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The Komondor is a large to giant purebred from Hungary and it was originally bred to be a guardian of property and livestock. It is a powerful breed and it is also called the Hungarian Sheepdog or Hungarian Komondor. The plural version of its name is Komondorok. It is now considered to be a Hungarian national treasure to be protected and preserved. Its name is thought to come from the Hungarian word for somber or surly, though it may come from the french word for commander. It is fondly called a mop dog because of its looks.
|The Komondor at A Glance|
|Other names||Hungarian Sheepdog, Hungarian Komondor|
|Nicknames||Mop Dog, Kom|
|Average size||Large to giant|
|Average weight||85 to 135 pounds|
|Average height||26 to 30 inches|
|Life span||10 to 12 years|
|Coat type||Long, thick, dense, corded|
|Color||White, cream, off white|
|Popularity||Not popular – ranked 177th by the AKC|
|Intelligence||Above average – should train well|
|Tolerance to heat||Good – can handle warm to hot climates but nothing too hot or extreme|
|Tolerance to cold||Very good – can handle very cold weather but not extreme cold|
|Shedding||Low – not going to leave a lot of hair around the home|
|Drooling||Low – not prone to slobber or drool|
|Obesity||Moderate – not especially prone but monitor its food and exercise|
|Grooming/brushing||Moderate to high – will need some care and commitment|
|Barking||Frequent – will need training to stop on command|
|Exercise needs||Fairly active – will need active owners|
|Trainability||Moderate – experience will help|
|Friendliness||Good with socialization|
|Good first dog||Low – not a breed for new owners|
|Good family pet||Excellent with socialization|
|Good with children||Good but needs socialization|
|Good with other dogs||Low – needs socialization, training and supervision, very dog aggressive|
|Good with other pets||Moderate – needs socialization can have high prey drive|
|Good with strangers||Low – care must be taken when bringing new people home|
|Good apartment dog||Moderate – needs a home with space and a yard|
|Handles alone time well||Low – does not like being left alone for long periods, can suffer from separation anxiety|
|Health issues||Quite healthy – a few issues can include hip dysplasia, bloat and eye problems|
|Medical expenses||$485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance|
|Food expenses||$270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and pet treats|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$665 a year for grooming, basic training, toys, license and miscellaneous items|
|Average annual expenses||$1420 as a starting figure|
|Cost to purchase||$1,000|
|Rescue organizations||Several including the Komondor Club of America Rescue|
|Biting Statistics||None reported|
The Komondor’s Beginnings
The Komondor is a Hungarian dog and its first recorded reference is in a codex from 1544 though it may have been around before that. It was used to guard cattle and sheep for centuries though it was not a herding dog. It was raised with the flock so that it imprinted on them and formed an attachment to them. Its looks even developed to look like its flock. Its white corded coat is quite unique and protected it from predators as well as protecting it from the hot sun in the summer months and the cold in the winter. It would also defend homes and properties.
It is believed that the dog was brought to Hungary by the Cumans, a nomadic Turkic tribe around the 12th or 13th centuries. The Cumans were fleeing from the Mongols who were expanding into their land. Koman-dor or quman-dur meant dog of the Cumans. This comes from the fact remains in Cuman grave sites have been discovered that are Komondor remains. It was mentioned in 1673 again as a guard of the herd and its first image can be seen in an illustration from 1815.
With the popularity of dog shows around the world in the late 19th and early 20th century, there came a sharing of breeds around the world. In the 1920s the Komondor was introduced to other countries but it faced extinction with the arrival of World War II and fanciers had to face the task of trying to save it.
New Lease on Life
The Komondor had arrived in the US sometime in the 1930s and was recognized by the AKC in 1937. They have been used for flock guarding as well as being kept as show dogs and companions but numbers in North America remain low. In fact until 1962 there were still very few Komondor outside their homeland Hungary. Today numbers in Hungary are better and in the US it is ranked 177th by the AKC in popularity.
For over a thousands years it was bred by the Magyars to be brave, vigilant and hard working. The focus was on how it performed as a working dog not how it looked. For that time too though it was not cross bred with other breeds and so this dog remains today much as it was all those years ago. Preserving its purity is something the Hungarian Komondor Club and the Hungarian Kennel Club are very focused on.
