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rec.pets.dogs: Komondors Breed-FAQ


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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/komondors
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Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997

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                                   Komondors
                                       
Authors

   Richard and Therese Heaney (heaneyrj@bp.com), for the Komondor Club of
   America, Inc. Copyright 1995. Distributed with permission of the
   Komondor Club of America. This article may be reproduced in its
   entirety with credit given to the Komondor Club of America. Copyright
   1995 by the Komondor Club of America.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Table of Contents

     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Komondor Origins and History

   The Komondor is believed to be a very ancient breed, although
   historical references to the dog only go back several centuries. It is
   probable that the Komondor moved to the Danube Basin (present day
   Hungary) with the nomadic tribes which settled there in the ninth
   century. These early Komondors were used to guard herds of sheep,
   goats and cattle from predators, which included wolves, bears and
   humans. The dogs lived out in the open with their charges, and often
   had to make their own decisions in the absence of a shepherd to guide
   them. Thus they developed into a very intelligent, independent and
   strong-willed breed. A few Komondors were imported to the United
   States in the 1930s, at which time the breed was recognized by the
   AKC. During World War II, Komondors were used to guard military
   installations and a great number of them were killed. The hardships
   suffered by both the people and dogs of Hungary also took their toll,
   and after the war, the dogs were extremely rare. Dedicated individuals
   who loved the breed searched out remaining Komondors, which for the
   most part still lived as flock guardians in remote rural parts of
   Hungary, and started breeding them again. Once the Iron Curtain
   separated Hungary from the western world it became quite difficult to
   export the dogs, and very few made it to the U.S. However, enough dogs
   made it through, mostly via the efforts of Hungarians living in the
   West, that the breed had become fairly well established in the U.S. by
   the late 1960s. The Komondor is still a very rare breed, and most
   people have never seen one. The largest populations of Komondors today
   are in Hungary and in the United States, with numbers of animals in
   each country probably in the two to three thousand range. The total
   number of Komondors worldwide is far less than ten thousand.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Breed Characteristics

   A correct Komondor should give an impression of imposing strength,
   courage, dignity and pleasing conformation. The Komondor is a large,
   medium-boned, muscular dog with an unusual white (never colored or
   black) coat which consists of tassels of hair which are called cords.
   (The coat is hard to imagine, if you have never seen it, but it is
   somewhat similar to the dreadlocks worn by Rastafarians.) In ancient
   Hungary, working Komondors were out on the plains during most of the
   year with their flocks, and the Komondor coat developed to give the
   dogs protection against both predators and extremes of weather. The
   coat is also very similar in appearance to that of the Hungarian Racka
   sheep, which allowed the dog to blend in with his flock. Unlike the
   herding breeds, the Komondor is a flock guardian. When with his
   charges in the fields, a mature, experienced Komondor tends to stay
   with the flock, keeping predators away, but not allowing himself to be
   drawn away in a chase. In the United States, many Komondors are
   employed as livestock guardians (with sheep, goats, cattle, exotic
   birds, etc.), with some success. However, the majority of them are
   kept as companions and house guards. For these dogs, the family,
   including both humans and other animals, becomes the flock. Komondors
   living in households will be reserved with strangers, but
   demonstrative with those they love. They are selflessly devoted to
   their families, and will protect them against perceived threats from
   any quarter. Their devotion to those in their care and their sense of
   responsibility towards them, produces a courageous, vigilant and
   faithful guardian.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Komondor Temperament

   The Komondor was developed to be an independent, intelligent and
   sensitive dog capable of making decisions on his own. This makes him a
   terrific family guardian, but also makes him unsuitable for some types
   of homes. The adult Komondor is a large, territorial dog, and
   prospective owners must understand that a Komondor puppy must be
   well-socialized and taught to behave in a manner acceptable to the
   owner. Because Komondors traditionally cared for their charges without
   a human to tell them what to do, they do not automatically look to
   people for direction the way herding and sporting breeds do. They are
   very smart dogs, and learn quickly, but a Komondor owner must make it
   clear from puppyhood (and continuing throughout the dog's life) that
   no means no, and must consistently correct the dog for behavior that
   is not acceptable. Having said that, the Komondor is also an extremely
   loving dog. He loves his family absolutely, and hates to have any of
   them out of his sight. The typical Komondor will follow his people
   from room to room, and actively seeks out physical contact with those
   he loves. The Komondor is a wonderful guardian of home and property,
   but must have an owner who will see to it that the character traits
   that made the Komondor valuable as a livestock guardian will not
   become a liability in the modern world.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Komondor Grooming

   The most striking and unusual aspect of the Komondor is the coat, and
   because it is so unusual Komondor owners seem to have more problems
   with coat care than anything else. The Komondor's puppy coat is fluffy
   and curly, with a tendency to fall into curly ringlets. At about 8 or
   10 months of age, the coat begins to shed and mat. This matting is the
   beginning of the cording process. The larger mats must be torn apart
   into smaller mats (the cords), which is a simple procedure, although
   it can be physically demanding and time consuming if the mats are
   really tight and large. Once formed, the cords will lengthen with age,
   eventually reaching the ground if not cut. The Komondor sheds his
   undercoat twice a year like all dogs do, and the softer undercoat
   binds together with the long, strong outer coat, lengthening the cords
   from the skin out. The cords will have to be separated again each time
   the coat goes through this stage, as they will tend to mat together
   near the skin. This is not difficult once the cords are established,
   requiring a few hours of work each year. To many people the cords
   resemble the strings of a mop or spaghetti, and many Koms have names
   which play on this resemblance (Mop or Pasta, for example). Other than
   separating the cords twice a year and bathing the dog, there is not
   much special grooming required. The hair must be plucked from the ear
   canal, as with all long-haired breeds, and the hair kept trimmed from
   the bottoms of the feet. Many pet Komondor owners keep the cords
   trimmed to a length of 8 or 10 inches. This looks nice and is easier
   to care for than a floor length coat. The dogs also may be sheared 2
   or 3 times a year, if desired. Either way, the Komondor should be a
   handsome, well-cared-for looking dog.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Frequently Asked Questions

  How do I find out if this breed is really the best for me?
  
   We strongly suggest that anyone who is thinking of getting a Komondor
   should make every effort to see some adult Komondors in their homes
   before making a final decision. The Komondor Club of America (KCA) or
   Middle Atlantic States Komondor Club (MASKC) will assist you in
   locating owners of Komondors in your part of the country (or in other
   countries in many cases). Many Komondor owners are willing to let you
   visit with their dogs and will explain what it is like living with
   this unusual breed. The reason that we feel this is so important is
   that Komondor puppies, with their fluffy coats and playful natures,
   are extremely appealing, but they are not necessarily like the adult
   that you will eventually own for many years. It is in the best
   interest of both you and your Komondor that you understand what an
   adult Komondor is like, so that when the puppy days are over, you
   won't be dismayed at what that fluffy puppy has turned into.
   Unfortunately this happens over and over, and not just with Komondors.
   We believe that people who obtain a dog are making a commitment that
   lasts the life of the dog, and we encourage people to make that
   commitment with full knowledge of what it entails.
   
  Where can I find a Komondor if I decide to buy one?
  
   The Komondor Club of America can furnish you with a list of breeders,
   including information as to who has puppies or older dogs available.
   Breeders listed with the KCA have agreed to abide by the Club's Code
   of Ethics which specifies responsible practices to be followed by
   breeders to ensure the health of the puppies and the satisfaction of
   purchasers. Komondors are often available through the KCA Rescue
   Program. These are dogs which have been given up by previous owners
   for various reasons. Occasionally Komondors are offered for sale by
   pet stores, but the chances of getting a sound, healthy puppy from
   this source are not good. Puppies are also sometimes available from
   breeders who supply working dogs. Whatever the source of the puppy,
   the parents should have been X-rayed and certified clear of hip
   dysplasia, and every effort should be made to ensure that the puppy is
   healthy and has been well cared for.
   
  How big are Komondors when fully grown?
  
   The Hungarians are very clear on this subject: if it isn't big and
   impressive, even if it has cords, it isn't a Komondor. The Komondor
   should be large enough to command instant respect. The actual size of
   Komondors in the United States ranges quite a bit, but on average
   males are 27 1/2 inches or taller at the shoulder and bitches are 25
   1/2 inches or taller. Males usually weigh 100 pounds on up and bitches
   80 pounds or more. These are good average sizes, but many dogs are
   bigger and some are smaller. There are a lot of breeds which are more
   massive, are taller, or heavier. But with his thick coat and large
   size there are few that are as impressive as the Komondor.
   
