by Doris Donnerman
(last updated April 6, 2009)
European authorities on shepherd dogs say that the Komondor (for which the plural is Komondorok) is the king of the world's shepherd dogs. They say he "goes to work before he is trained instead of afterward." But other writers on the breed, notably some in America, say the Komondor is less a herd dog than a guardian of the flock. Yet all are agreed the Komondor and the Kuvasz are the oldest European canine breeds.
Tibet is generally given as the real ancestral home of the Komondor, Keller and Roda Roda. Others believe that Tibetan dogs were used to strengthen many other European breeds, both because of their great size and their unusual working aptitudes.
It is believed that the Komondor was brought into Europe by the Magyar invasion, about a thousand years ago. A few writers, however, state that the Huns found Komondoroks on the steppes of Russia, and brought them along into Europe. These writers state that the Komondor is a descendent of a shepherd dog called the Aftscharka.
Whatever the truth of his origin, the Komondor has been a distinct type of dog for at least a thousand years. Shepherds in the Hortobagy area of Hungary, in particular, appear to have kept the breed pure, guarding the breed much as the individual dogs guarded the flocks on the plains and slopes.
The dogs grow to immense size, with some of them reaching thirty inches at the shoulder, and weighing in excess of one hundred pounds. Even so, they are believed to be somewhat smaller than the dogs of a thousand years ago. In their native country-on the puszta-the coat grows over the eyes, and is always long and heavily matted. The sheep of the area are semi-wild, and the matted wool of the Komondor is said to act as a disguise.
As are many sheep dogs, which spend their lives in the open, and which are descendents of such dogs, the Komondorok tend to be distrustful of strangers. Yet they are loyal friends to those whom they know, and they have charming dispositions. Thus, they make ideal guard dogs about country estates and children. As a house guard and as well as a guardian of herds he is an earnest, courageous and very faithful dog. As a young dog he is just as playful as any other puppy. He is very devoted to his master and will defend him against attack by any stranger, because of this trait he is used only for guarding the herd.
The general appearance of the Komondor is that of imposing strength, courageous demeanor, with a pleasing conformation. In general he is a big, muscular dog with plenty of bone and substance. This breed has somewhat of a ragamuffin appearance, when it has been necessary to comb out the mats it tends to alter his true appearance. The bigger the Komondor, the better, A minimum height of 25-1/2 inches at top of shoulders for males and 23-1/2 inches for females is required.
The color of the coat is white and the Komondor is covered with a long, soft, woolly, dense hair of different length on the different parts of the body, with inclination to entanglement and shagginess. If the dog is not taken care of, the hair becomes shaggy on the fore legs, chest, belly, rump and on the sides of the thigh and the tail.
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