Komondor

Introduction | History & Health | Temperament & Personality | Breed Standard

Komondor

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Introduction

The Komondor, also known as the Hungarian Komondor, the Hungarian Sheepdog and the "Kom," is indisputably the king of all working dogs native to Hungary. The Komondorok (plural) is a massive, visibly intimidating and heavily coated dog best known for his long, heavily-matted white coat. At first glance, the Komondor appears unkempt, but this is his natural coat condition. He was bred to accompany and protect livestock rather than to herd them. His unique coat helps him blend in with the flock. His name may derive from komondor kedvu, which means "somber," "surly" or "angry." Alternatively, it may come from the French word commandeur, which means "commander." Komondor puppies historically are raised with the flock, imprinting their special attachment to them. The Komondor was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1937 as a member of the Working Group.
Mature male Komondorok should be at least 27½ inches at the withers and weigh 100 pounds or more. Adult females should be at least 25½ inches in height and weigh 80 pounds or more. The hallmark of this breed is its dense, protective topcoat, which covers a thick wooly undercoat. Adult Komondorok are entirely covered with a heavy, permanent coat of tassel-like cords which form naturally. Failure of the coat to cord properly by 2 years of age is a breed disqualification. The coat is always white or some variation of white, such as buff or cream. It should never be brushed or combed.

History & Health

History

The Komondor is the largest of the native Hungarian breeds and has guarded (but not herded) sheep and cattle for ten centuries or more. It is considered to be an almost direct descendant of the Aftscharka (or Ovtcharka), a dog found by nomadic Huns on the southern steppes when passing through Russia. However, the earliest known written record of the breed appeared in 1544. In 1673, there was a report that "the Komondor guards the herd." The first know illustration of the Komondor dates back to 1815 and is virtually identical to the dog today.
His corded white coat is unique in the dog world, although the related but much smaller Puli has a similar coat, but in black. This coat provided an armor of sorts against the vicious predators the Komondor met and fought in the course of his daily work (including wolves, bear and human thieves), many of which were his superior in size and weight. The Komondorok coat also kept it warm in the winter and prevented sunburn in the hotter seasons. Finally, it served as camouflage when the dog mingled with its wards, adding an element of surprise during a predator's attack.

The Magyars bred the Komondor for more than a thousand years, focusing on his performance, vigilance and courage rather than his pedigree. The Komondor was a prized worker and guardian, and was never thought of for commercial purposes. However, these dogs were not cross-bred with other dogs, so their pedigree remains essentially pure. The Hungarian Kennel Club and the Hungarian Komondor Club, while they have records of this breed only going back maybe a century or so, are committed to controlling and maintaining the purity, soundness and historical characteristics of this ancient breed and worked together to create the existing Hungarian standard for the Komondor.
The Kom has been in North America since the 1930's. They are routinely seen in flock-guarding programs and in the conformation ring. The American Kennel Club has adopted a translation of the Hungarian standard as its own. Today's Komondor retains its strong protective nature, intelligence and self-reliance. It still is used in the United States and elsewhere to protect sheep flocks from coyotes. It is distinctive in the show ring and can make a loyal companion, although it is not a particularly affectionate breed.

Health

The average life span of the Komondor is 10 to 12 years. Breed health concerns may include bloat (gastric dilatation and volvulus), cataracts, entropion and hip dysplasia.

Temperament & Personality

Personality

The Komondor's temperament is like that of most livestock guarding dogs. They are normally calm and steady, but they will defend their herd fearlessly in times of trouble. Komondors are extremely affectionate with family and friends, and they are gentle with the children. Although wary of strangers, they will accept them when it is clear that no harm is meant.
Komondors are very protective of family, home, and possessions. An athletic dog, the Komondor is fast and powerful and will leap at a predator to drive it off or knock it down. It can be used successfully to guard sheep against wolves or bears.


Komondors are wonderful, loving companions when properly trained and socialized. As in any breed, there is a range of personalities, so your needs should be communicated to your breeder. An experienced breeder can try to identify an individual that would be happier as a working livestock dog, or one that would be better suited as a family pet.

Training

Obedience training is a must for the Komondor due to its size, power, and speed. The best results occur when training begins at an early age (4-8 months). A Komondor can become obstinate when bored, so it is imperative that training sessions be upbeat and happy. Praise is a must, as are consistent and humane corrections.


