The Kuvasz (pronounced koo-vahs; the plural version of which is Kuvaszok) is a little known Hungarian breed in line with many of the great working dogs of the world. These majestic beasts were bred to protect livestock, and fight off predators.
Big and bear-like, they are both regal housemates and avid protectors. However, they’re not for the faint of heart. These dogs are only suitable for those willing to take on the responsibilities that come with their size. Read on to learn more about the Kuvasz.
Description of the Kuvasz
These dogs are impressive in stature, and their beautiful, white color is free from any other markings. This thick coat is waterproof and weather-resistant. It’s good for the cold, and tends to keep moisture and dirt out. Surprisingly, it’s not too prone to matting either.
The Kuvasz was bred in Hungary, although they may have come from Tibetan and Turkish stock. They were meant to protect livestock, but also became a favorite of royals. These dogs are the quintessential protectors. They are calm and collected, but ready to jump to the family’s aid if need be. Like many working dogs, the Kuvasz can be strong-willed.
Life Expectancy and Size
Most Kuvasz live to be between 10 and 12 years, which is not so unusual for such a large dog. Reputable breeders produce healthier dogs, increasing their chance of living into the double digits. It is also very important to maintain the Kuvasz’s weight. These big dogs do not need any added stressors to their bodies.
This breed stands between 25 and 32 inches at the shoulder, and can weigh anywhere from 70 to 115 pounds, with males being on the higher end of that spectrum.
This breed is made for protecting. They are confident in their abilities, having been bred to be independent-thinkers. This means that they are perfectly happy to stay calm until they are needed. Kuvaszok are surprisingly agile for being so large.
They are naturally alert of their surroundings and suspicious of strangers, especially strange animals. This can mean that they’re quite difficult to own in urban or suburban areas. Given their tendency for independent thinking, it can be quite the challenge to teach a Kuvasz when to trust an intruder.
Socialization from an early age is essential with all dogs, especially those bred to guard. This is especially true with other dogs. Otherwise, it is too easy for the Kuvasz to seriously hurt or even kill a small, unsuspecting dog.
The Kuvasz can be tricky to train, and is best suited to experienced dog owners. This breed can be aloof and, at times, seem unresponsive. It is absolutely necessary to remain positive and consistent. Show them why it is a good reason to listen to you. Generally, this will mean rewarding with tasty treats when they do a good job.
An essential part of any dog’s training is socialization. Make sure to introduce the Kuvasz to plenty of new people, dogs, and places while they are young. This will help them to become well-adjusted adults.
The Kuvasz was bred to be active, able to jump up from rest and protect their livestock. Because of this, these Hungarian pups can switch their mood quickly. To keep them calm and manageable, be sure to give them enough time to exercise. This could simply come in the form of patrolling the yard, but the Kuvasz should always have the option to stretch his legs.
What Living with a Kuvasz is Like
Owning such a large dog is quite the commitment. They are generally gentle giants, but can be stubborn and even aggressive if they are not properly trained. It is important to consider why you are purchasing such a large, powerful dog, and be prepared for their unique needs.
Of course, these dogs can be perfectly lovable pets. Just make sure you’re ready for 115 pounds of fluff!
Care of the Kuvasz
The Kuvasz requires a bit more responsibility than most dogs. However, for homes with adequate space and owners with the patience for socialization, they can be truly stoic guardians.
These dogs were bred to live on their own in harsh conditions. No doggie sweaters needed here! Their coat is good protection, and does well keeping them clean and dry. However, as big, hairy dogs, they often have trouble in extreme heat. Provide the Kuvasz plenty of shade and water, and watch for signs of overheating.
This breed loves to have a job. They would excel in sports like pulling. Otherwise, they can also be very content with daily walks and time in the yard. The Kuvasz is likely to consider a nightly stroll around the perimeter as an absolutely necessary occurrence. These dogs are always on the ready!
When Kuvaszok are young, they are prone to joint and bone problems. This is because they grow extremely quickly. Do not let them overwork themselves, especially before they reach adulthood.
Shedding and Grooming
These dogs have a coat that is easy to maintain. It resists tangles, and usually wicks away most water and dirt. They are happy to live their lives without too many baths. A brushing once a week or so is all they require. However, this breed does shed a lot. Be ready for hair everywhere!
Ideal Home Environment
This breed does best with an experienced, calm owner. It is absolutely essential to teach their dogs lessons in obedience and socialization early, so as to avoid any aggressive tendencies.
Owning such a big dog does not come without big responsibilities. They do not generally do well in urban or suburban environments, particularly in homes with regular visitors or changes. That begin said, the Kuvasz can be a sweet dog to live with. They are usually great with their family’s kids.
These dogs are vulnerable to joint pain, especially in the elbow and hip. Be sure to limit exercise when they’re young to avoid problems.
Some individuals have thyroid, heart, and eye problems. Bloat, a dangerous stomach disorder, is an issue in most large dogs. Feed small meals and avoid exercise after eating.
These dogs are known to mature slowly. This can be quite the pain, because they’re so big! Be patient with them and begin training sessions early. Socialization training is essential for all dogs.
This breed is naturally independent – they were bred to spend their lives watching sheep, not listening to you. Pair this independence with their natural suspicion of new things or visitors, and it’s no surprise that many Kuvasz have aggression issues with strangers.
Contact a dog behavior consultant well-versed in aggression and livestock guardian breeds to get help. These dogs can be slightly trickier to work with than other guard dog breeds like German Shepherds due to their independent nature. They are much more similar to the Great Pyrenees, or the Anatolian Shepherd.