Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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Official Standard of the Komondor General Appearance: The Komondor is characterized by imposing strength, dignity, courageous demeanor, and pleasing conformation. He is a large, muscular dog with plenty of bone and substance, covered with an unusual, heavy coat of white cords. The working Komondor lives during the greater part of the year in the open, and his coat serves to help him blend in with his flock and to protect him from extremes of weather and beasts of prey. Nature and Characteristics: The Komondor is a flock guardian, not a herder. Originally developed in Hungary to guard large herds of animals on the open plains, the Komondor was charged with protecting the herd by himself, with no assistance and no commands from his master. The mature, experienced dog tends to stay close to his charges, whether a flock or family; he is unlikely to be drawn away from them in chase, and typically doesn't wander far. Though very sensitive to the desires of his master, heavy-handed training will produce a stubborn, unhappy Komondor. While reserved with strangers, the Komondor is demonstrative with those he loves, selflessly devoted to his family and his charges, and will defend them against any attack. The combination of this devotion to all things dear to him and the desire to take responsibility for them produces an excellent guardian of herds or home, vigilant, courageous, and very faithful. Size, Proportion, Substance: Dogs 27½ inches and up at the withers; bitches 25½ inches and up at the withers. Dogs are approximately 100 pounds and up, bitches, approximately 80 pounds and up at maturity, with plenty of bone and substance . While large size is important, type, character, symmetry, movement and ruggedness are of the greatest importance and are on no account to be sacrificed for size alone. The body is slightly longer than the height at the withers. Height below the minimum is a fault. Head: The head is large. The length of the head from occiput to tip of nose is approximately two-fifths the height of the dog at the withers. The skin around the eyes and on the muzzle is dark. Eyes - Medium-sized and almond-shaped, not too deeply set. The iris of the eye is dark brown. Edges of the eyelids are gray or black. Light eyes are a fault. Blue eyes are a disqualification. Ears – In shape the ear is an elongated triangle with a slightly rounded tip. Medium-set and hanging and long enough to reach to the inner corner of the eye on the opposite side of the head. Erect ears or ears that move toward an erect position are a fault. Skull - The skull is broad with well-developed arches over the eyes. The occiput is fairly well-developed and the stop is moderate. Muzzle - The muzzle is wide, coarse, and truncated. Measured from inner corner of the eye to tip of nose the muzzle is two-fifths of the total length of the head. The top of the muzzle is straight and is parallel to the top of the skull. Underjaw is well-developed and broad. Lips are tight and are black in color. Ideally gums and palate are dark or black. Nose - Nose is wide and the front of the nose forms a right angle with the top of the muzzle. The nostrils are wide. The nose is black. A dark gray or dark brown nose is not desirable but is acceptable. A flesh-colored nose is a disqualification. Bite - Bite is scissors; a level bite is acceptable. A distinctly overshot or undershot bite is a fault. Any missing teeth is a serious fault. Three or more missing teeth is a disqualification.
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Neck: Muscular, of medium length, moderately arched, with no dewlap. The head erect. Topline: The back is level and strong. Body: Characterized by a powerful, deep chest, which is muscular and proportionately wide. The breast is broad and well-muscled. The belly is somewhat drawn up at the rear. The rump is wide, muscular, and slopes slightly towards the root of the tail. Softness or lack of good muscle tone is a fault. Tail: A continuation of the rump line, hanging, and long enough to reach the hocks. Slightly curved upwards and/or to one side at its end. Even when the dog is moving or excited, the greater part of the tail is raised no higher than the level of the back. A short or curly tail is a fault. Forequarters: Shoulders are well laid back. Forelegs straight, well-boned, and muscular. Viewed from any side, the legs are like vertical columns. The upper arms are carried close to the body, without loose elbows. Feet: Strong, rather large, and with close, well-arched toes. Pads are hard, elastic, and black or gray. Ideally, nails are black or gray, although light nails are acceptable. Hindquarters: The steely, strong bone structure is covered with highly-developed muscles. The legs are straight as viewed from the rear. Stifles are well-bent. Rear dewclaws must be removed. Coat: Characteristic of the breed is the dense, protective coat. The puppy coat is relatively soft, but it shows a tendency to fall into cord-like curls. The young adult coat, or intermediate coat, consists of very short cords next to the skin which may be obscured by the sometimes lumpy looking fluff on the outer ends of the cords. The mature coat consists of a dense, soft, woolly undercoat much like the puppy coat, and a coarser outer coat that is wavy or curly. The coarser hairs of the outer coat trap the softer undercoat, forming permanent, strong cords that are felt-like to the touch. A grown dog is entirely covered with a heavy coat of these tassel-like cords, which form naturally. It must be remembered that the length of the Komondor's coat is a function of age, and a younger dog must never be penalized for having a shorter coat. Straight or silky coat is a fault. Failure of the coat to cord by two years of age is a disqualification. Short, smooth coat on both head and legs is a disqualification. Color: Color of the coat is white, but not always the pure white of a brushed coat. A small amount of cream or buff shading is sometimes seen in puppies, but fades with maturity. In the ideal specimen the skin is gray. Pink skin is not desirable but is acceptable. Color other than white, with the exception of small amounts of cream or buff in puppies, is a disqualification. Gait: Light, leisurely and balanced. The Komondor takes long strides, is very agile and light on his feet. The head is carried slightly forward when the dog trots.
