Kuvasz as LGD
There are approximately 30-40 breeds (and regional varieties) of livestock guardian dogs (LGDs), mostly originating from Eastern and Central Europe, Asia Minor, Central Asia and The Caucasus. These dogs can all be generally characterized as being large sized, robust, hardy, independent natured, aloof and ferocious guardians. These dogs often live and move with the flocks and watch over them continuously. However, they should not be confused with herding dogs that move and drive stock, as this is NOT the intended function of a LGD.
Although all LGDs serve the same basic function, each country or peoples have developed unique breeds that best suited their needs, such as the local climate and terrain, their particular livestock and their culture and lifestyles. The Hungarian were no exception, as they preferred white LGDs, such as the Kuvasz and the Komondor (more visible at night vs. wolves). Moreover, the early Hungarians were nomadic people, constantly on the move and they had a strong reliance and affinity with horses, thus their LGDs needed to be quick, agile and have tremendous endurance to keep up with the riders. The Hungarians also used their Kuvaszok for capturing and bringing down big game, once again requiring great agility, stamina and tenacity.
In more modern history, (from the 15-18th century) the Hungarians utilized the Kuvasz in a similar way as their ancestors, when Kuvaszok accompanied and protected herds of Hungarian Grey Cattle, as they were driven to Western European markets, such as Vienna, Venice, Augsburg, Nuremberg and even as far as Strasbourg. These dogs often had to endure severe weather conditions, especially summer heat on the Puszta (Hungarian plains), yet be constantly vigilant for potential predators and/or bandits. Some historical sources describe that Kuvaszok of the time were able to attack, leap up and pull-down would-be sheep or cattle thieves from their horses. In order to strengthen their necks, pups were often fed by having meat strung up on a post where they could just barely reach it, forcing them to stretch themselves and strengthen their neck muscles.
Therefore, thousands of years of natural selection in the harshest environments, where working ability was a matter of life and death has created an extremely hardy, healthy, tenacious, uncompromising and unique LGD, known as the Kuvasz. I believe it is upon us heritage breeders to preserve the legacy, historic function and quality of Kuvaszok for many future generations to come.