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Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography
The dreadlocked Komondor tends to be gentle and affectionate with family but wary of strangers. Intelligent and loyal to no end, he will give his life to protect his family - his flock - and property. An independent thinker with physical strength, he needs a firm, consistent leader. His corded coat requires daily grooming but sheds little.
The Komondor’s coat helps him blend in with his flock and protects him from weather extremes and the attacks of predators. The cords should develop by the time the dog is 2 years old.
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 then to put in plenty of effort towards training and socializing him. It’s a good idea to see adult dogs in their home environment before deciding to get one.
The Komondor tends to be 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 (once vaccines are current and your vet gives the green light), 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 may not 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.
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. 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.
The Komondor has been known in Hungary as a flock-guarding dog for a thousand years. His ancestors probably came to Hungary with nomads called Magyars, and he’s thought to be related to the Caucasian Ovcharka. His purpose is not to herd flocks but to guard them from predators and thieves.
The American Kennel Club recognized the Komondor in 1937, but World War II and then the Cold War put an end to imports from Hungary, and the breed suffered, with its numbers falling very low. Breeders in Hungary and the United States reconnected in 1962, and the Komondor was gradually pulled back from the brink of extinction. Today the breed is ranked 154th among the dogs registered by the AKC.
Calm, watchful and responsible, the Komondor lives to have something to guard and care for, whether it be livestock, his family, or other pets. He lives quietly unless a threat presents itself, and then he springs fearlessly into action. With family and friends he is highly affectionate, and he remembers people he has met, even if they are infrequent visitors. Children and other pets will find him a gentle guardian. Strangers will be subject to a wary gaze, but the Komondor will give them the benefit of the doubt if no harm is meant. There should be no doubt, however, that he is highly protective of his people, property and possessions. Guarding them is instinctive and requires no training.
The Komondor’s vigilant nature makes him a superb watchdog, but his desire to guard can make him tricky to live with unless he has a leader whom he respects. His size, strength and speed make it imperative that he be under control, especially during adolescence. The Komondor does not fully mature until he is about 3 years old. Even if he looks like an adult, it’s irresponsible to expect adult behavior from him before that age.
This is a very smart dog who thinks for himself. He enjoys learning and takes well to training, but not if it’s boring. Always keep things positive, with lots of praise and rewards, and be firm and consistent. It’s important that a Komondor never be allowed to get away with any unwanted behavior, or he will come to think that it’s acceptable.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at 8 weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Never wait until he is six months old to begin training, or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Once your vet gives the go-ahead, take your puppy to the local coffee shop, post office, pet supply store and other public areas and introduce him to passersby. Invite people to your home as well so he becomes accustomed to visitors. Putting in the time and effort to do this will help ensure that your Komondor puppy grows up to become a calm, sensible adult dog. A Komondor who does not receive this kind of early and thorough socialization may become aggressive when he encounters people he doesn’t know or situations that are unfamiliar.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from a Komondor, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All 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 hip evaluations of fair, good or excellent from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), as required by the Komondor Club of America code of ethics, as well as 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.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Komondor at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The coat of the Komondor begins to cord when he is eight months to a year old. The coat doesn’t shed much, 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 coat should never be dirty, matted, or bad smelling.
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.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two. Keep the ears clean and dry. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is a great way to find 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. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks. Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or who promote the dogs as being “good with kids” without any context as to what that means or how it comes about.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
Look for more information about the Komondor and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the Komondor Club of America. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the KCA’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores and calls for the breeder to obtain hip clearances on dogs before breeding them.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected.Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Komondor puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Komondor might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Komondor in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Komondors available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Komondor. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who love Komondors love all Komondors. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Komondor Club of America’s Rescue Network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Komondor rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Komondor home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors, and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Komondor, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter, or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, a breeder purchase or a rescue, take your Komondor to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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