The Kuvasz dog breed is most probably the oldest shepherd breed in the world. Its origins are not very clear; there are two currents of thought. The first believes that the dog was known since the time of the Huns and its ancestors arrived in the Carpathian Basin at the time of occupation by the Magyars. Others think, however, that this dog was the herding dog of the Turkish people around 1200, and in particular of the Turkish-speaking nomadic shepherds who arrived in Hungary in the 13th century, the Koumans.
Its ancestors must, however, be traced back to the shepherd dogs originating in the East and mainly from the Tibetan mastiff from which so many existing breeds are descended today. Its origins are Hungarian, and it is used to protect flocks from predators and thieves. There was a king, Matthias I known as Corvinus, king of Hungary between 1548 and 1590 who used it as a hunting dog. This monarch is said to have owned a large number of these dogs (there is even talk of a thousand), to hunt wolves and wild boar. He held them in high esteem and it is said that he gladly claimed to have more faith in his kuvasz than in his men. Later, aristocratic households in the 19th century employed him as a guard dog. His name in Hungarian means ‘safe guardian’.
During the Second World War in Hungary, being a fierce defender of his masters, he was almost decimated by soldiers and risked extinction. After the war, it was rescued and bred by a group of enthusiasts who managed to rebuild the breed. Today it is a valuable aid to the army and police in their country, as well as being appreciated as a companion dog.
Outside Hungary, this breed is not well known, except in the United States.
Character of the kuvasz dog breed
The character of the kuvasz is really good. It is lively, cheerful, brave and although imposing in appearance is nevertheless a very active dog with an almost unlimited reserve of energy. With the members of his family he is always sweet and affectionate, especially with children.
The Kuvasz is a typical guard dog. It is confident, fearless and has a strong character. It also shows clear territorial behaviour. He defends people and objects entrusted to him without compromise. He even risks his life for them. It is an intelligent and independent animal. With strangers it is rather wary, making it perfect as a guard dog. Although he shows his family unconditional love, his independent character makes him a dog that does not particularly like cuddles and even tolerates loneliness quite well, as long as it is not for too long absences. It is therefore the ideal dog for those who spend most of their time away from home. However, he should be left outdoors and in a large, well-fenced space, so that his job of looking after the house and property will get him over separation anxiety, common to many other dogs, well.
It does not fear the cold at all and as long as it has a sheltered kennel it can also sleep peacefully outside without suffering too much from the cold. It is a very obedient and diligent dog and is quite easily trained, although it is a little stubborn and if not trained properly can be aggressive both with humans and with other dogs, especially of the same sex. He is also a very proud dog and is unlikely to follow orders for which he does not understand the motivation. His training must be consistent and continuous; he is not a submissive dog and if forced to perform tasks that are not his responsibility, he simply ignores them.
It is by no means an indoor dog, it needs plenty of space and to be outside most of the time, and also needs plenty of exercise every day.
Appearance of the Kuvasz dog breed
The Kuvasz is a large dog, the height at withers for a male being between 66 and 70 centimetres and weighing between 48 and 62 kilograms. The female usually a little less. It is a very elegant dog with a robust, imposing and harmonious build. Its appearance is pleasing and inspires strength and nobility. Its whole body is in harmony, the limbs are neither too short nor too long, the tail, set low, following the croup descends slightly in a straight line. It descends vertically with the tip slightly turned up. It rises to the level of the dorsal line when the dog is alert or alert.
Its appearance highlights its great strength, the head has a proud and noble air, the skull is of medium width and quite long with the muzzle narrowing towards the nose. The truffle is always black. The eyes are oblique, almond-shaped and dark brown. The ears have a peculiar “V” shape, but not pointed – they do not stick to the head; they are set high and fall flat on the sides of the muzzle.
The coat is a little rough, wavy, slightly stiff and does not tend to ruffle. The undercoat, on the other hand, is finer and downy. It does not have the same length over the whole body, in fact on the head, ears and feet it is short, dense and smooth, as also on the front and sides of the front limbs, as well as the hind limbs below the knee. It has long fringes of about 6 to 8 centimetres on the back of the limbs, and on the hind limbs the fringes reach the hock. On the neck it has a mane-like collar extending to the chest, especially in males. On the rest of the body, the hair is of medium length, abundantly wavy and forms ridges, furrows and bows. The colour is only one: strictly white.
Health and care of the Kuvasz dog breed
If it has the opportunity to vent its inexhaustible energy, it is a robust and tendentially healthy dog. He must take regular exercise; inactivity is not for him. He has a life expectancy of about 11 years. His health problems are those typical of all large dogs, so we are talking about ear infections, deafness, arthrosis, hip dysplasia. Cold, even harsh cold, is not a problem for Kuvasz at all, whereas he suffers a lot from heat, so it will be necessary to provide him with shelter and plenty of fresh water when it is very hot.
He eats practically everything, but if his meals are not balanced and he does not get enough exercise, he risks gaining weight.
As far as coat care is concerned, it should be brushed at least once a week and more frequently during the moulting period when it goes through an abundant hair change.