Showsight Presents The Kuvasz

JUDGING THE KUVASZ

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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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