Showsight Presents The Kuvasz

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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