Showsight Presents The Komondor

KOMONDOR HISTORY

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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 theHungarian 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

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