A large sheepdog with a very unusual and distinctive long white corded coat, this breed has served humans as a guard dog in the mountains of Hungary for over one thousand years.


The Komondor is known everywhere by its Hungarian name, the plural of which is Komondorok. In origin, the name is thought to come from the French word ‘commandeur’, meaning commander. This is the largest of the Hungarian native breeds and is used to protect the flocks of sheep, or herds of cattle, from attacks by thieves or predators, while the task of herding the livestock is left to smaller dogs.

The special feature of the Komondor is its white, massively thick, heavy, corded topcoat, with a dense, woolly undercoat. Described as ‘the most profuse coat in the canine world’, it serves to protect the animal in three ways: it keeps it warm in the cold winters, shields its skin from the burning sun in the hot summers, and makes it difficult for predators such as wolves to bite through to the dog’s flesh. In addition, it acts as a disguise when the dog is mingling with a group of sheep, making it look like just another member of the flock and giving it the advantage of an element of surprise when responding to a predator attack. The predators include bears as well as wolves, and the Komondor must also be prepared to defend its flock against assaults from human thieves and brigands.

This is an ancient breed, thought to have arrived in Hungary with Mongolian hordes back in the 13th century. According to one authority, it is a descendant of the Aftscharka. However, the earliest definite record does not appear until 1544. The first known illustration of the dog dates from 1815. Its appearance has changed little over the centuries, except that it has become slightly larger in size in modern times.


Extremely large, strong, and big-boned, with well-developed muscles, this breed must have drop ears, dark almond-shaped eyes, and a black nose. It has a double coat, the outer long and coarse, the undercoat softer, with feltlike cords hanging down and in many cases reaching the ground. Only a white coat is acceptable.


Intelligent, powerful, hardworking, brave, loyal, and obedient to family members. When not threatened, the Komondor is calm and docile, but turns into a fearless protector when the need arises. A very reliable guard dog, this breed is best kept in a large outdoor yard in the suburbs, rather than in the city. Although he is good with children in his own family, rough games of visiting children can make him nervous.

Komondor puppies are reared with their flocks, so that the dogs have a special attachment to them and will give their lives for them if necessary. They are exceptionally courageous, always vigilant and totally loyal. Inevitably, they are wary of strangers, but are extremely gentle with their close human companions. It is said that it is difficult to tell the changing mood of a Komondor, partly because its hair completely covers its face, concealing any expressions, and strangers are warned to approach one with caution. Despite its shaggy, cuddly appearance, this is not a breed that ‘tries to please’ or that enjoys being petted. It is a highly intelligent dog, which is prepared to learn (but is also capable of being remarkably stubborn) and is always ready to fight in defence of its livestock.

Care and Exercise

Long walks and short romps will generally be enough to satisfy the daily needs of the Komondor. His rich coat dries very slowly, so he isn’t suited for frequent swimming. He doesn’t like heat and does better at home. Although the Komondor is non-shedding, he requires a lot of coat care. To prevent his long coat from matting and getting dirty, the cords must be regularly separated. Bathing takes a lot of time, and drying can take up to one day. Clipping is acceptable, but it deprives the dog from its unique appeal.

Intensive exercise, such as pulling and long-distance running, is required.

Puppies and Training

The three to ten puppies per litter are white and fluffy when born, the corded coat forming at around three to four months. They should be handled often and early and trained thoroughly.

Gallery of Komondor