Kuvasz dogs, pronounced koo-vahss, are large white dogs known for their fierce loyalty and sweet disposition. But are they good guard dogs? The name Kuvasz comes from the Turkish word “kawasz”, which means “Armed guard of the nobility.” If you are looking for a good family dog that helps protect you and your children, the Hungarian Kuvasz is an excellent guard dog bred to protect and defend.
History of the Kuvasz Breed
The Kuvasz is a Hungarian dog known as a flock guardian dog. The breed is thought to have originated in Central Asia centuries ago. The breed then migrated to Hungary and Turkey in approximately 895 AD, when Hungary was first founded.
The original job of the Kuvasz was to herd sheep, keeping the flocks close by as their owners migrated from one place to the next. This trait was beneficial when migrants decided upon an area to settle, and the Kuvasz could keep the sheep under control in the Hungarian plains.
Eventually, Kuvasz dogs were used as guard dogs for nobility. Most notably, for the first time in the 15th century when King Matthias I of Hungary used them as hunting dogs and guard dogs in his court.
Later, in the 19th century, a breed standard was created, allowing for selective breeding of the Kuvasz. This ensured the characteristics of the breed would remain consistent through the breeding.
At the end of World War II, most of the Kuvasz dogs in Hungary had been killed by the German and Soviet soldiers. Since the dogs were such fierce defenders of their families, it was thought necessary to abolish as many of them as possible. Less than thirty Kuvasz remained in Hungary after the war, making them nearly extinct.
Luckily, the breed could be replenished in Hungary, thanks to breeders dedicated to restoring the line. It is possible that most of the dogs bred to be Kuvasz were crossbred. Breeds such as the Great Pyrenees were likely used due to Hungary’s extreme lack of purebred Kuvasz.
Breed Traits and Characteristics
Kuvasz are spirited, with lots of determination and courage, making them excellent guard dogs. Kuvasz displays great patience, an ideal family dog trait.
Quickly becoming protective of children, Kuvasz might sacrifice themselves to keep their loved ones safe. Depending on their training, Kuvasz can become overly protective and act without instruction, making them unpredictable from time to time.
When strangers are around, the Kuvasz will tend to become suspicious, but not hard to win over with proper socialization. The breed is loyal to its owners and discriminates against outsiders, making them ideal guard dogs.
Kuvasz are not overly affectionate dogs preferring to be on the lookout and at attention instead of looking for yours. Paying attention is a good trait for a working guard dog, as they will always be independently aware and alert of their surroundings. Still, the Kuvasz needs attention from you and your family to remain well socialized.
How Much Training Does Kuvasz Require?
Since the Kuvasz is a strong-willed and determined dog, getting one as a puppy is ideal for training. Training a Kuvasz to be a good family dog for children and a guard dog can present problems if it is not done early on in the dog’s life.
The Kuvasz’s strong-minded personality can make for difficult training at times. Socializing your Kuvasz with other dogs and humans will alleviate some of the stubbornness and likelihood of being over-protective of you and your family.
When training, strong leadership and authority will guide the Kuvasz to listen and respond positively to you. A Kuvasz needs boundaries and takes comfort in having them put in place by their owner.
If you are a first-time dog owner without experience training your dog, a Kuvasz may not be the best option for you. Kuvasz require plenty of patience and a strong will to prepare them to be a good family and guard dogs.
The Kuvasz is known for its tall and large stature, standing around 26 to 32 inches tall and weighing about 100 lbs. Its coat is white, thick, and very coarse, with a soft undercoat. Kuvasz typically have a life expectancy of 10-12 years.
Since the Kuvasz has medium length and thick hair, they are big shedders and need to be groomed frequently. For someone who has allergies, the Kuvasz is not an ideal companion, as they are prone to some drooling in addition to shedding.
Kuvasz are prone to some serious genetic health problems. Osteochondritis Dissecans, a developmental disease is common in larger breeds, occurs between six and nine months of age and can result from too much calcium in the diet.
