With his corded white coat, the Komondor, a livestock guardian breed hailing from Hungary, resembles nothing more than a dog-shaped mop, but don’t let his appearance fool you; he is a tough and independent working dog.
These days, he is primarily a family companion or show dog, although some still find employment as flock guardians. The Komondor has many good qualities, but he is not the easiest dog to live with. If you want the calm, protective dog that is the Komondor at his best, be prepared to do a lot of homework to find him and put in plenty of effort training and socializing him.
Is the Komondor the Right Dog for You?
The Komondor is gentle and affectionate with his family, including children and other pets. Always supervise children and Komondorok (the plural of the breed name) to ensure that he doesn’t misunderstand their chasing and screaming and take steps to protect “his” children from their friends. He will accept strangers once he has been introduced to them, but otherwise he reserves judgment on whether they are trustworthy. He can be aggressive toward dogs he doesn’t know.
Early, frequent socialization is essential to prevent a Komondor from becoming overly suspicious or fearful of anything new or different. Purchase a Komondor puppy from a breeder who raises the pups in the home and ensures that they are exposed to many different household sights and sounds, as well as people, before they go off to their new homes.
Continue socializing your Komondor throughout his life by taking him to puppy kindergarten class, visits to friends and neighbors, and outings to local shops and businesses. This is the only way he can learn to be discriminating, recognizing what is normal and what is truly a threat.
Komondor puppies are active, but once they mature at approximately 3 years of age, they are satisfied to follow you around throughout the day, with a short walk or two for exercise.
Like any dog, Komondor puppies are inveterate chewers and because of their size can do more damage than puppies of other breeds. Don’t give them the run of the house until they’ve reached trustworthy maturity. And keep your Komondor puppy busy with training, play and socialization experiences. A bored puppy is a destructive puppy.
This is a giant breed, weighing 60 to 100 pounds or more. Be sure you are prepared to live with and care for a dog of that size. He is best suited to a home with a large yard surrounded by a solid fence that is at least five or six feet high. Do not rely on an underground electronic fence to keep him contained. The shock it provides is nothing to this tough dog, and he won’t let it deter him from leaving the yard if that’s what he wants to do.
The Komondor has been known to live happily in apartments or condominiums, but before you take him into such a home, consider two things. One, he is a watchdog and barks. Loudly. Second, if your home is reached by stairs, consider how you would get the dog in and out if he were sick or injured.
Begin training as soon as you bring your Komondor puppy home, while he is still at a manageable size. Use positive reinforcement training techniques such as praise, play and food rewards, and be patient. The Komondor will respond to kind, firm, consistent training, but he won’t put up with force or cruelty. And it’s essential to not let him get away with behavior that you don’t want repeated. Once he learns something, he has it down cold, and it will be difficult to persuade him that the behavior isn’t allowed.
While you might think of him as an outdoor dog, nothing could be farther from the truth. Komondorok are guardian dogs, devoted to their people. They should certainly have access to a securely fenced yard, but when the family is home, the Komondor should be with them. Chaining a Komondor out in the yard and giving him little or no attention is not only cruel, it can also lead to aggression and destructive behavior.
The coat of the Komondor begins to cord when he is 8 months to a year old. The coat doesn’t shed, but the cords must be separated regularly to maintain their look And the coat does attract dirt. Once a Komondor is past young puppyhood his coat will probably never have its earlier pristine whiteness. The Komondor’s coat should never be dirty, matted or bad-smelling, however.
To prevent problems, ask the breeder to show you how to care for the coat. Trimming the hair around the mouth and cleaning the dog’s face after meals is one way to help reduce odor. Clean the ears and trim the nails as needed.
5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Komondor Puppy
- Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. A list of breeders can be found on the website of the Komondor Club of America.
- Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Komondor aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Komondor can live to be 10 to 12 years old, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.
- Puppy or adult, take your Komondor to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues, and in particular to watch out for the early signs of diabetes and skin problems, including ear infections.
- Don’t ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site that offers many breeds and popular mixes, or that ships with no questions asked. If you buy a puppy from these sources, you’ll be more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.
- Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Health Issues Common to Komondorok
All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
Komondorok are generally healthy, but conditions sometimes seen in the breed include hip dysplasia, eye problems such as entropion, a deformity of the eyelid, and juvenile cataracts, and bloat, also known as gastric torsion or gastric dilatation volvulus. Ask breeders to show evidence that both of a puppy’s parents have OFA or PennHIP clearances for hip dysplasia and Canine Eye Registry Foundation certification that eyes are healthy.
Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.
Pet Insurance for Komondorok
Pet insurance for Komondorok costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Komondorok are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.
Embrace pet insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Komondorok are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Komondor is when he’s a healthy puppy. You can’t predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can’t get when you need it the most.