The foregoing is a description of the ideal Komondor. Any deviation should be penalized in direct proportion to the extent of that deviation. Extreme deviation in any part should be penalized to the extent that the dog is effectively eliminated from competition.
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Disqualifications: Blue eyes. Flesh-colored nose. Three or more missing teeth. Failure of the coat to cord by two years of age. Short, smooth coat on both head and legs. Color other than white, with the exception of small amounts of cream or buff in puppies.
Approved June 13, 1994 Effective July 31, 1994
By Arthur Sorkin
t is not unusual for the fanciers of dog breeds to claim great antiq- uity for their breed (sometimes based on the same evidence). Th ere is little question that the Komondor is a shepherd’s dog
Th ough references to large, white coat- ed shepherd dogs predate it, all sources agree that the first written reference to the komondor as a Hungarian breed of dog was in 1544 in a story by Peter Kakonyi, which mentioned a komondor barking. Th ere is at least one source that refers to the word komondor appearing in a list of animals in 1514. An illustration (possibly the first) of a komondor appears in a natu- ral history book by Pethe in 1815. Cynologists in Hungary and Germany started studying the Hungarian breeds in detail in the late 19th and early 20th centu- ries. Among the most prominent in the 20th Century was Dr. Emil Raitsits, who publish the book “Hungarian Dogs” in 1924. In the 1930s, Dr. Csaba Anghi published a number of works about the Hungarian breeds, includ- ing the book “Hungarian Shepherd Dogs and Related Foreign Breeds.” Th e German Komondor Club (now known as the Club for Hungarian Shepherd Dogs) was founded in 1922. Th e first AKC komondor standard was based on the mid-1930s standard of the Hungarian Kennel Club (MEOE). In 1935, Dr. Tibor de Cholnoky, a doctor of Hungarian extraction living in New York imported what are believed to have been the first two komondors in the US, and they were the first komondors registered by AKC when the breed was recognized by AKC in 1937. Th eir pictures appeared in the June 13, 1938 issue of LIFE magazine. A few other komondors were imported around this period, and Andrashazi Dorka and Pannonia Pandur were the first two komon- dor entered in the AKC stud book. Th e Second World War interrupted the introduction of the komondor into the
US, and the breed was almost wiped out in Europe, with at most a few dozen speci- mens surviving the War. After the War, breed recovery was slow because Hungary came under Communist control, and pure bred dogs were frowned upon. As far as is known, no komondors were imported into the US for almost 20 years. Th e breed eventually recovered in Hungary and Germany, and in the late 1950s and early 1960s, importation into the US resumed. Th e first AKC Champion, Ch. Hattyu, was an early 1960s Hungarian import and finished his Championship in 1965. Th e Hol- lywood character actor Oscar Beregi, who left Hungary during the 1956 Revolt, owned Hattyu and was very influential in helping to reestablish the komondor in the US. While there have been a reasonable number of AKC Champion komondors to date, a small num- ber of komondors have earned AKC Obe- dience titles, including the Utility Degree (UD), and even one Tracking Degree (TD). Th e Komondor Club of America (KCA) was formed in 1967 and eventually became an AKC Member Club as the Parent Club for the breed. Subsequent to the formation of the KCA, the Middle Atlantic States Komondor Club was also formed, and both clubs have been active in promoting the breed. Th e komondor drew a great deal of attention at dog show because of its unique coat and especially so when dog shows, such as the Westminster Kennel Club were tele- vised. Despite this, the popularity of the komondor with the general public remains limited compared to other breeds. However, there continues to be some interest in the komondor as a working live-stock guard dog among farmers and ranchers in the US.
