Information about the Komondor

The Komondor (Hungarian plural komondorok) is a large, white-colored Hungarian breed of livestock guardian dog with a long, corded coat.

Sometimes referred to as ‘mop dogs,’ the Komondor is a long-established powerful dog breed that has a natural guardian instinct to guard livestock and other property. The Komondor was brought to Europe by the Cumans and it was mentioned for the first time in 1544 in a Hungarian codex. The Komondor breed has been declared one of Hungary’s national treasures, to be preserved and protected from modification.

The name Komondor derives from Koman-dor, meaning “Cuman dog”. The breed descends from Tibetan dogs and came from Asia with the Cumans, whose homeland was near the Yellow River. In the late 900s, Mongols began to expand their territories at the expense of the Cumans, forcing them to move westwards. Fleeing from the Mongols, they reached the borders of Hungary in the 1100s. Cumans were granted asylum and settled in Hungary in 1239 under Köten Khan. Komondor remains have been found in Cuman gravesites.

The Komondor is a large dog (many are over 30 inches tall), making this one of the largest common breeds of dog, or a molosser. The body is covered by a heavy, matted, corded coat. The dogs have robust bodies, strongly muscled, with long legs and a short back, with the tails carried low. The body, seen sideways, forms a prone rectangle. The length of body is slightly longer than the height at the withers, approximately 104% of the height at withers.

The Komondor has a broad head with the muzzle slightly shorter than half of the length of the head, with an even and complete scissor bite. Nose and lips are always black. People unfamiliar with the breed are often surprised by how quick and agile the dogs are.

The minimum height of female Komondors is 25.5 inches (65 cm) at the withers, with an average height of 27.5 inches (70 cm). The minimum height of male Komondors is 27.5 inches (70 cm) with an average height of 31.5 inches (80 cm). No upper height limit is given. Komondor females on average weigh between 88-110 lb (40-50 kg) and Komondor males weigh on average between 110-132 lb (50-60 kg).

The Komondor’s coat is a long, thick, strikingly corded white coat, about 20-27 cm long (the heaviest amount of fur in the canine world), which resembles dreadlocks or a mop. The puppy coat is soft and fluffy. However, the coat is wavy and tends to curl as the puppy matures. A fully mature coat is formed naturally from the soft undercoat and the coarser outer coat combining to form tassels, or cords and will take around two years to form. Some help is needed in separating the cords so the dog does not turn into one large matted mess. The length of the cords increases with time as the coat grows. Shedding is minimal with this breed, contrary to what one might think (once cords are fully formed). The only substantial shedding occurs as a puppy before the dreadlocks fully form. The Komondor is born with only a white coat, unlike the similar-looking Puli, which can be white, black, or sometimes grayish. However, a working Komondor’s coat may be discolored by the elements, and may appear off-white if not washed regularly. Traditionally the coat protected the Komondor from wolves’ bites, as the bites were not able to penetrate the thick coat. The coat of the Komondor takes about two and a half days to dry after a bath.

The Komondor’s temperament is like that of most livestock guarding dogs;it is calm and steady when things are normal, but in case of trouble, the dog will fearlessly defend its charges. It was bred to think and act independently and make decisions on its own.

It is affectionate with its family, and gentle with the children and friends of the family. Although wary of strangers, they can accept them when it is clear that no harm is meant,but is instinctively very protective of its family, home and possessions. The Komondor is good with other family pets but is intolerant to trespassers and teasing, and is not a good dog for city life. The dog is vigilant, will rest in the daytime, keeping an eye on the surroundings, but at night is constantly moving, patrolling the place, moving up and down around the whole area. The dogs usually knock down intruders and keep them down until the owner arrives. Hungarian Komondor breeders used to say that an intruder may be allowed to enter the property guarded by a Komondor, but he will not be allowed to come out again.

The breed has a natural guardian instinct and ability to guard livestock. An athletic dog, the Komondor is fast and powerful and will leap at a predator to drive it off or knock it down. It can be used successfully to guard sheep against wolves or bears. The Komondor is one breed of livestock guardian dog which has seen a vast increase in use as a guardian of sheep and goats in the United States to protect against predators such as coyotes, cougars, bears, and other predators.

Due to the Komondor’s size, power, speed and temperament, a lack of obedience training, which should start from a young age (4-8 months), can result in danger to others. Komondors generally take well to training if started early. A Komondor can become obstinate when bored, so it is imperative that training sessions be upbeat and happy. Praise is a must, as are consistent and humane corrections. Once a Komondor gets away with unfriendly or hostile behavior, it will always think such behavior is appropriate. Therefore, consistent corrections even with a young puppy are necessary to ensure a well-adjusted adult. Socialization is also extremely important. The Komondor should be exposed to new situations, people and other dogs as a puppy. Because it is a natural guard dog, a Komondor that is not properly socialized may react in an excessively aggressive manner when confronted with a new situation or person.

Given the proper environment and care, a Komondor is a responsible, loving dog. They are devoted and calm without being sluggish. As in any breed, there is quite a range of personalities, so your needs should be outlined clearly to your breeder. An experienced breeder can try to identify that personality which would be happier as an independent livestock dog, or that which wants more to please and would make a good obedience dog or family pet. Adolescence can be marked by changes in a Komondor’s temperament, eating habits, trainability and general attitude. Many Komondors are “late bloomers,” not fully mature until nearly three years of age.

Komondors do not suffer many hereditary problems. Perhaps because the breed has descended from centuries of hardy working stock, Komondors have few genetically linked problems. In particular, there is no evidence of the retinal eye problems found in other breeds, nor is there dwarfism or hereditary blood disorders.