The German Hovawart breed was originally a guard dog. The name comes from the (Middle High) German word Hovewart and means “guardian of the court”. Even today, the dog is still very watchful. However, he is also kept as a family dog.
As a watchdog, the Hovawart is a confident dog that is very watchful. That doesn’t mean he would immediately attack anyone who comes near his territory. The opposite is true. Despite his vigilance, the Hovawart is considered a very well-balanced dog with strong nerves who also has a sensitive side and need for companionship. Despite his strong personality, he needs a strong bond with his family.
The affectionate dog thoroughly enjoys being with his owner and cuddle moments. He is eager to learn and intelligent, which allows one to direct his vigilance in the right direction. If the Hovawart is properly raised and kept in the right way, it is a fine family dog that also gets along well with children. Most Hovawart owners receive compliments rather than complaints about their dogs. Nevertheless, the Hovawart is not a dog for beginners without experience. The confident four-legged friend also needs a confident owner, whose judgment he can trust.
A real Hovawart will test whether the owner is also the boss of the pack. If the owner is unsure, the Hovawart prefers to take charge himself – that is of course not the intention. So he may misinterpret his owner’s awkward behavior as fearful, suggesting danger is imminent, and aggressive and intimidating behavior is expected of him. On the other hand, if an owner takes on the lead of the pack, is respected, and has gained the trust of his dog, the Hovawart will have a loyal and watchful dog by his side, only vigilant when his owner sees fit.
The very close bond that Hovawart builds with his human family (for him it is a replacement for his pack), is notable and is even mentioned in the FCI breed standard. This close bond with his family, in combination with his friendly character, high resilience, and good sniffing nose make the Hovawart not only an excellent watch dog but also an excellent guide dog, rescue dog, and tracking dog.
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The versatile dog is a powerful and active dog that moves with a fairly wide gait.
The medium-sized body is slightly stretched and covered with long, slightly wavy hair. The strong head with a broad, curved forehead and a very straight bridge of the nose is slightly thinner in females than in males.
There is also a clear difference between males and females in terms of body size and weight. With a height between 58 and 65 cm, the females are about 5 cm shorter than the males, who have a height between 63 and 70 cm. While males weigh about 40 pounds, females weigh about 30 pounds. Both sexes have dark brown eyes with a faithful look and beautiful triangular lop ears.
Hovawarts’ distinctive coat comes in three color variants; black blond (black and tan), black and blond.
Black blond: The base hair is black and shiny, the color of the markings is medium blond. At the head, the markings begin under the bridge of the nose and extend around the corner of the mouth to the throat markings. The pointy markings above the eyes are also characteristic. Other markings are on the front and hind legs (up to belly height) and at the base of the tail base.
Black: With black Hovawarts, all hair is black and shiny. Small white spots on the chest, toes, and tail set are allowed.
Blond: The coat of the blond variety is half blond and shiny. Light blond on the belly and legs. As with the other variants, light white spots on the chest, toes, and tail are allowed.
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The word “Hovawart” stands for dogs that look after the yard. This word occurs in writings from the Middle Ages such as “Schwabenspiegel”. Among the 19 century as farm dogs meant it – no matter how they look. Only since the end of the 19 century, the name became associated with domestic and farm dogs that looked like the purebred dogs we mean by them today. The first breeding attempt with these dogs was made by Kurt Friedrich König. He did this together with his father Bertram König in 1922.
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The goal was to breed dogs that already had qualities such as wakefulness from home. In doing so, they went against the principle that emerged after the First World War to train dogs as watchdogs. A pronounced protective instinct, intelligence, and the ability to react independently and appropriately to different situations had been born for the Hovawart. To further develop these traits, he crossed them with German Shepherds, Newfoundlands, and Kuvasz. The instinctively competent watchdogs,
After the Second World War, the number of breeding dogs declined sharply. After the end of the war, most breeders worked independently, resulting in different Hovawart types per region. In 1948, in Germany, the country of origin, the “Rasseschijnverein für Hovawart-Hunde eV” was finally established, which maintained an overarching standard.back to menu ↑
Breeding and health
Today, there are three breeders’ associations that are recognized by the VDH (Verband für das Deutsche Hundewesen): Rasseschijnverein für Hovawart-Hunde (RZV), Hovawart-Zuchtgemeinschaft Deutschland (HZD) and Hovawart Club Deutschland (HC).
