9 Unique Dog Breeds That Originated in Hungary

Learn more about Hungary's canines

Pumi dog running on beach

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At the foot of the Carpathian mountains, native Hungarian dog breeds have shaped the daily lives of the native people for more than a thousand years. Nine Hungarian breeds fall into three primary types: guard dogs, hunting dogs, and sheepherding dogs. There are obvious differences in purpose, size, body type, and coat; for instance, the sleek and athletic vizsla stands in stark contrast to the mop-like, sheep-mimicking appearance of the Komondor and the puli.

Tip

Working dog breeds usually have high energy needs, requiring daily exercise, long walks, enrichment activities, and training to be social dogs. When considering a dog breed, make sure the breed you choose matches your lifestyle, and you have the time to devote to your dog.

Breed Characteristics

As a group, these Hungarian dog breeds are noted for having a courageous and even-tempered disposition. Each is a high-performance working dog, requiring a routine exercise schedule to unleash their energy. They are brilliant, persistent, and adaptable.

Here are nine Hungarian dogs with a devoted following, although some are rarely seen outside of Hungary.

  • 01 of 09

    Vizsla

    Vizsla standing outside

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    The most popular of the nine Hungarian dog breeds, you may recognize the vizsla without realizing it hails from Hungary. Originally bred to be a capable companion for hunters, the vizsla has an athletic build and instinctive tendency towards pointing and retrieving. These dogs date back centuries; the early Magyar clans of Hungary are credited with the breed’s development. These dogs are high-energy and do best in an active household. They’re well-suited for many different types of canine competitions and make an outstanding running partner.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 22 to 23 inches

    Weight: 45 to 50 pounds

    Coat and Color: Copper or rust-colored short, smooth, dense coat

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 02 of 09

    Wirehaired Vizsla

    Wirehaired Vizsla on white background

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    The most recently developed Hungarian dog breed, the wirehaired vizsla, is similar to the typical vizsla in temperament and stature but with a wiry coat and heavier bone structure. The breed results from selective cross-breeding between the vizsla and the German wirehaired pointer in the 1930s.

    Its wiry coat and more robust build offer hunters a retriever that was better built for trudging up Hungarian hills and combating bramble and undergrowth in pursuit of quarry. Today, the wirehaired vizsla's bushy beard and expressive eyebrows set it apart from its smooth-coated cousin. 

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 21.5 to 25 inches

    Weight: 45 to 65 pounds

    Coat and Color: Wiry, close-lying coat; in varying shades of solid golden rust

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 03 of 09

    Komondor

    Komondor against grass

    Slowmotiongli / Getty Images

    While the vizsla may be the most popular Hungarian dog breed, the Komondor is undoubtedly the most striking. With an abundance of corded fur—often likened to dreadlocks—the Komondor commands attention. The noble disposition of this breed has earned it the title, “the king of dogs, the dog of kings.”

    The Komondor’s chief occupation in its Hungarian homeland was to guard flocks of sheep. Its resemblance to the fleecy creatures made it the perfect undercover guard dog. This occupation required a calm, sedate presence coupled with a readiness for action at the first hint of danger to the flock. The Komondor retains this persona and makes a calm household pet but a fierce guardian if a threat is detected.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 26 to 28 inches

    Weight: 80 pounds and up

    Coat and Color: White corded coat

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 04 of 09

    Kuvasz

    Kuvasz Dog Profile

    Susanna Cesareo / Getty Images

    Also known as kuvs, this is a working Hungarian dog breed. The earliest origins of the kuvasz may have been in Tibet or even Siberia, but this breed gained popularity in Hungary in the Middle Ages. Known for having a steady nature coupled with large size, they made excellent watchdogs for livestock and property and became versatile farm dogs. The kuvasz gained AKC recognition in 2003, about 70 years after being imported into the United States. Today the breed is prevalent in its native Hungarian homeland but is still rare in the United States.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 26 to 30 inches

    Weight: 70 to 115 pounds

    Coat and Color: White, thick double coat usually medium in length, ranges from straight to wavy

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Puli

    Puli dog outside

    Volofin / Getty Images

     

    Commonly thought to be the oldest of the three Hungarian sheepdogs, the puli is smaller than the Komondor but shares a similar corded coat, along with a solid guarding disposition coupled with a family-friendly attitude. If you have more than one puli, then the plural of this dog breed is pulik.