of Asiatic origin, brought to what is now Hungary by nomadic peoples migrating from the East Th e precise origins of the komondor are not as certain and are the subject of controversy. Similarly, the ori- gins of the word “komondor” are uncer- tain and also in dispute. It is well documented that the Mag- yars crossed the Carpathian mountains circa 895 AD and settled in the Carpath- ian Basin. Th e original homeland of the Magyars is not known. Anthropologist Dr. Istvan Kiszely, among others, has excavat- ed old cemeteries in Xinjiang Province in Western China and has found burial prac- tices identical to those of the 8th and 9th century Magyars. He also found other simi- larities with the ancient Magyars in this area of Western China and has concluded that the Magyars lived there until, perhaps the 5th Century, before migrating westward. Th e Cumans (“Kun” in Hungarian) were a Turkic speaking nomadic steppe people with origins east of the large bend of the Yellow River in China. Th e Cumans migrated westward in advance of the Mon- gol expansion, and first entered Hungary in 1239, settling in central Hungary in 1246. Th e word “Kun” still appears is many place names in this part of Hungary. Th e best current evidence is that the Komondor was the dog of the Cumans. Komondor-like dog skeletons have been found (along with horse skeletons) in Cuman gravesites.
“The Second World War interrupted the introduction of the komondor into the US, and the breed was almost wiped out in Europe, WITH AT MOST A FEW DOZEN SPECIMENS SURVIVING THE WAR.” 4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& + "/6"3: t
JUDGING THE KOMONDOR
By Nancy Liebes Komondor Club of American Education Committee Chairperson
our first impression of a Komondor should be that of a large, calm dog who confidently owns the ground he stands over. Not overly friend-
ly with strangers, the dog should trust its handler enough to accept the judging process without resistance. Any dog who seems anxious should be treated with calm respect and not forced to do something with which he isn’t comfortable. In profile the dog should be slightly longer than tall with a smooth line flowing from the top of the head, down a moderate neck which flows smoothly into the shoul- ders, along a level topline, to a slightly sloping croup and ending with a tail which in repose will be carried down with a slight curve upward at the tip. When approaching please say some- thing either to the dog or the handler so the dog knows you are there. Experienced handlers will smooth the hair away from the dog’s eyes so he can see you coming but if the handler does not, you can ask them to clear the dog’s vision. I place both hands under the jaw so I can immediately gauge the depth and breadth of the head and then proceed with the head examination. A balanced head will have a topskull 3/5 of its length and a muzzle 2/5 of its length with the breadth of the topskull equaling the length of the muzzle. “ Th e muzzle is wide, coarse and trun- cated. Measured from inner corner of the eye to tip of nose the muzzle is 2/5 of the total length of the head. Th e top of the muzzle is straight and is parallel to the top of the skull. Underjaw is well-developed and broad. Lips are tight and are black in color. Ideally gums and palate are dark or black.” Th e muzzle should be powerful and broad, not pointed. Th ere should be plenty of width to accommodate a large nose and a good set of teeth. Mouth pigment should be dark, which can be evaluated when looking at the bite.
Drawing by Steven Hubbell.
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Loose lips and a wet mouth are to be faulted. Although nervous dogs might drool a bit, generally loose sloppy mouths are not typical of a Komondor. Eyes are dark, as are eye rims, lips and nose pigment. “Bite is scissors; a level bit is acceptable. A distinctly undershot or overshot bite is a fault. Any missing teeth is a serious fault. Th ree or more missing teeth is a disqualification.” Scissors bite is preferred. In older dogs it is not uncommon to see dropped lower cen- tral incisors, which can a ff ect the appear- ance of the bite itself. Th is is not an under- shot mouth. If you have any question, please check the tooth alignment along the sides of the mouth. Large teeth are preferred. We have a tooth disqualification which should be considered as important as that in Dobermans and Rottweilers. If you are not comfortable handling the dog’s mouth have the handler do it for you. If the dog is not trained or you feel in danger, excuse the dog for “inability to check the bite”. Please do not pressure a dog who cannot be examined.
