THE KUVASZ

​The Kuvasz is an ancient guardian dog, originally used for protecting livestock such as horses, sheep, and cattle. While the breed may have even older roots, the origins of the Kuvasz have been traced back as far as the steppes of the Ural Mountains in Siberia. In the late 9th century, the Magyar tribes conquered the Carpathian Basin, beginning the establishment of Hungary and bringing with them the Kuvasz. There, the breed achieved its present appearance.

Many conjectured theories have evolved around the histories of the old breeds. Some claim antiquity and facts not authenticated by reliable evidence. Until recently, the history of the Hungarian working breeds was surrounded by many such speculations and their origin placed in vastly separated regions. In November 1965, the first monthly periodical entitled The Puli was published in the English language. Its author, the Hungarian-born kynologist, Sandor Palfalvy M.D., member of the Alabama Academy of Science. Dr. Palfalvy has bred the Puli for forty-seven years. Many of those years were spent in serious research delving into the history of his chosen breed. His inquiries led him in contact with other Hungarian scientists, who fled their occupied country and in the free world were busily working on their old project, the origin of the Hungarian nation. This long research produced startling discoveries not only on the history of the Hungarian people, but also on the background of the three Hungarian breeds, Kuvasz, Puli and Komondor, which, until now was uncertain. Dr. Palfalvy's and his colleagues' search included a thorough study of the Sumerian, Sanscrit, Greek and Latin literatures, as well as the study of the excavated findings of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. He informs us that the names of the three breeds are frequently mentioned in the ancient literatures. Kuvasz, Puli and Komondor were domesticated and belonged to the Sumerian herdsmen dating back 7000-8000 years, and accompanied them during their travels from Mesopotamia to the Carpathian encircled, present day Hungary. The word Kuvasz is Sumerian. The first letters KU are from an old Sumerian word for dog, Rudda. Kudda is made up of two words: KUN meaning tail, and ADA meaning give. KUN-ADA: give the tail, the animal that gives the tail, that expresses itself with the tail. KUDDA later evolved into KUTTA, and is used even today by people speaking the Dravidian languages, whose ancestors fled Mesopotamia when it was conquered by the Assyrians. Modern Hungarian, a Sumerian language on a twentieth century level, has the word as KUTYA. ASSA means horse in Sumerian. KU-ASSA was a dog that guarded and ran alongside horses and horsemen. In 1931, during explorations of the ruins of the 5000 B.C. city of Ugarit in Mesopotamia led by an English archeologist, Sir H. J. McDonald, a 7000 year-old clay tablet was found. Inscribed on it in cuneiform writing was the word KU-AS-SA. This tablet can now be viewed at the British Museum in London. In the Oriental Museum of Paris, two clay boards are displayed that were found at the ruins of the city of Kish by a French archeologist, Maurice Espreaux. Both are inscribed in cuneiform with the word KU-AS-SA. Also in Mesopotamia, by the river Euphrates, was a city called Ur which flourished during the 35th century B.C. It is also mentioned in the Old Testament. Within its ruins, two clay boards were found which listed the belongings of two families, Kuth and Bana. Along with a number of horses, cattle and sheep there are listed Pulis, Komondors and eight KU-AS-SA owned by the Kuth family and two by Bana. The excavations of the city of Ur were conducted by the British Academy of Science headed by Sir C. Leonard Wooley, archeologist. The boards are at the British Museum. Still another clay board with cuneiform written KU-ASSA, now at the Asmolean Museum, was found at the site of Akkad, a Sumerian city of the 30th century B.C. in Northern Mesopotamia. The great Babylonian king Hammurabi, 2250 B.C., inscribed a series of laws on a huge stone now at the Louvre Museum in Paris. The Code of Hammurabi as it is called, dictates almost all aspects of daily life. Included in the Code is the mention of the three Hungarian breeds, Kuvasz, Komondor and Puli by their names, unchanged for many thousands of years. Of course, the experts on kynology could not find the origin of the words Kuvasz, Komondor and Puli, as their search was based on the Finno-Ugric theory which originated Hungarians in the Ural area of the Caucasus. Dr. Palfalvy's findings are not in opposition to the historical facts that Hungarians migrated to present-day Hungary with their horses and dogs and sheep from the Ural area, but takes them back another 5000 years before that era. The latter-day written evidences dating back as far as the 1400's seem to prove that the Kuvasz became the first of Hungarian breeds to follow his master into the homes and cities from the endless prairies. King Mathias' enthusiasm for this breed (around 1460) opened the doors for the Kuvasz among the nobility. The horsemen and the shepherds who bred the Kuvasz for thousands of years did not concern themselves with keeping pedigrees of their dogs. There was no real paper work as the dogs were not permitted to mate unselected. The beginning of scientific breeding, and the time when strict breeding records were kept can be considered to have started from the late 1800's.

