Kuvaszok (the plural of Kuvasz) are massive, majestic, and challenging dogs. Their bold personalities, playful hearts, and protective instincts can explode in an instant. Their gigantic, 115-pound fluffy bodies can knock over fully-grown adults. Adopting a Kuvasz can be a frustrating yet rewarding task.
The reward is a dog who will love and protect you unconditionally. A dog who will spend Friday evening curled up at your feet but will be ready to take on a 10-mile hike the next morning. They’ll shed all over your house, but you won’t even be mad because they’re just so darn adorable.
Keep reading to learn more about the Kuvasz dog breed and everything that makes them worth the challenge!
Kuvaszok are large dogs that move with surprising agility despite their size. Their graceful, effortless gait resembles the way wolves move through the forest — intentional, fearless, and swift. Beneath their fluffy white double coats lay strong, well-developed muscles.
The brilliant, snow-like color of their fur is interrupted by the pitch blackness of their nose and lips. At the forefront of their regal heads lay almond-shaped, dark brown eyes that display intelligence. Kuvaszok’s thick, v-shaped ears are rounded at the tips, where they flop around their handsome faces.
The Kuvasz’s prominent, deep chest protrudes slightly past the shoulders when viewed from the side. Their sturdy, capable legs are less fluffy than their bodies — the fur tapers off toward the hardy paws. Their long tail, however, boasts an abundance of thick, fluffy white hairs.
Like many other dog breeds, male Kuvaszok tend to be slightly larger than females. Fully-grown males typically weigh between 100 and 115 pounds and measure 28 to 30 inches at the shoulders. Full-grown females tend to weigh between 70 and 90 pounds measure about 26 to 28 inches at the shoulders.
Kuvasz puppies grow rapidly, although their personalities do not typically mature as quickly as their bodies. Even when these dogs look to be fully physically grown, their mental state will remain in a puppy mindset years for a long time to come.
Kuvasz puppies are rambunctious, playful, and heartbreakingly adorable. They’re born with a sense of adventure and curiosity that lives on well into their adult years. Although it takes Kuvaszok a longer time to mature than other breeds, they become loyal, protective companions when they grow up.
Once a working dog in Hungary, the Kuvasz dog breed has a long history of protecting their families and the livestock on their properties. That guard-dog history has lent itself to their personalities. Most mature Kuvaszok are wildly defensive of their owners and of children.
Because of this quality, mature Kuvaszok can often be watchful and suspicious. Although they are affectionate with their families, they are constantly wary of strangers. But, if you’re friendly to a stranger, your Kuvasz will mirror you and be polite.
The Kuvasz needs to build a trusting and loving relationship to thrive. They have high energy levels and are prone to separation anxiety, meaning they need a present and engaging owner/family. Adopting one of these majestic beasts means devoting plenty of time to their care and personality.
Since the Kuvasz dog breed is so rambunctious and full of energy, they require a decent amount of daily exercise. Their strong muscles and history as working guard dogs have left them with the ability to trot for roughly 15 miles before getting tired. You read that right — 15 MILES.
That doesn’t mean you have to take them on 15-mile walks or runs every day, though, so don’t worry. To give these dogs enough daily exercise, bringing them on a couple of brisk, half-hour to one-hour walks or jogs should do. But when you have the time, you should take them on longer adventures.
Since Kuvaszok have such outstanding endurance, they make excellent hiking and camping companions. If you can, try to take your Kuvasz for medium to long hikes during the spring, fall, and winter when it’s not too hot. Since this breed has a double coat, they’re prone to overheating in warm climates.
The Kuvasz’s double coat and compact body also suit them for cold, snowy weather. If you get snow in the winter, your Kuvasz will have the time of their life frolicking in the white, fluffy piles. They’ll also be happy to accompany you on snowshoeing or cross-country skiing excursions.
All of the Kuvasz’s boundless energy means that they absolutely need a home with a fenced-in yard. If you don’t have one, make sure you at least have access to a fenced-in area for them to play frequently. Kuvaszok enjoy patrolling their property, mimicking the guard-dog tendencies of their ancestors.
Kuvaszok are big, strong, and watchful. You’ll need to make sure the fence is tall and sturdy enough to contain them. If they catch sight of something they perceive as a threat, they may try to give chase to protect their land and family.
