The Kuvasz is so loyal that a 15th century King put more trust into this large breed than his guards. For many years, in fact, the breed was only a protector of the noble class.

Moreover, Kuvaszok have always been watch or guard dogs, whether it be for farms or for kings. It is due to their fearless and imposing appearance. After all, would you want to grapple with a 100 pound plus dog? 

So where does the breed originate from and are they the right dog for your family?

Here is what you need to know about the Kuvasz.

History

We know that King Matthias was a huge fan of the Kuvs. We know that Hungary is the reason for the Kuvaszok fame and development. But what about before? That’s where the likes of Ria Horter and other historians come to debate. 

The Kuvasz Club in Canada, however, claims that the most likely route for the breed began in the Middle East. More specifically, Mesopotamia or Kurdistan. Furthermore, the club believes that the breed dates as far back as 11,000 years ago. Historians believe the domestication of livestock, especially sheep, began in the Middle East, and that the Kuvasz was the drover of livestock.

From there, it is likely that some tribe or group took their flocks and giant white drovers to both Spain and Tibet. This could be a reason why so many people believe the breed’s ancestry is from the Tibetan Mastiff

Historians believe that the breed first came to Hungary around the 13th century, although it is possible they were there earlier. Since then, the breed was not just a reliable sheepdog, but also a big game hunter, such as bison, bear and boar.

One story has it that King Matthias, during the 15th century, would use the Kuvasz as a hunting dog, protector and companion. It is said that the King had more trust in his dogs than he did of his guards. Of course, during those times, the King was likely facing multiple attempts of overthrows and assassinations. 

Fast forward to the first time other fanciers and dog lovers began to see the Kuvasz in action at dogs shows. Ria Horter, a famous dog writer, claims that it was Germany in 1860. The Kuvasz Club in America disagrees. They maintain it was in 1865 in Vienna. While some say the first standard was 1885, others believe the first breed standard was in 1905.

The breed began appearing in the United States during the 1920’s. However, the first registration was in 1931, and it was that year that the breed would get recognition from the American Kennel Club. The United Kennel Club would follow suit in 1965.

Unfortunately, due to the polarizing World War 2, the Kuvasz, like other breeds, would nearly come to extinction. It is thought, that there was only 30 Kuvaszok left in Hungary. At that time, the breed was more of a family protector on farms. Thankfully, a fancier and factory owner had other ideas. Thanks to his efforts and others, the breed saw a resurgence in popularity.

Today, the breed is quite popular in Hungary. However, in the United States, the large white protector is the 165th most popular dog. They still protect and make excellent watchdogs. For others, if you get them early on, they make wonderful loyal companions.

Size

A Kuvasz is a large breed. There is quite the interesting difference in weight between males and females, due to the standard. For instance, the American Kennel Club states that males should weigh between 100 to 115 pounds. Females should weigh between 70 to 90 pounds.

A male should stand between 28 to 30 inches, while females should stand between 26 to 28 inches.

Personality and Temperament

A Kuvasz can be quite the interesting experiment for a novice. In fact, you probably consider a different dog if this is your first rodeo. The breed has a slower maturation process than other breeds. Of course, this is a breed that is fearless and protective, with a long, and ancient history to prove it. You’ll have to earn their love and loyalty, as they do present a bit of independence during the training process.

Aside from being protective and territorial, the breed is rather agile and active for a larger breed. At home, they are loyal and devout to their family. Sweet and affectionate with family is ordinary. Smaller children aren’t usually their cup of tea nor are dogs. Strangers typically experience a dog that may reserve itself to them.

Intelligent and tireless workers, you can get your Kuvasz to obey commands. They do want to work or have a role with their family. 

Ultimately, the Kuvasz isn’t the kind of dog for a beginner or apartments life. They bark when it is necessary and may have reservations with other pets. They do work, they do a great job protecting property with their territorial instincts. Although they are better with older children, this is a loyal and fearless family dog, that will do whatever it takes to protect their people.

Health

Kuvaszok is a healthy breed in general terms. If you buy one from a reputable breeder, who can provide you with the right documentation and health clearances, there’s no reason to believe that you won’t get 10 to 12 good years out of them. On top of that, you’ll want to schedule routine veterinarian visits.

One issue you can help preventing and reduce, is Bloat or Gastric Torsion. Bloat is quite serious and how you can avoid it is doing a better job at feeding your Kuvasz. Essentially, instead of feeding the dog, especially a larger breed, one big meal per day, try breaking it up into several meals throughout the day. Bloat is a fatal condition that can kill a dog in no time. It is the enlargement of the stomach due to an excess of gas or air. If the dog can’t get rid of the air, subsequently it will cause the stomach to distend or twist.

