Sometimes called the Hungarian Kuvasz, this breed takes its name either from the Turkish word 'Kawasz', meaning an 'armed guard' or from the ancient Sumerian 'Ku-assa', meaning a 'horse-dog'. The plural of Kuvasz is Kuvaszok. It was developed as a guard for the flocks of sheep belonging to nomadic Hungarian shepherds.


This large dog, with its luxuriant, thick white coat, is a fearless flock guard that protects its livestock from the attacks of both wolves and human intruders. It is usually active at night, and its white colour makes it distinctive in the dim light. In the days of nomad shepherds this was an important breed, but it lost ground when more settled farming came to dominate the Hungarian countryside. As this progressed, the Kuvasz was reduced more and more to the role of a simple guard dog, wherever one was needed, in villages and eventually in towns.

This is an ancient breed, dating back thousands of years. Its ancestors are thought to have arrived in Hungary with migrant Turkish shepherds in the I2th or I3th century. In its modern form, the earliest written records date from the 17th century and the oldest illustration of one appears in 1815. The breed was nearly wiped out by the chaos of WW II, but just managed to survive in a few isolated areas. A new breeding impetus followed, saving the Kuvasz from extinction. In 1966 revisions to the standard were added, and in 1974 the breed was accepted by the AKC in the United States.

Today, the breed is used in North and South America to protect flocks of sheep.


In temperament this is an intelligent, loyal dog whose only fault is that it is sometimes too loyal and overeager to protect its human family from what it perceives as possible dangers. With its centuries-old flock-guarding background this is hardly surprising.

As it is inherently a working dog, the breed must be occupied or it will become bored, restless and destructive. Potential owners should remember that breed is primarily a guardian of sheep, and a powerful animal with a temperament of toughness. It must be socialized early and well. It should not be exposed to young children unless it has been brought up with them. The breed can and should be obedience trained.


This breed have thick white coats and similar body shapes, and perform similar duties. It takes an expert eye to tell them apart. For the Kuvasz, the clue is in the shape of the head, this breed having a more distinctive, elegantly tapering muzzle.

This large dog stands 28-30 inches/70-76 cm at the shoulder. The Kuvasz is always white, longhaired, with dark almond-shaped eyes. The coat is double and may be flat or wavy on the back, sides and tail. The male Kuvasz will weigh up to 115 pounds/52 kg and the female a little less. It should have a deep body, good bone and feet and dropped ears that slant forward. An absence of dewclaws on the rear legs is a characteristic of the Kuvasz.


Although the Kuvasz is quite healthy overall, hip dysplasia is a genetic problem. X-rays of breeding stock are essential and, like all giant breeds, so is good nutrition. Teeth, ears and nails should be inspected and attended to on a weekly basis.

Special Care and Training

The Kuvasz must have early socialization and obedience training as a young dog if it is to be a well-behaved member of the family. Its owners must be assertive in order to maintain control of this breed. It requires plenty of monitored exercise.


This robust and protective dog is a country dog. It must have sturdy kenelling if kept out of doors, as well as a safe fenced yard in which to exercise. Obedience training will concentrate its mind and so should be encouraged. It is definitely considered to be a guard dog with a temperament to match.


Each litter averages about eight puppies. To nurture a happy character and a love of playing with people, the puppies need to be handled and thoroughly taught at an early age.

Gallery of Kuvasz