The Kuvasz is one of the oldest Hungarian dog breeds, with roots tracing back to the 15th century, where they were a favorite guard dog for the noble classes. The modern Kuvasz takes his watchdog role seriously, quietly sizing up newcomers before making a decision about whether they are friend or foe. They are fiercely protective of their property, family, and even other household pets. They have a high tolerance for pain, which means Kuvasz are patient with children who want to climb on them and romp around.
Kuvasz are a giant breed, and should not be kept in an apartment, condominium or city home without a yard. These are pure country dogs who need a lot of room to move, both indoors and out. To maintain health and even temperament, Kuvasz only require a couple of daily walks and weekly chances to run, but when they run the need wide open spaces. This breed should not be over exercised in summer months, as they are prone to overheating.
If a Kuvasz is expected to guard livestock, special training will be required. They are good at what they do, but they need to be taught how to do it. In some breeds, this is a natural tendency, but the Kuvasz needs to bond with the animals he will be expected to protect.
Kuvasz should never live in a kennel or be tethered outdoors for long periods of time, as this can lead to serious aggression. Kuvasz are independent and sometimes aloof, but they deeply love their families and even if they spend their days with livestock, should be allowed to eat and sleep in the house.
Training a Kuvasz can be a challenge. This is a dominant breed with a huge physical presence, and they like to be in charge at all times. They were developed to make independent decisions in the field, and that independent air has not left the modern Kuvasz. You must teach him early who the true leaders are in the house, or he will naturally assume the role.
Consistency is the key to raising an obedient Kuvasz. They are vigilant, and will be on the lookout for the first sign you have bent the rules, and promptly take over. Training should be firm, but never harsh as this can lead to avoidance behaviors. Positive reinforcement, lots of treats and always meaning what you say are the best recipe for success.
Protectiveness is in the Kuvasz DNA, so socialization should be conducted early and often. These dogs need to understand how welcome guests behave, so that their wariness of strangers does not get out of hand.
Kuvasz are prone to bark excessively, and their bark is loud and booming. As guard dogs, they take their duties seriously, and will alert you (and the entire neighborhood) that they have seen or heard something approaching. This can get out of hand at night time, when they are most vigilant. Teaching your Kuvasz to obey commands to stop barking will save everyone's sanity, and keep your relationship with neighbors harmonious.
Animal aggression can often be a problem with Kuvasz. In the field, it is their job to chase animals away, and to kill if necessary. At home, they won't take kindly to neighborhood animals strolling onto their property. While they can coexist peacefully in homes with multiple pets, it is best that the Kuvasz be raised along side the other pets, and that no other animals be introduced after puppyhood. It is also important to always have your Kuvasz on a leash when he is not in a fenced-in yard.
Kuvasz will get along well with children in his own family, but outside children may not be accepted. If a Kuvasz sees a strange child playing rough with one of “his” children, his protective instinct will take over.