Kuvasz Puppies and Exercise
Since Kuvasz puppies grow so rapidly, it’s essential to monitor and limit their playtime and exercise. Until a Kuvasz is about six months old, they should only exercise for five minutes for every one month of age. This prevents injuries and stress that could cause abnormal growth in the future.
For example, if your Kuvasz is three months old, limit their exercise to 15 minutes at a time. You can host multiple play sessions throughout the day, but they need to be careful of overexerting themselves. Once they surpass the six-month mark, you can begin increasing their daily exercise.
Buckle in, because training a Kuvasz is not an easy task. Although you can teach them to become loyal, disciplined hounds, their slowly-maturing brains and high energy levels make them notoriously difficult to train. We do not recommend Kuvaszok for nervous or first-time dog owners.
The Kuvasz is brilliant and strong-willed. But, they’re also sensitive and gentle. When training your Kuvasz, do your best to remain firm but kind. Keeping an even temper and tone goes a long way to help the process. These dogs don’t respond well to harsh punishment and need reassurance.
Kuvaszok are also keen problem solvers. Presenting them with challenging tasks can help train them to be more subdued and disciplined. When they complete each task, reward them with treats and affection to show them that this is desired behavior.
When your Kuvasz puppy is acting out, discipline them with a stern, but not loud, tone. They need to learn which behaviors are okay and which are unacceptable. Positive reinforcement and varying, challenging activities are some of the best training tools for these energetic and rowdy puppies.
The Kuvasz dog breed has a long history working as livestock guardians in Ancient Tibet and Turkey. Eventually brought to Hungary in the Middle Ages, these ferociously defensive dogs became popular as guardians. Eventually, they caught the eye of Hungarian nobility.
In the 15th century, King Matthias of Hungary brought several Kuvaszok to his royal estate. The tumultuous state was facing more assassination and treason attempts. King Matthias Kuvaszok took on the role of defending him, his estate, and his multitude of livestock.
Eventually, King Mattias became so paranoid that he began bringing his Kuvaszok everywhere with him, even into his sleeping chambers. It’s been rumored that he trusted his Kuvasz dogs more than his own human guardians. The Kuvaszok were becoming prideful protectors of the Hungarian elite.
Due to their high social status, working-class citizens were often not allowed to own Kuvaszok. The dogs were seen as prized possessions of the noble class only. King Matthias and those that came after him would give Kuvasz puppies to visiting nobles from Hungarian allied nations.
Kuvaszok flourished for the next couple of centuries, but like many other breeds, World War II took a huge toll on their numbers. Many Kuvasz guard dogs were tragically killed while defending their owners and properties. Breeding diminished, and the breed suffered.
Despite their decline across Europe, the Kuvasz breed gained popularity in America in the years leading up to WWII. In 1931, the American Kennel Club (AKC) registered the Kuvasz. The Kuvasz Club of America formed in 1966, which became the AKC’s official Kuvasz breed club in 1993.
After the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, things began to turn around for the breed. Kuvasz breeding practices began in earnest once again, and their numbers began to rise. Today, many Kuvaszok are talented show dogs throughout the world.
Kuvasz Health Problems
Kuvaszok are hardy, healthy dogs, although their pure bloodlines make them prone to a couple of health conditions. Despite these issues, most Kuvasz dogs have a life span of about 10 to 12 years. Let’s look into some common Kuvasz health conditions, their symptoms, and treatments.
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) Complex (Bloat)
Gastric-Dilation-Volvulus (GDV) complex is a tragic, life-threatening digestive incident that mostly affects large, deep-chested dog breeds. Commonly called “bloat,” this condition will often occur after a dog consumes too much food too quickly.
Experts are still unsure of bloat’s exact cause, but they do know that it causes a build-up of air in the stomach. As the stomach swells with air, the pressure causes the stomach to twist. This prevents blood from the abdomen and hind legs from traveling back to the heart.
The twisting stomach can also pull on the dog’s pancreas. This pulling blocks the blood supply and deprives the organ of oxygen. The lack of oxygen causes the pancreas to release toxic hormones that can take the life of a dog in a short matter of time.
The symptoms of bloat in dogs include:
- Excessive salivation
- Distended abdomen
- Pain when the abdomen is touched
If you notice these symptoms in your dog, seek emergency veterinary help right away! Dogs with bloat that are treated within 30 minutes have the best chance of survival. After an hour or two, dogs with bloat are more than likely to go into shock. The mortality rate for bloat is sadly 30%.