Missing premolars are the most common missing teeth in Komondors. Evaluate the front structure by placing your right hand on the withers and using your left hand to find the prosternum, point of shoulder and elbow. In a dog with correct angulation you will find the elbow to be directly under the withers. In a dog with a lot of coat your hands will be easy to see and you will be able to gauge correct shoulder placement. Th is dog’s front is well set under him, which is easier to see without coat. Th is is why you need to use your hand to find the relationship of the shoulder and upper arm. Th e Hungarian standard says the width of the chest is 28% of the height at the withers with the average being 30%, also that depth of chest is 45% of the height at the withers but most often is between 50 to 56%. If we apply these measurements to a 28" tall dog, the width across the front of the dog would be around 8". Th e depth would be between 13" and 15 ½ ".
Drawing by Steven Hubbell.
Drawing by Steven Hubbell.
Eyes are dark, as are eye rims, lips and nose pigment.
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“The back is level and strong.”
(Above) These are both good coats at different ages.
Th is is NOT a barrel chested, wide bod- ied dog. Large, round bodies are as incor- rect as slab-sided thin bodies. Th e rib cage should be oval shaped. A common fault in the breed is a bad topline. When you see this you should investigate the cause. Many topline faults can be seen more easily when the dog is moving. Often you will find that the dog has a short ribcage when compared to the total length of the back. Th e ideal ratio of ribcage to loin is 2:1. In other words, the ribcage should be 2/3 the length of the topline. Th is creates the best support for the back, especially when the dog has to carry around heavy coat. Conditioning is important and this is a breed which should be shown with good strong working muscle tone. Unfortunately judges have an expectation of a pristinely clean dog and many people are afraid to allow their dogs to run outside fearing they’ll get dirty. Sometimes a soft back can be the result of poor muscle tone. As much as we want clean dogs to be in the ring, soft muscles are useless to a working dog and are to be faulted. I complete the examination by checking the rear angulation, tailset and croup angle. Th ere should be good fill across the loin, good muscle down the croup and
good muscle in the rear. Th e croup should fall o ff about 15 degrees from the topline. You may see some flat croups and a flat pelvic angle. On the move these dogs are unable to get their back feet far enough under themselves to get adequate drive in the rear. If you think a dog is carrying his tail too high on the move, please check the croup and pelvic angle and watch his side gait for rear drive. Many of these dogs do not get good thrust o ff their hind legs and would be unable to perform a full day’s work in the field. Coat “Characteristic of the breed is the dense, protective coat. Th e puppy coat is relatively soft, but it shows a tendency to fall into cord-like curls. Th e young adult coat, or intermediate coat, consists of very short cords next to the skin which may be obscured by the sometimes lumpy looking flu ff on the outer ends of the cords.” “ Th e mature coat consists of a dense, soft, wooly undercoat much like the puppy coat and a coarser outer coat that is wavy or curly. Th e coarser hairs of the outer coat trap the softer undercoat, forming permanent, strong cords that are felt-like to the touch.”
Young dogs in the ring.
“...DENSE, SOFT, WOOLY UNDERCOAT MUCH LIKE THE PUPPY COAT, and a coarser outer coat that is wavy or curly.”
Newborn puppies have wavy coats—the wavier the newborn coat is, the better the adult coat will be. (4 days)
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COAT AGE COMPARISON
t BOEZFBSBSFUIFTBNFCJUDI t BOEZFBSCJUDIBSFUIFTBNFCJUDI at 25" tall. t BOEZFBSEPHBSFUIFTBNFEPH BU 29" tall.
