Let’s Talk Breed Education!
JUDGING THE KUVASZ
By Agi Hejja
aving lived with small- er dogs as a child, I was ready for some- thing impressive and laid-back as a teen- ager. I bought my fi rst
Kuvasz pup in 1970 from summer earnings as a Hungarian high-school student. I was attracted to the breed because of their regal look and strong presence. I had always liked a calm, collected, and quiet dog. Th e beauty of the Kuvasz’ dark eyes and facial pigmen- tation, contrasting with the white coat, was as striking then as it is now. As a young woman, I admired the con fi dent, protec- tive work ethic of my Kuvasz. I was most thankful when my 8-month-old dog o ff ered protection against an aggressive stranger on one of our long evening walks. Th e Kuvasz is an ancient breed brought to the Carpathian basin from the Asian steppes by the nomadic tribes that invaded the area around 900 to 1000 A.D. Th e Kuvasz may have derived from large Tibetan dogs travel- ing with these tribes. Th ey probably mixed with the local dog population as they migrat- ed from East to West. Th e adaptable Kuvasz easily changed roles from an able horse dog to an excellent guardian of sheep and cattle as their tribe’s society transitioned from a nomadic to settled way of life. A judge looking to evaluate the breed must be a con fi dent person who can deal with the protective nature of the breed. As the Kuvasz is an excellent judge of a person’s emotional state, they react to even a hint of suspicious behavior. Anyone who is insecure dealing with large, protective dogs should not judge the breed. Although most expe- rienced breeders will train and condition their dogs to the show ring, we have many novice exhibitors whose dogs should to be approached with patient con fi dence. As I mark an entry coming into the ring, I search for that regal look and presence that fi rst led me to fall in love with the breed.
When judging the breed, the horizontal profile in relation to the height and length of leg must be in balance. This is a young female.
Th e Kuvasz is a large dog with a soft and intelligent expression. It is well balanced, well muscled, and sturdy, with good substance and no hint of coarseness. Gait and move- ment are free and must be e ffi cient, with no wasted e ff ort. Dogs are ideally 28 to 30 inches at the withers, with bitches between 26 to 28 inches. When judging dogs that fall above or below the ideal height guidelines, one must take into consideration other factors that determine the dog’s quality. Disquali fi - cations are dogs smaller than 26 inches and bitches smaller than 24 inches. Viewed from the side, the animal should show a horizontal rectangle, slightly deviated from the square. When judging the breed, the horizontal pro fi le in relation to the height and length of leg must be in balance. A critical aspect of judging a Kuvasz is the head, which is the most beautiful fea-
ture of the breed and must have correct pro- portions. Th e length of the head is slightly less than half the height of the dog at the withers when measured from the tip of the nose to the occiput. Th e width of the head is half the length of the head. I am looking for a wedge-shaped head, with clean planes and smooth lines. Dark, almond-shaped eyes should be slightly slanted and set back between the plane of the muzzle. Ears are V-shaped, with a slightly rounded tip that should cover the eye when pulled forward. Th e wide part of the ear should be about level to the eye. Th e skull is elongated but not pointed, with a re fi ned stop that is not abrupt but shows a gradual rise in the forehead above the plane of the muzzle. Cheeks are fl at, with bony arches above the eyes, and the skin is dry. Th e mouth and lips are black and are not pendulous; the nose is large and black.
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Complete scissors bite is preferred; a level bite is acceptable. Overshot or undershot bite is a disquali fi cation. Th e back is muscular and hard, with broad, well-sprung ribs. Th e top line pres- ents a smooth, continuous line from the neck to the croup, with an arched neck at the crest set smoothly into high, well-mus- cled withers. Th e tail is set and carried low as an extension of the croup to complete a graceful outline. A manual examination of the Kuvasz’ structure is imperative as the true outline can be obscured by coat. Coat type can be either straight or wavy but must be a double coat consisting of a fi ne undercoat and longer guard hair of mediumcoarse texture. Th e facial and leg hair is short and smooth, transitioning to medium-length body hair and longer hair for the mane, tail, and leg feathering. As the Kuvasz is a working dog, excessively long hair should be penalized. Th e skin is heavily pigmented, black or slate, the darker the better, with black pads and nails. Th e coat is white. Th e judge should part the hair to determine the true color of the coat. Th ere are di ff erent shades of white and stains can occur. Th e Kuvasz should be shown at a trot on a loose lead. He carries his head and tail relatively low. Th e Kuvasz shows great intelligence and an ability to act alone in any situation. A one-family dog, they are highly sensitive to praise or blame and are courageous and bold. In the show ring, a Kuvasz with a correct temperament is not shy or aggres- sive, but I will give some allowance for a young dog. To brie fl y review the essence of the Kuvasz, it is a large, strong, elegant dog with a moderately proportioned head and body; a balanced and easy gait; a calm, self- assured nature; and a soft, intelligent expres- sion. It should be presented with a natural, untrimmed coat and appearance. BIO Hungarian native Agi Hejja is an AKC judge who has owned and bred Kuvasz since 1970. She currently serves as Chair of the Kuvasz Club of America’s Judges Education Committee and lives in Virginia.
$ critical aspect of judging a .uYasz is the head, Zhich is the most beautiful feature of the breed and must haYe correct proportions. 6hoZn here a young female.
This male shoZs the desired Zedgeshaped head, Zith clean planes and smooth lines. 'arN, almondshaped eyes should be slightly slanted and set bacN betZeen the plane of the muzzle. t4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& 0 $50#&3
By Lynn Brady & Connie Townsend
lthough you seldom see an entry of Kuvasz at a dog show or in perfor- mance events, arche- ologists estimate the Kuvasz to be among
the oldest of all breeds. Many theories have evolved regarding the history of the Kuvasz but the earliest history is highly speculative. It is certain that the Kuvasz is an ancient livestock-guardian breed that has adapted to a variety of working environments over the centuries, guard- ing homes and businesses as well as flocks and herds. Th e Kuvasz guarded nomads’ livestock as they moved their flocks along trade routes between Europe and Asia. Th e dogs followed the Magyar people into the Car- pathian Basin to settle into present-day Hungary around 955 AD. Th e first Kuvasz known to have exhib- ited in a show was shown in Hamburg, Germany, in 1863, and Kuvasz were entered in a Hungarian dog show in 1865. But it wasn’t until 1921 that a for- mal standard for the breed was written by Emil Raitsits. After 1921, the number of Kuvasz increased significantly. By 1935, 1,700 Kuvasz were registered in Hungary. At that time, the standard was revised by Mr. Abonyi, vice president of the Hungarian All Breed Kennel Club and Director of the Budapest Zoo, and Dr. Marki, a veterinarian. Dogs with reddish, wolf-gray, or black were no longer accept- able, nor were dogs with corded coats. For decades, this standard provided guidelines for the Kuvasz breeders. Meanwhile, in the United States, in 1920, the first Kuvasz was imported by a Hungarian couple and placed with Miss Mabel E. Marsh, who registered him with the AKC. She went on to import a female from Hungary and became the first AKC Kuvasz breeder, under the Romance ken- t4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& 0 $50#&3
“DURING THE 1960s AND ‘70s, SO FEW KUVASZ EXHIBITED IN THE U.S. that the breed qualified for the AKC Sexes Combined class, producing 12 champions between 1966 and 1969.”
nel name. During the 1930s, Miss Marsh campaigned tirelessly for AKC recognition of the Kuvasz. In 1935, she entered her four American bred Kuvasz, the first to be shown at West- minster, even showing two dogs as a brace. She topped it o ff by driving the entire four- dog team around the ring. Th at year, the AKC approved the breed standard, and in October of 1936, Ch. Gilda of Romance, bred by Miss Marsh, became the first AKC Kuvasz champion. Th e first Kuvasz Club in America was established in 1939, although there were still few Kuvasz in the United States. During the 1930s, Mr. and Mrs. Ziegler of Manchester, Pennsylvania, imported two German Kuvasz and began breeding. However, from 1940 to 1966, only five Kuvasz earned AKC championships. Sadly, the breed was devastated during World War II. After the war in Commu- nist Hungary, a factory manager wanted Kuvasz to guard the property but a search of the country found less than 30 dogs remaining. Of those, most didn’t have proof of registration or a formal pedigree.
Several dedicated breeders selected white dogs that looked like Kuvasz. Th ey also imported dogs from German breeders and began to resurrect the breed. In 1954, the Hungarian breeders revised the Kuvasz standard and submitted it to the FCI for approval. Due to their e ff orts, the breed was firmly reestablished in Hun- gary and in a number of other nations, including the United States. Following the Hungarian standard, the appearance of the Kuvasz was standardized. During the 1960s and ‘70s, so few Kuvasz exhibited in the U.S. that the breed qualified for the AKC Sexes Com- bined class, producing 12 champions between 1966 and 1969. Despite lim- ited breeding stock, dedicated Ameri- can breeders began to expand the breed. Dana Alvi was one of these breeders, and she led the charge in establishing the Kuvasz Club of America (KCA) on April 30, 1966. Th ese breeders worked together to encourage and promote the breeding of quality Kuvasz. Interest in the Kuvasz and exhibition at AKC shows expanded during the 1970s
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“INTEREST IN THE KUVASZ AND EXHIBITION AT AKC SHOWS EXPANDED DURING THE 1970s AND ‘80s, with 214 dogs achieving their championship.”
and ‘80s, with 214 dogs achieving their championship. In 1972, a male earned a Group 4, and in 1974, a female earned a Group 1. Finally, on July 10, 1977, Ch. Hamralvi Heimdall Odin, bred by Dana Alvi, became the first Kuvasz to win an AKC Best in Show. Since then, a number of Kuvasz have excelled in the show ring, becoming nationally ranked. In 1933, the AKC recognized the KCA as the o ffi cial parent club of the breed, and the KCA held the first Kuvasz Nation- al Specialty, with an entry of over 100 dogs the first annual celebration of this wonderful breed.
Today, Kuvasz can be found guarding f locks and homes in the U.S., as they have done in Europe and Asia for thousands of years. They also compete in conformation, obedience, rally, agility, tracking, carting, and even coursing. They are therapy dogs and assistance dogs, and of course, loyal family pets and personal companions. Yet the disquieting truth is that today there are only about ten well-established Kuvasz breeders in the U.S. Of these breeders, the majority produced approxi- mately one to two litters a year. Many breeders keep only one puppy from a lit- ter, new show prospects may not turn out,
and sometimes good dogs are placed in a home where they are supposed to be shown but end up spayed or neutered. The result is fewer Kuvasz being shown in conforma- tion each year. Upcoming AKC judges may have a difficult time finding entries to support their judging applications for the breed. Current judges will seldom see an entry of more than a couple dogs, if any. From 2009 through May 2012, 72 Kuvasz have completed their AKC championships, with only 14 Grand Champions. It’s difficult for exhibitors to find majors. Annually, the largest majors are
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usually at the KCA National Specialty and the subsequent shows. With fewer champi- ons being finished, future breeding stock is reduced. Structural issues or failure to pass health clearances further reduces breeding potential. Few breeds have a gene pool as a small as the Kuvasz. This small gene pool creates an extremely challenging environment for our dedicated breeders to continue to produce great dogs. Unlike many working breeds that have hundreds or more stud dogs to choose from, the Kuvasz breeder today probably only has a selection that you could count on both hands. While it is reasonable to expect that easier access to international dogs would increase the breeding pool, this has not routinely prov- en to be true. Sadly, breeders in Europe and specifically, Hungary are facing problems similar to ours. Imports brought to the U.S. have added some genetic diversity but have not always provided desired qualities. Conf licts relating to type have fur- ther reduced the gene pool because there is limited breeding across this “type bar- rier.” These conf licts confuse judges and prospective owners alike. The KCA Judges Education Council has developed an excel- lent, comprehensive tool for judges with visual aids defining type, as documented in the AKC breed standard and fully endorsed by the parent club, the KCA. Today’s Kuvasz breeders clearly under- stand their responsibilities as guardians of our breed, mentors, educators, and trainers. As a result, breeders have equipped their Kuvasz with tools necessary to adapt to different environments, focusing on early and frequent socialization. Kuvasz breeders deserve recog- nition for their extraordinary efforts and pro- found gratitude for all that they continue to do to for this remarkable breed! BIO Lynn Brady & Connie Townsend have been members of the KCA since 1992 and have been active in conformation, perfor- mance events and have been board members, past president, secretary and AKC Delegate. In 2012, Brady and Townsend were the AKC Working group Breeders of the Year.
