The komondor is a large, muscular dog, with plenty of bone and substance; it is slightly longer than tall. Its gait is light and leisurely, with long strides. Its hallmark coat is double, consisting of a dense wooly undercoat and a coarser outer coat that is wavy or curly. The undercoat is trapped in the outer coat so that it forms strong, felty, tassel-like cords. This coat helped protect the dog from the elements as well as the teeth of tough adversaries. It also helped the dog to blend in with its flock.

Bred as an independent protector of livestock, the komondor is true to its heritage. It is an independent thinker and can be stubborn or domineering. It is not for meek owners who can be dominated; socialization is essential. It is reserved with strangers and possibly aggressive toward strange dogs. It is good with other pets and especially livestock. In fact, it is happiest when it has something or someone to watch over. Although usually calm and quiet, it is utterly fearless when the need arises. As a natural guardian, it is protective of children in its own family, but it may at times misunderstand rough-and-tumble games of visiting children.

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When the Huns came to Hungary, they brought with them the large, long-legged, Russian owtcharka, which became the progenitor of the komondor (plural: komondorok).

These dogs bore a close resemblance to the Magyar sheep known as racka, which had a proud “doglike” carriage and masses of curly wool. Thus, the dogs easily intermingled with the sheep and at first glance appeared to be one of the flock. Greatly valued by the Magyar shepherds, the komondorok were not allowed to interbreed with other breeds.

The earliest documentation of the breed dates back to 1555, although the breed is certain to have existed long before then. The komondor earned its keep by guarding the flocks against marauding animals. It was so effective that some claim it is responsible for wiping out the wolf in Hungary. The komondor was still used as a guard into the 20th century.

The first komondor came to America in 1933, and the AKC recognized the breed in 1937. World War II almost decimated the breed in Europe, but through the concerted efforts of breeders, the komondor was saved. Although it is one of the most impressive dogs to ever grace the show ring, the difficulty of preparing its coat has usually dictated that none but the very finest be shown. As a result, the komondor remains an uncommon breed everywhere but in its native Hungary.

Recent attempts to use the breed as a guardian of flocks in the western United States have yielded promising results, attracting the attention of a new generation of shepherds.

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The komondor needs daily exercise in the form of long walks or short romps. Swimming is not a good idea because of the time it takes the coat to dry. It may also be difficult to keep the coat clean in some areas. This breed does not like warm weather. It can live outdoors in temperate to cool weather. The komondor is nonshedding but not carefree. Its cords must be regularly separated or they will look like flat mats, and its coat tends to hold dirt; bathing is time-consuming and drying takes as much as a day. Care of the coat in nonshow dogs is far less extensive. Pets can be clipped but then lose part of the breed’s unique appeal. Note that it may take a dog up to 2 years of age before cords form.

  • Major concerns: CHD, gastric torsion
  • Minor concerns: otitis externa, acute moist dermatitis
  • Occasionally seen: entropion
  • Suggested tests: hip
  • Life span: 10 – 12 years


Information Thanks to Animal Planet