How Many Hungarian Dog Breeds are There?

Wirehaired Vizsla

There aren’t a lot of places that have no dogs. As a result, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn there are Hungarian dog breeds. Specifically, Hepper says there are nine Hungarian dog breeds. Six of these dog breeds came into existence in pre-modern times. Meanwhile, the other three are much more recent creations.

What Do We Know About the Early History of Dogs in Hungary?

Dogs have existed in the Carpathian Basin since prehistoric times. The Smithsonian makes it clear that it isn’t 100 percent clear where we made the acquaintance of our canine companions. However, dogs spread throughout Eurasia thousands and thousands of years before the rise of states, so it would have been very strange if just the Carpathian Basin was absent of their presence.

With that said, the Hungarians arrived in the Carpathian Basin in historical times. We know next to nothing about the region before the Romans took over during the first century BC. Subsequently, the Carpathian Basin remained under their rule until the Migrations Period. Parts of the place passed through both Roman and non-Roman hands for centuries. Moravia, East Frankia, and the First Bulgarian Empire were the relevant powers when the Hungarians started their conquest during the turn of the 9th and 10th centuries. The latter had a clear idea of what to do because they had served as mercenaries to those powers. By the second millennium, the Hungarians had formed a Christian monarchy of their own.

Traditionally speaking, the Hungarians see themselves as descendants of the Huns. When they moved into the Carpathian Basin, they were semi-nomadic pastoralists. As such, Nine Hungarian Dogs states that dogs played an important role in their culture. After all, our canine companions are great for hunting, herding, and guarding, all of which were critical for the well-being of nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoralists.

What Do We Know About the More Recent History of Dogs in Hungary?

The Hungarian relationship with dogs during the medieval era was much the same as other European cultures’ relationships with dogs during the same period. There are known examples of Hungarian nobles who were very fond of their hounds, not least because hunting had become a symbol of their elevated status. Less is known about Hungarian commoners. Even so, it is clear that they were close to the dogs that did herding, guarding, and other kinds of work.

Hungarian interest in dog breeding intensified in the 19th century. Partly, this was because dog breeding provided real benefits for the people. Better dogs made for better performances, whether in hunting prey, herding livestock, or guarding possessions. Interested individuals should remember that the 19th century was a transformational time because it saw the rise of nationalism. Thanks to that, a wide range of people engaged in the search for national identity, thus generating enormous interest in things that represented them rather than their neighbors. Dog breeds were not exempt from this, which makes sense because of the close connection between dogs and dog owners.

How Did the Nine Hungarian Dog Breeds Come Into Existence?

As mentioned earlier, most of the nine Hungarian dog breeds came into existence in pre-modern times. People in the past didn’t engage in dog breeding with the same fervor as their modern counterparts. Still, they were very much involved in such things. On top of this, World Atlas makes it clear that dogs could adapt themselves to their local environments, thus forming populations that are distinct from the rest of the species. Such dogs became the basis of most Hungarian dog breeds. They are different from their ancestors, but they are close enough to be considered members of the same dog breed as their ancestors. The other Hungarian dog breeds are more distinct from the dogs used to create them. As such, they are considered different dog breeds in their own right rather than direct continuations of the dogs used to create them.


1. Komondor

The Komondor has a very straightforward name. This makes more sense when one learns that Komondor comes from Koman-dor meaning “Cuman dog.” In short, the Cumans were a Turkic people from the Eurasian steppe who fled westward before the Mongol advance. The Cumans were permitted to settle in Hungary. Sadly, their following experience was far from being perfectly smooth, not least because the Mongols followed them. Initially, the Cumans remained a separate people. Over time, they integrated with the Hungarians for the most part.

In any case, a lot of people will recognize the Komondor as the so-called “mop dog.” This is because their most famous character is their long, corded, white coat. Beneath that hair, the Komondor is a formidable creature with a powerful build because it is a livestock guardian. In other words, these dogs must be capable of taking on bears and wolves if need be. Their coat provides them with two major advantages in this regard. One, it is effectively a layer of armor from wildlife and other potential threats. Two, it helps the Komondor blend in among their charges.

Personality-wise, the Komondor is much the same as other livestock guardians. Generally speaking, they are calm but courageous dogs with more than enough independence to act on their own if they see a potential threat. The Komondor is fond of its human family members. Meanwhile, it is suspicious of strangers, though it isn’t outright aggressive towards them unless it sees cause for that. Even if the Komondor goes on the attack, chances are good that it will settle for knocking its target down and then keeping its target down until its owner can arrive on the scene. Please note that these dogs are not meant for apartments and other small living spaces. They like to sleep during the day, but they also like to patrol their surroundings during the night.


2. Kuvasz

The Cumans didn’t introduce pastoralism to Hungary. As a result, people should be able to guess that Hungarians had their livestock guardians as well. For proof, look no further than the Kuvasz, another white-coated dog with a big, powerful build that makes it well-suited for taking on adversaries. With that said, it is very different-looking from the Komondor. First, it has a wedge-shaped head rather than the Komondor’s broad head. Second, it has a thick, coarse-looking coat that is nonetheless much shorter than that of the Komondor’s matted cords. On top of these things, the Kuvasz is also interesting in that it served as both a guard dog and a livestock guardian. It was even entrusted with the safety of Hungarian nobility during the medieval era.

