ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Komondor

Komondor dog
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Komondor, also known as Hungarian Sheep Dog, is a large breed of livestock guardian dog, with a distinctive white, corded coat. He is very popular throughout Hungary, but his origins are in the Asian steppes, from where the Cumans brought him to Central Europe some hundreds of years ago.

They gained the funny nickname of «mop dogs» because of their coat’s resemblance to the strands of a mop, but the truth is that this is a very powerful dog, with a mind of his own, who will fiercely guard whatever he is given to guard.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityHigh
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessAbove Average
Exercise NeedsAbove Average

Dog Breed Group:Working Dogs
Height:2 feet, 1 inch to 2 feet, 3 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight:80 to 132 pounds
Life Span:10 to 12 years

Komondors are very strong, both in body and mind, so they would know no fear when it comes to defending their family, home or any of the family’s livestock and possessions. They have a deep, strong bark, and they won’t hesitate to use it especially at night, when their watching instincts become even more intense.

They are very affectionate family dogs, and need to spend a lot of time with their humans. The good news is that they don’t need a lot of physical exercise, as adults tend to be quite lazy sometimes, but a few daily walks should be on your activity list. Although not so active, an apartment won’t be the best home for a Komondor, so only consider bringing one in a large house with an open, secured yard.

Being such a strong minded dog, he needs firm obedience training to avoid aggressive behaviou and lawsuits from people he had bitten while considering them to be a threat. This dog really has to know his limits and that only the human would decide for him.

Also, prepare for a lot of grooming, a those nice looking cords need to be constantly separated and washed to avoid dirt and parasites from accumulating.

Main Highlights
  • The Komondor is a very protective dog, and will guard any of your goats, sheep, llamas, chicken or cattle with great care. He won’t forget about his family either, and will protect it no matter what;
  • This dog is quite suspicious about strangers and may be aggressive to other dogs due to his guarding instincts;
  • Although the Komondor’s coat shouldn’t be brushed, it still needs a lot of intensive care to stay clean and free of parasites. This is why this dog would better sleep indoors;
  • This is not a very active dog, and needs only moderate exercise. He would be very happy just to follow you around the house, but he still needs a daily walk to keep fit and healthy;
  • The Komondor loves to please his owner and is the most happy when he is given work to do. If you don’t have any livestock that needs to be guarded, any job that would keep him busy will do;
  • This dog is very strong minded and independent, so he may try to challenge your authority on the long run. Not a good breed for novice owners for this reason.
Breed History

The Komondor dog dates back to the 12th century, when the nomad Cumans brought this breed to modern day Hungary. They were forced by the Mongol expansion to migrate westwards, taking their dogs with them across Asia and Eastern Europe, until reaching Pannonia and settling down.

The term «Komondor» is mentioned for the first time around the middle of the 16th century, in written Hungarian. Even its name is due to the breed’s origin: «quman — dur» (meaning «Cuman Dog» or «belonging to Cumans»), distinguishing this breed from another similar sheepdog originating in Hungary. Komondor dog remains were found in early Cuman gravesites, showing how close they were to their dogs.

By the end of the 17th century, this had already become a very popular breed in all Hungary, and it still is until this day. Initially related to the Puli, South Russian Ovcharka, it was then crossbred in 1947 with the South Russian Ovcharka, to get some fresh blood in this rare breed.

Other more distant relatives of the Koondor are the Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Pumi, Mudi, and the Bearded Collie. By the end of the century, the Komondor was then crossbred again and got related to the Bergamasco Shepherd, Catalonian Shepherd, Briard, Pyrenean Shepherd and the Cão da Serra de Aires as well. The only major difference is that the Bergamasco doesn’t have corded hair like the Komondor, but has flocks instead.

Size

The Komondor is a large molosser dog breed, with males reaching at  least 27.5 inches at the shoulder with an average height of 31.5 inches, and weigh between 110 — 132 lb. Females are no shorter than 25.5, with an average of 27.5 inches high at the shoulder, and weigh between 88 — 110 lb.

Personality and Character

Komondors are very independent and dominant dogs, given their strong guarding skills and lack of fear. This is at a maximum when the dog is raised to guard livestock, but even family dogs of many generations have the same instincts. They are very suspicious about strangers and may act aggressive towards other dogs if not well socialized from a very young age.

They are very loyal and affectionate family dogs and can do well around children if they were raised together, although Komondors are not quite recommended for many families. They need a firm owner, who would display constant leadership, and are definitely not the right dogs for novice or timid people. Obedience training is also compulsory for this strong minded dog.

They love to have an active, working life, and are most happy when given a specific job to keep their mind busy. A bored Komondor could develop destructive behaviors, so always make sure he has some toys around to focus on if no work is available for the moment.

Health and Potential Problems

The Komondor is a petty hardy dog with few health problems to worry about. As with all large breeds, joints may be affected by his weight, so it would be a good idea so have them checked up from time to time.

Here are the main health issues you should expect in a Komondor, although, not all dogs would have to have them:

  • Entropion: is a term used to describe an eye irritation caused by the eyelid folding inward. This condition may affect one or both eyes, but it can be repaired by surgical intervention. The symptoms become obvious by the time the puppy reaches 6 months old, when you will notice him rubbing at his eyes;
  • Gastric Torsion (bloat): this digestive disorder is caused by a sudden intake of air and food. This way, the stomach would twist and distend and may even lead to death if the dog is not treated quickly. Some symptoms may be drooling, looking anxious, attempting to vomit and a bloated abdomen. More serious cases may display whitened gums, short breaths or even collapse, so take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice the first signs of distress;
  • Hip Dysplasia: usually affecting larger breeds, hip dysplasia may also appear in smaller ones, deepening with jumping or falling. This condition may not be very obvious, so X-ray screening may be necessary to track it. Arthritis may develop as a dog with this condition ages, so keep a close eye on his joints, especially if you know his parents were also affected;
  • Skin conditions: due to the twisted coat which makes it hard to get to the skin while washing. Always check for ticks, red areas, itchy spots and any abnormally looking areas on the dog’s body.

