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rec.pets.dogs: Kuvaszok Breed-FAQ
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997
There are nearly 100 FAQ's available for this group. For a complete
listing of these, get the "Complete List of RPD FAQs". This article
is posted bimonthly in rec.pets.dogs, and is available via anonymous ftp
to rtfm.mit.edu under pub/usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/faq-list, via
the Web at http://www.zmall.com/pet_talk/dog-fa.../faq-list.html, or=
via email by sending your message to with
in the body of the message.
This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below.=20
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
alteration provided that this copyright notice is not removed. =20
It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other
than the URL listed above without the permission of the Author(s). =20
This article may not be sold for profit nor incorporated in other=20
documents without he Author(s)'s permission and is provided "as is"=20
without express or implied warranty.
Copyright =A91995 Kuvasz Fanciers of America
(this article may be reproduced only in its entirety and only with
credit given to Kuvasz Fanciers of America)
* Original article based on an article authored by Valerie Eastman
for the Kuvasz Fanciers of America, (KFA) and Copyright 1992.
Distributed electronically with permission from KFA officials Gail
Dash ) and Valerie Eastman. This arrangement
was made possible through Melissa Paul's efforts
* Additions and revisions added by Gail Dash in July 1995.
* Further additions, corrections, etc. by Gail Dash in Sept. 1995.
* KFA web page added, rescue contact updated. Oct. 1996
* ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT ADDING A KUVASZ TO YOUR FAMILY?
* WHERE DOES THE KUVASZ COME FROM?
* WHY HAVEN'T I SEEN THIS BREED BEFORE?
* I NEED TO ENSURE THAT ANY DOG I GET IS WELL-BEHAVED AROUND
CHILDREN. MORE SPECIFICALLY, WHAT ABOUT THE KUVASZ AND ITS
* I DO WANT GUESTS IN MY HOUSE, WITHOUT HAVING TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT
THE BEHAVIOR OF THE DOG. I KNOW SOCIALIZATION AND TRAINING ARE
REQUIRED, BUT HEREDITY AND INSTINCT ALSO PLAY A ROLE. WHAT SHOULD
I LOOK FOR?
* DOES THE DOG BARK AT THE WIND BLOWING THROUGH THE TREES?=20
* WHAT IF I WANT A KUVASZ WHO CAN BE A LIVESTOCK GUARDING /HERDING
* WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS ARE PRESENT IN THE BREED?
* HOW ABOUT THEIR EXERCISE REQUIREMENTS?
* HOW TRAINABLE ARE THEY?
* MY YARD IS NOT FENCED, WILL THEY ROAM?
* CAN I LEAVE MY KUVASZ ALONE FOR 9 HOURS A DAY WHILE I WORK?
* MY WIFE/HUSBAND IS NOT SURE SHE/HE CAN HANDLE A GUARD DOG.....
* WHAT ABOUT PUPPY MILLS AND PET SHOPS?
* I'VE SEEN TWO DIFFERENT LOOKS OF KUVASZ, WHY?
* WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT THIS PUPPY TO COST?
* SHOULD I BREED MY KUVASZ?
* WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
* WHAT ONLINE INFORMATION IS THERE ON THE KUVASZ?
* HOW ABOUT BOOKS ON THE KUVASZ?
_ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT ADDING A KUVASZ TO YOUR FAMILY?_
You are doing the right thing by doing LOTS of research before
deciding on a Ku vasz. If this type of guard dog is right for your
family, it will be the most wonderful experience you will ever have
with an animal. If a Kuvasz is wrong for you, and you insist on
bringing one into yo ur life anyway, you will be miserable because
this dog will steal your heart and then break it when you have to
find it a new home. We can refer you to people who are still
grieving, years and years after they had to give up their first
Kuvasz that didn't work out.