1 year (Bitch)
5 years (Bitch)
2 years (Bitch)
3 years (Bitch)
5 years (Dog)
7 years (Bitch)
7 years (Dog)
Although the coat is the most notable feature of the breed, the judge must evalu- ate the dog under the coat first. Th ere are multiple words in Hungarian to describe a corded coat. Th e range is from string-like to ropes and even plates. One common misunderstanding of the coat is age. A puppy coat is soft and falls into curls, an older adult coat is long and corded, but there’s a period of a few years in between which can only be described as “juvenile”. Th e juvenile coat is corded too, but is lumpy and bunchy before it gets it’s length. It is completely corded at the skin, but might not
appear so from across the ring. If you have any question about the coat, examine it at the skin level. You will see that each cord is separate from it’s neighbors and it is indeed corded. Th e outline of the dog is a ff ected by this age di ff erence also. A dog who has just begun cording can completely lose its out- line and may look like it has no neck. Use your hands to get under the coat to evalu- ate what is really going on. Th e disqualification for failure of a coat to cord before the age of two, means that we want to be able to distinguish our breed from the other white livestock dogs.
Once the puppy coats start matting, it’s cording. It is rare to see a coat that will not cord at all. You should consider a coat to be corded when it is matted at the skin and those mats are separated into bunch- es. Even if it appears fuzzy from across the ring, it’s corded when it begins to mat. “A grown dog is entirely covered with a heavy coat of these tassel-like cords, which form naturally. It must be remembered that the length of the Komondor’s coat is a function of age and a younger dog must never be penalized for having a shorter coat. ” (Emphasis is ours.)
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This bitch has damaged coat, but the quality of the coat is acceptable.
Left: Corded, Right: Shaved.
“Straight or silky coat is a fault. Failure of the coat to cord by two years is a dis- qualification. Short, smooth coat on both head and legs is a disqualification.” Th e taller the dog is, the longer it takes the coat to reach the ground. Note that on the smaller bitch the length of coat reaches the ground sooner. At the age of 5 her coat “appears” to be longer than that of the dog because the ends of his cords are higher o ff the ground. Length of coat is a function of age. A longer coat just means that the dog is older, not that it’s a “better” coat. It can take as many as five years for a dog to get the full length you often see in the group ring. Older dogs with short cords are not to be penalized. Length of coat is immate- rial as long as it is corded in a dog over two years of age. Missing coat on an otherwise corded dog is not to be faulted. Th e coat grows at a rate of 4" to 6" per year. Please understand that the amazing thing about the beautiful long corded coat isn’t that it’s long and corded, but that it’s there at all! During its lifetime the dog never got a hot spot, or a flea allergy, had surgery, or any other kind of coat/skin accident that can damage or completely eliminate a part of the coat. “Color of the coat is white, but not always the pure white of a brushed coat. A small amount of cream or bu ff shading
“Length of coat is a function of age. A LONGER COAT JUST MEANS THAT THE DOG IS OLDER, NOT THAT IT’S A ‘BETTER’ COAT.”
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catch and kill a wolf. Wolves don’t just run in a straight line. Th e Komondor normally jumps on and knocks down its victim, often after “posturing” by leaping and throwing its coat out to make it look bigger. To evaluate movement look at pads coming and going and watch the coat. A well-balanced dog will flow and the cords will remain vertical. Common movement faults are lack of front and rear balance, over reaching, straight shoulders, over or under angulated rears, cow hocks and poor coupling between front and rear which causes a rolling gait. Evaluate the gait at a trot brisk enough to determine drive. Because this is a breed to be evaluated for its working ability, soundness should be considered a part of type. When you are judging this breed you will be faced with a lot of choices. Since our standard does not give a point scale or a list of priorities, please base your deci- sions on the relative ability of each dog to do the job of a livestock guard. Emphasize those good attributes which relate to func- tion, while understanding that “type” is more than coat. It is not uncommon to have a class of dogs who are all of one type except one. Please do not assume that the “odd dog out” is the one who is incorrect. Step back and mentally review what is important in the standard and put up the dog who comes closest to the ideal dog to work in the field. t $PMPSPUIFSUIBOXIJUF XJUIUIFFYDFQ - tion of small amounts of cream or bu ff in puppies t 'MFTIDPMPSFEOPTF t 4IPSU TNPPUIIBJSPOCPUIIFBEBOEMFHT t 'BJMVSFPGUIFDPBUUPDPSECZUXPZFBST of age t ɨSFFPSNPSFNJTTJOHUFFUI Disqualifications t #MVF&ZFT
A good example of gait.