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LIVING WITH A KUVASZ By A. Laurie Leslie Leevy O ur life with Kuvasz began more than 33 years ago, when the fi rst perfect, white fl u ff ball entered into our family of 2
adults, 2 young children, a cat, a rat and some birds. At the time my husband was a marathon runner attracted to the idea of a dog who could e ff ortlessly run long distances. We both were intrigued with a breed that could be good with children, was an exceptional guard and was able to act on his own initiative. I smile at that last phrase, for it has been the key to many interesting moments in our lives as Kuvasz owners. Our fi rst Kuvasz puppy, like all those that followed, was easily housebroken, clown-like in play and an early candi- date for socialization. I had met Kuvasz who had never left their homes and though exceptional guardians, they were also quite di ffi cult to manage in a mod- ern world where dogs must be driven to the vet and handled by strangers. Th e most experienced breeders were right: In our present-day world, one must social- ize a Kuvasz pup to everything one will want them to experience in adulthood. We were o ff to classes and out into the world immediately. A Kuvasz is a very smart dog, but not necessarily a dog that will do 20 repeti- tions of the same activity. One must be creative, fi rm, fair and positive while training a Kuvasz. Kuvasz can learn to work happily but will shut down in response to tireless overtraining or abuse. A Kuvasz wants a job and is happiest when in the middle of things, watch- ing the family or livestock and keeping an eye on its property. Th is is an animal that needs time, attention, training and a securely fenced environment.
Though a born working dog who competes in dog sports, Rebel Ridge Big Easy Music, CD RN CGC (Jazz)—is playful and affectionate.
Perhaps most interesting are the many things one does not have to teach a Kuvasz. Somewhere in the fi rst year of life, the young Kuvasz will begin guarding, which translates into growling and barking at any person or thing that is new and di ff erent. Our fi rst Kuvasz barked madly one morn- ing while staring out the window into the front yard. When we looked, we saw
that a large, fallen limb was the object of his consternation. Years later, we were awakened in the middle of the night to a wild barking epi- sode. My husband and I took turns going downstairs to investigate and seeing noth- ing, told the dog to hush. Th is Kuvasz, who was normally silent at night, quieted for a moment, until the racket began again;
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“Often described as reserved, that is more their public face. With family and accepted friends, THEY ARE SWEETLY LOVING AND OFTEN QUITE ENGAGING, SILLY AND FULL OF TRICKS.”
At age 4, Disa prevented a Kuvasz that was not socialized with children from pursuing a screaming child.
there he stood, barking at a door that linked house to garage. After the third or fourth time, royally annoyed with this barking critter, we fi nally paused and listened carefully. Faintly, we heard the slightest whooshing sound and upon opening the door, we saw a lake of water. A pipe had broken and water was fl ood- ing the garage and would soon fl ow into the house! We were saved by a dog that acted on his own initiative, even when told to hush. A Kuvasz’s ability to act without direction can be striking. At one of our large parties, with lots of dogs and chil- dren, a few of them unfamiliar with one another, a six-year-old girl suddenly leapt up, screaming and ran across the yard. A Kuvasz bitch that had no experience with children took o ff after the shouting child. As we adults called to the child to stop and called to the bitch to drop, Disa, our 4-year-old male, in-charge Kuvasz raced and grabbed the bitch solidly by the tail, pulling and holding her until the humans could intervene. In our long line of Kuvasz, we’ve had soccer-playing Kuvasz and those who want nothing to do with a ball; keen hunters and those who watch squirrels and birds as if they were part of their fl ock. None of ours has wanted to swim (others do), though visiting Flat-Coated and Golden Retrievers have bounded into the pool to be watched by our Kuvasz as if some other species. All our Kuvasz have liked playing what famous Kuvasz breeder Aino Andres calls “doggie dress up”: rolling in every dead and disgusting thing, happy to dis- guise themselves. We have learned to be
ever vigilant in fi nding any dead things on the property to spare ourselves this canine party game. Our Kuvasz are interesting beings. Often described as reserved, that is more their public face. With family and accepted friends, they are sweetly loving and often quite engaging, silly and full of tricks. Th ere is an old Hungarian saying that the master’s friends are the dog’s friends and the master’s enemies the dog’s enemies. It has seemed true with all our Kuvasz; they enjoy our friends’ attention, yet suspicious- ly keep watch of any new person. Our Kuvasz have been gentle with chil- dren but the children were taught to be gentle and respect our Kuvasz. Kuvasz are by nature quiet and relaxed in the house and yet will spring into action at any change in the environment. No one enters our property without the sound and fury of barking dogs. Our Kuvasz have been stoics. I have seen many very sick, elderly dogs su ff er end-of-life illness with little sign that any- thing is wrong. Th eir stoicism means that a deteriorating condition can be overlooked; thus, we owners must be vigilant in watch- ing for subtle changes. Our Kuvasz have been great teachers, showing patience and forgiveness when we‘ve made mistakes and showing joy in simple pleasures, whether walking, climb- ing and running about the land; driving o ff a fox or deer; smelling fl owers; eating an occasional bee; sunbathing; smiling; or lying upside down in complete and utter relaxation. Our Kuvasz, the ancient Hungarian livestock-guarding breed, is not for every-
one. Th is is a dog that will fi ll the boss spot in a family if there is insu ffi cient human leadership. For the right family or individ- ual, the Kuvasz is a remarkably engaging, sometimes challenging, noble friend. In an ever-present cloud of “Yes, they do shed,” Kuvasz owners fi nd themselves with dogs that work as livestock guardians and do agility, obedience, rally, tracking, conformation, therapy, carting and more. But most important, they are wonderful family members. And so, these many years later, my husband no longer runs, the children are grown and I’m a bit slower. Yet thanks to wonderful, dedicated breeders who have long persevered to improve and maintain this magni fi cent breed of herdsmen and kings, a handsome male Kuvasz—Rebel Ridge Big Easy Music, CD RN CGC (Jazz)—gets us up and walking, throwing things, playing silly dog games, compet- ing in dog sports, cuddling and driving hither and yon. Th rough it all, he con- nects us to an ancient community of Kuvasz and their enthusiasts.
A. Laurie Leslie Leevy is a 30-year member of the Kuvasz Club of America and has served as editor of
“Selections from the Kuvasz” Newsletter. A member of the Suburban Dog Training Club, in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania and a lifelong gardener, she stays busy training in Open Obedience and in the reading- comprehension sport known as Rally.
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K uvasz Fanciers of America, Inc., a 501(c) (3) charitable organiza- tion, was founded in 1985 and has remained dedicated not just to the preservation and promotion of the Hungar- ian Kuvasz, but also to the support of ethical breeder conduct, rescue of Kuvasz in distress, public education, and sponsorship of Kuvasz events and activities. We are inaugural spon- sors of the AKC Canine Health Foundation Bloat Initiative, support the Rabies Challenge Fund, and have published an annual Kuvasz Rescue Calendar for the past 9 years. In order to support our breed, we also o ff er trophies at AKC shows. In conjunction with the Coyote Cluster, KFA will be holding a multi-event fi lled long weekend this year, and will be of- fering Kuvasz themed trophies in Tucson, AZ November 15-18th, 2013. Look for the schedule at KFAWeekend 2013. It is our great pleasure to introduce you to one of the oldest andmost unique dog breeds in the world, $BOJTGBNJMJBSVTVOEVMBOTIVO - HBSJDVT the “Hungarian wavy-coated dog.” A proud and highly intelligent dog, the beauti- ful white Kuvasz is an intensely self-assured, strong-willed breed that has performed for thousands of years as a livestock protector, watchdog, and steadfast companion. Th e Kuvasz is thought to descend from the Arabian wolf, the Kuvasz is likely one of the most ancient of dog breeds and is considered to be the ancestor of many livestock guard- ian breeds of Asiatic origin. Archaeological evidence places a dog of Kuvasz appearance in what is today North Iraq in 6600 BC, al- though the Kuvasz is thought to have existed as early as 9000 BC. Th e Kuvasz arrived with nomadic tribes in Hungary’s Carpathian Basin in 896 AD. It was used and bred fi rst by herdsmen and
shepherds, and later by Hungarian nobility. Th e most notable benefactor and breeder of the Kuvasz was the renowned and beloved King Mátyás, who ruled renaissance Hun- gary from 1458 - 1490. According to legend, King Mátyás kept at least one Kuvasz beside him at all times for protection from assassins. He also used packs of Kuvasz for hunting large game on his estates. Specially selected puppies from the king’s breeding kennels were given to favored noble visitors. Centuries after the reign of King Mátyás, the Kuvasz remained the most popular of the unique native Hungarian dog breeds. Rural folk pooled their money and bought pairs of these expensive dogs to protect their entire village from bandits. In early twentieth-cen- tury Hungary, Kuvasz police dogs replaced foreign, less formidable breeds. ONE KUVASZ Prior to World War I, the Hungarian Ku- vasz was a fashionable breed at home and abroad, and many were exported to Ger- many. As wars and bitterness separated the two countries, the German population of Kuvasz became isolated from its Hungarian source. German breeders almost certainly introduced Great Pyrenees dogs into their Kuvasz breeding programs to bolster num- bers. Compounding the problem, desperate Hungarian breeders imported and used Ger- manKuvasz during their e ff orts to salvage the breed after World War II. Th rough judicious breeding the historically typical Kuvasz is thriving again not only in its native land, but also inGermany, the United States, and other countries worldwide. MEOE (Hungarian Kennel Club) Judge, Dr. András Kovács dis- cusses this in his paper “ Th e Kuvasz.” KUVASZ Q & A Q: When I went to an American Kennel
Club dog show, I became very confused. Th e dogs competing in the Kuvasz ring looked like two or three di ff erent breeds. Are there several varieties of Kuvasz? A: Th ere is only one real Kuvasz, and it cannot be mistaken for any other dog breed. Bred to trot all day, chase and fi ght if nec- essary, it is a big, tall dog, but not a giant breed: its body is wolf like and slightly rect- angular, with lean musculature, medium bone size, and long legs. Traditionally an outdoor sentry, the Kuvasz has an insulating double coat, harsh on the outside, soft and woolly beneath. A natural, unexaggerated breed, there is no dewclaw removal, tail-docking, ear trim- ming, or other alterations to its appearance. Th e Hungarian Kuvasz has an elegant, wedge-shaped head; whose distinguishing length is nearly half the height of the dog at the withers. Th e bridge of the muzzle is level; the top skull is fl at, and the ears are high-set and triangular. Th e eyes are dark and slanted slightly upward. Seen in pro fi le, the planes of the bridge of the muzzle and the top of the skull are identical, and there is a characteristi- cally subtle, almost invisible stop rising from the muzzle through the gentle forehead to the top of the skull. An equally characteristic furrowdissects up themiddle of the top skull. Although white animals are revered as benevolent spirits in Hungarian folklore, the creamy-white color of the Kuvasz coat evolved for more pragmatic reasons. Histori- cally, the journey of the Kuvasz across Eurasia closely followed the journey of domesticated sheep. To be accepted rather than feared by sheep, the Kuvasz was bred to be sheep-like not just in size and general appearance but also in color. Furthermore, for its own safety, the Kuvasz on guard had to be visible to the herdsman at night, in order to distinguish it from wolves
Scan with a smart phone to visit the AKC Canine Health Foundation Bloat Initiative
Rabies Challenge Fund (http://www.rabieschallengefund.org/) Kuvasz Rescue Calendar (http://kuvaszinfo.com/kuvasz_calendar.html) Kuvasz Fanciers of America, Inc (http://kuvaszinfo.com) Dr. Kovacs 1988 paper “ Th e Kuvasz” (http://kuvaszinfo.com/kovacs.htm)
KFA attending the World Dog Show in Budapest, Hungary, May 2013
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or other predators. Finally, the medium- length coat of the Kuvasz was more than practical: it was beautiful. Wavy, harsh, odor- less, and non-matting, its coat repelled dirt and water, requiring no special care to remain attractive. In conjunction with its contrasting dark, weather-resistant skin pigmentation, this rough yet luminous coat made the Ku- vasz not just a hardy worker, but an object of pride and admiration. A sexually dimorphic breed, the male Ku- vasz is masculine and when mature develops a lion’s mane around the neck and chest; the female Kuvasz is feminine, with a more fi nely chiseled head and smaller bone size. Th e ideal height of a male Kuvasz is 28"- 30", withmales under 26" being disquali fi ed. Th e ideal female Kuvasz is between 26"-28" tall, those under 24" being disquali fi ed. A male should weigh 100-115 pounds, weight correlating with height. A female Kuvasz should weigh 70-90 pounds, weight and height in correlation. Many Kuvasz are considerably taller and heavier, occasionally reaching great size. Th ere is no upper limit on height or weight in the American Kennel Club stan- dard, though there is an ideal height de fi ned by the AKC Kuvasz breed standard. KUVASZ IN THE UNITED STATES During its glory days, the Kuvasz gained favor in the United States. It was accepted for registry by the American Kennel Club in 1931, but due to the Depression and World War II, puppies were infrequently produced and the population failed to stabilize until importation resumed in the 1960s. How- ever, obtaining a Kuvasz from behind what was then Hungary’s Iron Curtain presented substantial di ffi culties for North Americans. Importing a Kuvasz from Western Europe was much easier, and most Kuvasz in Canada and the United States during the period prior to 1970 derived primarily from German and Austrian bloodlines. Th e breed was in virtual infancy in the United States in the 1970s and almost all of its owners were newcomers to the breed. Th e Kuvasz Club of America (KCA) was formed,
and recognized as the parent Kuvasz club by AKC. In 1974, a standards committee of KCA was formed to write the Kuvasz breed standard, the ideal by which Kuvasz would be judged in the AKC show ring for decades to come. Th e following are excerpts from Dr. Ko- vacs 1988 paper “ Th e Kuvasz” on the issue of Standards and Judging: STANDARD Our breed standard was the fi rst one writ- ten for a fl ock guard in Mid-Europe and it was written to describe the existing breed. Th e Slovakian cuvac and Polish Owczarek Podhalanski emerged from the same popu- lation, since all of Slovakia was Hungary for over a thousand years. In Poland, the breed exists only in a narrow area at the former Hungarian border. Th is means that some ar- ti fi cial di ff erences had to be created or some small di ff erences stressed, when writing their national breed standards. At present the “ex- cellent” individuals of these breeds are already di ff erent, but the “medium quality” ones are still quite the same. Th e Maremmano-Abru- zzese and Kurdish fl ock guard (which is not always pure white) are also very similar to the Kuvasz. My father, Antal Kovács, traveling in Italy, Iran and Iraq, saw a number of dogs which did not di ff er from the Kuvasz except that in Kurdistan they cropped the ears of working dogs. JUDGING Th e Kuvasz is the only Hungarian breed which has serious standard and/or judging problems abroad. Th e story goes back to Germany, where a “Komondor Club” was established in 1922 and dogs of both breeds were imported and sometimes bred to each other. Th is mistake was corrected a few years later, but replaced by another (as we say in Hungary: the other side of the horse”) - the wavy coat of the Kuvasz came under persecu- tion as a “Komondor-atavism” and has been so thought of ever since. I saw predominantly typical dogs on photos from the 30-s in Ger- many out of the collection of Mrs. Marga- rete Teubert. After the Second World War
there were no imports from Hungary for about 25 years and the German population of the breed became quite di ff erent from the original imports. Polish and Slovak dogs and perhaps even Great Pyrenees were mixed into the Kuvasz abroad. Brushing out the coat for dog shows also destroys the “undulans” (wavy) characteristic of the coat, giving the animal a cuvac Great-Pyrenees-like appear- ance. Th e situation is worsened by a high number of these dogs having also too much stop, round eyes, loose lips and an overlong body with bad hindquarters and movement. I call these “German faults”, but naturally there are also “Hungarian faults”, such as thin ear-leather, high tail carriage and ivory color. Since we imported some German dogs and a few Slovakian and Polish ones may have re- ceived “B” pedigrees TFFOPUF after the war, all of these faults can be found everywhere—of course, in di ff erent proportions. Th e judge may be in a di ffi cult situation when judging beautiful, large, but not quite Kuvasz-like dogs (or perhaps they are exactly that: “Kuvasz- LIKE”) and weighing them against a typical Kuvasz with several faults. Of course there is no general answer, since the situation is never the same and all faults visible