Neil and I have a spayed, pet quality bitch, Ilsa, from Ghosthill
Kuvaszok, now almost nine years old. We have had her since she was
eight weeks old and she later achieved a CD obedience title as well
as passing the CGC test. We also have an intact male, Laszlo, now
four ye ars old, whom we rescued at six months of age. He was
returned to the breeders (also Ghosthill) as an unsocialized terror
after he bit the owner's father. I showed him to his championship
and we are now working toward his obedience title. While Ilsa is
very protective, loving, and mellow, Laszlo is very protective,
loving, and a total brat who still steals socks out of the hamper,
shoes out of the closet, and dish towels off the kitchen counter.
His creative interpretations of AKC obedience rules at Kuvasz
specialties are nationally renowned.
We have no children and rarely have children in our home. Years ago
my nephew (around six years old at the time) insisted on "staring
Ilsa down" while his dad screamed at him not to stare at the dog.
After that our wonderful, mellow Ilsa would back the boy against
the wall and bark at him. It took Ilsa years to be comfortable
around my nephew again.
I will try to answer your questions in a brutally honest way. I
urge you to share my answers with other Kuvasz owners and solicit
their comments. I also recommend you get commen ts from your
veterinarian and other Kuvasz breeders.
_WHERE DOES THE KUVASZ COME FROM?_
The Kuvasz (pronounced Koo=B4-vahss) is a guarding dog and a member
of AKC's Working Group. The plural of Kuvasz is Kuvaszok
(Koo=B4-vah-sock). The Kuvasz originated in Asia and is one of the
most ancient of all dog breeds. It is the probable ancestor of the
Tibetan Mastiff, Samoyed, Anatolian Shepherd, Akbash, Maremma,
Great Pyrenees and other breeds of Asiatic origin. The Kuvasz
arrived with nomadic tribes in Hungary's Carpathian Basin about 896
AD. It was used and bred first by shepherds and later by Hungarian
nobility. Its most notable promo ter was King Matthius Corvinus,
who ruled Hungary from 1458 - 1490. Matthius kept a pack of
Kuvaszok for hunting and had at least one Kuvasz beside him at all
times for protection from assassins. Since it is an odorless breed,
specially cleaned and trained Kuvaszok were also used at royal
banquets as dinner napkins!
_WHY HAVEN'T I SEEN THIS BREED BEFORE?_
The Kuvasz is not commonly seen in North America, but thrives in
great numbers in its country of origin, Hungary, where the
appearance of the breed remains much the same as it has for
centuries. Those dogs are descendants of a small handful of
Hungarian Kuvaszok who survive d the devastation of two World Wars
and a revolution. Advancing Nazi and Russian armies shot Kuvaszok
who impeded their movements by protecting their families and
property, and countless other dogs died from starvation in the
postwar food shortages. When Hungarian fanciers sought to salvage
their historic breed, only twelve surviving Kuvasz could be found.
Another small population of Kuvaszok existed in Germany. Cut off
from Hungarian influence, German breeders suffered considerable
confusion about correct Kuvasz type and began breeding Kuvaszok
whose appearance differed vastly from the Hungarian population.
_I NEED TO ENSURE THAT ANY DOG I GET IS WELL-BEHAVED AROUND CHILDREN.
MORE SPECIFICALLY, WHAT ABOUT THE KUVASZ AND ITS CHILDREN'S
If you are choosing a dog primarily as your child's companion, a
Collie or a Golden Retriever may be a better choice than a Kuvasz.
The Kuvasz is first and foremost a bold, agg ressive protection
dog. Choose the Kuvasz to guard your children, not to play with
them. Even so, most Kuvaszok will tolerate behavior from children
that would not be tolerated from adults, and many Kuvaszok will
assume the role of baby-sitter if not active playmate of the family
children. A well-socialized Kuvasz is expected to be protective and
forgiving of its own children's behavior. Playmates may pose
serious problems depending on the age and behavior of the kids and
how for giving the Kuvasz is willing to be. Children should not be
left unsupervised with a Kuvasz, especially if they are at an age
where they will take toys, food, dishes, etc., away from the dog,
or will tease or abuse the dog. While most Kuvasz owners would feel
that growling at a stranger who is threatening to take the dog's
chewy is understandable behavior, your neighbors and the child's
parents may not. Sometimes a Kuvasz will go further and if provoked
grab the wrist of or even nip the person attempting to take its
possessions. This again is not acceptable in our litigious society.