Hip dysplasia is commonly genetic, though it can be caused by injury, as well. It occurs when the ball and socket joint(s) of the hip(s) form abnormally, causing an ill fit. The misalignment causes painful bone-on-bone rubbing that greatly affects a dog’s quality of life.
In severe cases, hip dysplasia can cause arthritis. On the flip side, arthritis can sometimes lead to hip dysplasia. Rapid growth, certain diet and exercise, and obesity can all worsen the condition, too. Some of the common sign of hip dysplasia include:
- Difficulty climbing stairs/climbing onto furniture
- Difficulty standing up
- Noticeable limping/lameness in the hind leg(s)
- Swaying gait
- Reluctance to perform normal tasks/exercises
- Loss of muscle mass
The Kuvasz Club of America (KCA) recommends screening for genetic hip dysplasia in Kuvaszok at an early age. Diagnosing hip dysplasia in older dogs generally involves a physical examination and some x-rays. Thankfully, there are many ways to treat hip dysplasia in dogs, including:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Joint supplements
- Physical therapy
- Weight, diet, and exercise modifications
- Surgery (in severe cases)
Elbow dysplasia is very much like hip dysplasia, except that it affects the elbow joint(s) rather than the hip joint(s). It can also be caused by genetics, injury, and arthritis. The same factors that worsen hip dysplasia (obesity, rapid growth, certain diets/exercises) can also worsen elbow dysplasia.
The symptoms of elbow dysplasia are quite similar to those of hyp dysplasia. The main difference is that dogs with elbow dysplasia will display lameness in the front leg(s) rather than the hind leg(s). Oftentimes, one of the only treatments for elbow dysplasia is surgery.
Autoimmune thyroiditis occurs when a dog’s immune system attacks its thyroid. This condition can lead to hypothyroidism, which is when a dog’s thyroid produces too many hormones. This dangerously increases their metabolic rate, which negatively affects their overall health.
Some symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs are:
- Weight loss
- Increased appetite/thirst
- Shortness of breath
Hypothyroidism is lethal for dogs if left untreated. Experts recommend that you speak to your veterinarian about the best course of treatment.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) can be inherited, or it can develop over time. Either way, it leads to the same condition: complete blindness. The inherited (early-onset) form is generally referred to as retinal dysplasia, and the developed (late-onset) form is typically referred to as PRA.
Retinal dysplasia is generally diagnosed at two to three months old. In cases of retinal dysplasia, the retinas’ photoreceptor cells develop incorrectly, causing early-onset blindness. With PRA, a dog’s once normal retinas begin to deteriorate over time, eventually leading to late-onset blindness.
Dog’s with PRA or retinal dysplasia don’t often experience pain, which can make the conditions difficult to notice at first. The first and most common sign of PRA and retinal dysplasia is typically night blindness. Affected dogs may resist entering dark rooms or bump into furniture in the dark.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for PRA. At some point or another, affected dogs will completely lose their vision. Thankfully, most dogs can adjust well to blindness as long as their surroundings remain the same. PRA is disheartening, but it isn’t a life-threatening condition.
How to Care for a Kuvasz
The Kuvasz is a large, outdoor-loving dog. They thrive outside, especially in cold weather, thanks to their fluffy double coats. It’s essential that you create time in your schedule to spend outside playing, running, and adventuring with your Kuvasz.
If you’re short on time, it’s recommended that you do not leave your Kuvasz alone in the yard. Even more important is that you never chain your Kuvasz — they can become aggressive if you do. This breed has wild protective and survival instincts, and being chained and left alone is a huge stressor for them.
Kuvaszok are huge time investments. They are prone to separation anxiety and, as such, are not suited for owners who are always out and about without them. If you’re a social butterfly who’s constantly on the run, the sensitive and protective Kuvasz may not be the dog for you.
Nutrition and Feeding for a Kuvasz
Because Kuvasz puppies grow so rapidly, proper nutrition is especially important to maintain steady, healthy growth. The amount of food for a puppy varies for each dog, but a general recommendation is 1/2 to 3/4 cups of food split into several small meals per day.
As your Kuvasz grows, you can begin gradually increasing the amount of food per day based on the food’s nutrition label and your veterinarian’s recommendation. Fully-grown Kuvasz dogs typically do well on 2.75 to 4.25 cups of food split into two smaller meals daily.
