Hungarikum Kuvasz Kennel
Frequently Asked Questions
The following are a number of questions we are often asked about the Kuvasz breed, our kennel and our dogs. If you have other more specific questions or would like more detailed information on any of the topics mentioned here, please do not hesitate to Contact us.
Do you only breed for Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) homes?
NO! Although we strive and are very proud that most of our dogs end up in working homes, we also have some that are loyal and lovable companions and family guardians. Moreover, since we have acquired our Kuvaszok from some of the finest Hungarian (and Serbian) bloodlines and we focus heavily on correct type, a number of our puppies have also ended up in show and/or breeding potential homes. We are proud and grateful that some have chosen our puppies as their future foundation breeding stock.
Why have I not heard of or seen a Kuvasz before?
The Kuvasz is a rare breed and one that has been steadily declining in numbers since the 1990’s. Even in the breed’s homeland, the Kuvasz has suffered a dramatic population decline, whereby at its height there were approximately 2300-2400 puppies born annually in Hungary vs. currently where there are only about 200. Some breed organizations and clubs believe if such trends continue, the Kuvasz might be facing the real possibility of extinction. This is why we are trying to raise awareness about the breed so that we can try and preserve it. It is also worth pointing out that if you do decide to acquire a Kuvasz puppy, especially as an LGD, you are actively contributing to the preservation of the heritage and continued existence of this ancient breed.
Why are Kuvaszok not more utilized as LGDs?
Because most breeders, especially in the U.S. do not focus on promoting the Kuvasz as a LGD; rather, their focus is mostly on showing, titles and bragging right, which is abundantly evident by visiting the websites of most American Kuvasz breeders. Often, they completely overlook the historic context and the original function of the breed. Some outright oppose or hate the notion of the “Kuvasz as a LGD” and they would much rather see the Kuvasz be “reinvented” to serve a different purpose, such as compete in obedience, rally or agility. In many regards the idea these people have is for the Kuvasz to be a multi-faceted utility dog like the German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois. However, what is essential to understand is that selecting for temperaments that would make a dog good at these sports is completely the opposite of the behavioural attributes required and/or expected of a LGD. I view this as blatant disrespect and/or disregard towards the heritage of the Kuvasz as an ancient Hungarian breed of LGD.
Why do your Kuvaszok look different from most others in North America?
Because we only own and utilize 100% imported Hungarian (and Serbian) bloodlines. Therefore, the phenotype (an organism’s observable characteristics or traits – external look) of our dogs is correct in accordance with the Hungarian/FCI standard and what is acceptable in the country of origin. This is very different to what is the norm or acceptable for the Kuvasz in North America. First thing that must be understood about the Kuvasz is that scientifically (in Latin) it is known as “Canis familiaris UNDULANS Hungaricus”, translated as “WAVY Hungarian domestic dog” meaning there is NO such thing as a straight-haired Kuvasz, which is allowed under the AKC standard. Secondly, we do not breed or consider the overly refined, petite, fine boned, narrow foxy headed Kuvaszok seen nowadays at most AKC shows as correct. I understand how this might be pretty in the show ring, but it is contrary to the heritage and working ability of the breed. Thirdly, in specific relation to Canada, we also do not breed or favour the heavy set, short legged, usually sway-backed and domed-headed Great Pyrenees looking Kuvaszok that are associated with older Canadian lines. From personal experience these dogs lack the physical attributes and athleticism as well as the tenacity and guardian ability to be well-functioning LGDs.
What is the average adult size?
According to the FCI/Hungarian/CKC Standard (not same as AKC):
Height at withers:
Males: 71-76cm (28-30 inches)
Females: 66-70cm (26-27.5 inches)
Females: 37-50kg (81.5-110lb)
The FCI/Hungarian (and now CKC) standard calls for significantly larger dogs than the American standard. Sometimes I hear breeders from the U.S. say they have a really big male when they are referring to a 110-115lb dog, which in reality is close to the bare minimum for a male under the Hungarian standard. Realistically, I would consider a 140lb dog to be a “big male”. Of course, there are those who criticize me and say I am just blindly pursuing larger size. In reality, this cannot be further from the truth because I am always advocating for the total dog where form = function; however, we must remember two things; 1.) the Kuvasz is a Hungarian breed and if this is the size prescribed by the country of origin, then who has the right to change that? 2.) When it comes to a LGD, size does matter. A dog that is supposed to face wolves and bears must be physically strong, and have the size and strength needed to face its potential adversaries. We can’t realistically expect a 70lb Kuvasz (as some AKC female) to stand a chance against serious predators.
Do they shed?
Yes, they do! Although shedding is heaviest when the seasons are changing, such as the spring and fall, Kuvaszok still shed year-round.
