Komondor: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Shaggy-haired Komondor looking at the camera

 IPGGutenbergUKLtd/Getty Images

The mop-headed and muscular komondor, also known as the Hungarian sheepdog, is an exceptionally large working dog breed developed in Hungary, and one of the world's most recognizable breeds. It's known for its white corded hair cascading down its body making them unmistakable. Because komondors are bred to be working sheepdogs, their corded locks allow them to blend in with their flock easily while protecting the dogs against extreme weather.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working

HEIGHT: 27 1/2 inches, minimum (male); 25 1/2 inches, minimum (female)

WEIGHT: 100 pounds or more (male); 80 pounds or more (female)

COAT: Long, corded hair

COAT COLOR: White

LIFE SPAN: 10 to 12 years

TEMPERAMENT: Steady, affectionate, fearless, independent, calm, gentle

HYPOALLERGENIC: No

ORIGIN: Hungary

Characteristics of the Komondor

The komondor is a strong, loyal, and independent dog that needs a confident leader to train and care for it, otherwise, it may prove to be an unruly pet. When it finds a match, the intelligent komondor makes a top-notch furry friend. This powerful guardian and beloved pet has a temperament that is calm and quiet until it senses danger and springs into action, fiercely protecting its home and loved ones.

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level Medium
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Komondor

An ancient breed, komondors are originally from Hungary. Experts believe the breed, descended from the Caucasian shepherd, was brought there by traveling nomads in the 13th century. The breed was revered in Hungary, used for centuries to guard—not herd—flocks of sheep. Their long white coats allow them to camouflage among curly-haired sheep to stealthily attack predators.

The American Kennel Club recognized the komondor in 1937. The breed was nearly wiped out during the World War II era, leaving only a few dozen individual dogs. The breed was slowly re-established in Hungary but remains a fairly rare breed to this day.

A leaping komondor is featured on the cover of the 1996 album Odelay, released by American musician Beck. Since the album was released, the image has become one of the most recognizable covers of all time.

Komondor guarding sheep
 volofin/Getty Images
Komondor at a dog show.
majorosl/Getty Images 
happy komondor running at a dog show
Oli Scarff/Staff/Getty Images

Komondor Care

Komondors are not known to be a low-maintenance breed. Their corded hair requires special care, they need regular exercise, and they rely on strong leadership when it comes to training. With proper training, komondors are loving, playful pets.

Exercise

As expected from canines in the working group, komondors are athletic and agile dogs. They need daily exercise to stay happy and healthy, preferably free runs and one or two leisurely 30-minute walks a day—remember that they were bred to guard sheep, not herd them.

Grooming

There’s no denying that komondor coats are stunning. To maintain their luscious locks, owners must follow a fairly strict grooming regimen. Experts advise owners to never brush their corded hair but to wash them regularly. Just be sure to rinse them completely free of shampoo and dry thoroughly by squeezing them with towels. The coat could begin to smell like mildew if not dried efficiently. Cords will also need to be kept free of dirt and debris to avoid foul odors—separating the locks can be done easily by hand and should be done every few months.

Training

Early socialization is crucial for komondors. As protective pups, they are often wary of all strangers and tend to bark or lunge. You can minimize this through socialization and obedience training, which works best when started at an early age.

White Komondor puppy.
 Dixi_/Getty Images
Small Komondor guarding the house.
 GoodLifeStudio/Getty Images
Shaggy Komondor laying down.
 Agency Animal Picture/Getty Images

Common Health Problems

Komondors are generally healthy, but, like all dogs, they may develop a number of health conditions depending on genetics, their environment, and overall care. If you are considering this breed, it’s important to be aware they are subject to conditions such as:

  • Hip Dysplasia: This orthopedic condition is the result of the abnormal development of one or both hip joints which leads to instability and degeneration of the dog's joints.
  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)/Bloat: Large and giant breed dogs are prone to this emergency medical condition which occurs when the stomach fills with gas or food and gets trapped causing the stomach to turn or possibly rupture.
  • Entropion: Entropion in dogs is an ocular condition that causes the eyelids to roll inward. Large breed dogs are prone to the condition due to the stretch and structure of their eye ligaments.

Find a reputable breeder who can provide certificates of health and health clearances for your pup’s parents. That way, you can better understand the health risks associated with your komondor.

komondor dogs as pets illustration
Illustration: The Spruce / Kelly Miller

Diet and Nutrition

The amount you should feed your komondor will vary with size, age, and lifestyle, so it’s best to speak with your veterinarian to find the best diet suited to your dog.

Dogs should always be fed a high-quality diet that contains lean proteins and crucial vitamins for optimal health. Again, speak with your veterinarian to determine the best fit.

Determining the best quality dog food can be difficult. As a general rule, look for foods without fillers like modified cornstarch, soybean hulls, and other by-products. Stick to whole ingredients like meat, poultry, fish, fruits, and vegetables.

Some dogs do well on grain-free diets. This varies among individuals, meaning it’s one more thing to ask your vet about.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Komondor

The komondor is a rare breed that may take time and effort to find, but don’t let that encourage you to purchase or adopt the first one you find. Rescue dogs of this breed may be tough, though not impossible, to come by so you may need to turn to a breeder if your heart is set on a komondor. It’s important to be sure you are getting your dog from a reputable komondor breeder who can provide certificates of health.

You will also want to speak with the breeder to determine the personality of your soon-to-be pet to ensure a happy and healthy life for both of you.

The Komondor Club of America lists breeders who have pledged to abide by the Komondor Club code of ethics, which includes not breeding a dog without an Orthopedic Foundation for Animals registration number, not breeding unregistered dogs, and not shipping puppies before a certain age. If you choose to work with a breeder, expect to pay between $1,000 to $2,000 for your puppy.

For further information to help you find a komondor, check out:

Komondor Overview

Pros
  • Gentle and affectionate with families, including kids

  • Easy to train

  • Loyal and protective

Cons
  • Tends to bark at passersby

  • Coat requires a fair amount of care

  • A rare breed and tough to find

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

The komondor is a unique and powerful breed. Explore these similar breeds:

Are you interested in learning about more dog breeds? You’re in luck! We have plenty of dog breed profiles for you to explore.

FAQ
  • Is a komondor a good choice for a first-time dog owner?

    This breed responds best to a firm, experienced leader—not a first-time dog owner.

  • Can a komondor play well with other dogs?

    It’s best to avoid taking your komondor to the dog park, as its guarding instinct may kick in, prompting it to react poorly to strange dogs. With proper training, however, it will happily play with furry housemates or other known dogs in the backyard.

  • Is a komondor a good apartment dog?

    Aside from its huge size, a komondor is quick to bark at passersby, which means you and your neighbors in an apartment complex may not be very happy with your dog.