It’s crucial to split up your adult Kuvasz’s meals to help prevent bloat. Experts are not 100% sure of what causes bloat, but there seems to be a link between the condition and dogs rapidly eating too much food. Monitor your dog for signs of bloat after they finish eating.
Coat Color And Grooming
The Kuvasz breed has a thick, fluffy double coat that repels dirt and water. Not only does this help keep their fur clean and white, but it also prevents them from dragging too much mud into the house. But, if your Kuvasz does get dirty, it will be pretty obvious right away.
Thankfully, Kuvaszok coats are fairly easy to groom and clean. Weekly brushing with a grooming rake, large-toothed comb, or slicker brush helps to remove excess hair and keep their coats tangle-free. This breed does shed quite a lot, but frequent brushing will help prevent hair from getting everywhere.
Some Kuvasz owners sprinkle cornstarch into their dry fur and then brush it out as a convenient and natural way to groom them at home. The cornstarch works as both a detangler and a degreaser, leaving your four-legged friend’s coat as good as new.
When double coats get wet, they’re very hard to dry. The soft, insulating undercoat can stay wet for days, which is cold and uncomfortable for dogs. We recommend that you only wash your Kuvasz when they get very dirty or begin to smell. Otherwise, stick to bathing once every two months or so.
You should trim a Kuvasz’s nails once a month to prevent discomfort and scrapes on hardwood floors. A general rule of thumb is that if you can hear your dog’s nails clicking on the floor, they need to be trimmed. It’s also recommended that you brush your Kuvasz’s teeth about once a week.
Children And Other Pets
Adult Kuvaszok are known for being incredibly gentle and affectionate with the children in their family. In fact, they often grow protective over them and will be very watchful while the family plays outside. Kuvasz puppies, however, can often be too rambunctious for young children.
Because they don’t know their own strength, Kuvasz puppies may accidentally knock toddlers over while playing around. As with any dog, it’s important to monitor their interactions with young children to prevent accidents. Overall, though, Kuvaszok are great family dogs.
Kuvaszok’s high-energy levels and love for adventure will get the whole family out of the house more often. Plus, their need for frequent care and walks provides excellent opportunities for kids to take on roles of responsibility. Kuvaszok are bundles of fun that can bring joy to the entire family.
In general, Kuvaszok do well growing up alongside other dogs in the home. They’re pack-minded animals and tend to view the dogs in their home as part of their pack. On the other hand, they can be quite aggressive toward unfamiliar dogs, especially ones that come near their house.
It’s crucial to keep your Kuvasz leashed at all times at the park or on hikes. To encourage acceptance of strange dogs, early socialization classes and continued socialization are highly recommended. Their aggression stems from a place of fear and a need to protect, so give them grace.
Some young Kuvazok may need a lil’ extra something to take their energy and excitement down a notch, especially when they’re playing with children or trying to focus on obedience/socialization classes. We recommend using CBD dog treats or CBD oil to calm your Kuvazs when they start bouncing off the walls.
Oftentimes, people adopt a Kuvasz puppy before realizing how much work they can be. Unfortunately, this has led to many Kuvaszok ending up in shelters or even on the streets. Thanks to the hard work of Kuvasz rescue groups, however, surrendered or abandoned Kuvaszok can find loving homes.
One of these fantastic rescue groups is Kuvasz Rescue. Run by people with over 30 years of experience with the breed, Kuvasz Rescue rescue feels passionate that “Any Kuvasz in need is part of the greater Kuvasz family.” They focus on healthy rehabilitation and adoption of all Kuvaszok.
Another amazing group is the rescue program run by the Kuvasz Fanciers of America. They’re a non-profit organization managed completely by volunteers. Through the Kuvasz Fanciers of America rescue program, you can either adopt a Kuvasz or place one for adoption that you can no longer care for.
The Kuvasz Club of America (KCA), founded in 1966, is the official Kuszac breed club in the United States. They’re also the official American Kennel Club (AKC) Kuvasz breed organization, which whom they work closely. The KCA’s priority is the preservation and protection of these purebred dogs.
More About This Dog Breed
If you think that you’re up to the challenge of adopting, training, and raising a Kuvasz, we salute you! These dogs are not meant for the faint of heart — they need a steady, determined, and fun-loving owner. If you’re thinking of getting a Kuvasz, please adopt, don’t shop! There are many Kuvasz in shelters who are in need of forever homes.