Vital Stats:Dog Breed Group: Working Dogs
Height: 2 feet, 1 inch to 2 feet, 3 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: 80 to 100 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 12 years
The Komondor may look like a mop on four legs, but beneath all that hair, there's a big dog with a big personality. Originally bred to guard livestock — a job he still excels at — the Komondor is intelligent, independent, and highly protective. In fact, he enjoys nothing more than watching over his family.
This may pose a couple of problems. For one, it can be unnerving to have a dog sit and stare at you as you go about your day. For another, the Komondor's protective instincts and suspicion of strangers can lead to trouble (and lawsuits) if your dog attacks someone he perceives as a threat.
Obviously, this dog comes with responsibilities. You need to be a confident leader to win the respect of your Komondor. The meek, and the inexperienced dog owner, need not apply. You'll have to socialize your Komondor well — exposing him to lots of different people, situations, and other animals — from an early age so he knows how to behave around them. And you'll have to take pains to introduce your Komondor to people who are permitted in your home. Once a Komondor accepts the newcomer, he'll always remember him and treat him as a member of his flock, one more person to watch over.
You'll also need to be careful around other dogs. Komondorok can be aggressive toward dogs they don't know, and some aren't capable of sharing a home with another canine, no matter how hard you to try to make everyone get along. However, they may have excellent relations with cats and livestock.
Nor is the Komondor's coat care an easy proposition. Their trademark cords don't need brushing, but they must be kept free of parasites and dirt. And if it gets damp, the Komondor's coat can develop an unpleasant mildew odor.
True to his working dog heritage, the Komondor is a smart cookie who learns quickly with the right trainer — that is, one who engages his mind and works with his independent nature rather than against it. With repetitive training techniques, he gets bored. The Komondor will ignore commands that seem unnecessary, so pick your battles.
The Komondor comes with lots of benefits in addition to the responsibilities. This loyal breed will happily spend his days under or on your feet, serving as companion, friend, and guardian.
- Komondor are rare, but unethical backyard breeders and puppy mills do breed them. It's important to find a good breeder to make sure you don't get a puppy who will develop health or behavior problems.
- Although an apartment or condo is not the ideal living space for a Komondor, he can adjust to that lifestyle if he receives daily exercise and is trained not to bark excessively.
- This strong-willed dog needs a confident owner who can provide leadership the Komondor will respect. This isn't a good choice for the first-time dog owner.
- Although Komondor shouldn't be brushed, their coat needs extensive care to keep its white color and to stay free of dirt, debris, and parasites. If you want your Komondor's coat to stay clean, he should sleep indoors.
- Komondor are barkers and suspicious of most things they see or hear. The breed is an excellent watch dog for both home and livestock and was originally developed for this role.
- Komondor can be aggressive to other dogs.
- Komondor aren't high-energy, and are happy just watching and following you around the house. But they still need daily exercise of at least a few walks per day to keep them healthy and at their proper weight.
- A high fence is required to prevent the Komondor from attempting to expand his territory, a common habit of guard dogs.
- The Komondor is happiest when he's working. He's ideal for guarding livestock, but any job will give him the mental exercise he needs.
- Although Komondor historically spent their time outside protecting the flock, they do need time inside with their family. Like any dog, a Komondor can become aggressive, fearful, or aloof when deprived of human company.
The earliest written description of the Komondor dates back to the 16th century, but the breed was around long before that, guarding livestock herds in his native Hungary. The Komondor is believed to be descended from the Russian Owtcharka, another breed of sheepdog.
Komondor had a special advantage in their job. With their white, corded coats, they closely resembled their flocks — large sheep with white, curly wool — and were able to mingle with them unseen by predators until it was too late.
As with many breeds, World War II left the Komondor on the brink of extinction. After the war, fanciers tried to return the breed to its original numbers, but it remained rare and largely unknown. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1937, but there were few Komondor outside Hungary until after 1962.
The Komondor ranks 144th in popularity among the 157 breeds and varieties recognized by the American Kennel Club. He still serves as a livestock guardian, but he's now known as a companion dog as well.
The Komondor male stands 27.5 inches tall and up and weighs 100 or more pounds; a female is 25.5 tall and weighs 80 or more pounds.
Komondor puppies take a long time to reach maturity — generally three years or so — but when they do, they have a calm, devoted personality. They're intelligent, independent, and fiercely protective, willing to rise to the challenge of defending home and family. Komondor are wary of strangers and can be aggressive to other dogs.
These traits, plus their large size, make them a bad match for first-time or timid owners.
Komondor need early and extensive socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — starting in early puppyhood. Enrolling your Komondor in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Keep up his socialization by continually exposing him to lots of different people. Invite visitors over regularly and take him along on outings and walks.
Komondor are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they can be subject to certain health conditions. Not all Komondor will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.
If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog's been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.
In Komondor, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or PennHIP clearances for hips.
Because some health problems don't appear until a dog reaches full maturity, health clearances aren't issued to dogs younger than two years old. Look for a breeder who doesn't breed her dogs until they're two or three years old.
- Hip Dysplasia: This degenerative disease occurs when the hip joint is weakened due to abnormal growth and development and is found in many breeds of dogs.
- Entropion: This defect, which is usually obvious by six months of age, causes the eyelid to roll inward, irritating or injuring the eyeball. One or both eyes can be affected. If your Komondor has entropion, you may notice him rubbing at his eyes. The condition can be corrected surgically when the dog reaches maturity.
- Gastric Torsion (Bloat): Bloat is caused by the sudden influx of gas and air in the stomach. This causes the stomach to distend and twist and can cause death in a dog if it is not treated.
When he's young, this intelligent breed is surprisingly easy to train. That ease is often short lived, however, and turns into frustration when the apt pupil turns into a stubborn student. Komondor are independent as well as smart.
The key to training a Komondor is not force or repetition, but making training fun for both owner and dog. The Komondor's ability to think for himself will lead him to decide that some commands are worth learning, some aren't worth repeating, and some are okay only once in a while. He becomes bored easily, so make each training session different.
Komondor have moderate exercise needs and are satisfied with two or three short walks daily or playtime in the yard. They need a securely fenced yard to help them define their territory and, because they're so protective, to prevent other people and animals from entering that territory.
Recommended daily amount: 3 to 4 cups of a high-quality dog food daily, divided into two meals.
How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.
Komondor are prone to bloat, a potentially life-threatening condition. To help prevent bloat, feed two or three small meals daily rather than one large meal.
To keep a Komondor's weight at a normal level, feed him at specific times each day rather than leaving food out all the time. Measure food carefully, and cut back if it looks like he's putting on the pounds. He should have a waist when you look down at him, and you should be able to feel his ribs but not see them. If they're buried beneath rolls of fat, he needs to go on a diet. Dole out treats sparingly. Your Komondor will be just as happy to get a fingernail-sized training treat as a bigger biscuit.
Coat Color And Grooming
The Komondor has a wonderfully unique coat. During puppyhood, he has soft curls that grow heavy as he matures, developing into long, feltlike cords that resemble the strands of a mop. The undercoat is soft and woolly, the topcoat coarse. Puppies have a cream or buff shading to their coats, but this color fades to white as they grow up.
The Komondor coat doesn't need brushing, but it's definitely not maintenance-free. When the cords begin forming at eight to 12 months of age — a process in which the soft undercoat is trapped by the topcoat — it's essential to keep the hair clean and dry so it doesn't get dirty and discolored. The cords may not completely form until the dog is 2 years old.
The cords must be separated regularly to prevent matting and to remove debris or dirt. Trimming around the mouth is suggested to avoid staining from food. And bathing and drying a Komondor is an all-day affair. Floor fans are excellent for post-bath drying, and many Komondorok will laze around in front of a fan. The coat can be trimmed short for ease of maintenance, although this takes away from the breed's distinctive appearance.
Other grooming needs include dental hygiene and nail care. Brush your Komondor's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the accompanying bacteria. Daily is better. Trim his nails once or twice a month, as needed. If you can hear the nail clicking on the floor, they're too long. Short nails keep the feet in good condition and won't scratch your legs when your Komondor jumps up to greet you.
Start getting your Komondor used to being examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth and ears. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.
Children And Other Pets
Komondor can be good companions to children in their own family, but may have difficulty accepting visiting children. They're best suited to homes with older children who understand how to interact with dogs. Always supervise Komondor when they're with children, and never leave them alone with young children. They're livestock guardians, not babysitters.
Even when exposed to them often, Komondor are generally not fond of other dogs. They do best in a single-dog home but can learn to get along with cats. They're always pleased to have livestock to guard. That is, after all, their purpose in life.
Sometimes Komondorok are acquired without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one, and these dogs may end up in the care of rescue groups, in need of adoption or fostering. Contact rescue organizations for more information about available dogs and adoption requirements.