Kennel Gazette December 1996

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This Month’s cover

Komondor

The Komondor hails from Hungary where he is a guarding dog for the herds and flocks on the farms. As such, his truly basic instincts make him a very formidable protector, a dog never to be trifled with. He will take care of anything or any place which he has been taught to regard as his charge and he will do so to the utmost of his ability.

As a result he is totally unsuited to a town life where he would be miserable as well as a liability; even in the country, he requires a very well defined territory on which he is not going to encounter the casual hiker or even a visiting postman.

His huge, corded coat resembles that of the Old English Sheepdog in youth, but gradually forms into cords as it matures. Trailing profusely to the ground, as it does, it picks up dirt and leaves like a magnet, which means that it requires regular bathing if the animal is to be kept anywhere other than in a barn. Drying such a coat is a major task, but at least water does not penetrate easily to the skin.

He is not a dog demanding a great deal of food and he has an easy going attitude to exercise. Those who consider taking him on should study the breed carefully and closely before taking steps to acquire such a dog.

Photo: Sally-Ann Thompson

Sad passing of “Kitten”

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We are sorry to record the passing of Ann Davis’s famous Komondor ‘Kitten’, Hercegvaros Cica of Borgvaale and Loakespark, last Sunday after a short illness at the age of 13 1/2 years.

Kitten was retired from competition last January after her win in the Pedigree Petfoods Veteran Stakes finals.

She was bred in Princetown, New Jersey, USA by Mr Marion J. Levy, and originally imported by Mrs Pat Lanz, before ownership was transferred to Ann Davis. She was born on March 27, 1973 and released from quarantine just before Christmas 1973 and Kitten was shown at all levels of competition in England, Scotland and Wales. Last year was her forth time of competing in the Pedigree Chum Veterans Finals. Her final show appearance was the Hungarian Komondor Club’s Show on October 20, 1985, when she took BIS from the veteran class. Her last Championship BOB was at City of Birmingham in 1984, at 11 1/2 years old.

Superdogs 1983

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Revealed! A shaggy dog’s secret

The face behind all that hair on page three belongs to Dougal lookalike “Kitten”, a 10-year-old Hungarian komondor. Kitten and chihuahua Goofums got together yesterday to launch a new dog show.

The little and large of the canine world leave audiences unsure whether they’re coming or going. Shaggy comedienne Kitten weighs 135 lbs – just 132 lb 6oz heavier than her diminutive straight man.

Goofums and Kitten will be topping the bill at Wembley in October at Superdogs 83, described as the Motor Show of the dog world.

Organiser David Cavill explained “It will not be a competition like Crufts. There will be lectures and exhibitions of what dogs can do.” Like Kitten and Goofum’s vanishing act.

Kennel Gazette September 1982

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Rare Breed: The Komondor

An article by D. Wyn Hughes in Woman’s Realm in 1978 gives a good description of this rare working dog.

“At first sight you might mistake a Komondor for an animal with a strangle felty blanket slung over him for the vast coat, falling in tassle-like cords from head to tail, with just the feet and a little of the legs visible, make this unusual breed look more like a beast of burden than a dog. As it slinks along with its head down and tail out, a Komondor gives the impression of great length and its bulky coat makes it look twice as big as it actually is.”

This dog has been bred for many years in Hungary where its main job was to guard various flocks, and its owners’ property. This strange dog with its corded coat has protected sheep, chickens, goats and also children in the past.

The earliest record of the Komondor goes back to the mid-sixteenth century and it probably came from Asia originally for in the ninth century the wandering Magyar tribes, themselves originally Asiatic, came to Hungary and their large sheep much resembled their dogs. The Komondor was an excellent guard for these sheep. Later smaller sheep were introduced; the Komondors stayed as guardians and the smaller Hungarian Puli acted as herder to the smaller sheep.

The colour is always white. Dogs weigh about 110-115 lbs; bitches somewhat less. The puppy cat is fluffy and later becomes corded.

As a show dog his coat presents problems. “As it is not easy to keep the coat clean and yet at the same time maintain the much admired long cords. At about six months old the process of parting the cords commences, and it this were not continued, the animal would eventually be covered with one solid mat like a coat of armour. Each time the Komondor is bathed, the coat has to be separated whilst drying, and the cords encouraged to remain as long narrow strips of hair rather than as bunches.”

As Mrs Pat Lanz says “They are simply not dogs for everybody”, but apart from their original role as guard dogs they can be sociable and also entertaining animals. But – “This may sound the perfect sort of dog for farmers, but English farmers are unlikely to take on the liability of this vast, strange corded-coated ancient breed for working use. The Middle Atlantic States Komondor Club endorses the emphasis on the need for caution with this unusual breed.”

The Komondor Club of Great Britain was formed by dedicated people with the object of protecting and furthering the interests of the Komondor in Great Britain. The inaugural meeting took place in 1978. A Club Show is held every year, usually in conjunction with another show, but in 1981 held it’s own limited show. The Club Newsletter Magyar Mutterings is published two or three times a year.

With only a few Komondors being shown there are only SIX shows in a year that schedule Komondor classes (i.e. Birmingham National, Birmingham City, East of England, National Working Breeds, Hammersmith Gold Medal Show, and Dudley Metropolitan Show), the rest of the time they are exhibited in Rare Breeds and Not Separately Classified Classes.

Komondor Registrations

1972 – 1

1973 – 7

1974 – 1

1975 – 5

1976 – 1

1977 – 2

1978 – 18

1979 – 15

1980 –

1981 – 9

1982 – 1

This article was writtem with the assistance of the Komondor Club of Great Britain.