In the 1950s, breeders from other European countries became aware of the German dog breed. National breeders’ associations were soon established, especially in Switzerland and the Netherlands. In the 1980s and 1990s, more breeders’ associations were established in Austria, England, France, Italy, and the US. In the 1990s, associations were added in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia.
Finally, the “International Hovawart Federation” (IHF) was established within the FCI to exchange knowledge about the Hovawart between the different countries. The current members of the IHF are the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Germany.
Thanks to strict rules and regulations, which the breeders in the different countries adhere to, it has been possible to breed a very healthy and essentially safe dog breed. So, compared to other dog breeds of this size, the proportion of severe and moderate hip dysplasia (HD) in Hovawarts is very low.
Dogs with a predisposition or a mild form of HD or other hereditary diseases are consistently excluded from breeding. Thanks to these strict requirements on the health of the breeding stock, an extensive database that anyone Hovawart owner can participate in, as well as the collaboration with scientists, purebred Hovawarts are very healthy and robust. The life expectancy which is at 12 years and older is also higher than other dog breeds.
Given the great effort involved, it is obvious that the dogs are not sold for a “bargain price”. The breeders go out of their way to breed healthy, robust dogs. So be alert if a relatively cheap Hovawart that costs less than 1000 euros is offered somewhere. Although you can get off relatively cheaply with the purchase, it can still become an expensive joke if one has to take the Hovawart to the vet or dog therapist every time.
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Of course, even with an “expensive” Hovawart, you have no guarantee that the animal will remain healthy for its entire life. But responsibly bred puppies from demonstrably healthy parents simply carry the least risks. They have the greatest chance of a long and happy dog’s life. With the right care and if you keep the animals in the right way, you can keep your vet costs in line.back to menu ↑
Take care and keep
A lot of exercise and activity is absolutely necessary for keeping a Hovawart. The dog breed that is recognized as a working dog demands an owner who has a lot of time and desire to actively interact with his dog. In addition to long walks, nature trips, jogging, and cycling, dog sport is very suitable for using and stimulating the innate work joy and intelligence of the Hovawart in addition to physical fitness. Whether it concerns knitting sports or special training as a protection or rescue dog: through targeted activity, you will develop an even closer bond with your Hovawart, you will grow closer and you will understand the needs of the dog better.
In addition, Hovawarts who are physically and mentally challenged will listen to your commands better than Hovawarts who are bored and even start looking for assignments. During the education of the Hovawart – as with all dogs – consistency is important. Uncertainty and very hard-hitting will not be a success in parenting.
Note that the Hovawarts belong to the so-called “late developers”, ie their character and behavior are not really established until after the third year of life. Patience and understanding for the fact that the dog does not immediately implement everything it learns are important for harmonious coexistence with a Hovawart. The close coexistence of the dog and the family ensure satisfaction on both sides.
You don’t always have to be on top of each other, but proximity is still important. Hovawarts are real family dogs who develop a very close bond with their pack. Therefore, they must be closely integrated into family life from the very beginning. Keeping it permanently in a kennel is not suitable for this affectionate dog. In terms of space, a house with a garden (or even better an entire yard) is recommended, so that your dog can also run free.
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Contrary to what the hair length suggests, the Hovawart is qua caring actually a fairly easy dog. Due to the low percentage of undercoats, his coat does not tend to get matted. The year, therefore, does not need to be brushed daily, unless the dog is moulting. These conditions make the Hovawart a dog that is very suitable for people with dog experience and sports enthusiasts. The dog will be a loyal and valuable companion for many years to come, thanks to its loving nature and robust health.