The Kuvasz (pronounced KOO-vahss) is a well known Hungarian guard dog throughout Europe. They are intelligent dogs with the ability to remain loyal and protective of their owners or family.
They are best suited for affectionate and playful companions who will accommodate their working aptitudes. Their independent personality makes them assertive guard dogs. However, this personality also makes them stubborn and challenging to train.
They can be very loyal dogs, but you need to be able to grab their attention first. They are also very sensitive to harsh treatment and will not respect your authority if you mistreat them. They will instead become aloof and aggressive.
While most people assume Kuvaszok are outdoor dogs, this is not true. They are guardian dogs, devoted to their owners. They need owners who will give them as much attention as possible because they otherwise could lead to destructive behavior and aggression.
Dog lovers adore Kuvaszok for their intelligence and independence, as well as their loyalty and protectiveness. Even though Kuvasc dogs can make wonderful canine companions, they are not ideal for first-time dog owners. Here are 15 things you should know about the Kuvasz dog breed:
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1. They Actually Came from Tibet
The origin of the Kuvaszok can be traced back to the steppes of the Ural mountains in Western Asia and Mesopotamia. And although the present physique of the breed was developed in Hungary, they originated from Tibet.
The Magyar tribes brought the Ku Assa, also known as Dog of the Horse, to Hungary in 2000 B.C when they conquered the region.
This dog breed is perhaps the oldest of the ancient dog breeds of Hungary, three in total, and the other two being the Komondor and the Puli. There are also a few theories that the origin of the name Kuvasz was from the corruption of the Turkish word “kawasz,” which means bodyguard.
2. They Guarded Royalty
In the 15th century, these dogs were highly-priced as guard dogs in Hungary, particularly by King Matthias Corvinus, who was crowned in 1464 at just 15 years old. Despite being young, King Matthias was a wise and shrewd military leader.
During those turbulent times, assassination attempts and plots were rampant in the region. However, Matthias felt safe so long as his canine companions, and the Kuvaszok were close by. Everywhere he went, he took a brace of Kuvaszok even to his sleeping chambers. He trusted these dogs more than he trusted his royal guardsmen.
He eventually built huge kennels and housed hundreds of Kuvaszok on his estate. In addition to protecting him, they were also used to guard livestock in the estate and sometimes hunt large game like wolves and bears.
Sometimes King Matthias would give visiting nobles a puppy, which made these dogs highly prized due to their association with royalty.
3. They Served as Livestock Guards
The breed declined in popularity among noble and royal families after King Matthias died. However, they continued with their traditional role of guarding livestock for both farmers and horsemen. Hence, they became flock guardians during the medieval period.
The Kuvasz traveled with the Hungarian herdsmen with their cattle. They also contributed to the development of Great Pyrenees, Maremma Sheepdog, Anatolian Shepherd, and the Polish Tatra Sheepdog, all of which are flock guards.
Their white coat allowed herdsmen to easily distinguish these dogs from wolves when they blended with the flock. The Kuvasz dogs still work as flock guardians to sheep, cattle, and horses from predators’ to-date. Weighing up to 115 pounds, these dogs are large and fierce protectors.
4. They Nearly Went Extinct
Like many breeds, during World War II, these dogs nearly went extinct. The food shortage calamity also took a toll on these dogs, forcing many kennels to either cut back or stop breeding.
Brave Kuvaszok also died in the hands of the Nazi and Soviet soldiers who shot the dogs when they tried to protect their families and livestock. Some officers from the war took these dogs with them, but the breed was still nearly wiped out.
By the time the war ended, the Kuvazok dogs in Hungary were fewer than 30, and many Kuvasz fanciers died. They were punished for breeding Kuvazok because the Russians viewed dog breeding as a luxury hobby of aristocrats.
However, despite these hardships, kuvasz breeders met in secret and sold puppies and dogs for food and cigarettes. However, because there was still a short supply of food, large dog breeds with hearty appetites were not common.
5. They Are Spirited Dogs
The Kuvasz breed is spirited dogs of keen determination, intelligence, curiosity, and courage. They are sensitive to praise as well as blame.
He works on his own initiative, which makes it easy for these dogs to protect their families, especially children, with devotion. Adult Kuvaszok are particularly patient and gentle with kids; however, puppies can be rambunctious for young babies.
6. They are Not Suited for Timid or First-Time Dog Owners
These dogs are independent and bold, and they need owners who will give this dog confidently and patient training from when they are puppies. They need an experienced, confident owner who will gain their full respect and understand their independent nature.
Like many guarding dogs, their intelligence makes them think for themselves. Therefore they need an owner who will dedicate the time, patience, and consistency to train them.
These dogs need influential leaders who can manage them without resorting to physical punishment, force, or anger. With a consistent and firm owner, these dogs will respond well to praise and rewards.
Even though sensitive, a Kuvasz will accept punishment when he sees that he deserved it, but it must come from an owner he respects. Corrections from people he doesn’t know could cause a Kuvasz to become resentful.
7. They Like Having a Job To Do
In their true working spirit, Kuvaszok like having a job to do. It could be watching over your kids or the livestock, whatever the task, this breed prefers to be busy.
They were developed to work all day on rough grounds. Even without guarding flocks, Kuvaszok still have their enduring physical capability. Hence, it will also be best to keep them active as much as you can.