This is a Kuvasz — the disqualification was meant to designate a clear difference between the two breeds.
is sometimes seen in puppies, but fades with maturity.” “Color other than white, with the exception of small amounts of cream or bu ff in puppies, is a disqualification.” Th e color of the Komondor can be described as buttercream, pearl white, or bone white. It is not the glistening blue- white of some other white breeds. Because genetically the Komondor is a dilute red, the white may have some bu ff or apricot in puppies. Light does not reflect o ff the coat as in other breeds, but is either reflected o ff obliquely or absorbed. You have the right to expect every dog in your ring to be clean, but do not fault stains. If you have a ques- tion about color, look at the coat at the skin. Gait “Light, leisurely and balanced. Th e Komondor takes long strides, is very agile and light on his feet. Th e head is carried slightly forward when the dog trots.” When evaluating gait on a fully coated dog, look for the feet, both coming and going. Where the feet land will show you how the dog is moving, whether close, wide, cow-hocked, or straight and parallel, which is what we want to see. Agility and balance are crucial attributes because the Komondor must be able to
Disqualification: Blue Eyes
Disqualification: Color other than white
Disqualification: Flesh colored nose
“Emphasize those good attributes which relate to function,
WHILE UNDERSTANDING THAT ‘TYPE’ IS MORE THAN COAT.”
Disqualification: Three or more missing teeth
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PUREBRED DOGS A Guide to Today's Top
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LIVESTOCK GUARDING DOG Komondor
BY NANCY LIEBES (PHOTOS PROVIDED BY THE AUTHOR.)
K omondors are counted among the group of dogs called Livestock Guarding Dogs, or LGDs. Although four of these noble breeds are recognized by the AKC, there are many more than that in the world. Some are already in the Foundation Stock Service, which allows them to be shown at Open Shows, but there are even more currently working in Europe and Asia. These breeds were credited with helping to develop human civilizations by guarding the livestock being raised to feed nearby tribes. Archaeologic evidenced suggests that Komondors, although known as a Hungarian breed, began in China as a dog of the Cumans who lived near the Yellow River. The Mongol expansion forced the Cumans out of their homeland to the west, to the Ural Mountains. As the expansion continued over the course of three centuries, the Mongols and Cumans continued to clash until they reached the border of Hungary. There were many serious conflicts between the Mongols, Cumans, and the established inhabitants of the area. The remains of dogs and horses were found in the Cuman graves, and the dogs were identified as being Komondors. In fact, scholars credit the Cumanian origin of the Komondor as the dog of the Cumans, or Koman-dor. A band of Cumans continued through southern Russia where the South Russian Sheep- dog (Owtcharka) can be found—a breed also thought to be related to the Komondor. As this part of the world was being developed and civilized, other bands of nomads were migrat- ing from Asia through Europe, sharing genetic material with other local dogs. Many LGD breeds share features which clearly were useful for their job protecting the flocks; light color, drop ears, juvenile features, protective coat, and of course, similar temperaments. Each breed was developed specifically for the environment in which they were working. Weather and terrain, as well as the predator they were guarding against, defined the dog’s size and coat. Since most predators were dark-colored with prick ears, the livestock were most comfortable living with guardians that looked more like the stock they were defending. This is still true today. These breeds also share temperament features. Independent thinking, with the ability to make decisions without direction, is important for a dog working remotely; but this can be problematic for a pet. Because of this, these breeds need owners to understand their need to protect the flock (family) and always be aware of what their dog is thinking. These are not breeds to be taken lightly. They are serious and are capable of making decisions that might not be what you expect. Because they are sensitive, training with a heavy hand can dampen their enthusiasm for life and create a sullen dog. But Komondors can be as goofy and playful as any other breed when they understand your needs and respect your opinion. They connect with the family just as they would a flock, and the depth of that connection can be felt strongly. Dr. Marion J. Levy who imported the first BIS Komondor was fond of saying, “You ain’t been loved ‘til you’ve been loved by a Komondor.” The same is likely true of all LGDs.
Female ‘Mira’ belonging to Doru Asmaranda from Gura Humorului, in 1994.