Once a Komondor gets away with unfriendly or hostile behavior, it will always think such behavior is appropriate. Therefore, consistent corrections even with a young puppy are necessary to ensure a well-adjusted adult. Socialization is also extremely important. The Komondor should be exposed to new situations, people and other dogs as a puppy. Because it is a natural guard dog, a Komondor that is not properly socialized may react in an excessively aggressive manner when confronted with a new situation or person.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
The Komondor is characterized by imposing strength, dignity, courageous demeanor, and pleasing conformation. He is a large, muscular dog with plenty of bone and substance, covered with an unusual, heavy coat of white cords. The working Komondor lives during the greater part of the year in the open, and his coat serves to help him blend in with his flock and to protect him from extremes of weather and beasts of prey. Nature and Characteristics: The Komondor is a flock guardian, not a herder. Originally developed in Hungary to guard large herds of animals on the open plains, the Komondor was charged with protecting the herd by himself, with no assistance and no commands from his master. The mature, experienced dog tends to stay close to his charges, whether a flock or family; he is unlikely to be drawn away from them in chase, and typically doesn't wander far. Though very sensitive to the desires of his master, heavy-handed training will produce a stubborn, unhappy Komondor. While reserved with strangers, the Komondor is demonstrative with those he loves, selflessly devoted to his family and his charges, and will defend them against any attack. The combination of this devotion to all things dear to him and the desire to take responsibility for them produces an excellent guardian of herds or home, vigilant, courageous, and very faithful.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Dogs 27½ inches and up at the withers; bitches 25½ inches and up at the withers. Dogs are approximately 100 pounds and up, bitches, approximately 80 pounds and up at maturity, with plenty of bone and substance. While large size is important, type, character, symmetry, movement and ruggedness are of the greatest importance and are on no account to be sacrificed for size alone. The body is slightly longer than the height at the withers. Height below the minimum is a fault.

Head
The head is large. The length of the head from occiput to tip of nose is approximately 2/5 the height of the dog at the withers. The skin around the eyes and on the muzzle is dark.

Eyes: Medium-sized and almond-shaped, not too deeply set. The iris of the eye is dark brown. Edges of the eyelids are gray or black. Light eyes are a fault. Blue eyes are a disqualification. Ears: In shape the ear is an elongated triangle with a slightly rounded tip. Medium-set and hanging and long enough to reach to the inner corner of the eye on the opposite side of the head. Erect ears or ears that move toward an erect position are a fault. Skull: The skull is broad with well-developed arches over the eyes. The occiput is fairly well-developed and the stop is moderate. Muzzle: The muzzle is wide, coarse, and truncated. Measured from inner corner of the eye to tip of nose the muzzle is 2/5 of the total length of the head. The top of the muzzle is straight and is parallel to the top of the skull. Underjaw is well-developed and broad. Lips are tight and are black in color. Ideally gums and palate are dark or black. Nose: Nose is wide and the front of the nose forms a right angle with the top of the muzzle. The nostrils are wide. The nose is black. A dark gray or dark brown nose is not desirable but is acceptable. A flesh-colored nose is a disqualification. Bite: Bite is scissors; a level bite is acceptable. A distinctly overshot or undershot bite is a fault. Any missing teeth is a serious fault. Three or more missing teeth is a disqualification.

Neck
Muscular, of medium length, moderately arched, with no dewlap. The head erect.

Topline
The back is level and strong.

Body
Characterized by a powerful, deep chest, which is muscular and proportionately wide. The breast is broad and well-muscled. The belly is somewhat drawn up at the rear. The rump is wide, muscular, and slopes slightly towards the root of the tail. Softness or lack of good muscle tone is a fault.

Tail
A continuation of the rump line, hanging, and long enough to reach the hocks. Slightly curved upwards and/or to one side at its end. Even when the dog is moving or excited, the greater part of the tail is raised no higher than the level of the back. A short or curly tail is a fault.

Forequarters
Shoulders are well laid back. Forelegs straight, well-boned, and muscular. Viewed from any side, the legs are like vertical columns. The upper arms are carried close to the body, without loose elbows.

Feet
Strong, rather large, and with close, well-arched toes. Pads are hard, elastic, and black or gray. Ideally, nails are black or gray, although light nails are acceptable.

Hindquarters
The steely, strong bone structure is covered with highly-developed muscles. The legs are straight as viewed from the rear. Stifles are well-bent. Rear dewclaws must be removed.

Coat
Characteristic of the breed is the dense, protective coat. The puppy coat is relatively soft, but it shows a tendency to fall into cord-like curls. The young adult coat, or intermediate coat, consists of very short cords next to the skin which may be obscured by the sometimes lumpy looking fluff on the outer ends of the cords. The mature coat consists of a dense, soft, woolly undercoat much like the puppy coat, and a coarser outer coat that is wavy or curly. The coarser hairs of the outer coat trap the softer undercoat, forming permanent, strong cords that are felt-like to the touch. A grown dog is entirely covered with a heavy coat of these tassel-like cords, which form naturally. It must be remembered that the length of the Komondor's coat is a function of age, and a younger dog must never be penalized for having a shorter coat. Straight or silky coat is a fault. Failure of the coat to cord by two years of age is a disqualification. Short, smooth coat on both head and legs is a disqualification.

Color
Color of the coat is white, but not always the pure white of a brushed coat. A small amount of cream or buff shading is sometimes seen in puppies, but fades with maturity. In the ideal specimen the skin is gray. Pink skin is not desirable but is acceptable. Color other than white, with the exception of small amounts of cream or buff in puppies, is a disqualification.

Gait
Light, leisurely and balanced. The Komondor takes long strides, is very agile and light on his feet. The head is carried slightly forward when the dog trots.

The foregoing is a description of the ideal Komondor. Any deviation should be penalized in direct proportion to the extent of that deviation. Extreme deviation in any part should be penalized to the extent that the dog is effectively eliminated from competition.

Disqualifications
Blue eyes.
Flesh-colored nose.
Three or more missing teeth.
Failure of the coat to cord by two years of age.
Short, smooth coat on both head and legs.
Color other than white, with the exception of small amounts of cream or buff in puppies.

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