Ready to don a cape at a moment’s notice, the Kuvasz is an unassuming canine superhero. Though a large breed, they don’t look like your typical guard dog with their big grins and fluffy white coats. But underneath that sweet demeanor beats the heart of a brave defender. Sturdy, sleek and muscular, the Kuvasz is a fearless dog who moves with ease and is ready to leap into action at a moment’s notice. So, they may not cozy up to strangers, but they’ll happily cozy up to you any day of the week. Just flash the bat, er, dog signal, and they’ll come running.
Kuvasz dogs are best for experienced and active pup parents who live on acres of land or at least have a fenced yard with lots of space to run. Kuvaszok can be good with kids and other pets if well socialized.
Though they look like big, fluffy teddy bears, the Kuvasz has a robust personality and guarding instinct that makes them a force to be reckoned with. As working dogs, they were bred to guard livestock, which in turn has made them very protective of their people and suspicious of strangers. Their centuries-long history as a guard dog often emerges in full force when confronted with strangers on their property or if they just have a sense that something’s not quite right. They’re very vocal barkers in these situations, and barking can escalate to aggression. The Kuvasz breed does tend to bite (and hard) when they feel threatened, or when they sense family is being threatened. However, with proper socialization and training, they can learn the difference between friend and foe.
The Kuvasz is extremely smart. How smart? They’ve been known to figure out how to open doors and gates to free not only themselves, but other animals, too. (The ones they like, that is!) They do well with animals they know and like if they’re properly socialized starting in puppyhood.
Kuvaszok (the plural of Kuvasz) do well with kids they know (and who know how to play nicely with dogs), but you always should supervise playtimes. They are large dogs and may accidentally knock children over. And since these pups are so protective of their family, they may misinterpret a visiting child’s playful actions toward your child as a threat.
How to Care for a Kuvasz
Kuvaszok are fairly independent, but they can’t take care of themselves! Their double coats and independent streak means you’ll be spending a fair amount of time on their upkeep (translation: you’ll be brushing, training and exercising these pups a lot every day).
Kuvaszok have a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years and are generally a very healthy breed. It’s important for potential pup parents to be aware of conditions they may face, so they can help their pup live the healthiest life possible.
- Bloat (Gastric-Dilatation Volvulus): Like many large or giant dogs, Kuvaszok can be prone to bloat, which happens when they gulp down too much air while eating, distending their stomachs. This is a life-threatening emergency when the stomach twists on itself. Signs include excessive drooling, trying to vomit unsuccessfully, a distended belly and pacing. Preventative measures can include changing feeding practices so they don’t eat immediately before or after they exercise and feeding them smaller meals throughout the day with a slow feeding bowl.
- Elbow and Hip Dysplasia: Hip and elbow dysplasia are conditions when the ball and socket of a joint don’t function properly. Signs include front leg lameness for elbows and bunny hopping, decreased activity and loss of muscle mass for hip dysplasia. Treatments range from lifestyle changes, like weight reduction, to joint supplements and surgery.
- Patella Luxation: Have your vet test your Kuvasz for a luxating patella (dislocated kneecap) by the time they’re 6 months old. Signs include limping, pain in the knee, refusing to exercise or swelling. Early diagnosis and intervention can help prevent the types of problems patella luxation can cause, like severe osteoarthritis. As with other orthopedic conditions, treatment can range from lifestyle changes, like weight reduction, to surgery.
- Cardiac Conditions: Kuvasz should be screened for congenital cardiac conditions like aortic stenosis, which can cause heart murmurs. Their treatment options depend on the diagnosis.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) can strike Kuvasz, affecting their vision, often starting with night blindness. Screening can detect the condition, and a dog’s keen sense of smell can often help them adapt to the vision loss PRA causes.
- Autoimmune Thyroiditis: This disease occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid. This disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in dogs. (Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormone.) Treatment is a daily thyroid supplement.
The Kuvasz has been quite the jet-setter over the centuries, making their way from Tibet, where they’re believed to have originated, to Turkey, where they got their name. Next, the Kuvasz traveled to Hungary, where they were originally bred and known for their stellar ability to guard livestock. The breed won high praise from nobility for their loyalty and protective qualities. King Matthias, who ruled Hungary in the 15th century, was actually said to trust his Kuvasz pack more than the people around him.
The Kuvasz first came to the US in the 1920s, and the American Kennel Club recognized the dog in 1931. Sadly, during World War II, the Kuvasz population in Hungary dropped dramatically, but breeders eventually brought the breed back from the brink.
So, where is the best place to find Kuvasz puppies? You can find a list of reputable breeders on the American Kennel Club’s website. What’s the average price for a Kuvasz? Depending on the breeder, expect to spend anywhere from $1,300 to $2,500 for a pup. But for that, you usually get a dog who’s been screened for temperament and health issues and may come with pedigree papers. You can also reach out to local Kuvasz rescue organizations to adopt one or keep an eye out for the breed at your local animal shelter.
Do Kuvasz dogs shed?
Yes, and the Kuvasz sheds a lot. They have thick double coats and shed profusely in the spring and fall. They’re not hypoallergenic, so they may set off allergies.
How do you pronounce Kuvasz?
Kuvasz is pronounced KOO-vahz.
Are Kuvasz dogs aggressive?
Kuvasz dogs can be aggressive with strangers or perceived threats. Their long history and strong instinct as guard dogs means they’re very protective of their people. With proper training and early socialization, these pups can be well-behaved members of the family.
Is a Kuvasz a good family dog?
A Kuvasz can be a very good and loyal family dog if they’re properly socialized with your kids from a young age. It’s also important to include them in everyday activities around the home, so they become familiar with them as well.
Do Kuvasz have double dewclaws?
No, Kuvaszok do not have double dewclaws, unlike breeds like the Great Pyrenees.
What are the most common Kuvasz mixes?
Some of the most common Kuvasz mixes are:
- Kuvasz-Labrador Retriever mix
- Kuvasz-Chow Chow mix (Chuvasz)
- Kuvasz-Poodle mix
- Kuvasz-Great Pyrenees mix
- Kuvasz-Border Collie mix
- Kuvasz-Husky mix
- Kuvasz-Golden Retriever mix
Kuvaszok are super-protective of and loyal to their families, making them great guard dogs. They’re not city dogs and need to be able to get daily exercise on their own in big fenced-in yards. If you can handle a giant, active and speedy dog (and find frequent shedding endearing), then the Kuvasz is destined to be your perfect canine companion.
Expert input provided by Gary Edwards, DVM, Gateway Animal Hospital, Darryl L. Millis, MS, DVM, DACVS, CCRP, VCA Regional Institute for Vet Emergencies and Referrals and professor of orthopedic surgery, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and certified dog trainer Lynn Roberts, CCPDT-KA, owner of Aegys Kennels.
Photo credit for “How do I look?” AnimalPlanet.com.
Top Kuvasz Names
These are the top Kuvasz names as chosen by Chewy's pet parents!