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has a survey of how certain breeds rank with certain diseases. One of those diseases is Hip Dysplasia. This is rather common among medium to large breeds. It is seen in the Kuvasz as well. In fact, the breed ranks 49th on their list with a 14.8% dysplastic rate out of 1900 plus evaluations. This ranks them along the Affenpinscher and Gordon Setter.

Also, Elbow Dysplasia is another area of concern, which the breed ranks them 51st out of the 508 evaluations. Their 6.3 dysplastic rate ranks them among Keeshonds and Havenese. Elbow Dysplasia is one of the most common elbow issues a dog will encounter. It is the abnormal development of the elbow.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy, which is a systematic failure of the rod cells in the retina can be found with this breed. This is the characterization of a genetic condition which leads to loss of vision or degeneration of the eye. Testing is available and you’ll want to catch the disease before it worsens.

Patella Luxation is another orthopedic disease that the OFA keeps tabs on. This is when the knee slips out of place from its original spot or groove. The Kuvasz doesn’t have much a problem with this complication ranking 114th on the list aside the Boxer.

The breed does have issues with autoimmune thyroiditis and hypothyroidism. The OFA ranks them 8th on their list with only 76.9% having normal thyroids. The breed fares much better with cardiac issue ranking 111th.

Other issues to look out for include Osteochondritis and allergies.

Care

As said above, you’ll want to have some sort of experience with a breed of this magnitude. You’ll be better off with a different breed if you live in smaller dwellings like condos or apartments. Despite their sheer size, this is an active breed, not overly active, but they do need to get out and exercise on occasion.

Supervision is a good idea around smaller children. This is an older herding dog, that may possess herding instincts. This could involve nipping your kids ankles to droving them in ways you wouldn’t want done. Supervision is necessary with other dogs, and by rule, you should avoid other dogs in the home. That goes for cats and other animals, with this breed having a territorial streak.

Sufficient exercise will help break their boredom. You’ll want to socialize them early on but remain consistent and firm. They need to know who is the boss but some patience is helpful as this breed matures somewhat slower than other dogs. A fence is a good idea, as they may be prone to prey drive and wanderlust. They are very protective and may think those in neighborhood are threats such as the mail carrier.

Avoid overfeeding, the Kuvasz is prone to obesity and Gastric Torsion. You’ll want to bathe routinely, brush teeth frequently and trim their nails to protect from overgrowth and splitting.

Feeding

Some owners claims their Kuvasz are efficient eaters, whatever that means. One thing is for sure, they can overeat and become obese. They can suffer from Bloat or Gastric Torsion. Moreover, it is important that you feed them a high quality formula. You don’t need to overdo the protein or caloric intake. A proper meat first diet should suffice such as chicken, turkey, beef and fish. Veggies are fine and fruit.

Most owners seem fine feeding their Kuvasz between 3 to 4 cups of top quality dry food.

As always, you should provide your Kuvasz with fresh drinking water.

Coat

Prepare for some shedding say the Kuvasz enthusiast. They do some serious shedding, and are seasonal shedders. Many advise brushing their coats two to three times per week. This will help reduce the amount of dead hair, but also keep your Kuvs coat looking at its best.

With regards to coat, they have a soft, medium to long double coat. The outercoat is longer, with either a slight wavy touch to it or straight. The undercoat should be soft. 

According to the American Kennel Club’s standard, there is only one color choice for their coat and that color is white.

Fun Kuvasz Facts

  • The Kuvasz ranks 42nd among Stanley Coren’s “Intelligence of Dogs” list.
  • In 1966, the Kuvasz Club of America opened its doors. The FCI would grant the breed recognition in 1934. Since then, there has been little to no additions or changes.
  • According to a website, Globallgd.org, the name Kuvasz began appearing in documents around the 17th century and derives from the Turkish language meaning “driver.” Other people believe the word means “guards of nobleman.”
  • The Kuvasz is one of the three herding ancient breeds out of Hungary. The other two are Komondor and Puli. Ironically, the Komondor and Kuvasz were interchangeable, and most fanciers or dog lovers would confuse the short coat Komondor with the Kuvasz.

Closing Words

The Kuvasz has a long and historical story of herding and protecting property to being in favour with nobility and kings. Since then, other fanciers of the dog kingdom have come to see how faithful and reliable the Kuvasz is.

While they don’t enjoy the same kind of popularity in the United States as they do in Hungary, the breed still continues to draw the interest from dog lovers all over. That’s because they are intelligent, and if you socialize them early on, they are wonderful family dogs that are incredibly loyal.