The Komondor (Plural in Hungarian, Komondorok), also known as the Hungarian Sheepdog, the Hungarian Commonmop or Mop Dog, is a large Hungarian breed of livestock guardian dog. It has a long corded white coat. The Komondor is a dignified, powerful, long-established breed that has a strong natural instinct to guard livestock and other property.
History and Origins
Komondorok were brought to Hungary by the Turkic-speaking Cumans, a nomadic people who arrived in Hungary sometime during the 12th and 13th Centuries. The name Komondor comes from the term “Quman-dur” which means “Cuman dog.
This name was used to differentiate the breed from another Hungarian one, which later merged to become the modern Komondor. The breed is descended from dogs which came with the Cumans from the Tibet area of Asia. The Cumans’ original home is believed to be near the Yellow River. The Cumans were forced to move westwards by the invasion of the Mongols, starting in the late 10th Century.
Their flight from the Mongols brought them to Hungary in the 12th century. In 1239, the Cumans were granted asylum and settled under the rule of Kotan Khan. The Komondor is a very common breed in Hungary today. During World War II, many Kondorok were killed by the invading forces of Germany (and later Russia) because the soldiers found they had to kill the dog before they could gain access to the farm of building it was guarding. Today, happily, the breed has recovered in numbers and is prized for its natural guarding instinct.
The Komondor is related to the South Russian Ochvarka, the Puli and the Mudi, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog, the Schapendoes, the Bearded Collie, and the Old English sheepdog, among other sheepdog breeds.
Komondor Appearance, Colours, and Size
The Komondor is a large dog, with many standing over 30 inches in height. It has a white, thick, matted and significantly corded coat. They are robust and strongly muscled, with short backs and long legs. From the side, the body is rectangular and the tail has a slight curl. The body is slightly longer than the height at the withers. Komondorok have a broad head whose muzzle is shorter than the head. They have a complete and even scissor bite, with a black nose and lips.
The male Komondor has an average height of 31.5 inches (80 cm) with a minimum of 27.5 inches (70 cm). Males weigh 110-132 pounds (50-60kg) on average. Females average 27.5 inches (70cm) in height, with a minimum of 25.5 inches (65cm) and weigh 88-110 pounds (40-50kg).
The Komondor’s coat is long, thickly matted and strikingly corded, growing to an average of 20-27 inches. This gives it the heaviest amount of fur of any dog. The coat is soft and fluffy in puppies, but it is wavy and starts to curl as the dog matures. By the time the Komondor is two years old, it has grown a natural, soft undercoat covered by a coarser overcoat which is formed into tassels or dreadlocks. The Komondor is born with a white coat, which may turn off-white if not groomed regularly.
Komondor Characteristics and Temperament
The Komondor is a natural guardian of livestock. It is normally calm and steady, but will fearlessly defend its flock when attacked. Its thick coat protects it from predators’ bites, usually wolves. It is very independent when it comes to making decisions.
The Komondor is very affectionate with family and very friendly towards, children and familiar family friends. It is usually wary of strangers but will accept them when it perceives no imminent threat. It is very protective of its family and their home and property. Komondorok will attack passing animals and early socialization and training are important.
Komondorok are always alert and are very loud barkers and are therefore not recommended for apartments or confined spaces. Naturally intelligent, the Komondor is tolerant of other family animals and pets and is very protective over them, too. It relaxes by day but stays alert. By night, it is constantly on patrol. The Komondor will usually knock down any intruder and keep them there until the owner arrives. In Hungary, it is said that an intruder may enter a property guarded by a Komondor, but will never be allowed to escape.
Despite their large size, Komondorok eat very little and will even skip a meal if they’re not hungry. High-quality food is therefore necessary. However, it is useful to note that a diet too high in protein may lead to scratching, hotspots or other skin ailments. Table scraps are not recommended and should only be given sparingly. Foods with high-fat content and cooked bones are to be avoided.
Komondorok are generally healthy, but they may develop hip dysplasia, deformations of the eyelid known as entropion, juvenile cataracts, and bloat.
Komondor Grooming and Shedding
Despite its amazingly long coat, very little shedding happens with the Komondor. Most shedding or molting will occur when a puppy begins to develop a mature coat. Some help may be needed when the coat is growing to avoid it becoming on the big matted mess. An adult Komondor sheds its undercoat twice a year. The tassels require attention at this time to prevent matting close to the skin. Because of the density and length of the coat, the tassels require weekly attention.
The dog may be sheared twice a year. Regular washing is a must, but drying the coat is a long process that may take up to three days. Trimming the tassels to prevent them from dragging on the ground is recommended, especially for working dogs.
Breeders and Price
Because of their popularity as guard dogs, Komondor breeders can be found all over Europe, mostly in Hungary – obviously. Breeders can also be found in America, Canada and all over Asia. A puppy usually costs around $1,000. Top breeders of show dogs typically charge double that or more.
If your budget is not up to the breeders’ prices, you can always adopt a rescued dog. Not only is this the humane thing to do, but the Komondor also makes a good and loving companion and protector. Komondor rescue centers will usually charge between $50 and $400 for a dog and can be found online with a simple search.