The Komondor is the largest of the native Hungarian breeds and has guarded (but not herded) sheep and cattle for ten centuries or more. It is considered to be an almost direct descendant of the Aftscharka (or Ovtcharka), a dog found by nomadic Huns on the southern steppes when passing through Russia. However, the earliest known written record of the breed appeared in 1544. In 1673, there was a report that “the Komondor guards the herd.” The first know illustration of the Komondor dates back to 1815 and is virtually identical to the dog today.
His corded white coat is unique in the dog world, although the related but much smaller Puli has a similar coat, but in black. This coat provided an armor of sorts against the vicious predators the Komondor met and fought in the course of his daily work (including wolves, bear and human thieves), many of which were his superior in size and weight. The Komondorok coat also kept it warm in the winter and prevented sunburn in the hotter seasons. Finally, it served as camouflage when the dog mingled with its wards, adding an element of surprise during a predator’s attack.
The Magyars bred the Komondor for more than a thousand years, focusing on his performance, vigilance and courage rather than his pedigree. The Komondor was a prized worker and guardian, and was never thought of for commercial purposes. However, these dogs were not cross-bred with other dogs, so their pedigree remains essentially pure. The Hungarian Kennel Club and the Hungarian Komondor Club, while they have records of this breed only going back maybe a century or so, are committed to controlling and maintaining the purity, soundness and historical characteristics of this ancient breed and worked together to create the existing Hungarian standard for the Komondor.
The Kom has been in North America since the 1930’s. They are routinely seen in flock-guarding programs and in the conformation ring. The American Kennel Club has adopted a translation of the Hungarian standard as its own. Today’s Komondor retains its strong protective nature, intelligence and self-reliance. It still is used in the United States and elsewhere to protect sheep flocks from coyotes. It is distinctive in the show ring and can make a loyal companion, although it is not a particularly affectionate breed.
The average life span of the Komondor is 10 to 12 years. Breed health concerns may include bloat (gastric dilatation and volvulus)
and hip dysplasia