140 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, FEBRUARY 2023
KOMONDOR: LIVESTOCK GUARDING DOG
“IN MY TRAVELS I WAS LUCKY TO DISCOVER THE ROMANIAN
COUNTERPART OF THE KOMONDOR, THE ROMANIAN MIORITIC SHEPHERD.”
When I was in Budapest I visited every museum I could find looking for photographic or even artistic evidence of how the Komondor fit into the development of that country. I found noth- ing. There were some pictures of Kuvasz with people but noth- ing of the breed that worked farther out in the countryside. Little evidence exists, but there have been a few pictures of Komondors with their shepherds that survived WW2. The breed was nearly totally wiped out by the war and we are lucky that a few devoted breeders saved a few dogs along with the few that were saved in the Budapest zoo. In my travels I was lucky to discover the Romanian counter- part of the Komondor, the Romanian Mioritic Shepherd. Romania and Hungary are next to each other and share a geographic feature called the Carpathian Basin. Since this area was divided only by a political boundary, it can be assumed that these two breeds shared genetic material. I imported a female from a breeder in Austria and
the comparison with the Komondor is strong. Their coats are dif- ferent, but I have seen some pictures of some dogs from the 1990s that were white and looked corded. In general, the Mioritic coat is brushed and does carry color, although a preponderance of white is preferred. Their temperament is very similar. Strong and active as a youngster, protective and very independent, my female fit right into our family. Shared genetic material has been a feature of LGDs throughout the ages and is still happening. Because each livestock dog is devel- oped for a specific need and environment, ranchers and farmers continue to purposefully mix breeds that will work for them. It is up to those of us who are devoted to preserving these historically important breeds to continue to produce healthy and sound dogs. It is also up to us to not criticize those ranchers (who are raising our food) for developing a dog that works best for them. We must continue to preserve this history.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Nancy Liebes got her first Komondor in 1972. Since then, she has bred five Best in Show dogs, won 13 National Specialties, and produced over 50 champions. Although involved in other breeds, Nancy’s passion is the livestock guarding breeds because of their serious nature and incredibly strong sense of responsibility.
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KOMONDOR COATS PUPPY TO MATURITY
BY ERIC LIEBES
A dult Komondors, well groomed, have amazing corded coats. There is no denying it. It looks good on TV at the big shows and is an attention-getter wherever they go. Really, the coat is a tool that protects the dogs from predators and from the weather when they are doing their flock guardian job. The coat is important, but we want our judges to eval- uate the sturdy, athletic dog underneath the coat at all ages. The coat obscures the key aspects of the dog—differently at different ages. Komondors are not born corded. Babies have a dense coat with some crimp (or curl). There is often some cream color on the ears, which fades in a few months. We don’t brush or trim this coat. It just grows. Later, the cords will have soft tips; this is the original puppy coat. It is easier to see the dog under the coat now than it ever will be again. By the time a Komondor might see the ring, at six months, much has changed. The 6-9 Puppy has several inches of fluffy puppy coat. Their neck has disappeared into the coat, their topline is entirely covered, and how much bone they have in legs and head can only be felt, not seen. Still, the properly presented Komondor puppy is not brushed or combed (except for maybe the feet and face). It is just a clean, tangled, ball of hair. Evaluation of the dog under the coat
must be done with the judge’s hands. Find the withers, feel the length of neck and the angle of shoulders from there, follow the shoulders down to the point of shoulder and prosternum, and then down to the elbows, to understand the front construction. The same is done to determine the length of rib cage, the shape of topline, and croup angle. The coat might feel a little matted at the base—that is OK. Between nine months and a year, the cording is happening. It starts as clumping on the thighs or hips or whatever part they lay on. The “outside” of the coat may still just look like unbrushed hair, but at the base this is likely clumped or matted in plaits. The owners should start splitting the clumps and plaits into cords. Cords are the diameter of a quarter (coin) at the skin. The details of the manner and the speed of cord progress depends on how much curl and how much undercoat a particular dog has. Also, cording will be sped up by getting wet and drying out. So at this point, there is a lot of handwork in splitting the cords. Still, it is never brushed or combed. By the time the dog is 15 months old or so, the coat is fully corded at the skin. Our “Failure of the coat to cord by two years of age...” disqualification is not very hard to achieve; most would
