The Komondor (Komondorok, plural), also known as the Mop Dog or Hungarian Sheepdog, has for centuries been known as the king of Hungarian livestock guardians. Part of the Working group of dogs, this strong, powerful animal has been declared one of Hungary’s national treasures that should be protected at all costs. Komondorok were brought to Hungary during the 12th and 13 centuries by a nomadic people called the Cumans.
Not only was the Komondor used to guard livestock in Hungary from wolves and bears but this breed has been guarding sheep and goats in the United States from coyotes, cougars, and bears with increasing popularity recently.
Characteristics of the Komondor
Let’s take a look at the characteristics of this unmistakable breed.
It goes without saying that the most significant, striking feature of the Komondor is its mop-like coat- you can’t mistake the Komondor for any other breed. In fact, this coat contains the heaviest fur in the canine world. Although it may appear as though the Komondor was bred to mop floors, its thick, mop-like coat is actually made to protect it from wolves while guarding livestock- a wolf’s bite cannot penetrate the think coat of a Komondor. Its coat is completely white from birth but can sometimes turn a bit grey if not washed properly. As a puppy, the Komondor has fluffy, white fur, but as he ages his fur comes together into strands after two years of age.
Komondorok are large, muscular dogs that are as powerful as they look. Males reach a minimum of 27.5 inches in height, and females reach a minimum of 25.5 inches. As for weight, males weigh 100 pounds minimum when full-grown, and females weigh a minimum of 80 pounds.
Like most livestock guardians, Komondorok are calm and steady when everything is going smoothly, but when trouble appears, they are fearless against danger. Being instinctively protective, the Komondor is loyal to his family and will be wary around strangers unless he can see that his owners are calm around the visitor. The same goes for other household pets- the Komondor will be very protective over the other dogs and even cats of the household, but when he spots an unknown dog “trespassing”, he will not act kindly. For this reason, Komondorok are not good apartment dogs because of the high concentration of other people’s pets surrounding their living environment.
Loyal, dignified, and brave, the Komondor, while keeping an eye on his surroundings, will rest alongside his family during the day, but at night he is vigilant against intruders and will constantly patrol the home. The Komondor is a phenomenal guard dog that will literally jump on and topple intruders, keeping them pinned down until his owners arrive on the scene.
The Komondor is good with children of his own household, treating them as part of his true family, but will not hesitate to treat unknown children with the same regard as an unwelcome intruder. Due to separation anxiety, your Komondor will likely follow you around the house wherever you go. If you do travel with your Komondor, you must be able to monitor him at all times. Being unfriendly to unknown people, your Komondor may struggle during travel as he will be constantly surrounded by unknown people and environments. Overall, the Komondor is an extremely independent breed with a mind of his own, and therefore is not suitable for every household.
Komondorok usually live between 10 and 12 years of age.
Caring for the Komondor
Let’s take a look at some ways to properly care for a Komondor.
Komondorok, though large dogs, do not eat much for their size and may even skip a meal when not hungry. As they were bred to be livestock guards, Komondorok most likely developed their small appetite from sharing small meals with the Shepard guarding livestock alongside them. Other Komondor owners have noted that feeding the breed a diet too high in protein can result in scratching and other skin reactions. Therefore, it is best to feed your Komondor a low-protein diet appropriate for his age.
An extremely agile and athletic breed, especially for their size, Komondorok require a lot of exercise to maintain a healthy weight and a happy demeanor. Your Komondor should be taken on two walks a day at minimum, but he would appreciate more. The best activity for your Komondor is free running time in a fenced-in backyard. Komondorok really enjoy playing with their owners and with other dogs of the same household. However, your Komondor should not be taken to a dog park, as he may feel threatened by unknown dogs and act aggressively toward them.
Due to their independent nature, Komondorok have a tendency to be stubborn, especially during training. They can be overprotective if not trained properly as puppies, and for this reason, inexperienced dog owners may not be a right fit for this breed. A lack of proper training can not only become a hassle for owners later on but can actually result in danger to others. Komondorok should begin training classes between 4 and 8 months of age. When bored, the Komondor can become even more stubborn, so training classes should be upbeat and engaging. The most important thing to remember when training your Komondor is to be consistent- don’t let him get away with hostile behavior, not even once, lest he begin to think this behavior is acceptable.
Fortunately for Komondor owners, there are no known health problems specific to the breed. However, as with other large dogs, the Komondor can develop bloat, which is a sudden, life-threatening enlargement of the stomach. Learn to recognize the signs of dog bloat and contact your veterinarian immediately if you recognize any of these signs.
As for more regular care, the Komondor requires extensive grooming by professionals, almost more than any other breed. The only time the Komondor sheds is during his puppy years before his thick strands begin to develop. This breed should actually not be brushed, but rather bathed frequently with diluted dog shampoo. After a bath, the Komondor coat can take up to 2.5 days to dry! It should be dried properly so that a bad odor does not develop. At the age of 9 or 10 months when the coat begins to clump into strands, the hair must be split into sections that grow from certain areas of the skin. These sections of hair will form the strands of adulthood. This complex grooming job should be performed by experienced groomers only.