The Hungarian Kuvasz has the Turkish word for "protector" as its name and its country of origin is most likely Tibet, yet this breed was used for many centuries in Hungary as a herding dog and flock protector. Herding dogs generally are used to herd cattle or sheep from one spot to another, while flock protectors are strictly used to guard the flocks and fend off predators. The Kuvasz is unusual in that it performs both of these functions admirably and was also used as a boar hunter.
|Kuvasz - Photo by Kuvasz Prince of The Dogs Kennel (cc)|
Today the breed is used in both North and South America as a flock guardian. and sometimes more rarely as a family pet. It is a dog that can be quite formidable and is highly prized as a breed that will ward off coyotes and even cougars when it functions as a flock guard. Sometimes the breed is confused with the Great Pyrenees but there are considerable differences. The Great Pyrenees can have some biscuit colouring while the Kuvasz is always white. The Great Pyrenees has double dew claws on the rear feet. The Kuvasz never has dew claws on the rear, let alone double ones. The Great Pyr has a soft deep muzzle almost as deep as it is broad, while the Kuvasz has a longer narrower muzzle. Both dogs perform the function of a flock guardian quite well, but the Great Pyr seems to be a dog that is more able to accept integration into a household as a pet.
The Kuvasz is 28-30 inches tall and can weigh up to 115 pounds. The coat may be slightly wavy and is long and double. The coat is generally flat (does not "stand off" from the body) and is about two to four inches long all over with the exception of the muzzle and the front of the legs. The ears are dropped and slant forwards. The Kuvasz is a handsome dog and has a very strong instinct for protection.
The Kuvasz Club of America advises new owners that the Kuvasz often is "impervious" to pain. This is a typical trait of dogs which are bred for predator attack, especially in the neck and chest, which usually has thicker skin and coat in that area so teeth will not grip easily. The Kuvasz, therefore, will not pay attention to electric fences and needs to be kept in a tight enclosure. Furthermore, this is not a breed that should be allowed to play off leash in dog parks.
As a family member, the Kuvasz must be exposed as a young dog to any children that will be part of its family. As it grows it will begin to think of his human family as part of his flock and will be a great watchdog, however care must be taken to introduce this breed to obedience early on because it must learn that the owner is the dominant pack leader or it will take over the position and can be extremely loyal to the extent of being threatening to visitors.
If properly trained and socialized, especially with children, the dog will accept the introduction of strangers. It is highly important to socialize any dog to children and strange situations while it is young, taking any dog to obedience classes and exposing it to crowds and urban environments will help the dog to accept new and different situations in any case, but for a Kuvasz that has such strong guardian instincts it is an absolute necessity to provide such early socialization.
Kuvasz which is going to be used primarily as country dogs and flock guardians are trained up in a manner which will expose them to the cattle or sheep which become their flock, often they are turned out with the flock and simply grow up with the animals and outdoors on the farm, where they will then function as nature intended them to.