Magnificent, fast, agile, beautiful…a Komondor is full of beauty and elegance. His love and loyalty has no limits…he’s a dog with a soul!
King of the Hungarian livestock guarding dogs, the Komondor is one of the most unusual breeds seen in the world. This large muscular dog is covered with dense, white cords. The coat protects the dog against the elements and predators of their homeland, Hungary. Colour of their coat is white, but not always the pure white of a brushed coat (like you would see in the Samoyed breed). A small amount of cream or buff shading is sometimes seen in puppies, but fades with maturity. For the working Komondor, the white coat allows the dog to mingle unnoticed among the sheep while allowing the shepherd to see him at night.
Not surprisingly the crowning glory of any Komondor is his unique corded coat. The cords form naturally when the woolly undercoat is trapped by the harsh curlier outer-coat. At first these cords will be short, but as the dog ages, the coat grows longer, the cords will acquire the length and graceful swing of the impressive adult coat. The coat is not only beautiful, but also serves a practical purpose in the Komondor’s work where the weatherproof coat acts as a barrier from the harsh climatic conditions. It also proves to be an ideal protection against the jaws of an attacking animal. The cords are both insulate and cool. They are open to the skin so that they allow air to pass through, yet the density and length of the cords protect the animal underneath.
The Komondor is a big dog with males standing at least 27.5” at the shoulders, while females must be at least 25.5” tall. Occasionally one may see a Komondor as large as 31” or even bigger, but also these cases are rare. When mature, the Komondor is not an overly heavy dog. Males usually weigh more than 80 pounds and females more than 60 pounds. Despite his size, the Komondor is astonishingly fast, agile and light on his feet. The quick movement, large size, unique coat and majestic appearance of the Komondor can be awe-inspiring.
Basic instincts…serious guard dogs
Considered to be the chief of the herdsman’s dogs, the Komondor is used to protect the herdsman and his animals. He is a livestock-guarding breed and as such is serious, confident and alert.
Calm ‘n’ poised…
Like all livestock guarding dogs, they are calm and steady when things are normal. However, if a Komomdor sniffs trouble, he will not hesitate to leap to defend his charges. Originally bred to think for himself, a Komondor is usually highly intelligent. An athletic dog, the Komondor has great speed and power and will leap toward a predator to drive it away or to knock it down.
He is extremely affectionate with his family and friends and gentle with children in the family. Also, he is very protective of his family, home and possessions and will instinctively guard them, even without any training.
And the recognition power of Komondor is simply awesome! Once a new member has been introduced into the family or flock, the Komondor will never forget them. A Komondor will routinely greet someone he has not seen for years as though he had just seen them yesterday. Once you are a “member of the flock,” you are always a “member of the flock.”
Given proper training and care, a Komondor can be a loyal and loving dog. They are devoted and calm without being sluggish. They can be wary of strangers, but if properly trained and socialised, may accept friends readily.
Since the Komondors are smart and bred to think for themselves, therefore it can be difficult for them to trust completely the directions of a mere human. Easy to train at the start, they can just as easily decide that, once a task is done, it would never need to be done again. Repetition bores them. They love to learn something new.
Living with them … a blessing but also a challenge
Living with a Komondor can be both a blessing and a challenge. They are extremely loyal and affectionate to their owners – not to mention exceptional guards of family and property. To the Komondor lover, few other breeds can match the extreme devotion and love given by this breed. However, they have minds of their own and as such living with them can be trying at times. What you would like your Komondor to do is not always what he wants to do! In addition, owning a large, powerful and highly protective breed is a large responsibility for the owner as a Komondor who is not trained can easily become a liability in today’s society.
Groom me beautiful
The coat of a Komondor requires a great deal of maintenance and care throughout the life of the dog. Cords begin forming between 8-12 months of ages and it continues throughout the life of the dog. As new coat grows, the cords will clump together at the base. You will need to spend time every week working on the cords to keep them neat. Keep the cords neat as it is easy for dirt to get into the cords. If the dirt becomes trapped as the cord tightens, the coat will become discoloured and dull looking.
The best way to keep a Komondor clean is never to allow it to get dirty–which of course is not always easy! The remedy is regular bathing, of which drying is very important. If the coat is not dried completely, mildew in the cords can occur. So drying for a Komondor with a substantial coat usually means approximately 24 hours of time with plenty of towel changes and fans running. Ears should also be cleaned occasionally and checked for infection and foreign objects.
Their corded coat sheds very little – if any – as all the hair gets trapped in the formation of the cords. Adult Komondors may occasionally lose an entire cord, but they do not shed in the usual sense of the word. Like Poodles, who also can be corded, Komondors can be a good breed for those who have allergies to dog hair and dander.
Exercise me little
The Komondor requires only a moderate amount of exercise. A couple of short walks a day is more than adequate. If you are looking for a companion for your morning jog the Komondor is not for you. They are quite a lazy breed and like to spend most of their free time lying in a spot, because of this it is easy to believe that the Komondor is not oing his job– but it is not so. He is ready to spring into action with amazing speed at the slightest hint of a threat to his charges.
Taking care of a pup…
Because of the adult Komondor’s size, power, and speed, his pet parent must have him trained from an early age. Obedience training is a must, preferably starting at 4-8 months. Komondors are usually intelligent and take well to training if started early. Komondors become obstinate when bored, so it is imperative that training sessions be upbeat and happy. Positive reinforcement methods work best as the Komondor is a sensitive dog. Socialisation is also extremely important. The Komondor should be exposed to new situations, people and other dogs as a puppy. Because he is a natural guard dog, a Komondor who is not properly socialised may react in an excessively aggressive manner when confronted with a new situation or person. Again, puppy training is strongly recommended for all Komondors.
Many Komondors are ‘late bloomers’, not fully mature until nearly three years of age. Adolescence can be marked by changes in temperament, eating habits, trainability and general attitude. This should not cause alarm. By the time they are three years old, they are responsible adults. However, to expect an eight months old puppy to behave as an adult is unreasonable. Puppies are as active, playful and troublesome as in any breed. Truly responsible behaviour cannot be expected until they attain full maturity.
Most Komondors, when raised correctly with proper socialization love children and are very tolerant of them. However, they may perceive others’ children to be strangers and can be protective of “their” children when play gets rough and rowdy. So, caution must always be exercised when those outside the family interact with the children in front of the Komondor.
Games? We don’t love them!
If you are looking for a dog to play with, the Komondor is not for you. This breed is rather serious and sees most games as silly. Because they have very little prey drive, they have almost no interest in chasing a ball or other moving object. So the Komondor can often be a bit boring for children looking for a dog to play with.
Heredity problems…very few
Komondors do not suffer many heredity problems, perhaps because the breed has descended from centuries of hardy working stock. As in all large breeds (and some small ones), there is some hip dysplasia, though the incidence is about 10 percent of all Komondors who are tested.
Tips for a would-be Komondor pet parent…
The Komondor is a wonderful breed – but they are not for everyone. It is extremely important if you are considering adding a Komondor to your family that you visit some adult dogs on their home turf so you know fully what you are getting into with this large and imposing breed. It is also very important to find a breeder that will teach you to properly care for the coat. This is not a breed you can just drop off at the groomers every few weeks. Keeping a corded white coat in good shape takes a serious commitment from the owner of the dog. Owning a Komondor is a huge responsibility, but it can be extremely rewarding for the right family.
(Andrea Barber and her husband Steven are members of Komondor Club of America. They own a Komodor named Ibis Encore CGC TDI TT (Niea) and live in Sand Meadow Farm in Mendon, Western New York State.)