Unsurprisingly, the Kuvasz combines a loyal, loving nature with both courage and intelligence. Unfortunately, those characteristics caused their numbers to plummet during World War Two. As the story goes, invading soldiers couldn’t get at their human family members without killing them, so that was what those invading soldiers did. The Komondor took similar casualties for similar reasons, but the Kuvasz seems to have been harder-hit because there were fewer than 30 of these dogs by the war’s end. Hungarian dog breeders saved the dog breed, but even now, the dog breed suffers from a limited gene pool.

Magyar Agar

3. Magyar Agar

People might see the Magyar Agar being called the Hungarian Greyhound. On the one hand, these dogs do have some similarities with the English dog breed. For instance, they are fast-moving sighthounds with a somewhat similar-looking profile. On the other hand, these dogs have plenty of differences. One example would be how they are longer, heavier creatures with a less refined snout. Another example would be how they are hardier animals that are much better at enduring cold temperatures than most short-coated sighthounds. Given these things, it is better to think of the Magyar Agar as the Magyar Agar rather than use a better-known comparison that can create misleading impressions.

In any case, these dogs are like other hounds in that they are affectionate, obedient, and easy to train. Curiously, the Magyar Agar has a strong guard instinct for a hound, though it isn’t powerful enough for it to be a serious issue. These dogs need regular exercise, but so long as they get it, they should be capable of living in apartments. Be warned that the Magyar Agar has chase instincts, so it needs to be socialized from an early age if people want it to live in the same household as cats and other smaller pets.


4. Puli

The Puli looks like the Komondor. After all, it has the same long, corded coat. Fortunately, the Puli has several things that make it easy to recognize. One, it is a small to medium-sized dog, meaning that it is much smaller than the Komondor. Two, it comes in colors other than white. Historically speaking, the Puli saw use alongside the Komondor. It did the herding while its bigger counterpart did the guarding. In modern times, the Puli is more of a household companion, though it has never recovered its previous popularity.

If people want to get one of these dogs, they need to give it both physical exercise and mental stimulation. Without those things, the Puli gets bored, which is a good way to bring about destructive and otherwise negative behaviors. As a rule, these dogs are brave, loving, and playful. Simultaneously, they are also stubborn and surprisingly sensitive.


5. Pumi

On a related note, the Pumi is known to be a relative of the Puli. However, interested individuals wouldn’t be able to guess it on initial inspection because the two don’t look very similar. The Pumi lacks the long, corded coat. Instead, its fur tends to form curls. Supposedly, these dogs were created by crossbreeding the Puli with foreign shepherd dogs.

Some people call the Pumi the Hungarian herding terrier. This is a reference to their alertness, their speed, and their lean, muscular build. Behavior-wise, the Pumi isn’t very terrier-like. Certainly, they have plenty of courage. Despite that, these dogs aren’t very aggressive even though they tend to be protective of family and suspicious of strangers. What makes them even more distinct is how easy they are to train because they lack the famous terrier stubbornness.
Transylvanian Hound

6. Transylvanian Hound

The Transylvanian Hound descends from Hungarian hounds. It was very popular in medieval times. Sadly, it took some serious hits in the 20th century. For proof, consider two facts. First, there were once a taller variety and a shorter variety of these dogs. Now, only the taller variety survives. Second, Transylvanian Hounds are extinct in Transylvania itself. They took horrible losses during the Second World War. Afterward, the Romanian government killed the survivors to remove a reminder of previous Hungarian control of the region.


7. Vizsla

Vizslas are smooth-haired dogs with a well-rounded set of capabilities. They are excellent hounds that perform well in fields, forests, and even bodies of water. Simultaneously, they make excellent household companions because they are both good-natured and gentle-mannered toward humans. As a bonus, Vizslas are fearless protectors, so they are sometimes used as guard dogs. Please note that these dogs do have potential issues. For example, interested individuals must take charge because these dogs won’t hesitate to do so. Similarly, these dogs are very attached to their humans, so much so that they can become very upset if they don’t spend enough time together. Finally, Vizslas need plenty of physical exertion and mental stimulation because they are fundamentally energetic animals.

Wirehaired Vizsla

8. Wirehaired Vizsla

It is tempting to guess that the Wirehaired Vizsla is just a variant of the Vizsla. Unfortunately, that isn’t quite the case. These dogs descend from the Vizsla. but these dogs are distinct enough to be a separate dog breed. Initially, the dog breeders intended these dogs to be better for cold weather and cold water because of their heavier coats. In modern times, Wirehaired Vizslas are also successful pets. They share many of the same upsides as their parent dog breed, though they do on better by having a calmer demeanor. For people concerned about the Vizsla being too much dog for them, the Wirehaired Vizsla can be a good alternative.

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