Hovawart: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Hovawart dog in field

fhm / Getty Images

The Hovawart is a beloved German dog breed that has long been used as a watchdog, guardian, and for track-and-rescue work. The name springs from the German words Hof, which means yard or farm, and Wächter, which means watchman.

These dogs are extremely intelligent, free-thinking, loyal companions for anyone up to the challenge of fulfilling their high exercise and training needs. They are used in search and rescue, obedience trials, and therapy dog activities. Though not recommended for first-time dog owners, this breed makes a wonderful companion ready to work alongside those who are willing to put in the time and energy they require for a happy life. 

Breed Overview

Group: Working 

Height: 23 to 28 inches 

Weight: 65 to 90 pounds

Coat and Color: Long coat in blonde, black, or black and tan

Life Expectancy: 10 to 14 years

Characteristics of the Hovawart

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Low
Amount of Shedding Medium
Hovawart puppy with black and tan coat
Black and tan Hovawart puppy farbenrausch / Getty Images
Solid black Hovawart portrait
Hovawart with solid black coat Elke Schroeder / EyeEm / Getty Images 
Hovawart with blonde coat
Hovawart with blonde coat  vauvau / Getty Images

History of the Hovawart

The Hovawart is quite an uncommon breed. Breeding of this intelligent canine was restored in 1922 by introducing similar farm dogs into the bloodline. Along with this, German Shepherds, Newfoundlands, Leonbergers, and other similar breeds were used in the early breeding history of the Hovawarts. 

The FCI recognized the Hovawart in 1937. Since 2010, this breed has been registered by the AKC in the Foundation Stock Service. 

Hovawart Care

Training is very important for this breed, as its intelligent, free-thinking nature means it will take in a situation and form its own opinion on the right way to respond. However, this may not match up with your expectations. Patient guidance and proper exposure are key.

Though intelligent, the breed is slow to develop and may be around two years of age before reaching maturity. Hovawart's can also have a stubborn streak. However, never use harsh or disciplinary training methods. Many times this form of training is not helpful at all, but backfires and causes more behavior problems. The Hovawart responds very well to positive reinforcement. These smart canines want to work with you, not for you, so try to work as a team.

These farm guardians require plenty of physical and mental exercise. They love a large array of outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, tracking, and much more. They require at least one hour of vigorous activity every day and do not make good apartment-dwellers. 

The Hovawart is an extremely loyal, caring family dog if properly socialized from an early age. They can have a dominant nature with other dogs, but as long as they are properly socialized, these dogs generally get along with other pets.  

The Hovawart boasts beautiful long hair but does not have a thick undercoat. This makes occasional brushing sufficient to keep them clean. However, seasonal shedding will require more brushing and baths. This breed has strong, fast-growing nails, so regularly check and trim them. Be sure to check their ears for dirt or buildup and brush their teeth regularly as well.

Common Health Problems

The Hovawart is generally a very healthy dog with no known breed-specific health problems. In fact, these dogs have long average lifespans ranging from 10 to 14 years. Like other large dogs, hip dysplasia may be an issue, but the rates of this disease in Hovawarts are very low compared to other large breeds. Hypothyroidism is also sometimes noted.

Diet and Nutrition

Feeding your Hovawart high-quality dog food will help them live a long, healthy life. Your dog will have different nutrition needs that can be met with different foods appropriate to their activity level and life-stage. Talk with your veterinarian to determine the best type of food to feed your Hovawart.

  • Bonds closely with its family

  • Protective of its pack

  • Typically live long, healthy, active lives

  • Can be stubborn 

  • Matures slowly, requiring diligent, patient training 

  • Has high exercise needs; not suited for apartments

Where to Adopt or Buy a Hovawart

The Hovawart is a rare breed, making this dog a bit difficult to find in shelters or rescues.

If you cannot find a Hovawart in a shelter or rescue, be sure to always look for reputable breeders to purchase a puppy from. Listed below are some Hovawart rescues, breeders, and helpful pages to find a shelter in your area.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

The Hovawart is an extremely intelligent, independent canine that forms strong bonds with their families. Their intense mental and physical exercise needs may not make them the right choice for every home, however.

Before bringing any dog into your home, be sure to put in careful research to determine whether or not a breed of dog fits your home and lifestyle. Try talking with breeders to get a further look into daily life with the dog breed you are interested in.

Though every dog is different, each breed has common breed-specific traits you should consider. With some research and planning, you can find your next best friend! If you are interested in other dogs similar to the Hovawart, check out these breeds: