Several dog breeds originated in the country of Hungary. Many were used for hunting or herding, while others served as guard dogs over property and people. The United Kingdom’s Kennel Club (UKC) recognizes several Hungarian dog breeds; however, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes just a few. The following breeds are recognized by both:
A large, muscular breed, the Komondor is noted for its very dense coat, which consists of heavy white cords, making this Hungarian dog breed look like a huge mop! The cords form naturally as the dog matures and covers vulnerable body parts in case of attack as well as helps the dog blend in with his flock and protects it from extreme weather. This breed has been a working dog of Hungary for nearly 1,000 years, guarding vast herds of sheep and cattle, most times independent of a human commander.
The Komondor is known for its dignity, strength and courage. It is generally reserved with strangers but quite affectionate with its owner. This breed needs daily exercise and obedience training. Its protective instinct applies to flock and family, and they are quite devoted to their people. The Komondor makes a great watchdog.
Caring for the Komondor’s coat requires a lot of time and effort; owners new to the breed should learn how to care for the cords from an experienced owner or breeder. The puppy coat starts soft and somewhat curly; the young adult coat consists of very short cords and the mature adult’s coat becomes the dense, soft yet wooly undercoat and coarser wavy outer coat that tangles together to create the corded look that the breed is noted for.
Large and muscular, the Komondor stands about 26 inches (66 cm) tall and weighs an average of 90 pounds (41 kg). The breed is part of the AKC’s Working Group and the UKC’s Guardian Dog Group.
The Kuvasz originated in Tibet but developed into the breed known today in Hungary. The Kuvasz originally served as a companion to nobility and rulers and could only be owned by royalty. However, hundreds of years later, it became a shepherds’ dog, working sheep and cattle as a guard dog.
Known for its fearless courage, the Kuvasz’s intelligence and endurance allows it to act at just the right moment without instruction and also to cover tough terrain for extended periods of time. The dog’s double coat ranges from straight to wavy and is always white.
A faithful companion, the Kuvasz is protective of its family but is not an overly affectionate dog. It is also aloof with strangers. Training should start early. Owners are cautioned to be patient for this is a breed that matures slowly.
The Kuvasz is a large, muscled yet agile dog. As a working breed, it needs plenty of daily activity. Its weather-resistant coat is easy to care for, needing regular brushing but minimal bathing. It averages 28 inches (71 cm) tall at the shoulder and weighs about 95 pounds (40 kg). It is part of the AKC’s Working Dog Group and the UKC’s Guardian Dog Group.
Like its Komandor cousin, the Puli is a working dog of ancient times that sports a coat of wooly cords. Coat colors include black, gray and white. The corded coat takes time to maintain – thorough drying after a bath is critical in order to prevent mildewed cords.
This herding dog assisted Hungarian shepherds. Today, the Puli can be seen in the show ring as well as in herding, obedience, agility, and tracking events. This dog is quick and agile; it is able to change directions instantly; therefore, it excels at many of these competitions. The Puli is also used as a therapy dog.
The breed, which some think descended from the Tibetan Terrier, was nearly lost during the 17th century due to interbreeding but was revived in 1912. The Puli was first shown at the Budapest dog show in 1923. The AKC recognized the breed in 1936 and the UKC in 1948. It is part of the Herding Group in both organizations’ classification.
The Puli stands 16 to 17 inches (40 to 43 cm) tall at the shoulder and weighs an average of 30 pounds (14 kg).
The compact, square Puli is considered intelligent, alert and joyful. It can live nearly anywhere as long as it is given the degree of exercise its herding heritage requires. It is loyal and protective, suspicious of strangers. Therefore, Puli makes an excellent watchdog.
One of the most well-known Hungarian dog breeds is the Vizsla. This short-coated hunting dog resembles a pointer in stature and hunting ability. It averages 22 inches (56 cm) tall at the shoulder and can weigh 60 pounds (27 kg). It is part of the AKC’s Sporting Group and the UKC’s Gun Dog Group.
Etchings of Vizsla-like dogs date from the 10th century. This breed served the barons of estates, working as hunting dogs of upland game birds, waterfowl and rabbits.
The Vizsla both points and retrieves. It was brought to America during the 1950s after nearly being eliminated due to the World Wars. The coat is a golden-rust color and very short, therefore, easy to maintain.
The Vizsla is known for its affectionate, gentle yet protective nature. It has a lively and energetic demeanor, and therefore, does best with an active family who will provide plenty of regular, daily exercise. It excels as a retriever and pointer and performs well in obedience and agility competitions.
This breed possesses a keen nose and great intelligence. The Vizsla is easy to train and responds well to obedience lessons. These dogs are known for chewing and other destructive traits if not given the right amount of physical and mental stimulation.
After World War II when Russia took control of Hungary, many feared the breed would become extinct; therefore, Hungarians smuggled some dogs into America and Austria to keep the breed from completely disappearing.
Two varieties exist: a wire-haired called the Wirehaired Vizsla and a rare longhaired Vizsla. The longhaired Vizsla is not registered but there are some found in Europe.