in the dogs at that show may be of di ff erent severity but a dog in the Kuvasz ring must be fi rst a Kuvasz and then one can judge it by details. Th ere is no “Hungarian Kuvasz”. “German Kuvasz”, American Kuvasz”, etc., only the Kuvasz and it must be bred and evaluated everywhere in the same way. Th e Kuvasz is a popular breed once again in Hungary, and in other countries, therefore we now have a population which is large enough to use for more improvement. /PUF"i#wQFEJHSFFXBTHJWFOBEPHXJUI OP LOPXO PS OPU QSPWBCMF QFEJHSFF BGUFS DFSUJíDBUJPOCZ MPDBM FYQFSUT UIBU JU JOEFFECF - MPOHFEUPUIFBTTVNFECSFFEǲJTXBTBOFDFTTJUZ BGUFS88 ** JO&VSPQF XIFSF QFEJHSFFTXFSF MPTU DMVCTSFDPSETEFTUSPZFEBOEEPHT FTQFDJBMMZ HVBSEEPHT TIPU3FBEFSTXIPBSFGBNJMJBSXJUI PVS EPHT )VOHBSJBO CBDLHSPVOET XJMM íOE TPNFJOUIFJSQFEJHSFFTMJTUFECZBTJOHMFOBNF TVDIBTBi#PESJwPSi#VLTJw
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THOUGHTS ON THE KUVASZ
LEE CANALIZO I am from Palm Harbor, Florida. I’m a professional artist, co-owner of a working art gallery, writer and silversmith. I’ve been in the dog world for 70+ years. I showed for over 25 years before judging, presently co-own a beautiful Specialty winning Saluki bitch and have been judging over forty years. AGI HEJJA My husband, eight dogs and I live in Gum Spring, Vir- ginia. I am a retired microelectronics supervisor. I had been involved with dogs since 1970 and started judging six years ago. My first Kuvasz was born on June 26, 1970 and he was my first show dog.
AH: They are about the same now as they were six years ago. There are so few dogs showing today and in the past few years that it is hard to see improvement. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? LC: I don’t think many judges really understood and or cared for the breed in the past and it I think that’s probably true today. This is not an easy breed to judge and we don’t have many real students of most breeds today. You need to study with a Kuvasz person to get the essence of this complex breed. AH: Most new judges have been well educated by the KCA judges education committee. Occasionally, a judge over- looks the breed’s working heritage and insist that dogs at shows must be snow white. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. LC: I wish nothing but the best for this unique breed that I was fortunate to be associated with many years ago! AH: As a breeder, owner, handler and a judge, first and foremost I look for a dog who is sound in mind and body. I choose dogs who impress me with their presence and regal look. 7. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? LC: My son, Mike, and I showed and finished Kuvasz in the 80s. Agi Lipscher bred them and I co-owned the male with Nancy Eisenberg. Those were the days when these white dogs were not really so pristine, that is until Nancy groomed ours. The old timers didn’t like that much, but after we placed and won groups with the big white dogs, things changed! I remember the big Trenton specialties when dogs from Hungary were flown over to compete and they came into the ring dingy, with twigs and leaves and who knows what else in their coats! They were the pioneers though and that’s the way the Hungarian folks liked it, along with them being quite fierce. One unfortu- nate facet of the breed was the fact that the babies were totally adorable! Fluffy white snowballs, that attracted young and old alike! This did not always work out well! It takes a strong master to be a good keeper of the breed. AH: I have experienced many funnies over the past 46 years, but the one which still makes me smile happened back in the 80s. An owner who never handled her Kuvasz before decided to do it herself at the Westchester dog show. She started a conversation with the judge in the ring. The judge good naturedly directed her to go around, which she did with great pride while her dog trotted by her side. When she returned to the judge with great expecta- tion, he told her to go around again but this time in the right direction.
1. Describe the breed in three words. LC: Large, white and protective. AH: Regal, faithful and reliable guard.
2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? LC: Reliability, temperament and adherence to the standard. AH: All of the above and stable disposition. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? LC: Frequently too similar to the Great Pyrenees! Improper coat, presentation and not enough length of leg. AH: Since Kuvasz was a rare breed and even more rare now, there are no traits which are exaggerated in my opinion. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? LC: Hard to say as there are not as many being shown as when we were active in the breed. There were many correct, typey dogs then. I happened to see a beautiful example of the breed this past weekend at the Ocala shows. Very typey and classic head. Temperaments are much more even now. Back then and when I was show- ing the breed, you could never let your guard down! Many judges were scared to death to judge them. When I judged the National, not one exhibit had to be excused for temperament problems. I also have to give myself a little pat on the back though, in those years, you needed to know what you were doing, as far as approach, exam etc. was concerned. No Mickey Mouse exam or touchy feely tentative action! I honestly have not seen enough Kuvasz lately in the breed ring to give an informative answer. I fear the golden years of the breed are over for now. When the Kuvasz was among the top working dogs in the ring, it was a great time for the breed, with several really good breeders having much success.
