PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial on Sep. 17, 2009

The Komondor is thought to have originated in Hungary more than 500 years ago. It still retains the rather unusual, heavy coat made up of white cords, which makes the dog appear like the very animals it was bred to protect: sheep.

Physical Characteristics

Large and muscular, the Komondor is slightly longer and not very tall. It moves with long, leisurely, and light strides.

The Komondor’s trademark is its double coat, which consists of a coarse wavy or curly outer coat and a dense wooly undercoat. These two layers are entwined to form strong, tassel-like cords that protect the dog from the teeth of its enemies, harsh weather, and even helps the Komondor blend in with a flock of sheep.

Personality and Temperament

The dog is good with livestock and other pets, and is very happy when given a chance to watch over someone or something. A true guardian, it is always protective of its family; however, it may misinterpret rough play among children as aggression.

It is independent, quiet, and placid, but may become dominating or stubborn at times. The Komondor is not a dog for the mild at heart. Additionally, early socialization is important to accustom the Komondor with strange people and dogs.


This breed is not fond of warm weather but can live outdoors in cool and temperate climates. Though the dog does not shed, its cords (which begin to develop at 2 years of age) must be separated regularly to prevent matting and excess dirt from becoming trapped in the coat. This also makes bathing and drying quite the difficult task, often taking up an entire day. Its exercise requirements, meanwhile, may be met with a few short romps in the yard or a long walk around the neighborhood.


The Komondor, which has an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years, is susceptible to minor health issues like canine hip dysplasia (CHD) and gastric torsion, as well as otitis externa, hot spots, and entropion. To identify some of these issues early, your veterinarian may recommend hip tests for dogs of this breed of dog.

History and Background

The earliest records of the Komondor date back to 1555, but it is thought the breed existed long before. Its primary role was to guard flocks of sheep against predatory animals. They were so effective, in fact, that some believe it completely depleted the wolf population in Hungary.

The Komondor is descended from the large, long-legged Russian Owtcharka, which were brought to Hungary by the Huns. The dogs bore such a striking resemblance to the Racka or Magyar sheep, with curly wool and a dog-like carriage, that they easily mixed in with the sheep and seemed to be part of the flock.

The first Komondor was introduced to the United States in 1933; four years later the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed. Due to the destruction of World War II, however, the breed was almost decimated in Europe. Fortunately, dedicated breeders were able to revive the breed's popularity and their numbers.

The Komondor is among the most attractive dogs in the show ring, but only the finest are on display. Thus, the Komondor is an uncommon breed throughout the world, except in Hungary. Although there are some breeders of new-generation shepherds in the U.S. that have taken an interest in the Komondor, because it enhances the shepherd's ability to guard flocks.

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