Breed Type: Herding
Country of Origin: Germany
Also known as: Hovie
Males: Height: 63-73 cm Weight: 35-45 kg
Females: Height: 58-65 cm Weight: 30-40 kg
Exercise Requirements: High
Care Requirements: Medium
Lifespan: 12-14 Years
Best Suited as: Companion, Family Dog
The Hovawart, a German dog, derives its unusual name from its original use as an estate guard dog. The breed originated in the Black Forest region of Germany as far back as medieval times. An exceptionally healthy breed, this lovable dog makes a loyal companion, excellent watch dog, and excels at search and rescue.
Many Hovawarts are mistaken for the more popular, Golden Retriever. They are a large dog with a body slightly longer then they are tall. Like the Retriever, they have powerful heads with rounded foreheads and a muzzle that is never longer than their skull. They have triangular ears that are low set and they have dark, oval eyes. They have black noses with well developed nostrils and their teeth should meet in a scissor or level bite.
The Hovawart has a single, dense, long-haired, wavy coat which lies flat. There is feathering on the chest, legs, undersides and tail. Their tail is carried low and hangs past their hocks. The Hovawart comes in a variety of coat colors including blonde, black, or black and tan. The color of their eyes, nose, and nails are harmonious with their coat colors.
Hovawarts have been described in many ways. They have been most often described as alert, faithful, trustworthy, intelligent, obedient, affectionate, loyal, fun-loving, and stubborn. While a Hovawart likes to have a job to do, they make excellent family dogs and are extremely devoted. They make tremendous watch dogs and can be initially reserved towards strangers. Their strong, deep-throated bark acts as an effective alarm system.
Although Hovawarts typically take two years to mature, they remain puppy-like well into their old age. Being extremely brave, intelligent, and easily trained, they currently participate in search and rescue organizations, therapy dog activities, obedience trials, agility trials, fly ball and service dog training. Hovawarts must have consistent and firm training in order to become well behaved adults.
The Hovawart, which originates from Germany, is an old working breed and is most likely a descendent of the Newfoundland. Some of the earliest writings indicate that the Hovawart has been around since the 13th century. The name of the breed means “an estate guard dog,” and legends tell us that one particular Hovawart was not only a great guardian of property but also of his master. The legend goes that the infant son of a German Lord was saved by a Hovawart when their castle was invaded. In spite of being wounded itself, the dog dragged the tiny child to a castle nearby and therefore saved the boy’s life. This young boy, Eike von Repkow, later grew up to become a legendary figure in the history of German law, publishing the Sachsenspiegel, the oldest Code of Law to survive from medieval Germany.
After the medieval times, the popularity of the Hovawart started to decline. There were newer breeds like the German Shepherd that began to take the place of the Hovawart as guard dogs. Unfortunately for the Hovawart, the breed nearly became extinct by the beginning of the twentieth century. Around 1920, a group of dedicated breeders worked together to save the breed. Zoologist, Kurt Konig, spearheaded the effort by searching for existing Hovawarts on farms in the Black Forest region. König then started a careful breeding program using the dogs he found and crossed them with a large variety of dogs including Newfoundlands, German Shepherds, Leonbergs, Bermese Mountain Dogs and an African Hunting Do. Their success was recognized in 1922, when the first Hovawart litter was accepted into the German Breeding Registry. In 1937, the German Kennel Club officially recognized the Hovawart. During World War two, many Hovawarts were used in the German war effort and they nearly became extinct. In 1947, Otto Schramm and some fellow enthusiasts formed a new club which created more interest and saved the breed. In 1964, the German Kennel Club recognized the Hovawart as the country’s seventh working breed and around this time enthusiasm for the breed started to develop in other countries. The Hovawart was recognized by the United Kennel Club July in 1996.
Care and Grooming
The Hovawart is easy to care for. Their coat is easy to groom and only needs an occasional brushing. They are only average shedders. The Hovawart’s exercise needs are a bit greater. They need to be taken on a long daily walk, jog or run.
The Hovawart tends to be a very healthy breed. One of the more common health issues seen in European lines is an underactive thyroid. Hip dysplasia is less common than with other large dog breeds. Most can be expected to live an average life span of around 12 to 15 years.
Suitability as a Pet
Hovawarts are not usually recommended for the novice dog owner. They are highly intelligent, can be stubborn and strong-willed, and have strong guarding instincts. For the right family, however, a Hovawart may be the perfect dog as they bond very closely with their families. Due to their size and exercise needs, Hovawarts are not recommended for apartment life. They will thrive in a house that has at least an average-size yard.
Just like years ago, when they successfully watched over German manors, they still make excellent watch dogs and protectors today. They are also highly skilled at search and rescue tracking and working dog activities.
The ideal dog owner for the Hovawart is someone who will give them significant time and attention and is well equipped to handle their training. Their owner should also be physically capable of owning a strong, larger dog. Hovawarts tend to do well with children and their protective instinct of them are strong. Make sure you supervise your active Hovawart around young children. Many a large dog has unintentionally knocked down a small child while playing.
Hovawart Organisations in Australia
No club information listed
Hovawart Organisations in the UK
Hovawart Club of Great Britain
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