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Hungarian Kuvasz

The Kuvasz is a breed of ancient origin, believed to be one of the oldest Molossers alive. There are various theories concerning the breed's origin and its name, from those suggesting that it is the Sumerian ancestor of the Tibetan Mastiff and that its original name was Ku Assa, meaning "Horse Dog" of the proto-Magyars, to those claiming that it's descended from the Akbash brought to Hungary by the Turks, whose great white dogs came into contact with other Molossers and Wolfhounds of the region and that its name is a corruption of the name Kawaz, meaning "Guard of Nobility" and so on. These theories have been around for many years and while they seem to touch upon some "accidental truths", there isn't much historical evidence to back them up. Many facts are being ignored, such as the existence of white guard dogs in Hungary before the Ottoman invasion, or the impossibility of the supposed Sumerian and Magyar connection because of basic chronology and other faults.

A theory which seems to be the most likely one suggests that the original white guard dogs associated with the region were descended from the prized watchdogs of the old Russian Chuvash group of farmers, hunters and herdsmen, which employed working crosses of dogs from the Carpathian mountains, namely old Hutsul Wolfdogs and their Borzoi-like hounds to protect their livestock and hunt large game. Bred for colour, temperament and agility, the original variety of the Kuvasz was already its own breed long before the Turkish invasion. During the 2nd part of the 15th century, these impressive white dogs were kept by the Hungarian King Matyas, who bred his own strain and used them as personal bodyguards, while the rest of the nobility employed them as hunters and watchdogs.

With the Ottoman occupation also came the great dogs of Anatolia, the most numerous of which was a white variety of the Yoruk Kopegi known as the Akbash. The original Chuvash of Hungary and the Akbash of Turkey were interbred, creating what became the Hungarian breed named Kuvasz. It should be noted that before the introduction of Turkish shepherds, the Hungarian Chuvash was neither a herding nor livestock guarding dog. Some believe that the name Kuvasz is actually a combination of Chuvash and Akbash. Originally used as a guard dog, the Kuvasz eventually excelled in herding duties and secured its position as a favourite choice of Magyar shepherds, which celebrated the breed's immense agility and fierce temperament.

Prized for its great intelligence and courage, the Kuvasz was a very popular dog in its homeland for centuries, with the nobility and peasants alike. The famous Hungarian nobleman, Count d'Esterhazy was a great admirer of the legendary white wavy-coated breed and is credited with being the first person to present the Kuvasz at a Dog Show in Vienna in 1883. The first Standard was written in 1885 and the breed was becoming a popular dog outside of its homeland, especially in Austria and Germany. However, most German dogs were crossed with the Great Pyrenees to achieve greater size and more attractive coats, creating a noticeable difference between native Hungarian dogs and the western examples of the Kuvasz. Unfortunately, this impressive Moloss suffered greatly during the WW2 and less than 20 specimens survived, which served as a foundation stock for the revival of the breed. While trying to repopulate the breed, Hungarian breeders had to resort to using some German dogs, which were far from excellent breed representatives.

Although it was never disclosed what outcrosses were used in the revival programme, it has been suggested that a number of white dogs from Voivodina, Romania, Ukraine, Poland and Czechoslovakia was imported with the intention of re-building the breed, based on historical ties and common ancestry. The programme was a success and the mighty Kuvasz was revived, once again enjoying the popularity as a guard dog and Show dog worldwide. It's worth mentioning that the majority of European and American Kuvasz bloodlines are actually descended from the German stock and not the indigenous Hungarian Kuvasz population, which explains the clear physical differences between the breed shown under the Kuvasz name in the West and the true representatives of the breed in Hungary and eastern Europe.

This is a very powerful dog, although not as bulky as some of the mountain Molossers. Kuvasz is a superbly muscular and athletic breed, capable of great speeds and even hunting down and killing a wolf. A fearless Molosser, the Hungarian Kuvasz is prone to fighting with other dogs, as well as going too far in its protection of property and owners, which is why it needs proper training and early socialization. It does make a good pet, as long as it is handled the right way. Some believe that the Komondor is simply a bearded variant of the Kuvasz, even though it is recognized as a separate breed, while others dismiss this theory, pointing out the obvious physical and temperament differences between the two. The Kuvasz belongs to the lighter, more lupoid variety of Molossers and has a lovely large wedge-shaped head, with well-developed jaws and high set drop-ears. The neck is long, muscled and without dewlaps. The Kuvasz has a lean and strong body, with a deep chest and long legs.

Its lovely double coat is of medium length and is slightly wavy and coarse on top, with a very fine undercoat. With age, some working dogs develop a curly coat. The colour is uniform white, ranging from pearl to ivory shades, with no markings allowed.

Average height is around 29 inches, but some dogs found in rural regions of Hungary have been known to achieve heights of over 34 inches at the withers.

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