Osteochondritis Dissecans, or OCD, happens when the diseased cartilage of the shoulder joint separates from the bone. OCD can also occur in the elbow, hip, and knee, causing a limp or lameness in the appendage. Kuvasz are also prone to hip dysplasia, common in larger dogs, and hypothyroidism.
Kuvasz are brilliant dogs that are happiest when active and getting plenty of exercise. Classified as a working dogs, the Kuvasz has an untiring ability to work and cover lots of rough terrain over long periods. This characteristic also makes them good hunting dogs.
Are Kuvasz Good With Children?
There are several reasons that well-trained Kuvasz make great family pets. Known to be highly devoted to their people, Kuvasz are excellent with children.
If you have a Kuvasz from when it is a puppy, and especially if it has been raised along with your children, it will be an extremely loyal and protective guard dog. In fact, Kuvasz love to be in the presence of the children they know well.
Kuvasz have a playful yet focused spirit, making them ideal for running around in the backyard and playing with children. Kuvasz tend to give back what they are given, so lots of playtime and engagement, especially with children, will lend itself to a happy and non-aggressive dog.
Kuvasz may be gentle and patient with the children they live with while suspicious and overprotective during a visit from one of your children’s friends. For this reason, amongst others, it is important to exhibit good leadership when training your Kuvasz to avoid uncertainty around strangers.
How Much Space Is Needed To Keep a Kuvasz?
Ideally, a home with a backyard is best for this breed, as an apartment will restrict their range of movement. A Kuvasz can become bored and destructive if left alone for too long, especially in a small space.
Allowing for constructive activities will give this working breed satisfaction. A sturdy fence around your yard is necessary for keeping a Kuvasz contained on your property. Since Kuvasz are naturally inclined to patrol your whole residence. It is essential to ensure that the walls or the fence are strong enough to hold your dog if they see an oncoming threat.
Satisfying a Kuvasz’s need for exercise and stimulation will bring out the best temperament in this breed. This is another reason to have a larger space for them to live.
Where to Adopt a Kuvasz
The Kuvasz is a rare dog breed to find in America and may be nearly impossible to find in a shelter. Buying a puppy from a breeder is a more likely an option, but make sure that the breeder is reputable.
Selecting a breeder with a steady and trustworthy reputation is crucial to ensure your dog is well cared for under their supervision before you take it home. In addition, a good breeder will guarantee that there are no physical defects in the breeding line, as well as a good temperament in the Kuvasz puppy from the start.
Before adopting a Kuvasz as your future guard dog, request to see the dog’s parent’s family history and medical records. Based on the pup’s pedigree, buying a Kuvasz may run between $1,200 to $2,500.
Several dog breeds are similar in temperament and ability as a guard dog to a Kuvasz. These include Great Pyrenees, the Greater Swiss Mountain dog, Komondor, and the German Shepherd.
Kuvasz Vs. Great Pyrenees
These two breeds are often mistaken for one another due to the similarity in their physical features. However, there are several slight differences between the two breeds, possibly making one a better fit than the other for a guard dog.
The Kuvasz has a slightly higher energy level than the Great Pyrenees, making it more prone to be alert when guarding your home. Both dogs are bred to be livestock herding dogs, created to protect the flock and other working dogs.
Temperament is the number one difference between these breeds. Great Pyrenees are known to be slightly less cautious and suspicious of strangers. The Kuvasz tends to be on high alert, ready to guard their family using their protective instincts at all times.
If you are looking for a good family guard dog that is loyal and protective, a Kuvasz is an excellent choice. With proper training and socialization, the personality of the Kuvasz is ideal for having in your home to keep you safe and serve as a devoted companion.
Kassidy Shepperd is the editor in chief for Canine-Prime.com. She is is a dog lover/trainer, a freelance writer and a volunteer at many pet rescue and shelter centers. Kassidy is based in Colorado and regularly writes for dog related magazines and blogs.