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Komondor

This wolf in sheep's clothing is independent but loyal.

Komondor Breed Photo

Vital Stats

Dog Breed Group
Working Dogs
Height
Weight
Life Span
10 to 12 years

Breed Characteristics

  • Details

    Adaptability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Trainability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Health & Grooming

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    All-around friendliness

    based on 4 ratings
  • Details

    Exercise needs

    based on 4 ratings
  • See All Characteristic Ratings


Summary

His appearance might make you think he was developed to mop floors, but the Komondor has a long and noble heritage as a flock-guarding dog breed in his native Hungary. He still retains a strong protective instinct and will defend his family and property with his life.

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  • Overview

    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.

  • Highlights

    • 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.
  • History

    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.

  • Size

    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.

  • Personality

    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.

  • Health

    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.
  • Care

    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.

  • Feeding

    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.

    For more on feeding your Komondor, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

  • 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.

  • Rescue Groups

    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.

  • Breed Organizations

  • All Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability

    Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments

  • Trainability

    Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed

  • Health & Grooming

    Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home

  • All-around friendliness

    Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans

  • Exercise needs

    Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity

  • Not usually

    Adapt well to apartment living

    Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.

  • Extremely

    Affectionate with family

    Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

  • Minimal

    Amount of shedding

    If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.

  • Not usually

    Dog friendly

    Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

  • Moderate

    Drooling potential

    Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.

  • Not at all

    Easy to groom

    Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

  • Very

    Easy to train

    Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.

  • Moderate

    Energy level

    High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

  • High

    Exercise needs

    Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

  • Rarely

    Friendly toward strangers

    Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.

  • Fair

    General health

    Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.

  • Almost never

    Good for novice owners

    Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

  • High

    Intelligence

    Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

  • High

    Intensity

    A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

  • Sometimes

    Kid friendly

    Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.

    **All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

  • High

    Potential for mouthiness

    Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

  • High

    Potential for playfulness

    Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

  • Moderate

    Potential for weight gain

    Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

  • Moderate

    Prey drive

    Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

  • High

    Sensitivity level

    Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

  • Extra Large

    Size

    Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.

  • High

    Tendency to bark or howl

    Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?

  • Not particularly well

    Tolerates being alone

    Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

  • Quite well

    Tolerates cold weather

    Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.

  • Not so well

    Tolerates hot weather

    Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

  • Very low

    Wanderlust potential

    Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.

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