  Will I have to worry about friends or acquaintances coming into the house or
  yard with my Komondor?
  
   The Komondor is a large territorial dog that is used for flock and
   home guarding, and the Komondor owner must always anticipate his dog's
   behavior based on this fact. The Komondor will make up his own mind
   about who is or is not welcome on his property if he's not taught by
   you how to behave when strangers come to the house. It is important
   that Komondor puppies be socialized from the beginning. Kindergarten
   Puppy Training classes are excellent for Komondor puppies, as they
   expose the puppy to lots of people and dogs at an early age. These
   classes can usually be found through obedience class instructors or
   clubs in your area. Komondors learn very quickly which people are
   welcome in your house, and will greet them happily, but as a
   responsible owner, you must be sure the dog is under control (either
   through strict obedience training or physical restraint) when
   strangers are introduced to him.
   
  Are Komondors noisy? How would they do in an apartment?
  
   As a guarding dog, part of a Komondor's job is to alert people when a
   potentially threatening situation exists. He does this by barking, and
   a Komondor's bark is meant to, and will, get your attention. As we
   have mentioned, the Komondor's nature is to decide for himself what
   constitutes a threat, and they definitely tend to err on the side of
   caution. Thus some Komondors are constantly barking because they hear
   a strange noise, or see someone passing by on "their" road, or because
   a strange car pulls into the neighbor's driveway. Obviously this sort
   of situation can be worse if you live in close proximity to others and
   have lots of strange people and strange cars coming and going. Having
   said this, however, there are people who have successfully had several
   Komondors living with them in an apartment. Komondors generally are
   quite adaptable and can adjust their behavior to fit the situation. If
   they are constantly perceiving threats (in their own mind) however,
   they will be noisy, and the situation could become very uncomfortable
   for both the owner and the dog.
   
  How much exercise does a Komondor need?
  
   Komondor puppies are as playful and energetic as any other puppy.
   Adult Komondors are generally quite inactive, and require very little
   exercise. They take their job of guardian seriously, and will usually
   position themselves in a location where they can keep an eye on their
   family, rather than running around checking things out. Often the most
   exercise adult Komondors get is accompanying you as you move about the
   house. If the dog doesn't have access to a fenced yard or large run,
   however, he should be walked two or three times a day.
   
  Do Komondors have any particular health problems that I should know about?
  
   There are no known health problems which are peculiar to Komondors. As
   with all dogs there is a certain amount of hip dysplasia in the breed.
   Responsible breeders have all their breeding stock certified as being
   free of dysplasia by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).
   
   Also as with many large breeds, there is some incidence of bloat, or
   gastric torsion, in Komondors. The causes of bloat are still largely
   unknown, but when it occurs, the stomach becomes enlarged and filled
   with gas, eventually rotating inside the chest cavity and killing the
   dog if not corrected in time. Anyone with a large dog should talk to a
   veterinarian in order to learn to recognize the symptoms of bloat and
   should know what to do if it occurs.
   
  How much will a Komondor puppy cost?
  
   Prices vary from breeder to breeder, but current prices for pet
   quality puppies are in the $600 to $800 dollar range, and
   show/breeding quality puppies are somewhat higher in price. Reputable
   breeders will usually sell pet quality puppies with limited
   registrations or spay/neuter guarantees, the object of these
   provisions being to prevent breeding of puppies sold as companions.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
List of ResourcesUnfortunately, due to the rarity of the breed, there are no
books on the Komondor that we can recommend. However, the following
organizations can furnish additional information on request:

   Komondor Club of America, Inc.
          Linda Patrick, Corresponding Secretary
          4695 Peckins Rd., Chelsea, Mi 48118
          Ph. (313) 433-0417; Fax (313) 433-0527
          Email: Cords4me@provide.net
          For breeders list, breed information, livestock guardian
          information, grooming information, club membership
          applications, information about rescue dogs.
          
   Middle Atlantic States Komondor Club, Inc.
          Joy Levy, Corresponding Secretary
          102 Russell Road, Princeton, NJ 08540; (609) 924-0199
          For breed information, newsletter subscription information.
          
   Komondor Komments
          Quarterly publication of the Komondor Club of America
          Mary Ann Blanks, Editor 10511 London Lane Apison, TN 37302
          (423) 236-5092
          

    Komondor FAQ
    Richard and Therese Heaney, heaneyrj@bp.com

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