Your children should be at least as well-trained (if not more
intelligent) than the dog.
If the children are old enough and well-behaved enough to respect
the protective nature of the Kuvasz, you shouldn't have problems.
As an alternative, the dog could be confined when young playmates
or strangers are in "his home". Again, this relies on consistency
on the part of the adults.
To make a very gross, WORST CASE analogy, think of your Kuvasz as a
loaded weapon lying on your kitchen floor. Can you assure yourself
that your children will not touch it? Are you comfortable that
their playmates will not touch it? Is the adult supervision in the
home sufficient that the children will not have the opportunity to
touch it? Are you sure that the adults will ALWAYS lock it up if
they can't supervise children 100% of the tim e they are in your
home? Like a gun, your Kuvasz brings protection and peace of mind.
Both deserve your respect.
_I DO WANT GUESTS IN MY HOUSE, WITHOUT HAVING TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT
THE BEHAVIOR OF THE DOG. I KNOW SOCIALIZATION AND TRAINING ARE
REQUIRED, BUT HEREDITY AND INSTINCT ALSO PLAY A ROLE. WHAT SHOULD I
When shopping for a Kuvasz you must insist on meeting the dam, and
if the sire is available, ask to meet him also. THIS is the dog you
will be living with for (hopefully) about 12 years. It is NOT that
adorable little fluff ball you see in the breeder's puppy room.
Most breeders agree that heredity is 10%, training and
socialization is 90%.
Your Kuvasz will develop the intellect and feelings of a
six-year-old child. However, it will be close to 100 pounds and
very strong. It's been said that man is the only being that shares
his home with another carnivore. This 100-pound carnivore lying at
the foot of your child's bed will have the in telligence, emotions,
playfulness, cleverness, stubbornness and yes, be as mischievous as
a six-year-old for most of its life.
If you have sufficiently socialized and trained your Kuvasz, you
will be able to introduce guests to him and he will accept them.
Once you tell the dog something like, "Joe is OK, and he's coming
into the house and that's all right with me", the guest will be
more or less graciously allowed to enter. Our Laszlo will bark and
lunge at the fence at a stranger. It is quite frightening from the
guest's point of view. When we tell Laszlo this person is OK and
will be coming into his house, he watches very suspiciously for a
few seconds and then runs to get his toys to drop at the visitor's
feet. We didn't train him to do this, he just does it.
_DOES THE DOG BARK AT THE WIND BLOWING THROUGH THE TREES? _
Some do. Ilsa sleeps on the bottom of our bed and only barks enough
to alert, then stops. Laszlo prefers to sleep outside to watch his
fence. He will bark to alert, and then continue...just because he
can. He wears a TriTronics Bark Diminisher (shock collar) every
night, so the neighbors can get some sleep. One night a few months
ago, Ilsa stood up on the bed and barked out the window at 2 AM. We
told her to be quiet and go back to sleep, which she did. The next
morning we discovered our car had been broken into and the cellular
phone stolen. I think we'll listen to her next time.
_WHAT IF I WANT A KUVASZ WHO CAN BE A LIVESTOCK GUARDING /HERDING DOG?=
As a flockguard, the Kuvasz does not herd, but instead works at a
distance from the flock and shepherd, ever watchful for predators
and ready to protect and defend against danger. The companion
Kuvasz can easily perform a dual role as a family pet and a
part-time livestock guardian, alternating between the home and the
flock. However, the Kuvasz who will serve as a full-time flockguard
requires a different upbringing. The puppy should be introduced to
its duties around six weeks of age. It should be raised with gentle
flock animals who will not intimidate or injure it, and should
receive minimal contact with human beings until bonding with the
livestock is complete at about fifteen weeks of age. The flock
animals and shepherd become the dog's family, and it will guard
_WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS ARE PRESENT IN THE BREED?_
In comparison with other breeds, the Kuvasz is afflicted with few
genetic defects, but hip dysplasia remains a major problem.
Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), von Willebrand's Disease (vWD),
eye disease, and deafness (in Kuvaszok from German bloodlines) have
also occurred in the breed. As a deep-chested dog, the Kuvasz is
also prone to gastric dilatation and volvulus (bloat). Puppy buyers
should make sure that both parent dogs are x-rayed and certified
clear of hip dysplasia by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals
(OFA) in the United States or Ontario Veterinary College (O.V.C.)
of Canada. The best breeders also certify their stock free of vWD
and eye disease, and should willingly provide you with proof of all
of these certifications. If a breeder won't supply health
clearances or tells you they aren't important, go elsewhere,
_HOW ABOUT THEIR EXERCISE REQUIREMENTS?_
Although they are athletic and agile, Kuvaszok are not hyperactive
and adjust to your lifestyle very well. If you are very active,
they will be able to keep up with you, then sleep soundly for
hours. If you like to do nothing, they will do that too, and then
sleep soundly for hours. Our two get little exercise other than
weekly obedience class and a few minutes of practice (hopefully)
daily. Their major exercise consists of chasing each other around
the yard a couple times a day and flying out the doggie door, and
running to the fence to bark at the UPS truck and evil joggers.
_HOW TRAINABLE ARE THEY?_
Kuvaszok are trainable if the owner/trainer is more stubborn and
persistent than they are. They are not usually obedience stars like
Shelties or Goldens, but they can be willing workers if you figure
out a way to motivate them. Some are motivated with praise and some
are motivated with treats. Some are extremely sensitive and are
devastated by a stern vocal reprimand; others are as sensitive as a
dirt clod. Some are motivated by avoidance of discipline and if you
insist on "non-force training" with this type of Kuv asz
personality, you and the dog will be very frustrated. If your
Kuvasz is only motivated by discipline, don't even bother with a
choke chain. You can not pull hard enough to make an impression on
this type of dog. Use a pinch collar and your corrections will be
effective the first or second time. The result is actually fewer
corrections than with a choke you would continuously jerk. All
Kuvaszok are deviously clever and will attempt to modify or
neutralize your training efforts. Persevere! (And don't forget to
laugh when your Kuvasz outsmarts you!)
_MY YARD IS NOT FENCED, WILL THEY ROAM?_
This a livestock guarding dog, bred to instinctively protect
anything within its own territory. Without clearly-defined
boundaries like a fence or invisible fencing, the dog will expand
its territory to guard; in Hungary, a pair of Kuvasz would often
protect an entire village as well as all approaches leading to the
village. While you and your neighbors would disapprove of roaming,
the dog just sees it as doing his job and expanding his kingdom.
Remember that the only car that comes down your road all day will
hit your unfenced dog.
_CAN I LEAVE MY KUVASZ ALONE FOR 9 HOURS A DAY WHILE I WORK?_
If you have purchased your puppy from a good breeder, it should be
well on the way to being housebroken by the time you bring it home.
Good breeders make sure the pups learn to follow mom outside to
take care of business. You probably want to confine your puppy to a
puppy- proof room or crate (maximum 8 hours) if it will be
unsupervised for long periods until it is completely housebroken,
and again during its chewing (electrical cords, furniture, shoes,
etc.) stage. Bear in mind that the Kuvasz was never meant to live
his life in a kennel. There are many stories about the confined
Kuvasz who barked helplessly while the family house was being
gutted by burglars. Your Kuvasz needs the freedom to protect you
and your possessions.
We find that a well-fenced yard, a doggie door, a Kuvasz-friendly
house that has trash and dangerous or valuable objects far out of
reach, a big spill-proof bowl of clean water (I must admit Ilsa and
Laszlo often prefer to drink out of the toilet) and a cool,
comfortable place to sleep works best for the owner who will be
gone all day. The dog can then decide for himself where to spend
his hours, either inside or out, depending on the wea ther and his
need to guard your house. Remember that a lonely dog will look for
ways to "entertain" himself: two dogs are better than one.