[1] http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/054g01-en.pdf

UTILISATION:

The Kuvasz is used as a watch and guard dog for houses, property and other valuables, as well as for people. He has also been used as a hunting and scenting dog.

CLASSIFICATION FCI: Group 1 Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs (except Swiss Cattle Dogs). Section 1 Sheepdogs. Without working trial.

BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY: The Kuvasz is a long established, ancient Hungarian Shepherd Dog. His ancestors came into the Carpathian basin at the time of occupation by the Magyars. These dogs were needed to watch and guard their flocks against beasts of prey and thieves. Because of his hunting instinct, the Kuvasz was the preferred hunting dog at the time of King Matthias Corvinus. Since the decline in stock-herding, he has much less been used for his original duties and he has settled in villages and later even in towns.

GENERAL APPEARANCE: The dogs of this breed are strong and large and carry a dense, wavy, white coat. Their pleasing appearance radiates nobility and strength. The individual body parts fit together harmoniously, the limbs being neither too short nor too long. The bone structure is strong but not coarse. The strong muscles are lean, the joints show clear outlines. Seen from the side, the body forms a prone rectangle, almost a square. Well muscled he shows a strong build, a lively temperament and great agility. His appearance embodies a tireless working ability.

IMPORTANT PROPORTIONS: • The body length slightly exceeds the height at the withers. • The deepest point of the brisket is approximately on a level with half of the height at the withers. • The muzzle is slightly shorter than half of the length of the head.

BEHAVIOUR / TEMPERAMENT: The Kuvasz is brave and fearless. He defends the people entrusted to his care and his protection and their property, even with his life. He is self-confident and may become aggressive if ill-treated. He is faithful, dependable and loves his master and his surroundings. He needs plenty of exercise and must be kept busy. He is undemanding. His care is easy and he can stand very severe weather conditions. He appreciates any love and solicitude given to him.

HEAD:

The Kuvasz' head is typically wedge-shaped, in harmony with his body, pleasing, noble, and it shows a considerable strength. The Kuvasz can mainly be distinguished from other breeds by his head shape. The head is characteristically lean and dry. In dogs the head is slightly more massive than in bitches. CRANIAL REGION: Skull: Broad, forehead slightly protruding. In the middle of the forehead, there is a distinct furrow. Stop: Barely pronounced. FACIAL REGION: Broad, long, well muscled. Nose: The black noseleather is cut off blunt. Muzzle: The bridge of nose is straight. The muzzle tapers gradually but is never pointed. Lips: Black, tightly fitting. The corner of the mouth has jagged rims. Jaws/Teeth: Well developed, strong, regular and complete scissor bite, according to the dentition formula. Eyes: Set in slightly slanting, almond shaped, dark brown. The rim of the eyelids is black and close-fitting to the eyeball. Ears: Set on at medium height. One third of the ears lifts from the base away from the skull in a curve, then dropping, lying close to the head. The leathers are V-shaped with rounded tips. When alert, the ears are slightly raised. Never prick or twisted.

NECK:

Rather short than of medium length and well muscled. Forms an angle of 25 to 30 degrees to the horizontal. Crest of neck is short. Skin on throat taut, no dewlap. In male dogs, collar and mane are significant.

BODY:

Seen from the side, the body forms a prone rectangle, only slightly differing from a square. Withers: Long, rising markedly above level of back. Back : Of medium length, straight, broad, well muscled and taut. Loins: Short, in taut continuation of the back. Croup: Slightly sloping, well muscled, broad. The very dense coat gives the croup the appearance of being slightly overbuilt. Forechest: Because of the strongly developed muscles, the forechest is rounded, the point of the sternum only slightly protruding. Chest: Deep, long and slightly arched. Underline and belly: In continuation of the ribcage, tucked up towards the rear. TAIL: Set on low following the ligthly sloping croup in a staight line. Vertically down with the tip curved slightly upwards, but not crooked. When the dog is alert or roused, it may, at most, be raised to the level of the topline.

