The Kuvasz (plural, Kuvaszok) is a profoundly loyal breed with origins in ancient Turkey and Tibet. Part of the Working group of dogs, Kuvaszok were brought to Hungary in the middle ages as majestic guardians of livestock and companions of kings. Kuvaszok are extremely patient- they had to keep a close eye on the livestock for days on end. When provoked by wolves or thieves, this breed displayed its deep courage. It is said that King Matthais I of Hungary trusted his Kuvaszok to guard his home better than his human guards.
Characteristics of the Kuvasz
Let’s take a look at some of the defining features of this majestic breed.
The Kuvasz has been described as strong and beautiful, with a proportionate, elegant head that displays courage and intelligence. The Kuvasz coat is a silky, snow white that can be wavy or straight. Although the coat is white, the skin of a Kuvasz is black to match the black nose and black, almond-shaped eyes. The light-colored coat is colored this way for a reason- shepherds needed a way to distinguish the Kuvasz from thieving wolves at night.
A massive, and mighty animal, the Kuvasz stands at an impressive 28-30 inches tall for the males, and 26-28 inches tall for the females. The males can weigh between 100 and 115 pounds, while the females weigh only 70 to 90 pounds. Overall, the breed is well-balanced and well-proportioned. It is neither cobby nor lanky, but simply sturdy and beautiful without being bulky.
Kuvaszok are intelligent dogs that can actually behave much like puppies into adulthood. This loyal and fearless breed is for experienced dog owners only- though the Kuvasz is sweet, it can be immensely challenging. Despite being extremely loyal to family, the Kuvasz can be somewhat aloof around strangers and will often act independently of its own accord. Bred as work animals to act without instruction or guidance from humans, their protectiveness and independence can sometimes get them into trouble. Kuvaszok are, unsurprisingly, extremely protective of their own family members, including children. They can be good family dogs around their own family but may become concerned and overprotective when other visitors and children arrive. The same goes for other household pets- large dogs, small dogs, and even cats living within the same household of the Kuvasz will be protected by him, but unknown animals may be seen as either threats or prey. For this reason, Kuvaszok are not good apartment dwellers, as the high concentration of unknown people and pets surrounding their living environment can be seen as a constant threat.
Due to separation anxiety, your Kuvasz will likely follow you around the house wherever you go. If you do travel with your Kuvasz, you must be able to monitor him at all times. Being unfriendly to unknown people, your Kuvasz may struggle during travel as he will be constantly surrounded by unknown people and environments. Overall, the Kuvasz is an extremely independent breed with a mind of his own, and therefore is not suitable for every household.
You can expect your Kuvasz to live between 10 and 12 years of age.
Caring for the Kuvasz
Let’s explore the proper ways to care for your Kuvasz.
Your Kuvasz will need to be fed a high-quality dog food- wet or dry– that is appropriate for its age- puppy, adult, senior, etc. Treats can be a valuable tool to use during training but avoid feeding your pet too many treats as this can cause obesity, which can lead to many other problems. Table scraps should also be given sparingly. As with other large dogs, the Kuvasz can develop bloat, which is a sudden, life-threatening enlargement of the stomach that can sometimes involve twisting. Veterinarians recommend more frequent, smaller meals during the day rather than one larger meal to help prevent bloat.
A fenced-in yard is essential for this active, agile, working breed. You won’t be able to play with your Kuvasz 24/7, and therefore it is important that he have a place to run around freely and play with the other household dogs. Your Kuvasz will also appreciate daily walks, and more than one per day if possible. This breed plays rough and therefore will have no problem playing with children, but it is imperative that he has enough space to run around freely and patrol “his territory”.
The Kuvasz can prove rather challenging to novice dog owners, especially during training. Slow to mature, this breed needs a trainer that can provide patience, consistency, and firm instruction. However, Kuvaszok do not respond well to repetitive, harsh instruction. Training sessions must be fun and engaging. Due to their guardian nature, Kuvaszok can believe themselves to be the alpha of the household if not trained properly. You must show him that you are his owner, not the other way around. With this breed, early puppy training and socialization classes are absolutely essential and should be done by an experienced trainer.
Kuvaszok are a healthy, active breed in general. Though health issues are usually not common, this breed can sometimes suffer from elbow and hip dysplasia, patellar luxations (sliding kneecaps), cardiac conditions, autoimmune thyroiditis, and progressive retinal atrophy. Quality breeders pre-screen for these conditions, so if you bought your Kuvasz from a trusted breeder, there should not be any serious health issues. Before your Kuvasz puppy is bred, make sure to contact the breeder about the Kuvaszok parents and their health screenings, which should include X-rays to screen for hip and elbow dysplasia, an exam for patellar luxation, a CERF eye exam, and genetic screenings for cardiac diseases. Like most large breeds, Kuvaszok are also prone to bloat, which is a sudden, fatal bloating of the stomach. Learn to recognize the signs of bloat in your dog.
For more regular care, be sure to brush your Kuvasz once per week. His coat is actually very easy to care for. This will reduce the shedding of his double coat. You should also bathe him and trim his nails once per month.
Contact your veterinarian regarding any health concerns for your pet.