The Kuvasz dog breed has the distinction of combining beauty with functionality. These massive, white, furry dogs offer the best protection possible, while not looking overly aggressive. They make excellent family dogs because of their devotion and loving nature, and fair amount of tolerance towards children. However, these dogs are for people with dominant personality, who can handle the dogs firmly and with confidence.
The Kuvasz dog breed is considered one of the oldest breeds from Hungary, but given its size and unusual name, its origins may actually go back to Tibet where giant dogs were found. From this small mountainous country in the Himalayas, these dogs might have reached Hungary through Turkey as the word “kawasz” means ‘armed guards of the noble’ in Turkish. In fact, these dogs were the prerogative of the noble families at one time.
Even though these dogs might have had mundane beginnings in rural areas where they were used for hunting and guarding livestock, they rose in ranks around the 15thcentury when the nobility favored them as personal guardians. The chief among them was the young King Mathias I who came to power in 1464. He is reputed to have had a large number of these dogs, several of them accompanying him wherever he went. They even kept him company in his sleeping chambers. At a time of political intrigue and great risk to personal safety, these highly protective dogs proved invaluable to the king.
But they fell on hard times after the reign of the king passed, and became commoner’s dogs, performing their duties just as faithfully in the farms. Many of these courageous dogs succumbed to the shots of the Nazi and Russian invaders that ravaged the country in later years, as they strived to protect their families. The breed had almost become extinct during the hard times that followed the World Wars.
A small German stock however helped revive the breed, which was then introduced into the United States in the 1930s. Official recognition by the America Kennel Club followed in 1935.
The Kuvasz dog breed comes mostly in pure white, and occasionally light cream, but the skin underneath thick double coat is often dark in color. The dogs are very large in size, measuring 28 to 30 inches at the withers, and weighing more than a hundred pounds, but females are perceptibly smaller and lighter. The small ears lie folded at the sides of the head, and the long, fluffy tail is held close to the body.
The coat may be straight or wavy with moderate shedding year round, and more heavily during spring and fall, but has the advantage of being free of the doggie odor. The Kuvasz dog breed has great similarity to the Great Pyrenees breed and the latter is sometimes used in the breeding programs.
The Kuvasz dog breed is loyal and affectionate with a highly protective attitude towards their owners. It is independent and intelligent too, two traits that make early training an absolute necessity. These dogs are famously difficult to train, and require experienced handlers. They have a mind of their own, and that often means disobeying commands unless the dogs have absolute respect for the owners and regard them as pack leaders. But if they perceive danger to any member of their family, including both people and other animals in the household, they may act on their own to protect them, even disregarding their owners’ express commands. That makes these large-sized dogs dangerous to have around unless trained properly.
Grooming and exercise
The thick, furry coat of Kuvasz dog breed requires through brushing at least twice a week, and more often during the shedding period.
As any working dog breed, it requires a good amount of exercise. It includes long walks on the leash and some activities in the yard to keep the dog physically and mentally stimulated. They like it best when they have some job to do.
These dogs are quite comfortable in the cold and are capable of outdoor living and make excellent guardian of the property. But when kept as family pets, it would be ideal if they can spend the day freely roaming in the yard and the nights indoors with the family.
Common health issues of Kuvasz dog breed
The Kuvasz dog breed is affected by several of the health disorders commonly encountered in large breeds. They include Canine Hip Dysplasia and Osteochondritis dissecans affecting the joints. Hypertrophic osteodystrophy is very occasionally seen. Another potentially fatal condition found in these dogs is gastric torsion, or bloat, that requires immediate medical attention. Panosteitis and hypothyroidism may also affect these dogs. Being a large breed, Kuvasz has a life expectancy of 9 to 12 years.