_MY WIFE/HUSBAND IS NOT SURE SHE/HE CAN HANDLE A GUARD DOG....._
Everyone in the home needs to be in agreement when a guard dog will
be brought into the family. Your Kuvasz will quickly search out the
weak member of the family's leadership team and test him/her
relentlessly. If that person is not able or willing to assert
dominance over the Kuvasz, the dog will quickly move ahead of that
person in the family hierarchy. A jealous child can pose serious
problems by covertly abusing the dog: does your child want the dog,
too? If an adult in the home has reservations about his/her ability
to discipline or control a guard dog, don't buy a Kuvasz.
_WHAT ABOUT PUPPY MILLS AND PET SHOPS?_
Kuvaszok have failed to be a good crop for puppy mills or pet
shops. Without human contact and a job to do, they seem to get
depressed, stop eating, and get sick. In our experience,
puppy-millers give up after a short while and sell off or abandon
their stock. There are several large breeders, though, and you
should question how much socialization kennel-raised puppies and
their parents have had.
_I'VE SEEN TWO DIFFERENT LOOKS OF KUVASZ, WHY?_
Largely due to the confusion existing in Germany about the
appearance of the Kuvasz, you will find two different types in
North America. If you are looking for a Kuvasz that has a straight
coat, big boxy head and massive chest and bone structure, our
recommendation is to shop for a Great Pyrenees instead. While that
type is correct in NEITHER breed, the Great Pyrenees breeders who
do produce that type of dog seem to get a structurally better dog
than that same incorrect type of dog produced by Kuvasz breeders.
Much of this problem is related to the "show dog" mentality that
promotes "bigger is better".
Again, there is a dispute over "correct type" within BOTH breeds,
but neither breed should be heavy-headed, drooly-lipped and
massive-boned. If you want a functional dog with historic and
correct Hungarian Kuvasz features i.e. wolf-like appearance, wavy
coat, lean but muscular build and refined head, any of the breeders
on the KFA list will be able to show you that type of dog.
_WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT THIS PUPPY TO COST?_
While the initial cost of an AKC- or CKC-registered Kuvasz from a
good breeder may seem high (about $500-$700 for pet quality, and
$800- $1000 for show potential), it is little compared to the cost
of caring for this dog throughout its life. Minimally, the dog will
require a good-quality dog food, routine veterinary care including
vaccinations, and heartworm prevention medication in most parts of
this country. Your growing dog will also outgrow many collars and
destroy dozens of toys. You will need grooming and first aid
supplies, leashes and probably a crate. Unexpected medical
emergencies as well as these basic necessities may quickly strain
your budget more than the puppy's purchase price.
_SHOULD I BREED MY KUVASZ?_
If your puppy was sold as pet quality, most likely you have signed
an agreement that the dog will not be bred without prior consent of
the breeder. If your puppy was sold as show potential, there is a
lot to consider before breeding it. When the dog is two years old,
its hips should be x-rayed and certified clear of hip dysplasia by
either Orthopedic Veterinary College (O.V.C. ) of Canada or
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (O.F.A.) in the United States.
The hip clearance is only the first step in deciding whether or not
to breed the dog. If the dog then tests clear for von Willebrand's
Disease (vWD), eye disease, and has a normal thyroid, you have a
healthy dog. The next question is does the dog have anything to
offer that will improve the breed? The Kuvasz gene pool is very
small, breeding a poor quality dog will have far reaching impact on
the breed. Unless your dog is sound, demonstrates good movement and
stable temperament and has few faults according to the standard, it
is better not to breed the dog.
If the dog is of breeding quality, are YOU prepared to be a dog
breeder? This involves a committment to any puppies you produce for
their entire lives. Would you be able financially and emotionally
to take care of every dog you bred regardless of what age it may be
when returned to you? Are you willing to carefully interview buyers
in order to place your puppies in appropriate homes? Are you
willing to be the support system for your puppy buyers? Just
imagine all the questions you asked of your breeder. If you had a
litter of ten puppies, could you answer ten times the questions you
asked as a novice owner?
_WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?_
There is one "official" AKC Kuvasz Club and one "official" CKC
Kuvasz Club. There are also two independent clubs in the US. Each
club has its own preference for type and its own views on how best
to serve the breed and its members. There is so little information
on the Kuvasz in English, that often the best source of the latest
information, especially health concerns, are the Kuvasz club
newsletters. I suggest you contact each club and join the one(s)
that seems to meet your needs. Kuvasz Fanciers of America is the
only American Kuvasz club which promotes and supports the true,
historic Hungarian Kuvasz.
AKC Parent Club: Kuvasz Club of America, Inc.
Pat Zupan, 2706 Garfield, Street Wall Township, NJ 07719
Rescue Coordinator: Janis Hansen, 304 SE Crestview Lane, Madras
OR 97741, (503) 475-4350.
Kuvasz Fanciers of America
Gail S. Dash, Secretary, P.O. Box 7115 Mission Hills, CA 91346,
Rescue Coordinator: Ivonne Lukaszczyk, 11101 Zenaida Way
Bakersfield, CA 93311 (805)663-0521
Kuvasz Club of Canada
Mrs. Dorothy Grosart, 72 Bythia Street Orangeville, Ontario L9W
American Kuvasz Association
Maria Lavicska, 109 Grandview Avenue, Spring Valley, NY 10977
Rescue Coordinator: Dan Wasson, 6261 Penrod, Detroit, MI 48228
_WHAT ONLINE INFORMATION IS THERE ON THE KUVASZ?_
On Usenet, you can locate Hungarian Kuvasz information under
rec.pets.dogs.info posted every 30 days.
This same file is available on the Internet via ftp to rtfm.mit.edu
in /pub/usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/breeds/kuvaszok. Or to obtain
it via email, send email to with no/any
subject line and send usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/breeds/kuvaszok
in the body of the message. It can also be found on the Web at
Visit David Walker's home page on the WWW:
The KFA homepage is up at http://members.aol.com/kfa4kuvasz.
There is also an international Hungarian Kuvasz daily discussion
group on-line. To subscribe to KUVASZ-L simply send an email
message to with no/any subject line
and subscribe KUVASZ-L Firstname Lastname in the body of the
message. The listserv knows who you are, so there is no need to
include your name or email address in this command. Questions may
be sent to the list owner, Melissa Paul at
If you are interested in discussing Livestock Guarding Dogs, join
that mailing list the same way by sending an email message to
saying subscribe LGD-L yourfirstname
yourlastname. Including your email address is unnecessary.
Questions may be sent to the list owner, Janice Fraisch=E9 at
_HOW ABOUT BOOKS ON THE KUVASZ?_
Unfortunately, there are no recently published books easily
available that are specifically written about the Kuvasz. A Kuvasz
owner hungry for anything and everything she could find would have
the following in her library:
Book of Kuvasz Champions Vol. I & II
Compiled by Obi Fox, 118 North Nevada, Colorado Springs, CO
How to Raise and Train a Kuvasz
Dana Alvi and Leslie Benis, (1969) TFH Publications [out of
Livestock Protection Dogs- Selection, Care, and Training
Sims and Dawydiak, (1990) OTR Publications
Hungarian Dog Breeds [English translation]
Sarkany and Ocsag, (1986) Corvina Printing [in print, but only
available in Hungary]
Maggie A Sheepdog (children's book)
Dorothy Hinsaw Parent, (1986) Putnam Publishing Group [out of
Death and the Dogwalker (mystery)
A.J. Orde, (1990)
A Little Neighborhood Murder (mystery)
A.J. Orde, (1992)
Knitting With Dog Hair (craft instruction)
Kendall Crolius and Anne Montgomery, (1994)
The Puppy Report (expose=E9 of reckless breeding and guide to finding =
Larry Shook, (1992)
If I have left anything unanswered, please write back. This can and
should be a great experience for your family. I wish you the best of
Gail S. Dash, Secretary
Kuvasz Fanciers of America
P.O. Box 7115
Mission Hills, CA 91346
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