They are perfect companions for backpacking and hiking because they enjoy long walks and are capable of competing in agility, rally, and obedience events. These dogs can also work as therapy dogs. His need for activity can further be satisfied by visiting people in children’s hospitals and nursing homes. With time, as a Kuvasz owner, you will be able to find more activities and things your dog can do.
8. They Need Early Training and Socialization
Kuvaszok are brilliant, but not easy to train. Their fierce independence makes it challenging even for experienced dog owners to train them.
Kuvaszok are playful from puppyhood through adolescence, but as they get older, they become calmer and reserved. However, they are excessive barkers at any age, depending on the individual pup.
Hence, because they are very intelligent, strong, and protective, it is vital to train and socialize them from when they are young.
Like all dogs, their dominance levels also vary from pup to pup, even when they are in the same litter. However, because of their inbred flock guard abilities, the Kuvaszok are more dominant than most dogs. Hence, they are also more prone to reservations when it comes to strangers, so they need extensive socialization from puppyhood.
Expose your pup to strangers and surroundings from when they are very young. It is crucial to establish leadership during training to help your dog understand who is in charge. Kuvasz doesn’t respond well to repetitive or harsh training techniques.
9. Their Coat Requires Regular Maintenance
Even though these dogs don’t demand too much grooming, their coats do require regular maintenance. Their coats are thick and shed year-round. Hence, they should be brushed at least twice or thrice a week to prevent matting and remove shedding hair.
Their coats also repel water and dirt, hence even though the breed is odorous, they are still generally clean and have no odor. They should be bathed when needed, and the grooming process should cover their entire body, including their paws. Make sure to clip their nails regularly.
You should also brush their teeth as often as you do their coats. Regular brushing will help prevent tartar build-up, remove plaque, and keep his or her breath fresh. Without proper dental care, your Kuvasz is in danger of mouth cavities, and other infections.
They are also prone to ear infections; hence you have to make sure that you check their ears every time you are grooming your dogs. Regular ear cleaning will help remove bacteria and excess wax build-up.
10. They are Prone to Various Health Issues
Like people, our four-legged friends can also get sick and suffer from various health issues. Some dogs are more prone to specific health issues than others. When buying a dog, you should try and be aware of any health problems associated with the Kuvasz dog breed.
The Kuvasz is prone to health problems like bloating, osteochondritis Dissecans, ProgressiveRetinal Atrophy, Von Willebrand’s Disease, Hip Dysplasia, Cardiac conditions, autoimmune thyroiditis, and patellar luxation.
We recommend buying dogs from reputable dealers who will be able to provide health checks for their dogs. Good breeders will screen their dogs’ parents before any breeding.
11. They aren’t recommended for Apartment Life
These dogs are very active and will not do well in apartments. They are best suited for homes with large yards where the Kuvasz can have ample space for long stretches of time with as much space to be active.
They also require vigorous exercise per day to help channel their energy. However, when your Kuvasz is outside avoiding tying them up because this could lead to viciousness. These dogs tend to thrive in large enclosed yards than squeezed spaces.
They especially enjoy cold weather so they can live in cold temperate outdoors in a doghouse. Even with a yard, make sure to allow these dogs access to the house as well.
12. They are Highly Protective Kids with Kids They’ve Grown-up With
Even though these dogs are not very good with kids, they tend to be highly protective of children they were brought up with. These gentle and patient dogs expect to be treated with the same courtesy.
They may sometimes extend this protection to other young visiting kids in the homesteads. However, when you have kids over, make sure to never leave them alone with a Kuvasz unsupervised.
Kuvaszok that are not experienced with kids should be allowed more time to get used to their shrill voices and quick movements. These dogs are not automatically good with kids, and you need to socialize them with children and teach your kids how to treat a Kuvasz.
13. They Do Well on High-Quality Dog Food
These dogs will suffice on a high-quality dog food diet, whether home-prepared or commercially manufactured with your vet’s approval and supervision.
The diet should vary depending on whether the Kuvasz is a puppy, adult, or senior. These dogs are also prone to overweight. Hence you have to watch their weight level and their calorie consumption.
Avoiding giving them treats all the time because too much consumption could cause obesity. However, treats tend to come in handy during training. Always check with your vet if you have concerns about your dog’s diet or weight.
Provide them with clean, fresh water at all times. These dogs are prone to bloating; hence we recommend splitting their meals into small portions distributed throughout the day and avoid any vigorous exercise after or before mealtimes to reduce the chances of bloating.
Kuvaszok puppies are expected to live for 10-12 years if they are correctly cared for and fed well-balanced, high-quality dog food.
14. They are Suspicious of Most Strangers and Other Animals
These dogs are not very trusting, and in most cases, they are typically suspicious of strangers. Even though they are social with other dogs, they are not the best pets for families with other pets.
Their personality and intensity make them more likely to seek out and injure small pets. However, if they are trained and socialized to coexist with the, from when they are young, they can be gentle.
15. They are Very Vocal
Kuvaszok are famous for their vocal personality. They are extreme and loud barkers. Although this suits them as guard dogs, it will not be very appreciated by neighbors.
Hence, these dogs are not suited for highly populated areas, whether it be people or wildlife, because their environment tends to give them more things to keep barking at.
While Kuvasz dogs are known for being loving and loyal with their families, this breed is not regarded as a good choice for the novice dog owner