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THE KUVASZ: Breed Notes
PAT HASTINGS I really don’t have much of a back- ground in the breed as I have never bred them, but I really like them. As a livestock- guarding dog, I am fascinated by just how smart they are and what an exceptional ability they have to reason and figure things out on their own. As professional handlers, we showed numerous ones in the 80s and were very involved with the breeding programs of our clients. That led to evaluating lit- ters for many other breeders and at this point I have prob- ably evaluated over 30 Kuvasz litters. I have been judging the Working Group for 24 years, so I have probably judged the majority of the ones that have been shown in our coun- try over those years. I have also judged in Canada, Mexico, Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand so I have also seen them in other parts of the world. AGI HEJJA
I got my first Kuvasz in 1973, bred under the kennel name Czigany. I won our first national breeder/owner handled. Since then, I’ve bred many Champions and performance titleholders. I started judging Kuvasz and juniors around 1997. I live in northwest Arkansas and still show in breed, obedience, rally and agility. I also have therapy dogs, own a real estate
firm and play lots of tennis.
ARTHUR SORKIN As a kid I owned a Collie and a Sheltie strictly as pets, but I got a Komondor in 1971, which I initially showed in obedi- ence. That dog became the first Komondor CDX and first UD. He later obtained an AKC Championship. I got my first Puli in the early 1980s. That dog was a Champion and CDX. I started breeding Komondors and pulis in the 1980s and now pri- marily breed Pulis, though I have always owned at least one Komondor as well. I first went to Hungary with a group led by Puli breeder Les Benis (“Mr. Puli”) in 1982. Since then I have been there more than a dozen times. I have judged Komon- dors and Pulis in Hungary, Pulis in Austria, all Hungarian breeds in Belgium, and, most recently, all Hungarian breeds and Pyreneess in 2006 (plus PONs) and in 2012 at the large German show in Dortmund. Besides judging them, I have watched Kuvasz judging in Hungary and Germany a number of times. I've also spoken with “old timers” about Hungarian breeds. I first applied to be an AKC judge in the late 1980s, and I was approved for Komondors, Pulis and Kuvaszok as my first breeds. I am currently approved to judge the Herding Group, Komondors, Kuvaszok, Pulis, Pyrenees and Sammies in the Working Group, and a number of Hound breeds. 1. What five traits do you look for, in order, when judging Kuvaszok? What do you consider the ulti- mate hallmark of the breed? PH: The four most critical pieces of breed type in all breeds are: 1) Their ability to do the job for which they were created. 2) Identifiable by their head alone. 3) Identifiable by their silhouette alone. 4) Proper temperament and character of the breed. So all of my judging starts with those four pieces of breed type, plus in Kuvasz the coat is
I was born and raised in Hungary and had dogs all my life. I purchased my first Kuvasz while still living in Budapest in 1970. After attending my first dog show in Wallkill, NY, the “show bug” bit. I also dabbled in obedience in my early years in Kuvasz, but decided that it was not my forte. I loved conformation and got the butterflies every time I entered the ring. I
soon realized that the best route to have a great show dog is to breed him/her myself. I raised, trained and showed many of our dogs to their championship. After 45 years in the breed we still have an occasional litter and show our dogs in con- formation. I started judging at AKC shows four years ago, but in my mind I was judging long before that. Being a breeder and exhibitor one must do an honest evaluation at all times so to advance one’s breeding program. Objective judging of our breeding stock has always been first in my mind. My husband and I live in Gum Spring, VA, moving here from Upper Nyack, NY. Our dogs have always been my life while I worked as a microelectronics supervisor, but much more so now that I am retired. Besides taking care of them I enjoy traveling, garden- ing and reading. I also volunteer for breed clubs we belong to and currently I am on the Kuvasz Club of America Board.
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also very important. The ultimate hallmark of the breed is the regal presence that leaves nothing to the imagina- tion of what their job is. AH: I look for presence, demeanor, type, expressive head and good structure, but I know the importance of the connection between these traits. Like most judges who know their dogs, I pick out the best ones as soon as they enter the ring. The ultimate hallmark of this breed is its head. It should be pretty with clean planes and eloquent eyes. The ears should properly frame the head to give that true Kuvasz look. LL: 1) The mental capability to be a livestock guardian; good and proper guardian temperament. 2) The physical attributes to be a livestock guardian, including proper structure and balance. 3) Strength and depth of chest, rib spring. 4) Agility, which is related to 2 and 3, and the ability to move and turn. 5) Beauty; including proper coat texture and patterning (again, job related) a proper breed mane and a double coat. The ultimate hallmark of the breed, per the standard, the Kuvasz “impresses the eye with strength and activity combined with light footed- ness and is a spirited dog of keen intelligence and courage.” AS: The hallmark of the Kuvasz breed is a wavy or curly coat. I hate it when handlers take a dog with a perfectly good coat and blow dry it to straighten the coat and remove or hide the wave or curl. This is analogous to taking a dog with a correct color and making it incorrect, e.g., sable sheltie to sable merle. Of course, sculpting a coat is always wrong. The relatively long, wedge-shaped head is another important trait of the breed. It is neither a Collie head nor a (US) Pyrenees head. Nor is it a Sammie head. Perhaps it is something like a male Collie head, but with broader, thicker wedge with a bit more stop. The ears are set high, close to the top of the skull. When on alert, the ears and top of skull should be in line or very close to it. This ear set appears in pictures from prior to World War II and is a unique feature of the breed. A dog without this ear set does not really look like a Kuvasz, no matter how typey its head is otherwise. Conversely, a dog with an ugly head (i.e. short, blunt wedge) will still look like a Kuvasz if it has a correct ear set. Pigmentation is important in the Kuvasz as it is with other white Hungar- ian breeds. Dark eyes, skin and nails are all desirable. 2. How has the breed changed since you became involved with it? Do you see any trends you think are moving the breed in the wrong direction? Any traits becoming exaggerated? PH: The breed has changed a lot! The breed is so much better today in almost all aspects. Their temperaments are incredibly improved. You seldom see a shy or spooky dog in the ring today and aggression in the ring is almost unheard of. Overall the soundness is greatly improved,
(Photo courtesy of Agi Hejja)
along with proper heads that stand them apart from their cousins, the Great Pyrenees. The one trend that I don’t like is the breed appears to be getting smaller. I do not see any exaggerations in the breed. AH: When I first met the Kuvasz in Hungary, I thought them to be regal, impressive and dignified. Over the years I have witnessed questionable temperaments, too large or small dogs and the influence of foreign types. There are a few breeders in the US and in Europe who produce the same look over and over again without proper under- standing of the breed. This maybe one of the reasons for the variations we see. LL: From the 1970s to the 2000s, I believe the temperament has gotten much more stable. Also, the structure has improved; however, since then structure has definitely been moving in the wrong direction. Dogs are unbal- anced and their fronts and rears are too straight. Also, there is not the spring of rib that is needed. High hocks are exaggerated and adversely affect soundness and should not be rewarded in the ring. A Kuvasz should appear more athletic and agile than a Pyrenees, but should definitely not resemble a Borzoi. AS: Based on my observations and judging, the best, most consistent entries (as opposed to individual dogs) have been in Germany. There is a great diversity of type in the Kuvasz in Hungary, though I saw an entry in Koma- rom, Hungary in 2012 that was on a par to Germany. On the other hand, I have seen many entries in Budapest and elsewhere that were all over the map on type. The breed in the US seems to be regressing to the type found here in the 1970s. Blockier heads, shorter heads, blunter wedges, more pronounced stops, more massive body,
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less angulation, straight coat and other undesirable traits are creeping back.
