The Komondor dog breed is a large, distinctive looking herding dog of ancient origins. They look like large mops on four feet with their long corded coat that help them blend well with the sheep they herd and protect from predators. Raised to be in command of the herd, and to think and work independently, these dogs have a dominant personality. They are suitable for people who can assume a pack leader status with their dogs.
Originating in Hungary, there’s reason to think that the Komondor dog breed has been around for a very long time, but the first written reference to the breed is dated 1544. Their lineage is traced to the Russian breed Owtcharka which might have reached Hungary with the Huns.
These dogs were traditionally used for working with Magyar sheep often referred to as “Racka” due to their long curly wool. The Komondors dogs could herd these sheep without frightening them as they blended in so well to be accepted as a member of the herd. This gave the dog an additional advantage of being able to surprise the predators that came to attack them.
These dogs were valuable assets to Magyar shepherds, as they were fiercely protective of their flock and would stop at nothing when confronted with wolves or even bears. Their thick coat protected them from the fangs and claws of these predators. The dogs were still used mainly by shepherds until the 20th century and this helped keep the purity of the breed intact.
They were first introduced to the United States in 1933 where they were employed in farms to guard livestock from coyotes and other predators. In 1937 they got recognized by AKC. This breed was severely affected in the aftermath of the World Wars and their numbers declined considerably all over the world, and even in their homeland, but was kept alive by some enthusiastic breeders. They are protected as the national heritage of Hungary today.
The Komondor dog breed is large and muscular, standing well above 2 feet at the withers and weighing up to 125 pounds. Its entire body from head to tail, save the tip of the snout, is covered in dreadlocks that can be anything between 8 and 11 inches long. The hanging ears are also covered in corded fur as is the tail that reaches up to the hocks. The puppies are white fur balls, but as they mature, their double coat becomes naturally corded.
The Komondor dog breed has an independent disposition, but these dogs are extremely devoted and protective of their family. They are not usually aggressive unless there’s reason to be, and generally knock down trespassers and hold them down until the owner arrives, rather than tear them apart. But these massive dogs are surprisingly gentle with children.
Komondor is an intelligent dog that needs to be trained early to follow commands, but training should be fun to hold its interest. They do not get along with other pets and are particularly intolerant of other dogs and wary of strangers. Early socialization may help keep them amiable to some extent.
Grooming and exercise
Grooming the Komondor dog breed is an entirely different affair from grooming most other types of dogs. Their corded coat does not need brushing, but requires manual grooming to separate the strands to prevent matting and to remove debris trapped in the hair. The coat needs an occasional wash to maintain its white color, but drying it takes more than a day and the use of fans.
Trimming the coat for ease of maintenance is not recommended as it removes the natural protection offered by it, and destroys the uniqueness of this breed.
Being working dogs they need both physical and mental stimulation to keep them healthy and happy. However, these dogs do not need any strenuous or prolonged exercise regimen. Brisk walking in the park, complemented by some games in the yard, should be sufficient. They should be guarded against the tendency to gain weight.
They can live outdoors round the year in mild climates, but have poor tolerance for heat, and should be kept indoors in warm weather. In fact, it is always better to let these dogs sleep indoors with the family at night except when used as guardians of property.
Common health issues of Komondor dog breed
The serious health problems faced by the Komondor dog breed include Canine Hip Dysplasia and Gastric torsion; the latter can be fatal without immediate medical intervention. These dogs are prone to ear infections and skin disorders such as hot spots. Entropion and other eye problems are seen very occasionally. The average life expectancy of these large-sized dogs is 10 to 12 years.