The Hungarian Wire-Haired Vizsla was created by crossing the Hungarian Short-Haired Vizsla with the German Wire-Haired Pointer during the 1930s. It is also called the Hungarian Wire-haired Pointing Dog. The breed was recognized by the UKC in 2006 but it’s not a breed recognized by the AKC.
Other Hungarian dog breeds not recognized by the AKC but that are recognized by the UKC are:
Magyar Agar (Hungarian Greyhound)
This breed dates back to the time when the Magyars came into what is now Europe. It was used for hunting hare and deer; it excels at running long distances.
A strong, elegant dog, the Hungarian Greyhound is slightly longer. It is reserved, quiet, and easy-going. It is noted for its intelligence and faithfulness, making it a good companion as well as a great watchdog. However, because of its coursing instinct, it will often give chase to smaller animals, so supervision around and introduction to such creatures at the dog’s young age is recommended.
The coat is short, coarse and smooth. A dense undercoat may develop if a dog lives in a cold climate. The coat comes in a variety of colors.
This breed is part of the UKC’s Sighthound Group and was recognized in 2006. It is not well known outside of its native country. Smaller than the regular Greyhound, the Hungarian Greyhound averages 26 inches (66 cm) at the shoulder and weighs an average 58 pounds (26 kg).
The history of this Hungarian dog breed is a bit of a mystery. It may have existed since the 18th century, but confusion exists because of the different names of the herding dogs that were used in Hungary. It’s commonly believed that the Puli is the oldest of the Hungarian sheep herding breeds and the Mudi derived from it; however, that may not be the case. Some speculate that the Mudi, with its many ancient features, is the result of crossing spitz-type dogs with herding dogs of the time and region.
What is known is that the Mudi was only officially recognized as a breed in 1936 by the kennel club of Hungary and by the UKC in 2006. The Mudi is part of the UKC’s Herding Dog Group.
Known for its intelligence, sensibility and courage, the Mudi serves as a watchdog as well as a stock protector. It is a popular breed with shepherds, excels at agility, and makes a fine companion. However, it is rare outside of Europe. This energetic dog needs to be worked on a farm or at least exercised regularly if not living in a rural area.
Its shaggy coat is the shortest among Hungarian sheepdogs. The coat is most often black but can also be white or a combination of the two. The hair on the face and the front of the legs is short and straight. On the rest of the body, the coat is dense and shiny, very wavy or slightly curled with feathering on the back of the front legs. This dog averages 17 inches (43 cm) tall and weighs an average of 28 pounds (13 kg). Females are smaller.
Like many Hungarian dog breeds, the Mudi nearly disappeared during World War II, but thanks to efforts in 1960s and 1970s the breed was saved from complete extinction.
The Pumi is another Hungarian herding dog. It developed from crossing the Puli with erect-eared sheepdogs from Germany and France; terrier lineage is also part of this breed’s heritage. Its thick, long, curly coat is usually black or gray. The Pumi was used as a livestock dog between the 17th and 18th centuries, herding flocks of sheep and also protecting them. It was also used as a hunting dog, pursuing fox and hare, and as a ratter, ridding farms of vermin.
The Pumi possesses an elongated muzzle with upright, fuzzy-haired ears bent toward its face.
Considered alert, watchful and intelligent, the Pumi is easy to train. It doesn’t make a great dog in an urban setting and is not suited for apartment living for it is energetic and a barker. This active dog enjoys interactions with its human and makes an excellent companion for daily jogs and playing catch or Frisbee. It excels at agility competitions.
The Pumi is a good watchdog. It is reserved with strangers but is affectionate and loyal toward its master.
The breed was recognized by the UKC in 1996 as part of the organization’s Herding Dog Group. Outside of its native Hungary the breed’s numbers remain small.
The Pumi stands about 17 inches (43 cm) tall and weighs an average of 22 pounds (10 kg).
This ancient Hungarian breed was the favorite hunting dog of the aristocracy during the Middle Ages. These dogs were used to hunt bear, wolf and boar. They were also used as guard dogs. Two varieties of the breed eventually developed, one with long legs and one with shorter legs. By the start of the 20th century, the breed was nearly extinct but was revived around 1968. The short-legged variety of the Transylvanian Hound did disappear, but there are a significant number of the long-legged dogs in Hungary and Romania.
This dog is considered energetic and fearless and loyal to its human.
The coat is short, straight, dense and flat. The dog’s shiny, coarse coat is tri-color, with a black base, tan on the muzzle, legs and eyebrows, and white markings on the head, neck, chest, lower legs and tip of the tail. The body is slightly longer than tall in proportion.
Still rare outside of Hungary, the Transylvanian Hound was not recognized by the UKC until 2006.
Many dog breeds originate in or around Hungary, and though most of them are recognized by the UKC, only a few are seen in AKC show rings. The variety of these Hungarian dog breeds is as diverse as the country itself, from hunters to herders. Most make excellent companions, especially for someone willing to patiently train, exercise and positively interact with them.