protected the breed from newcomers, so now we are short in numbers of Kuvasz lovers. LL: The Kuvasz is a regal and incredibly special breed with a high level of intelligence. I stopped breeding Kuvasz because I was unable to find a line-bred outcross to go to (our worldwide gene pool is not huge). I am saddened by the current state of the breed, unfortunately affected by incorrect dogs being shown a lot and judges believ- ing that what they are seeing is correct. It’s tough for judges; you have to judge what is in front of you, but the odd man out may just be the correct to standard dog and should be rewarded! Judges should have the courage to withhold awards. AS: It is essential to talk a bit about temperament. According to Jozsef Schmidt, Hungarian old-timer, the Kuvasz was the town guard dog. And towns people tended to breed for protectiveness and aggression! Many Kuvaszok have very protective temperaments. A few are actually aggres- sive. This makes some of them dangerous to judge. The handlers need to train their dogs and have them under control. The typical judge should excuse dogs show- ing signs of actual aggression. That is, err on the side of caution. I may be able to read the breed, but the typical judge probably won't. 6. What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? PH: I love judging and see humor at every show! AH: My funniest thing happened at the first Kuvasz national specialty. It was not in the conformation ring, but in the obedience ring. A novice handler was doing the off-leash healing exercise and the dog decided to leave the owner. He checked out the Komondor ring right next to us then a few other empty rings and then left the building. The handler never noticed, but continued to heal around the ring with great pride. LL: I have two obedience stories. At our first ever national specialty in Reno in 1993, we need a certain number of obedience entries in order to have the classes, so some dogs were not quite ready. Of the six there, I believe three dogs left the ring and two left the building entirely. (It was also the first time many of us east coasters had ever seen a dirt ring.) Then in Harrisburg in 1996 at the nationals, we were in the big arena—“Bubba” was our breed’s first big dual breed and obedience dog. During his obedience routine he decided it was playtime and he started chasing around the ring showing off and having the best time ever. Both his owner and breeder were in the ring trying to catch him and he was just enjoying himself running and wagging his tail and barking. The crowd loved it, the judge was laughing, the owner was not happy—but that was just Bubba.
3. Describe what you look for in Kuvasz movement. PH: Their ability to do their job. Sound, strong and agile. AH: I look for balance in any dog’s movement first. If they have balance, the dog will move without effort. With bal- anced movement should come front reach and rear drive. If the dog has balance, reach and drive he or she will always catch my eye. LL: A Kuvasz should have good solid working dog move- ment; easy, free and elastic movement that would enable the dog to be out in the field guarding its flock and to chase off predators. The breed should single track with good reach front and rear. Dogs should move out with strong purpose, yet appear agile enough to turn on a dime. Flopping hocks and straight fronts and rears just would not enable the dog to do its job. A Kuvasz should be able to gait completely around the ring at Westminster without stopping or even slowing down. AS: The Kuvasz is supposed to be able to run along with a man on horseback for kilometers, so good balance, good angulation and sound structure are all important. 4. Is there anything Kuvasz handlers do you wish they would not? Any grooming practices you see that bother you? PH: The only thing is that I wish the majority of handlers had enough self-confidence in their dogs to just let them show themselves. Of course they all need to be taught to be stacked for examination, but other than that, please do not hover over the dog. Let them stand on their own as they do while working. All dogs should be shown clean and well groomed, but I see little excess grooming and or scissoring in this breed. AH: Kuvasz handlers in general are courteous and pleas- ant—they have to be, there are so few of them! I am old school when it comes to grooming. I like a wash and wear dog. Sculpting and too much scissoring is against my belief for a Kuvasz. LL: A Kuvasz is a Working dog and should be natural and not over sculpted. The mane should be there and visible; bleaching has no business in the Working ring. 5. Anything else you’d like to add? PH: I do worry about the future of the breed due to the lack of youngsters and new breeders involved in this wonder- ful, regal breed. AH: The Kuvasz is the first love of my life. I would never be without one. Its loyal nature, intelligence and 100% trustworthiness when it comes to protection; its stun- ning look, the white coat and dark eyes still takes my breath away. I wish there was more interest in the breed by young folks. Unfortunately we may have over
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