inches.

Common Health Problems Kuvasz are generally healthy, but they are prone to hip dysplasia and other bone problems common to dogs of their size. This is usually prevented by keeping activity to a minimum while the dog is growing up. They also tend to gain weight fast, so owners should take care not to overfeed them. Other common problems are skin infections, allergies, and slobbering.

Living Conditions The Kuvasz will be happiest in a home with a large, well-fenced yard. Although generally active indoors, they are born for the outdoors and will not make good apartment dogs. Kuvasz need their space to stretch, walk, and play. However, they cannot be left outdoors on their own, as they can become destructive when lonely. They can live outdoors in cold weather, as long as they have proper shelter and a comfortable place to sleep. In the summer, they should be given lots of water and kept in the shade to keep them cool.

Exercise Requirements These dogs need regular vigorous exercise. Their work as flock guardians should keep them busy enough, but those bred as housedogs should be taken on long brisk walks every day. They usually prefer slow, leisurely walks, but they’ll be happy to run off the leash once in a while.

Training Requirements Kuvasz can be difficult to train. They are very independent-minded; they like to do the thinking for their owners instead of the other way around. The trick is to create the impression of dominance early on; otherwise the dog will judge its owner and follow its own agenda. Some owners find that having an older dog around to guide the Kuvasz can make training easier.

Life Expectancy The Kuvasz lives an average of 10 to 12 years.

Grooming These dogs don’t need much grooming besides weekly brushing. Baths aren’t necessary; the coat naturally sheds dirt and washing can reduce this ability. Instead, the coat should be sprinkled with talcum powder and gently brushed to remove small particles. More grooming may be needed during the summer, when the dog sheds heavily.

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More Hungarian Kuvasz Information: Check out our Hungarian Kuvasz Clubs and links to more informative websites dedicated to the breed.

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