The Dog You See Today
The Kom is a large to giant breed weighing 85 to 135 pounds and standing 26 to 30 inches tall. It has a body that is a bit longer than how tall it is and has a level topline. It is a muscular and robust dog rectangular shaped when looking from the side with long legs and a tail that has a slight curl and reaches the hocks. Its coat is its unique feature that makes it stand out from most breeds. When it is born it has a coat of soft curls and it is a cream or buff shade but this fades to a more white color as they grow and the coat develops into course long cords that are like felt and look like a mop’s strands. Its has an undercoat that is woolly and soft. It does appear unkempt but that is how the coat is meant to be. Those long cords should develop by the age of two, if it does not it will not be able to be shown. It reaches its full length after 5 years. The coat gives it protection and helps it blend in with its flock.
The breed has a large head and its muzzle is just under half the length of its head. Its nose and lips are black, and it has dark brown eyes that are medium sized and almond-shaped. Its ears are long triangles that hang down and blend in with its coat, and they have a tip that is rounded.
The Inner Komondor
The Komondor is a great watchdog as it is very alert and would bark to let you know if there was an intruder. It does have strong protective instincts so it would also likely act to defend you and the home and its family. It tends to rest in the day and patrols at night, moving around the home. Intruders will be knocked down and pinned usually until you arrive to tell them otherwise. This is not a good dog for new owners though, it is an independent, strong minded and physically and needs people with experience to manage it and look after it properly. With the right owner it is calm, affectionate, loyal, very sensitive and gentle. It does bark frequently so training to stop that on command is a good idea, especially since it tends to bark at night and its bark is loud.
Around strangers it should be wary but not aggressive however if it perceives them to be a threat it will act. You need to be careful about introducing new people to them and give them a chance to get used to them. Socialization is absolutely essential. It is an intelligent dog and is protective not just of the home and its family but also of its possessions too. It has a lot of energy when a puppy and is more playful then too, as it matures it calms down into a more serious dog around the age of two to three. It is hard working and needs something to do, it is not suited to just any household. Owners need to be strong, confident, experienced and committed.
Living with a Komondor
What will training look like?
For experienced owners or trainers the Komondor is somewhere between moderate and moderately easy to train. Results will be gradual, it is an independent dog used to being allowed to make up its own mind about things, and it will try to do the same when it comes to training. It is essential though that it gets at least basic training, given its size and its aggression potential. Komondorok need to start training and socialization early. The younger you start the less bad habits it has developed and the less stubborn it has become! Keep the training interesting as if it gets bored it will be more stubborn about it. Offer it praise and reward it, use treats as motivators and keep sessions short, fun and happy. Avoid being overly repetitive and learn quickly to pick your battles! You will need to be firm and confident, not meek and hesitant and also be consistent.
It is essential to also start socializing as soon as you bring it home. Expose it to different places, people, sounds and animals so that it learns what is acceptable behavior with them. This is a dog with a high level of dominance so it needs socialization particularly to learn to deal with strangers and other dogs. Otherwise it is suspicious and that can can lead to aggression. Never let it think that aggressive or hostile behavior is acceptable, always correct it from a young age so that it learns and grows into a well adjusted adult that can be trusted.
How active is the Komondor ?
This dog is best in a home with space and access to a large yard or even some land. An apartment is not the best place for it. It can handle being out in cold weather but will need support in the heat with access to shade, water and keeping activity to cooler times of the day. It is a fairly active breed so it will require a certain level of activity to keep it happy and healthy. It will need a couple of moderate to long brisk walks each day and it is also important it gets enough mental stimulation too. You can also take it somewhere for some safe off leash time and to play some doggy games with you. The dog park is one option but only if you are sure it can handle all those strange people and dogs. Without enough mental and physical activity it can be destructive and hard to control. Make sure your land or yard is well fenced in.
Caring for the Komondor
This is not a breed that sheds much so is good for people not wanting a lot of hair around the home. There is a moderate to high amount of grooming to be done when you own a Komondor. This coat is not one that needs brushing but it does still need to be looked after. Between the age of 8 and 12 months the process of cord formation starts, which happens because the topcoat traps the undercoat. To make sure the cords do not become discolored it is important at this stage to keep the hair clean as well as dry. There will be no need to have its coat stripped or trimmed. After a year to a year and a half the cord should be fully formed and they will need to kept dry to prevent mildew and free from debris. This involves separating the cords regularly which will also help to stop them matting.
Bathing is a long and involved process and when done the coat can take a day or even longer to dry and involves the use of floor fans! If you are not showing the dog you can choose to trim the coat to make it easier to look after but it would then lose its corded look. Another option if you do not want to keep the corded look and the care that goes with it, is to brush its hair as cords start to form. You get a shaggy looking coat that needs regular brushing still but is not as intense to look after as the cords, and it can be trimmed.