Most Komondors are very healthy towards their entire life, but you must make sure your puppy’s parents and better yet, grandparents, had already been tested for any genetic disease they may have. Avoid getting your puppy from a suspicious breeder, pet store or puppy mill. A responsible breeder should always have screening test results available for you to check out and will never breed any dog just to make some profit of him.

Care Features

Komondors are extremely territorial dogs, so a sturdy fence should be placed around your yard to avoid any attempts of expanding their territory. Also, keeping this dog in an apartment is not such a good idea, mostly because his large size, but also because of his strong guarding instincts and mouthiness. He may be trained not to bark but still, the best home for him would be a house with a large yard.

Being such affectionate dogs, they really need to spend time with their family. Otherwise they may develop aggressive behaviors towards both humans and other dogs.

Although stubborn, Komondors are surprisingly easy to train because of their high intelligence level, but they may become bored easily, so try to keep training sessions short and fun. Also, they may decide which commands he finds more useful and would want to learn, and which aren’t worth repeating. Use positive behavior reinforcement techniques if you want to succeed in training a Komondor: praise and rewards are the key to a well-behaved dog.

As for the physical exercise, a Komondor is not the most active dog, so two or three short walks per day should be enough to keep his body and mind in good shape.

Feeding Schedule

You can save a lot of money by feeding your Komondor high quality food that suits his particular needs. Energetic dogs, especially those from working lines, need a high-calorie diet, to help them keep up with their activities. Feeding an adequate diet will prevent them from developing food-related health issues like obesity (which is not a serious threat in this breed, though), allergies, hot spots, etc.

The standard recommended food amount for a Komondor is about 3 to 4 cups of high quality dry kibble per day, but it depends on many factors. One of them would be the age and physical activity of your dog, as more active dogs need more calories, thus an increased food amount. Age and metabolism would also dictate the right quantity for your specific dog. Also, always look on the food package for the feeding instructions, as different manufacturers may produce food in different concentrations, so the recommended amounts may vary slightly.

Females that are pregnant in late stages or breastfeeding should be given as much food as they want, to allow for proper development of the puppies and to make sure they have enough milk. Puppy kibble or wet food is best for them during this time, as it holds more nutrients than regular adult food.

Beware of bloat, which is very common in Komondor dogs, so feed your dog two or three smaller servings a day instead of a single, large meal. Most dogs would eat very fast, so a large food quantity, together with gas and air ingested, may lead to terrible consequences!

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Komondor has a very thick, corded white coat, which does need a lot of care despite that it doesn’t need much brushing. Cords are only developed as the puppy matures (almost three years). In the early stages of a puppy’s life, he would only have soft curls. While growing, the undercoat would stay soft, while the topcoat would get coarse and thick, developing into well-defined felt-like cords, resembling a rastafarian’s dreadlocks or the strands of a mop.

You would have to constantly separate the cords to avoid accumulation of dirt and debris, and keep them from matting. Bathing and drying a Komondor will be an all-day affair in order to keep him clean, but they enjoy their baths, and also lazing around floor fans to dry out. Cords around the mouth should be trimmed to avoid staining from food, especially if you feed your dog wet food. You can also trim the whole coat for easier maintenance, but this would take away from the Komondor’s distinctive appearance.

Brush your dog’s teeth at least two or three times a week to prevent tartar and bacteria from accumulating and to avoid gum disease. Trim his nails as needed, usually once or twice per month if your dog doesn’t wear them down naturally. Usually, you can guess the time to trim them when you hear them clicking on the floor as your dog walks by the house. Also, keeping your Komondor’s nails short would help you not getting scratched while he jumps on you to greet you.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

Komondors may act aggressively towards other dogs, so make sure you socialize them well from a very young age. This way, they would feel more relaxed around any dog, especially if they got used to other dogs visiting their territory. Though, never leave a new canine companion alone with your Komondor during the first visits.

Due to their strong guarding instincts and territorial behavior, Komondors would also be suspicious towards human strangers trespassing their property. This is why the puppy must be handled by as many people as you may find, so don’t hesitate to invite your friends and family over after you brought your puppy in.

They may get along with children if accustomed with them from the beginning, but older children would be the safest around Komondor dogs. Always supervise young children while playing with the dog to avoid accidental biting because of kids pulling their tails, paws and ears, especially in very young dogs. Although they are excellent guard dogs, you should never let a Komondor alone with young children, as they are not very patient and won’t act like babysitters.

Teach any children never to touch a dog while sleeping or eating, and especially to not try to take away his food, no matter how good friends they usually are. Food is food and dogs never bargain about it!

Cats would be safe around a Komondor as long as they were raised together, as the dog may think of them as livestock to guard. After all, this is why the breed was developed.

Komondors are challenging dogs, so choose wisely when deciding for a puppy. Now you know everything a dog of this breed requires, as well as what he has to offer. He is a wonderful guardian and companion, with little demand for direct attention. He would be just as happy to lie around you at home and make sure you are fine and safe. With proper training and socialization, you will get the best of this breed in no-time, as long as you keep your status as a pack leader throughout your entire relationship.

Do you think you would get along with a Komondor? Why is that?

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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