Kuvasz breed: a special dog that is as old as the Hungarian shepherds

László Enikő, 2023. May 16 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

The Kuvasz is one of the oldest Hungarian dog breeds. Thanks to its innate ability to guard and protect, it has been serving the domestic shepherds for thousands of years.

There are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about the white giant, which are important to dispel. One of the most common beliefs is that they are aggressive, but this is not necessarily true. In fact, the Kuvasz is a truly free character, with a look of strength and confidence, but with the right training, aggression can be avoided. As a great guard dog, it has long been popular in the countryside. However, it has been chained, kept in small spaces, and not socialised properly by ignorant owners. Under such treatment, any breed of dog can become anti-social, and a negative prejudice has developed. The Kuvasz needs space and a confident owner who makes him feel part of the pack.

The Kuvasz is a very intelligent breed.


This breed is ancient Hungarian. From the time of the migration of the people, many finds have been made about the ancestor of the Kuban. Its role was to protect flocks, property and people. It was also used for hunting bears and buffaloes in the times of the Árpád kings.

During the reign of King Matthias, the lords often received a kuvasz cub as a gift, because of its great qualities and abilities. It was at this time that the cattle trade was booming, and the animals were accompanied by kuvas on long journeys, even as far as Nuremberg. Dogs kept a watchful eye on the cattle all the time.

By the 19th century, there was less need to protect the herds. By then, the cougar was guarding the family and the farm. The breed steadily declined in popularity, so much so that in the 1950s many were simply shot, but thanks to Emil Raitsits, like the Pulis, it was eventually saved. With the help of dogs brought from Transylvania, domestic breeding of the Kuvasz was revived.

Kuvasz puppy.

The first breed description was made in 1905, and in 1935 the official breed standard was developed. The Second World War wreaked havoc on the kuvasz population. The dog was a prime target for soldiers looting farms and faithfully guarding the gate. The breed almost became extinct as a result. But the Hungarians were determined to protect this wonderful guardian at all costs, and fortunately they succeeded.

In 2016, the Kuvasz-Őr Large Carnivore Conservation Programme was launched, whereby registered puppies are given to farmers to return the dogs to their original role. They assist in their training and regularly check on farmers.

Breed standard

The Kuvasz can be classified as a shepherd or herding dog. Its coat is strong, wavy, white or ivory. The body is well proportioned, lean and muscular. Depending on the sex, the dog weighs between 37 and 62 kg. Height at withers 66-76 cm. The head is wedge-shaped and noble. The ears form a blunt V-shape, close to the head. Eyes dark brown, eyes bright and intelligent. The gait is light, commanding. The tail is low-tipped, sloping downwards, covered with thick fur. Life expectancy 10-12 years.


The Kuvasz is a very dominant, strong character. It is a wonderful guard dog, always protecting its territory from strangers, to whom it behaves as it sees its owner behaving. Truly intelligent, independent and self-reliant. Not aggressive when properly socialised. Affectionate and hard working and needs to be made to feel that this dog is an important and valued member of the family. The Kuvasz will repay this with eternal loyalty and protection for the rest of its life.

Ideal environment

Especially recommended for a house with a garden, where there is plenty of space. Because of its large space requirements, it is not suitable for apartments. Remember that it used to protect farms, so it will always need a large area. It is also recommended for children with the right socialisation, but needs a firm and calm owner who will start training it from puppyhood. He is considered a one-owner dog, but he will also easily find his place in his family pack.

They always guard the gate faithfully.


Its coat is adaptable to all weathers and does not require any special care. In winter, the cougar’s body is covered with a dense coat of fur, so it tolerates cold, harsh weather well. In summer, it sheds its coat, so it has no problems in hot weather.

It also stands up well to cold weather.

Common health problems

The Kuvasz is an extremely healthy breed. Only dysplasia, which is common in all large dogs, can endanger them in old age.

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