Breed: Hungarian Kuvasz
Temperament: loyal, independent, possessive
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Recommended for: enthusiasts
Do you want to give sheep and cattle rustlers in your area a run for their money? The Kuvasz (pronounced "Koo – Vuz") is the ultimate security accessory. Don’t let his big brown eyes fool you, this fluff ball has only one thing on his mind – protecting his flock from whatever harm may be lurking in the bushes.
A sturdily built, muscular dog with a medium boned frame. It is similar to the Maremma Sheepdog, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, and the Akbash Dog and may share a common ancestry. The Kuvasz should be white in colour although some standards accept ivory. Kuvasz have a black nose and almond shaped, dark brown eyes. The lips and inside of the mouth are black. The ears are folded close to the head.
The Kuvasz has a medium length coat which may be straight or wavy and has an undercoat. The hair is usually short on the head and feet but can be as long as 10-15 cm on the body and legs. The Kuvasz has quite a long tail which is carried low but may be raised when the dog is excited.
Kuvasz are large dogs standing between 66-71cm for bitches and 71-76 cm for dogs. Bitches weigh between 32-41 kilograms and males between 45 to 52kg.
Individuals vary in sociability – some lines of Kuvasz are more easy going than others, and some accept children more readily than others. As is typical of flock guard breeds, the Kuvasz is wary and suspicious of that which is not familiar. Breeder Aurelia Palmer says they can be stubborn and may test his owners dominance. Kuvasz are also said to be a devoted, one family dog which will protect the family from all intruders.
The Kuvasz is intensely loyal to that which is his own and it is very important that he receives proper socialization and control in order to become a dependable companion dog as well.
The precise ancestry of the Kuvasz is not known. Some suggest its origins lie in Tibet, from where it travelled to Hungary via Turkey. The Kuvasz name in turkey means ‘protector’.
Other sources claim that the Kuvasz is a sheepdog that accompanied the Turkish refugees and their flocks fleeing the Mongols into Hungary in 1200. The first written reference to the Kuvasz came in the 16th century. By the end of the second world war, only about thirty Kuvasz remained in the world. The dedication of several breeders resulted in the resurrection of this breed.
Health and Lifespan
This breed can be prone to hip dysplasia. Other potential issues are osteochondritis dissecans (a disease causing lameness from inflammation of the shoulder joints), hypertrophic osteodystrophy, skin problems and allergic reactions. As with other pure breeds the Kuvasz is potentially prone to patella luxation, thyroid disease and deafness.
The Kuvasz especially enjoys cold weather and his thick coat makes him very uncomfortable in warm or humid conditions. He should always have plenty of shade and fresh water.
The Kuvasz has a life expectancy of 10 – 12 years.
Puppies of large breed dogs require dog food which has been specifically formulated for larger breeds. This is important so that the Kuvasz’s already rapid growth rate won’t be accelerated. Several small meals per day (soaked) is preferable to reduce the incidence of bloat. It is also necessary to be cautious if using commercial dog foods as some have dyes which may cause skin irritations and coat discolouration.
The diet of the Kuvasz should include a mix of meat, raw vegetables, and fruit. Dogs can be encouraged to eat fruit if it is presented as a play item or toy.
An estimated feeding cost for the Kuvasz is $12 – $15 per week per dog.
Average litter size is 8 to 9.
Upwards of $1500.
Kuvasz are fairly large sized dogs and are fairly active indoors. They can live indoors provided they have access to a yard as well.
Weekly brushing of the thick, white coat is necessary. Bathing of the Kuvasz should be avoided, as the coat naturally sheds dirt and bathing will remove the oils that give the coat this property. Check behind the ears for matting. In cold climates the Kuvasz will only shed seasonally, but in warmer climates it will most likely shed all year round.
Regular handling of your Kuvasz from an early age will assist in making the task of nail clipping and teeth cleaning more manageable when the dog gets older. Your vet will also benefit from this practice when they have to handle the dog later in life.
Historically a flock-guarding dog, today the Kuvasz serves primarily as a companion and home guardian.
Space and exercise
The Kuvasz is not recommended for apartment life. They need vigorous daily exercise and should not be tied up if kept in the yard as this may lead to viciousness. Exercise should help with any digging or chewing problems as this will tire the dog out.
According to breeder Aurelia Palmer, the Kuvasz is highly intelligent and trainable. They can be quite stubborn and require a disciplined master. Special training is necessary if you require your Kuvasz to guard livestock. Harsh training methods are not appropriate for the Kuvasz, rather the independent (and guardian) nature of this breed requires teaching through the impression or assertion of dominance.
Breeder Aurelia Palmer says the Kuvasz bark only to sound alarm.
New to Australia in 1998, the first generation of puppies were born in late 1999. There are currently 8 Kuvasz in Australia.
The Kuvasz requires a responsible owner with enough experience and knowledge to control the macho temperament of this breed. These dogs require a high level of commitment in terms of effort to exercise and train. They should not be left alone all day, nor are they suitable for families with adolescents.
To find up-to-date contacts for breeders, contact the following organisations.
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 – Fax: (02) 6241 1129.
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190
Phone: (08) 8349 4797
Canine Control Council of Queensland
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864
Tasmanian Canine Association
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)