Clive Muzelle two first prizes at Crufts

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Man’s Best Friend!

Congratulations to Clive Muzzle of Wadham Stringer Car and Truck Rental who, in February this year won two first prizes at Cruft’s dog show in London with his Hungarian Komondors.

Seen here at a local show last year it can be understood how these dogs can become so popular.

The Komondor is of Asiatic origin and is believed to be the forerunner of all shepherd breeds in Europe and was used extensively to protect flocks of sheep and other cattle from predators such as bear and wolf, also human interference.

The coat grows in long tassel like cords and at maturity reaches the ground. It protects the dog from the extreme sub-zero temperatures of the Hungarian Plains and also provides insulation to keep it cool during the summer.

A Komondor weighs between 120-150lbs and can reach a height of 36 inches at the shoulder.

Many congratulations to Clive and it is hoped that many more prizes will come his way in the future.

Farmers Guardian, Sept 15, 1978

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A dog in sheep’s clothing

The Hungarian Sheepdog, the Komondor, was bred for centuries to guard flocks and property from thieves and predators on the Hungarian plains, first herding semi-wild sheep, living with them without a shepherd and protecting them from marauding wolves and other enemies.

Its strange corded coat, the same shade as the sheep, gave no warning to the predator that the flock was guarded – but as it moved in for the kill, this great dog would rise and deal with it.

The Komondor naturally protects whatever is entrusted to it – sheep, goats, cattle, chicken, other dogs, even children if it is a family companion. Just the answer you might think, for those of us with sheep near an urban development and troubled, not by wolves as the sheep were on the Hungarian plains, but by marauding dogs allowed to roam unattended; or in such areas as National Parks like the Peak District of Derbyshire or the Lake District where unthinking visitors let their dogs run loose.

Limited Future

The guarding instinct of the Komondor is so strong, however, that Mrs Pat Lanz, who imported it into Britain from Hungary in 1973 sees only “a very limited future” for them in this country. “They are simply not dogs for everyone. They are more for breeders who wish to study this ancient and beautiful breed,” she said.

She first became interested in them when she imported a five-month-old bitch, Duna, from Hungary in 1973. She later imported a dog, Csupor, from America and their progeny was the first litter to be born in Britain. There were four puppies but one died; she kept one and sold the other two.

“I sold them to knowledgable people – dog breeders, ” she emphasised – and an enquiry for a Komondor for security work was never even considered.

I couldn’t help thinking how sad it was that such a useful breed, with such superb characteristics, was unsuitable for shepherding in this country, but Mrs Lanz was adamant. A Komondor, she said, was only suitable for someone who really understood the meaning of being “on top” of a dog. It was more a breed for people who liked curious and very old breeds and had the right facilities for keeping dogs under proper control.

In America, however, the Komondor has gained ground, particularly with some farmers on remote ranches where the dog has proved very successful with coyote control.

Corded Coats

It is said it is a loyal, devoted guard, does not wander, nor attack without provocation – but trespassing is not tolerated lightly. It likes other animals and will accept them gladly; it is not a hunter, though it will chase strange birds and animals off the premises.

This all sounds the perfect kind of dog for farmers, but Pat Lanz says she cannot see English farmers taking on the liability of this vast, strange, corded-coated ancient breed for working use.

The minimum height for a bitch is 23 1/2 inches at the shoulder, and 25 1/2 inches for a dog but they seem much larger because of their corded coats. They weigh from 88 to 140 lbs and their thick, very heavy double coats have a soft wooly undercoat. This combination of the two types of hair forms naturally into tassel-like cords. It is never brushed or combed out and the cords do not come out when the dog is washed. It is an extremely robust animal, tolerating heat, despite its heavy coat and withstanding any amount of cold.

They vary in how severe they are in warning people to desist. Some snap in the air and give a low warning growl; some will attack silently without a growl. It is wise, it is said, to make sure that any strange children or strange adults are introduced to the dog with the owner, making sure the dog accepts them as friends.

With this somewhat alarming run down on their characteristics and having only been used to my Bearded Collie, I sat in Pat Lanz’s sitting room awaiting my first introduction to her Komondor bitch, Duna, with some apprehension – and was quite unprepared for the sociable, enchanting character that sallied forth to greet me and, I am glad to say, accepted me as a friend.

Much larger

Duna is the size of my grandsons’ Shetland pony which is 28 inches at the withers and lives with me, free-ranging most of the time in a garden and coming regularly into the house.

But Duna seemed much larger in the house than the pony as her vast bulky corded coat added enormously to the impression of size – and I felt a touch of sympathy for any predator on those Hungarian plains nipping into a flock of sheep only to find one of the “sheep” not “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” but “a dog in sheep’s clothing” and a very capable one at that.

Mrs Lanz incidentally, also lead the way in Puli breeding in this country. This is another ancient species of Hungarian sheepdog, much smaller than a Komondor with a similar textured corded coat. Her foundation bitch, Fruska, gained distinction by being three times best bitch in the “any variety” class at Crufts.

Mrs Lanz also breeds Rotweilers, another herding breed, a powerful dog which was originally used by drovers in Germany. After they had delivered their cattle, and been paid, the drovers strapped the money to their dogs for safe-keeping.

Kitten Evenlode advert

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Hercegvaros Cica of Borgvaale & Loakespark, called “Kitten”.

“After arriving from the U.S. Kitten has had Evenlode food, first in quarantine then after her release, when she has been completely maintained on your Adult Dog Cubes. She has now become one of the best known and very successful rare breeds in the U.K., and has recently won the Best Working Breed Group at Bournemouth 1977. I am so satisfied with Evenlode, and feel sure that others will be also.”