The Komondor and Kuvasz

KomodorKomodor

It is interesting that Hungary has two quite distinctly different breeds of Livestock Guardian Dogs that have evolved independently. This is because the Komondor was developed by a race of people who called it the Kuman-dor, the dog of the Cumans[3] and the Kuvasz was evolved by a different race - the Magyars. For much of Hungary's early history, these two peoples lived in separate areas in Hungary, spoke different languages and so did not mix. So their dogs were never interbred either[4]. So today we have the two separate breeds with their coats being their most distinguishing feature.

The Komondor

KomondorKomondor

The Komondor belonged to a race of people called the Cumans or Kuns who originated in what is now China and migrated westwards to avoid the unrest happening there at that time. They arrived in Hungary and were allowed to settle, the word 'Kun' or 'Hun' remaining today in many Hungarian place names. There is no doubt that the South Russian (Ukrainian) Sheepdog had an influence on the development of the Komondor's extraordinary coat which in turn has influenced the coat of the sheepdog with which it works, the Puli.

His temperament is typical of a Livestock Guardian Dog. The Breed Standard describes his courage and suspicious nature in defense of his herds as well as the property and home of his master. Typical of a Livestock Guardian Dog, he attacks silently if necessary, regarding his territory as his own property and will not tolerate any other living creature in it. During the day, he likes to keep a lying position enabling him to control his area. At night, he is always on the move.

The Komondor Today

Komondor HeadKomondor Head

The Komondor is a large powerfully built dog standing a minimum of 70 cm or 27.7 inches tall (bitches 65 cms or 26 inches) and weighing 50 - 60 kg (110 - 132 pounds) bitches 40 - 50 kg (88 - 110 pounds). His distinctive long corded ivory coloured corded coat commands immediate attention.  Yet his reputation of being a most courageous Livestock Guardian dog must always be respected despite his outwardly dignified deportment.

Komondor pup''s HeadKomondor pup''s Head

The muzzle is slightly shorter than the half the length of the entire head. The broad domed skull is proportionate to the body. The well-developed brows flow into a stop which is not too steep. The bridge of the black nose is straight and cut off bluntly with black tightly fitting lips although the corner of the mouth is jagged. The jaws are strong and powerful with a normal scissors bite and a full complement of 42 teeth. The eyes are set on a horizontal plane and have black, tightly fitting lids showing no haw. The ears are fairly high set considering the dome of the skull, but are clearly pendant and not raised even when the dog is alert.

The well-muscled fairly short neck is carried as a continuation of the back line should have no neck ruff or dewlap. The body length slightly exceeds the height at withers and the deepest point of the brisket is about halfway between the ground and the withers.

KomondorKomondor

The strongly boned forelegs are straight, parallel and vertical when seen from the front or the side, have large joints and are placed wide apart which allows them to move freely. The points of the moderately sloping shoulder blades are placed vertically over the deepest point of the chest. The forefeet are large with thick pads and strong slate grey nails and slate grey thick pads.

The broad, well-muscled body length is slightly longer than it is high, with the withers clearly defined. The chest is deep with only a slight tuck up. This breadth and strong muscling extends through the straight back and slightly sloping croup to the hindquarters which have medium angulation. Hence the tail-set is low. The tail itself is carried horizontally on the move with only a slight but characteristic bend at the tip. The tail is pendant at rest, reaching the hocks. The hind feet are longer than the forefeet but also have grey nails and slate grey thick well-padded pads, but no dewclaws. He moves with a wide well-covering trot with balanced reach and drive.

The skin must be pigmented and is slate grey on the body contrasting with the black lips nose and eye rims, the dark pigment extending to the gums and the roof of the mouth.

Komondor CoatKomondor Coat

The corded coat is the most distinctive feature of the Komondor. It is essentially a double coat but instead of the top coat and undercoat being in separate layers, they are intertwined into thick dense cords. These cords, which grow and develop as the dog matures, eventually become longest on the croup and the loin where the coat reaches at least 20 - 27 cms (8 - 10.6 inches). On the back, chest and shoulder blades the cords are shorter 15 - 22 cms (6 - 8.5 inches) on the head, ears neck and limbs 10 - 18 cms (4 - 7 inches) and even shorter still at the lips and around the lower limbs 9 - 11 cms (3.5 - 4.3 inches). The smaller tufts of hair are less matted or not matted at all but a combed out coat or one that is neglected is undesirable.

