Is A Komondor The Right Breed For You?

Ruth Keller, Rescue Chairperson
Middle Atlantic States Komondor Club

I wrote this article out of my love for Komondors and for the number of dogs that need rescuing. Many well-meaning people have to give up their Komondors because they find that they have more dog than they can handle or ever wanted.  Komondors are classified as Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD’s). For centuries they have been bred to work independently guarding flocks and making decisions on their own. Most of the LGD breeds are found in Europe and are seldom seen in the U.S., so many people here are not at all familiar with the LGD temperament. LGD’s are NOT suitable for most people. They are large, powerful, intelligent, decision making and independent thinking dogs. The Komondor is no exception.

Buying or adopting a Komondor should be seen as a lifetime commitment to the dog. Raising a Komondor you can live with requires patience and dedication, as well as time devoted to its training and socialization. You should NEVER adopt a Komondor based on meeting one at a show. Show dogs are trained to be handled by many people and are not guarding their homes and families.  It is essential to visit one at someone’s home before deciding on this breed. Please contact me or one of the officers listed on the Club website, if you would like to visit the home of a Komondor in your area. The Komondor breed is NOT right for everyone, so please take the time to learn why.

DO NOT GET A KOMONDOR PUPPY IF YOU HAVE LITTLE TIME. It is essential for a Komondor puppy to go to kindergarten classes for socialization with other dogs, as well as with other people. A daily walk in a park or a run in the yard is not a substitute for classes.  Puppies and young dogs must be socialized with as many non-family members as possible.  In a class, as you teach your puppy some basic commands, all the while he also is learning an essential life lesson:  that that you are the pack leader. You and each member of your family must commit to spending time daily with your puppy reinforcing the basics.

MANY OF THE KOMONDORS IN NEED OF RESCUE ASSISTANCE ARE ADOLESCENTS GIVEN UP BY THE OWNERS.

DO NOT GET A KOMONDOR PUPPY IF YOU CANNOT TOLERATE A LONG ADOLESCENCE. The adolescent stage lasts from about 9 months to 3 1/2 years, and this stage requires endless patience on the part of the owner. Your cute little puppy becomes a very large bundle of not well contained energy. During adolescence, a Komondor will often ignore commands he mastered a month ago. He may ignore the fact that you are at the end of the leash as he runs chasing something down the street, or he may accidently knock someone over just saying hello. In the house he may decide to sleep where he is not allowed (usually with muddy feet), chew your favorite pieces of furniture or the corners of kitchen cabinets and grab food off counters and plates. It is imperative that your dog have another obedience class during this time.

DO NOT GET A KOMONDOR IF YOU WANT A DOG THAT BEFRIENDS EVERYONE.  A Komondor is NOT like a Standard Poodle or a Golden Retriever in temperament. They do not readily accept strangers (anyone your dog doesn’t know).  There are some people your Komondor may not care for, especially those who are rowdy; and if that is the case the dog should not be left alone with that person. If your Komondor hasn’t learned early on that you are the pack leader, during adolescence he most likely will try to assume that role. He may challenge you or a family member over something he wants or doesn’t want to do. It could be with a show of resistance or even a growl or a bite. If you are timid or do not know how to respond appropriately, the challenges will only accelerate into adulthood.

DO NOT GET A KOMONDOR IF YOU MUST HAVE 100% OBEDIENCE FROM YOUR DOG AT ALL TIMES. If you want to train a dog for Schutzhund, do NOT select a Komondor because they do not work as attack dogs. If your goal is to show in high levels of obedience this is NOT the breed to get, although a few people have succeeded. In obedience classes, a Komondor will perform something several times to please you or for a treat, but don’t ask for a fourth time because it may not happen. If you have raised Komondor properly and truly have earned his love and respect, you will have an adult that will obey your wishes about 75% of the time (some owners would add, if you are lucky!)

DO NOT GET A KOMONDOR EXPECTING IT TO HAVE THOSE BEAUTIFUL WHITE DREADLOCKS you see at shows.  As a puppy grows, it takes lots of time to separate each one of those cords by hand and to keep them separated as the coat grows. Many of the show coats are maintained by keeping the cords tied up and covered every time the dog goes outside. Many show dogs wear boots outdoors and are not allowed to run freely.

DO NOT GET A KOMONDOR IF YOU MUST HAVE A SPOTLESS DOG.  Bathing and drying a corded coat is a huge project requiring tubs full of water and loads of big towels. The corded coat takes from 12 to 18 hours to fully dry with noisy high speed fans and dryers. If it is not 100% dry, it can smell horrible from mildew.  If the dog runs outdoors, the coat will start looking dingy in about 1 week. The coat is a magnet for yard debris and burrs, both of which can only be removed by hand. A Komondor should not be bathed frequently because the skin can become dry and irritated.

DO NOT GET A KOMONDOR IF YOU MUST HAVE A SPOTLESS HOUSE. It is true a Komondor doesn’t shed out the coat, but you will occasionally see white fuzz balls on the floor. Yard debris and burrs stuck to the coat will either be imbedded in it or will fall off on the floor. If the dog comes in wet and shakes, water droplets fly everywhere. When the dog jumps up on a door or on your kitchen cabinets, the toenails leave gouges in the woodwork.

DO NOT GET A KOMONDOR IF YOU ARE FASTIDIOUS ABOUT YOUR OWN APPEARANCE. You will never be able to wear anything dark without seeing some white curly fuzzies on your clothing. If the dog nuzzles you, then expect your dark clothing to have a light opaque area of dried saliva.

DO NOT GET A KOMONDOR EXPECTING YOUR NEIGHBORS TO LIKE YOUR DOG.  The bark, being very loud and deep, penetrates with an echo through a neighborhood. A Komondor will lie quietly outside or inside until he sees something requiring his full attention such as: dogs, deer, and people and vehicles passing.  You must be extremely vigilant about bringing your dog inside when he starts to bark or neighbors will probably complain.

DO NOT GET A KOMONDOR IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO BUY ONE FROM A REPUTABLE BREEDER. The cost of purchasing a Komondor is very small compared to the cost of food and proper healthcare during the lifetime of the dog. Just one surgery can easily cost from $500 to thousands of dollars.

DO NOT BUY A KOMONDOR FROM SOMEONE WHO TAKES A CREDIT CARD, PAYPAL or SELLS DOGS WITH A: “DON’T CALL ME, I’LL CALL YOU.” That person is NOT a reputable breeder. A reputable breeder sells puppies with an AKC (American Kennel Club) Registry. That is the ONLY real breed registry in the United States. If the puppy has any other breed registry (there are other pseudo registries that anyone can purchase for any dog, even a mixed breed) the dog is not considered “pure bred” and cannot be entered in any AKC show. A reputable breeder has an OFA number (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) number for the bitch and sire of the litter certifying that neither has hip dysplasia, a crippling hip disease.  That number can be verified online in the OFA website. A reputable breeder asks the buyer to call them for help when questions or concerns arise and, if the dog has to be given up at any time, the breeder wants to be contacted to take the dog back

ABSOLUTELY DO NOT GET A KOMONDOR:  IF YOU BELIEVE IN USING HEAVY HANDEDNESS WITH YOUR OBSTINATE DOG. Komondors are intelligent and must be treated with respect. As important as it is to let them know you are in charge, the use of excessive force will result in a never ending daily struggle.  Both you and your dog will be very, very sorry that you ever chose a Komondor.

 

One comment on “Is A Komondor The Right Breed For You?

  1. Mary Sedici on said:

    Excellent advises.