LIMBS

FOREQUARTERS: The front legs, supporting the body, are vertical down to the carpal joints. They are parallel and moderately far apart. Seen from the front, the position of the front legs is correct if a vertical line drawn from the shoulder joint runs along the axis of the front legs and meets the feet between the 3rd and 4th toes. Seen from the side, the position is correct if a vertical line drawn from the elbow joint to the ground, runs through the centre of the legs down to the carpal joints.  Shoulders: Shoulder blade long, sloping, muscled. Close-fitting and tight to the ribcage, but flexible. Upper Arm: Of medium length, well muscled. The upper arm and the shoulder blade form an angle of 100 to 110 degrees. Elbows: Dry, close-fitting to the ribcage, turning neither in nor out. Upper and lower arm form an angle of 120 to 130 degrees. Forearm: Relatively long, straight, compact with lean muscles. With strong sinews reaching down to the carpal joint. Carpal joint: Well developed, taut, with sinews of steel. Pastern : Relatively short, lean, sloping slightly (angle to vertical 10 to 15 degrees). Forefeet: Round or slightly oval, taut. Toes are short and highly arched so that their middle part does not touch the ground. Elastic, well knit. Pads are springy, black. Nails are hard, strong, black or slate grey in colour.

HINDQUARTERS:  The position of the hind legs seen from the side is correct if the stifle joint is positioned vertically below the iliac crest and the foot under the hip joint. A vertical line from the ischiatic tuberosity touches the heel bone. Seen from the rear, the position of the hind legs is correct if a vertical line from the ischiatic tuberosity runs along the axis of the limbs, being parallel to both sides and meeting the ground moderately wide apart. Upper thigh: With long, broad, massive muscles closely connected to the pelvis. Pelvis and upper thigh form an angle of 100 to 110 degrees. Stifle: Voluminous. The angle between upper thigh and lower thigh is 110 to 120 degrees. Lower thigh: The long massive muscles extend to the hock with strong sinews. Seen from the rear, vertical and parallel on both sides, also to the axis of the body. Hocks: Broad, voluminous, dry, sinewy. Angle of hock 130 to 140 degrees. Rear pastern: Long, vertical. Hind feet: Oval, otherwise like the forefeet. 

GAIT/MOVEMENT:

Wide, slow steps. When trotting, the movement is light footed, springy, ground covering, lively, constant and tireless. Elbows turning neither in nor out.

SKIN:

Well pigmented, slate grey and tight.

COAT:

Hair: Moderately harsh, wavy, slightly stiff, not tending to mat. Under the coarser topcoat, there is a finer downy undercoat. The head, ears and feet are covered by short (1-2 cm long), dense, smooth hair. The front and sides of the front legs as well as the hind legs below the stifles are covered by equally short (1-2 cm long) straight hair. There are featherings of 5-8 cm in length on the back of the legs; on the hind legs, they reach to the hocks. The neck has a ruff which extends to a mane reaching to the chest. This is particularly pronounced in male dogs. On body, upper thigh and upper arm, the coat is of medium length (4-12 cm long), abundantly wavy and it forms crests, ridges and tassels. The tail is covered, along its entire length, by dense, wavy coat which can even reach a length of 10-15 cm at the hip of the tail. Colour: White, ivory colour is permitted. Noseleather, rim of eyelids and lips are black. Pads are black or slate grey. A dark colour is desired for roof of mouth but pink patches are permissible. 

SIZE AND WEIGHT:

HEIGHT AT WITHERS Dogs: 71 – 76 cm Bitches: 66 – 70 cm WEIGHT: Dogs: 48 – 62 kg Bitches: 37 – 50 kg. 

FAULTS:

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.

DISQUALIFYNG FAULTS:

• Aggressive or overly shy. • Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified. • Pronounced Stop. • Lack of pigment on noseleather, lips, rims of eyelids. • One or more teeth missing (Incisors, Canines, Premolars 2-4, Molars 1-2). More than 2 PM1 missing. The M3 are disregarded. • Under- or overshot, wry mouth. Gap between upper and lower incisors of more than 2 mm. • Entropion, Ectropion. • Prick ears. • Tail which is raised above topline even in repose or curled towards rear. • Coat tending to be shaggy, curly or not wavy or wiry. • Legs covered by long hair. • Any departure from the permitted colour. NB: • Male animals must have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum. • Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation, should be used for breeding. 

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