    Like some of the other Hungarian dog breeds, the Magyar people are thought to have introduced the puli to Hungary centuries ago. Later, the slightly smaller pumi was derived from the tried-and-true puli. The puli gained AKC recognition in the 1930s and has become a rare but beloved companion.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 16 to 17 inches

    Weight: 25 to 35 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short and glossy naturally corded coat; solid colors, such as black, rusty black, gray, or white

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 15 years

  • 06 of 09

    Pumi

    Pumi dog on bench

    Rita Fodorne Mate / Getty Images

    One of the three Hungarian sheepdog breeds, the pumi, is believed to have been developed from the older puli breed. The most distinctive feature of the pumi is their folded but upright ears. They give a characteristically alert and happy appearance, which is typical of the pumi’s bright disposition. 

    The pumi is the Hungarian dog breed most recently recognized by the AKC—achieving full breed recognition in the herding group in 2016. These dogs stand less than 20 inches high and typically weigh no more than 30 pounds, but they can command a flock of sheep with ease and make excellent herders.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 15 to 18.5 inches

    Weight: 22 to 29 pounds

    Coat and Color: Compact body with semi-erect ears and a tail that curls over the back; wavy, curly coat in black, white, gray, or fawn

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 13 years

  • 07 of 09

    Mudi

    mudi dog sitting in grass

    UroshPetrovic / Getty Images

    If you combine a puli and a pumi on a rainy day, you get a mudi. Well, it’s not exactly that simple. But the reality is that interbreeding between two of Hungary’s smaller sheepdogs, perhaps along with the influence of German spitz-type dogs, produced the Hungarian dog breed known as the mudi. The mudi is considerably rarer than the puli or pumi, but it gained FCI recognition back in 1966. In addition, the breed was added to the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service in 2004.

    Mudis lack the cords or tight curls of the pumi and puli breeds but have a surprising feature—they carry the gene for merle-colored coats. Mudis come in solid colors like black, brown, grey, and white, along with eye-catching merle patterns. Interestingly, they are the only herding breed within the AKC with the merle gene and produce healthy solid white dogs (many other merle carriers born solid white due to a double merle cross are born blind or deaf).

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 15 to 18.5 inches

    Weight: 18 to 29 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short to medium-length coat that is wavy to curly; colors include black, brown, gray, gray-brown, white, merle

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 08 of 09

    Hungarian Greyhound (Magyar Agar)

    Hungarian sighthound and white background

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    The Hungarian sighthound, also known as an agar, looks like a more robust greyhound but is a breed all its own. Agar means gazehound or windhound in Hungarian. They have an ancient history along with the Magyar people that settled Hungry in the late ninth century.

    The Hungarian sighthound's larger bone structure and thicker skin with shorter muzzle were suited for the hilly terrain of Hungary. Early hunters on horseback used these hounds in pursuit of game, primarily hares and deer. The Hungarian sighthound isn’t well-known today and currently doesn’t have AKC recognition. However, the breed is recognized by Britain’s United Kennel Club, the FCI, and the American Rare Breed Association.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sighthound (UKC) and (FCI), not AKC-recognized

    Height: 24.5 to 27.5 inches

    Weight: 50 to 70 pounds

    Coat and Color: Smooth, straight coat in many colors including black, fawn, red, brindle, and more

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Transylvanian Hound

    Translyvanian hound in water

    Fenne / Getty Images

    Like other Hungarian dog breeds, the Transylvanian hound has the distinctive courage and even temperament of many dogs from this region. At the same time, breed enthusiasts appreciate their lively and lovable nature. This breed was a popular hunting companion and farm dog in the Middle Ages. It’s interesting to note that two varieties of the Transylvanian hound once existed—a long-legged dog for taking on larger game and a short-legged dog for pursuing small prey. But these hounds approached extinction, and while the breed made a resurgence in the late 1960s, today, there are only long-legged Transylvanian hounds. The FCI granted the Transylvanian hound official recognition as a Hungarian dog breed in 1968, and the breed was also added to the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service in 2015.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Scenthound (FCI), (UKC), not AKC-recognized

    Height: 22 to 26 inches

    Weight: 55 pounds or more

    Coat and Color: Short and coarse coat; black with tan points

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Breeds to Avoid

If you do not have the time to do regular grooming care for your dog, then a puli or Komondor are not likely suitable for you. These dogs are higher maintenance with corded coats. If they do not get regular bathing or correct care for their coats, their coat may get mildewed.