Overall, Kuvaszok are not a high energy or hyper type of dog that requires a lot of daily exercise. In the house (if kept as a pet) they are usually very calm and relaxed, but if their owner calls them, they are ready to go at a moment’s notice and will gladly accompany on long walks and hikes, jogging, trips to the beach etc. They do enjoy exercise and play time and appreciate when given the opportunity, but if for some reason their owner does not take them on longer walks for a few days (perhaps bad weather, ill, busy, work, etc.), they are equally content. Thus, they are very undemanding and adaptable to various lifestyles and settings. This stems from their long evolution as an LGD where they are equally calm and blend in amongst the flock and might even appear to be sleeping yet are constantly vigilant and can be lightning quick when needed and have tremendous endurance.
What potential health issues might they have?
Since Kuvaszok are a natural breed, overall, they tend to be healthier than many other similar sized breeds. However, as with most large breeds, hip dysplasia can sometimes occur, and this is why it is important to have all breeding stock tested to ensure any affected dogs are eliminated from breeding. Always insist from breeders for a copy of the hip and elbow certificates (OFA) of the immediate parents of the puppy you are inquiring about and do NOT settle for someone telling you the grandparents, uncle, aunt, or other relatives were clear. Furthermore, since the Kuvasz is a deep chested breed, bloat (gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) or twisted stomach) can also occur; however, it does seem to be more prevalent in certain bloodlines and in dogs displaying certain anatomical features. I try and avoid these bloodlines whenever possible. I am also aware that some breeders in North America might consider additional health disorders to be associated with the breed, such as certain cancers, auto-immune disorders, thyroidism, weak and tearing CCLs (cranial cruciate ligaments, often requiring costly TPLO surgery), food sensitivities, allergies, vaccine reactiveness, noise sensitivity, etc. It is extremely UNFAIR and UPSETTING for these breeders to try and justify the specific health issues in their bloodlines by trying to generalize them as if it were the “norm” for the entire Kuvasz population. I have no doubt that there are bloodlines which suffer from such disorders, but I have not heard, witnessed or experienced any of these issues in any of my dogs nor in any other Hungarian bloodlines….this is the number ONE reason I do not utilize any North American bloodlines. We must work diligently to improve the overall health of breeding stock.
What is the average life expectancy?
The average life expectancy is between 10-13 years old, which is very good for such a large sized breed.
Can Kuvaszok make good family pets?
Absolutely! In the right environment, in the correct hands and household and with proper guidance and socialization, a Kuvasz can be a wonderful and loving family companion and friend. However, one must understand how they (and most other LGDs) think and would potentially act in various scenarios, such as being protective of the home and family and sometimes not being overly keen or enthusiastic about strangers. It is also important to be realistic about expectations from a Kuvasz and not expect it to behave like a Golden Retriever, such as being very suitable for a dog park.
How trainable are they?
Kuvaszok are extremely intelligent and have highly developed problem-solving skills and critical thinking ability as their lives often depend on their quick wits. However, since they often need to make decisions by themselves in the field, it also means they are very independent and can also be rather wilful and stubborn at times. Nevertheless, a Kuvasz even employed as a LGD should know at least basic commands such as come, sit, stay, leave it, go to your place, get in, etc. Knowing basic obedience is necessary as there might be scenarios when the dogs need to be handled or cared for (i.e. at the vet) and they must comply. Don’t get me wrong, Kuvaszok can be taught to do anything and they can learn just about anything and perform many roles and functions; however, they usually only want to do things they see a point to doing. Which means to get them to do things like tricks might take longer or more effort than with some other breeds, or they will readily do something once or twice and lose interest. For example, they might fetch a ball a few times and quit, as opposed to a Labrador Retriever or Border Collie which might do it as many times as you can keep throwing the ball. In my opinion if you want a trick dog or one that constantly seeks attention by all means get one, but realistically don’t expect a Kuvasz to be one.
Are Kuvaszok good with children and/or other pets?
YES! Being a LGD, Kuvaszok are exceptionally gentle and patient with the weak, young or vulnerable. A stable-minded and well-balanced dog should never do anything to harm children or other pets. I could name numerous examples of how incredibly patient Kuvaszok are, such as some of my males with puppies chewing on them, our Kuvaszok with our pet Bichon Frise or all the things my 1 year old son can do with them. Although we trust our dogs, it is advisable not to leave small children unsupervised with any dog. It is also important to keep in mind the guardian instincts of a Kuvasz and understand as well as anticipate their potential behaviour. Although they are very gentle with their own children and pets, they might misinterpret roughhousing between children as someone trying to hurt their loved ones and might react protectively.
Do they get along with other dogs?
YES! Being a LGD, a Kuvasz must be able to fit in and work in a pack as it is one of the most effective ways of repelling large predators such as wolves or bears. This means that the dogs will often develop their own social structure and hierarchy. It is not to say that there won’t be skirmishes between same sex dominant individuals. Usually they can take care of this amongst each other and live in harmony. A dog that is overly aggressive or constantly causing fights is not a good LGD. Towards small dogs, they are usually very passive as they don’t see them as a challenge or worth their time. Case in point is our Bichon who runs around with all of our Kuvaszok, especially our intact males and they could care less. However, we must also remember that the Kuvasz is a LGD and the fact that all LGDs have been bred for centuries to protect and confront predominantly canid (wolves, coyotes, jackals) adversaries, which means that dogs who are not familiar to them or not part of their pack might not be looked at favourably, especially if the strange dog demonstrates potential dominance (i.e. posturing or trying to challenge a Kuvasz). Kuvaszok will usually not shy away from a challenge and the pack will often react as a group to an intruder. Obviously proper socialization with other dogs from an early age will enable your dog to interpret a real threat from a non-threat. A properly trained and socialized Kuvasz can go anywhere with its owner(s).
Are Kuvaszok difficult to housebreak?
No! Kuvaszok are actually very easy to housebreak. LGDs are innately clean dogs. It is incredible to see how they instinctively know not to do their business in the immediate vicinity around the livestock, because it can introduce added parasites as well as attract potential predators. Our female Zenta for instance even buries her feces when she has puppies. Meanwhile, once the puppies start eating and walking more actively (5-6 weeks old) they will often wait to be let out of the whelping box or pen to do their business not wanting to go where they sleep. This is instinctive and it makes it easy to housebreak even the pet Kuvasz.
Do Kuvaszok bark a lot?
Kuvaszok are not considered a yappy or nuisance barkers; however, one must understand that they are LGDs and it is programmed in them to guard. One of the primary ways LGDs warn and ward off predators is by barking and making their presence known, particularly with canid adversaries. This behaviour is particularly noticeable at night when logically there is a higher chance of predator encroachment. What this means in an urban setting is perhaps not letting the dogs out unsupervised, especially at night as if they hear other dogs barking or coyotes in the distance they will respond, and their bark can be rather loud. In a farm or LGD setting where similar behaviour might be even more prevalent, perhaps it might be wise to inform some of the neighbouring farmers of the presence of the dogs and explaining that they are working LGDs and can also serve to their benefits by keeping predators at bay in the greater farming community.
Do they require a fenced yard/property?
Yes! LGDs are territorial and without set boundaries such as a physical barrier or a fence they might try and expand their turf. They can potentially also escape the owner’s property, roam and not return. If this happens there is always the potential for trouble and for a not so happy ending, such as never being found, their territorial instinct getting the better of them and hurting someone or someone’s pet or potentially being run over and killed. Proper fencing and training are essential specially to get over the adolescent years when a dog is most likely to want to begin exploring new horizons. Such investment will reward itself in the long run by keeping the dog safe and protecting the owner from potential future issues and grief.
What are the most important things to understand about the Kuvasz before considering getting one?
The Kuvasz is a unique and ancient breed that has survived for centuries, mostly because of its legendary attributes that aided the people who kept them. It is one of the most loyal, dependable and dedicated breeds, which is always at its master’s side and if need be would protect it and all that belongs to him/her even with its life. However, I want to also be perfectly clear that the Kuvasz is NOT the right breed for everyone. It is a confident and a no-nonsense kind of dog that requires an owner who is equally confident, fair, very consistent and understands dog behaviour, namely hierarchy and leadership. This breed requires a person who is a strong leader and who radiates a calm and confident demeanour. Being a good pack leader for your dog is not very difficult and for some people it comes naturally, and others might need to practice a bit to be calm and assertive. The Kuvasz is probably not the best breed for a novice, or for someone who has never had a dog, or for someone who simply wants a friendly four-legged companion. Prior experience with guardian-type breeds would be the best.
We breed Kuvaszok in accordance with their heritage and the way the breed was historically and the way they ought to. We are not trying to change or “water them down” to better cater to the pet market. If you desire a big oversized white golden retriever with limited guarding ability, disguised as a Kuvasz (at least on paper), by all means get one. There are a number of breeders in North America who advocate and breed for this type of Kuvasz, but this is NOT what we do. Moreover, please do your research and due diligence and don’t be fooled by imitators or false marketing. Claiming to have LGD capable dogs that will protect is very different from having Kuvaszok from actual proven working capable bloodlines with serious guarding instincts and abilities. I’d gladly illustrate to anyone interested or willing to test my dogs as to what they can actually do, as I am confident in their abilities. Lastly, also please be vigilant and discriminating regarding claims of “Hungarian bloodlines” or “Hungarian offspring” etc. Once again, claims vs. reality are two very distinct things. Having some Hungarian imports mixed with North American bloodlines cannot and should not be considered Hungarian bloodline or offspring. We are the only active kennel in North America that breeds exclusively 100% imported Hungarian bloodlines.
What is the process for acquiring a puppy?
Once you have contacted and spoken with us and if you are interested, you can be placed on our waiting list for an upcoming litter. Once we get closer to the time or once a mating has occurred, we will then contact and follow up with you. However, if you definitely want to ensure your reservation even before a mating is announced, you can always send us a $400 deposit.
I hope you found all the information I provided here useful, informative and insightful about the breed, my breeding approach and what we are all about. I also hope you realize and appreciate what we are trying to accomplish and how and why we are so different from all other North American Kuvasz breeders.