Everything you need to know about the Kuvasz
The Kuvasz (pronounced KOO-vahss; the plural is Kuvaszok, pronounced KOO-vah-sock) is an ancient dog breed that is believed to originate from Hungary. However, this dog’s ancestors were mastiff-type dogs from Tibet. Kuvasz dogs were used for guarding livestock from predators, occasionally for hunting and (mostly) for protection. King Matias I of Hungary was known to have a number of Kuvaszok for personal protection. He also had a kennel were he bred these dogs and often gave them as a gift to nobles.
FUN FACT: One of the nobles who received a Kuvasz from King Matias I of Hungary was Vlad Dracula, the Prince of Wallachia. Vlad Dracula married King Matias’s cousin and as a wedding gift they received two Kuvaszok.
During the World War II, the breed almost became instinct. They were often shot by soldiers while they were trying to protect their families and livestock. By the end of the war there was approximately 30 Kuvaszok in Hungary. Luckily, a few persistent breeders saved the breed. First time the Kuvasz was shown at a dog show was in 1883, and the standard for the breed was written in 1884.
Kuvasz - characteristics
Male Kuvaszok are 28-30 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh around 100-115 pounds. Female Kuvaszok can stand as high as 26-28 inches at the shoulder, and they weigh 70-90 pounds. The Kuvasz is a large dog, slightly longer than tall, has dark, almond-shaped eyes, dropped ears, and long, furry tail. The Kuvasz is strong, sturdy and well-muscled.
Kuvasz - shedding
FUN FACT: Kuvaszok lose a lot of their hair during the summer. Still, they can have troubles in extreme heat. Make sure your Kuvasz always has access to fresh water and plenty of shade.
Keep in mind that, except for dirt, the Kuvasz sheds a lot of hair, also. These dogs shed heavily, especially during shedding seasons (in the spring and the fall).
FUN FACT: A lot of people clean their dog’s coat by sprinkling talcum powder or cornstarch into the coat and then simply brush the dirt out of the coat.
The rest is basic care – trim your dog’s nails regularly, trim the fur between the toes, brush the dog’s teeth, and occasionally check (and clean) dog's ears.
Kuvasz - energy level
Kuvaszok were bred as working dogs and they love to have a job. These dogs are used to be active all day long. Make sure to give you Kuvasz dog enough daily exercise. Moderate daily exercise is enough for these dogs, but as Kuvaszok are massive dogs they are not suited for apartments without access to a large yard surrounded by a solid fence. Long walks during the day and a possibility to play and roam around some more around the yard are an ideal combination for this breed. If not exercised properly (and left alone for too long), Kuvaszok can get destructive or aggressive.
Kuvaszok grow fast and may develop joint problems, so never over-exercise a young, growing puppy.
Kuvasz - behavior
The Kuvasz is extremely intelligent, but challenging breed. The Kuvasz is slow to mature, strong-willed, and can be aloof and unresponsive to the owner’s commands. This, combined with their size and strength, makes these dogs not suited for unexperienced owner. The owner/trainer must be positive, persistent and consistent. The Kuvasz responds well to praise and rewards, especially to tasty treats. These dogs were genetically predisposed to be leaders, so it is important that the owner establishes himself as a leader from day one. Socialization is an essential part of training. Exposing the dog to different sounds, sights, animals and people helps him to become well-adjusted. If not socialized properly, the Kuvasz can be overly-suspicious, timid, or aggressive, especially to new people. Towards other animals they are often dominant or aggressive. They have a strong instinct to drive away any animal that does not belong to their flock (family). They also have strong territorial instincts; they are extremely devoted to their family and are fierce in protecting the family and their property. If they were raised together, the Kuvasz will be highly protective and gentle with family’s children. However, dog this big should never be left unsupervised with small children.
FUN FACT: Kuvaszok bark on anything that they consider to be a threat. They have deep, booming barks that can drive you (and your neighbors) crazy.
Kuvasz - health problems
The Kuvasz has a lifespan of 10-12 years. They generally live a long and healthy life, but, as all the breeds are, the Kuvasz is also prone to certain health conditions. These health conditions are hip dysplasia, osteochondritis dissecans (OCD – a joint disorder often seen in young, fast-growing dogs of the larger breeds), bloat, von Willebrand's Disease (an inherited blood clotting disorder), progressive retinal atrophy (PRA - an inherited disease of the retina), etc.
Kuvasz - breeders
Always buy a puppy from a reputable breeder who will answer all of your questions, and will show you health clearances from puppy’s parents and siblings.
FUN FACT: For a dog so large, the Kuvasz needs surprisingly little food.
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