A Six-Month-Old Komondor
A One-Year-Old Komondor Coat —Cording Is Underway
A Seven-Week-Old Komondor
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KOMONDOR COATS: PUPPY TO MATURITY
The Coat Flying on a 14-Month-Old
Three-Year-Old Komondor Male: ‘Adult Coat’
zip off the coat and toss it into the washer and dryer! Drying takes a day or so, usually on towels or over a raised grate with big fans. Getting the dog properly rinsed and then dried is important to keeping them smelling good. When a Komondor walks into the ring with the whole coat down to the ground it is seven or eight years old. It is gorgeous and an accomplishment that the coat has been beautifully preserved. However, that dog is no better than one with a shorter coat—just older. Judging based on length of coat is not judging at all. Anyone with a ruler could do this. It is the judge’s job to judge the dog under the coat according to our Breed Standard. Judges look for “type” in a breed. Type in Komondors is not coat. Type in Komondors is the outline of the dog, from a large, strong head, smoothly over good shoulders, to a topline that is strong (standing and on the move), down a muscular rump, and a slope down to the tail. This well-boned, athletic, slightly rectangu- lar dog is much more than a rack for an unusual coat. The mature adult coat is hung on an older dog and might weigh 10 pounds dry and 25 pounds wet. After a bath, we are careful that they don’t jump out of the tub with the added water weight. The older dogs that still carry that dry coat weight with grace and ath- leticism must have had great toplines their whole lives.
pass by about one year. With cording, the dog has deflated a little and all that fluffy hair is compressed in the cords. While this is a perfectly proper coat for the age, many judges fault the dog on the move because the coat is flipping side-to-side over the topline. It is wrong (but common) for a judge to fault a puppy for fluffy coat, a one-year-old for being partially corded, or an adolescent from 15 months on, for a year or so, for having a perfect coat for their age. In the same vein, judging Komondors by degree of cording or length of coat is not judging at all. The judge must always judge the dog under the coat, by proper movement, good angles, good bone, and proportion. At about 2.5 years, the coat is long enough to not flip over the back on the move; the dog starts to gain the look of an adult Komondor. Now the coat just grows, 3-4 inches per year. The owner keeps splitting the cords at the skin and works hard to keep the dog from losing cords by the teeth of puppies, scratching, or any number of accidents. The dog needs to be kept from staining the coat because these cords have to last a lifetime in the show ring. Washing the adult is quite a production. An hour or two in the tub, first soaping up and then completely rinsing the soap out of the coat. Sometimes we lay them down in the soapy water to soak during the bath. Sometimes a “bath” means soaping up and rinsing more than once. It would be so much easier if we could just
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Eric Liebes is a longtime breeder-judge of Komondors. His first two dogs were a Komondor and an Ibizan Hound. The Komondor still shares the breed’s AKC All-Breed Best in Show record. The Ibizan Hound finished his championship and was one of the first CDX-titled Ibizans. In over 40 years in the breed, Eric has achieved seven Komondor National wins, 10 All-Breed Bests in Show, and many CDs on Komondors. He is currently the AKC Gazette columnist for the Komondor breed. Eric was first approved to judge by the AKC in 1992. His first breed approvals were Ibizan Hounds, Greyhounds, and Komondors. He is now approved to judge all Sporting, Hound, Working, and Herding breeds, Miscellaneous Class, Junior Showmanship, and BIS. Eric has judged in Australia, Canada, China, Sweden, Ireland, and Mexico as well as for AKC. In 2020, Eric had the thrill of judging at Westminster. He continues to study and learn more
about all breeds. Eric has had the honor of judging National Specialties for American Water Spaniels, Greyhounds, Ibizan Hounds, Scottish Deerhounds, Kuvasz, Samoyeds, Siberian Huskies, and Standard Schnauzers. His goal is to bring a breeder’s eye to his judging every time he judges, especially at these important Specialties. Eric is a breed mentor in Komondors, Samoyeds, Greyhounds, Ibizan Hounds, and Pulis. He is currently the Judge’s Education Coordinator for the Ibizan Hound Club of the United States. Eric and his wife, Joan, live outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado, with eight dogs and five horses. Eric is retired from his career as a Research Geophysicist for Chevron.
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