Other regular grooming needs will include checking its ears for infection signs once a week, like irritation, swelling and redness, discharge or wax build up. They should also be given a wipe clean weekly using either a damp warm cloth or ear cleanser and cotton ball. Do not insert anything into the ear though. Its teeth need to be brushed at least two to three times a week, more if possible. Its nails should be trimmed when they get too long if it does not wear them down naturally. You can do this yourself with proper dog nail clippers but take the time to research it or have a vet show you how. Dog nails have nerves and blood vessels in the lower section. If you cut too far down it will cause bleeding and hurt your dog. If you are unsure you can have a professional groomer or vet do it for you.
A dog this size is going to eat at least 3 to 4 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. How much exactly though can vary depending on its size, metabolism, level of activity, age and health. It is a good idea to put food out at meal times, making sure to measure it out, rather than leaving food out all day. Likewise treats do not have to be huge just because it is a large dog, small treats given sparingly will help prevent weight gain.
How is the Komondor with children and other animals?
A Komondor is not the best breed for homes with children in it. However when it is raised with children and with very good socialization and a strong and confident owner it can be friendly with them and patient. It is not however going to be as good around strange children. If the children have friends over to play this breed can become overprotective and can misjudge rough housing as a threat. Always supervise or keep it away in such a situation. It is best to home them where there are no children, or at least older children.
It is also essential it gets socialization early on to better get on with other pets and other dogs. It can learn to accept its family’s other pets if it has grown up with them but can still be aggressive towards others and can kill them. When it comes to other dogs even with socialization strict supervision is still needed and care must be taken.
What Might Go Wrong?
It has a life span of 10 to 12 years and is quite a healthy breed though there are some issues that can come up such as bloat, eye problems, hip dysplasia and skin problems.
When looking at reports of dogs attacking people over the last 35 years and causing bodily harm in North America the Komondor is not mentioned. However it is a dominant and aggressive breed and when you look at reports where it is a far more common breed in its homeland and European countries there have been attacks. Romania for example does specify that Komondors are to be muzzled. This is a breed that will do better with the right owners who are capable and confident when dealing with a large and dominant breed. With that, socialization, training and the right amount of mental and physical activity you can lessen the chances of an incident, though never completely remove it. That being said what a lot of people do not realize is that all dogs regardless of size or breed do have the potential to be involved in an attack against a person.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
A Komondor puppy is going to cost around $1000 for a decent breeder of good pet quality dogs, and then double that or more for a top breeder of show dogs. When looking at rescues or shelters you can expect to pay less, between $50 to $400 usually. However the chances of finding a purebred Komondor at a shelter, much less one that is also a puppy are going to be very slim. You may find a mix that you like though, or even fall for another dog completely so using a shelter or rescue to get you new pet is a great option. Avoid buying from places supplied by puppy mills like pet stores and also avoid ignorant or worse backyard breeders.
When you have your puppy you will need some things for it at home like a crate, collar and leash, bowls and so on. These initial items will come to around $190. Then there are also medical needs to deal with. Take it to a vet for a physical exam, and have it dewormed, blood tests done, shots, micro chipped, spayed or neutered and such for a cost of $290.
There are also ongoing yearly costs. Feeding a large dog will cost at least $270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and for dog treats. Basic health care will be around $485 a year for things like check ups, vaccinations and tick and flea prevention as well as pet insurance. Then there are other miscellaneous costs like toys, license, miscellaneous items, basic training and grooming. This should be around $665 a year. This gives a starting figure for a yearly cost of $1420.
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The Komondor is not a dog for just any family or owner. There are a lot of important factors understand and things to have in place. It needs specific knowledge about its coat and its care. It needs a good amount of physical activity and mental stimulation. It is a shaggy dog and that means mess from outside will be brought into the house and when it eats and drinks it will get it in its beard, on the floor and sometimes on you. It needs someone able to deal with its level of dominance too. With the right checks in place though this could be a great dog to have around, it is protective and loyal, will want to lean against you for comfort and affection and will happily be your companion and best friend.
Featured Image Credit: BORINA OLGA, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.
- The Komondor’s Beginnings
- New Lease on Life
- The Dog You See Today
- The Inner Komondor
- Living with a Komondor
- Caring for the Komondor
- How is the Komondor with children and other animals?
- What Might Go Wrong?
- Your Pup’s Price Tag