The Kuvasz

A group of KuvaszA group of Kuvasz

The Kusavz is the Livestock Guardian Dog of another race, the Magyars and has an ancestry quite separate from that of the Komondor. There is a believable theory that the name Kuvasz is as a modern corruption of the name 'Ku Assa', a dog originating from Sumeria (part of ancient Mesopotamia)[1]. However, there are linguists who dispute this theory and believe the the Magyars' language is more similar to peoples in the East and the fact these names are so similar is merely co-incidental. No matter where the Magyars came from, there is no dispute that the other Livestock Guardian Dog of Hungary the Kuvasz, is the ancestor of many other breeds of white Livestock Guardian Dogs of Asia and Europe with its first Breed Standard dating back to 1883[2].

Comparison between the Komondor and Kuvasz

Komondor

Kuvasz

KomondorKomondor

Kuvasz pupKuvasz pup

Colour

Ivory

White but ivory permitted

Size

Height

Weight

Dogs: 70 cm
Bitches: 65 cm

Dogs: 50 - 60 kg
Bitches: 40 - 50kg

Dogs: 71 - 76 cm
Bitches: 66 - 70 cm

Dogs: 48 - 62 kg
Bitches: 37 - 50kg

Head

Eyes set on a horizontal plane

Ears either V or U shaped and hanging (with no lift) but never raised when alert

Wedge shaped with distinct furrow

Eyes oval and set slightly slanting

Ears V-shaped and one-third lifts and then drops

Neck (Coat)

No collar as such but coat longest on the loin and croup

Has a collar and mane especially in males

Body

Underline is only slightly tucked up

Underline tucked up as an extension of the ribcage

Rounded slightly protruding forechest or prosternum

Strong 'sinews of steel' in the front legs as well as their relatively short front pasterns.

Feet

Forefeet large and round with well- knit toes

Nails grey and pads slate grey

Dew claws removed

Forefeet slightly oval with short highly arched toes

Nails and pads black

Coat

Essentially a double coat but instead of the top coat and undercoat being in separate layers, they are intertwined into thick dense cords making a corded coat. The length of the cords is described in detail above.

Moderately harsh double coat with coarse topcoat and fine downy undercoat. Short on the head, ears, feet and legs with longer feathering on the backs of the legs, ruff and tail. Body coat of medium length, the wavy hair forming ridges and tassels.

Similarities between Kuvasz and Komondor today

Obviously, the coat of the Komondor is strikingly different from that of a Kuvasz. However, the Kuvasz and Komondor have the following similarities in that both breeds have:

KuvaszKuvasz

Head

  • Black noses cut off bluntly
  • Black lips with jagged edges.
  • Black eye rims
  • Ears set on fairly high
  • Normal scissors bite with full dentition
  • Preferably dark pigment of roof of mouth

Neck

  • Fairly short and muscular and carried at 35 degrees at rest but horizontal on the move.
  • No dewlap

Body

  • Body 'prone rectangle'
  • Chest half way down the body
  • Similar bone and general construction of the front and rear assemblies
  • Withers that are clearly defined
  • Straight well-muscled backs
  • Slightly sloping croup

Feet

  • Pigmented pads and nails
  • Oval hind feet

Tail and Tail set

  • The tip of the tail slightly curved but not crooked
  • Low set tails following the line of the croup at rest
  • Carried level with the topline when moving, but not higher than horizontal

Skin Pigment

  • Grey and well pigmented

Movement

Move with light ground covering strides with balanced reach and drive

References and Further Reading

[1] Edward S Bordeaux, "Messengers from Ancient Civilizations" Academy Books San Diago, CA pub 1974

[2] Dr Lajos-Orkeny Hudak, "Csaba-Geczi, Imre-Hodosi, Jozef-Vad, Laszlo", Edited by Hodosi, Jozsef, Revised by Kovacs, Dr Andras, English Translation by Farago, Otto & Edited by Dash Gail. The Kuvasz, Gail S Dash P.O. Box 280322, Northridge CA 91328, 2000. See also http://kuvaszinfo.com/kovacs.htm

[3] Andras Paloczi Horvath, "Pechenegs, Cumans, Iasians, Steppe peoples in medieval Hungary", Corvina Kiado, 1989

[4] Dr. Arthur R. Sorkin http://www.komondor.org/html/history.html


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