The Komondor is a large, muscular dog, with plenty of bone and substance, slightly longer than tall. The gait is light and leisurely, with long strides. The hallmark coat is double, consisting of a dense wooly undercoat and a coarser outer coat that is wavy or curly. The undercoat is trapped in the outer coat so that it forms strong, felty, tassel-like cords. This coat helped protect the dog from the elements as well as the teeth of tough adversaries. It also helped the Komondor to blend in with the flock the dog was protecting.
When the Huns came to Hungary, they brought with them the large, long-legged, Russian Owtcharka, which became the progenitor of the Komondor (plural: Komondorok). These dogs bore a close resemblance to the Magyar sheep known as Racka, which had a proud “dog-like” carriage and masses of curly wool. Thus, the dogs easily intermingled with the sheep and at first glance appeared to be one of the flock. Greatly valued by the Magyar shepherds, the Komondorok were not allowed to interbreed with other breeds. The earliest documentation of the breed dates back to 1555, although the breed is certain to have existed long before then. The Komondor earned its keep by guarding the flocks against marauding animals. The breed was so effective, some claim the Komondor is responsible for wiping out the wolf in Hungary. The Komondor was still used as a guard into the twentieth century. The first Komondor came to America in 1933, and the AKC recognized the breed in 1937. World War II almost decimated the breed in Europe, but through the concerted efforts of breed enthusiasts, the Komondor was saved. One of the most impressive dogs to ever grace the show ring, the difficulty of preparing its coat has usually dictated that none but the very finest be shown. As a result, the Komondor remains an uncommon breed everywhere but in its native Hungary. Recent attempts to use the breed as a guardian of flocks in the western United States have yielded promising results, attracting the attention of a new generation of shepherds.
Bred as an independent protector of livestock, the Komondor is true to its heritage. This dog is an independent thinker and can be stubborn or domineering, requiring an understanding and dog-skilled guardian. Socialization is essential. The breed is reserved with strangers and possibly aggressive toward strange dogs. The Komondor is good with other familiar pets and livestock. In fact, this dog is happiest when there is something or someone to watch over. Although usually calm and quiet, the breed is utterly fearless when the need arises. As a natural guardian, the dog is protective of children in its own family, but may at times misunderstand rough and tumble games of visiting children and, as with all dogs, should be responsibly monitored.
The Komondor needs daily exercise in the form of long walks or short romps. Swimming should be avoided due to the time it takes the coat to dry. It may also be difficult to keep the coat clean in some areas. This breed does not like warm weather. The Komondor is non-shedding but not carefree. The cords in the coat must be regularly separated or they will look like flat mats, and the coat also tends to hold dirt. Bathing is time-consuming and drying takes as much as a day. Care of the coat in non-show dogs is far less extensive. Pets can be clipped to make the coat more manageable. It can take a dog up to two years of age before cords form.