9 Hungarian Dog Breeds
At the foot of the Carpathian mountains, native Hungarian dog breeds have shaped the daily lives of the native peoples for more than a thousand years. The nine breeds fall into three primary types: guard dogs, hunting dogs, sheepherding dogs. The Vizsla, Wirehaird Vizsla, Komondor, Kuvasz, Agar, Transylvania hound are the larger breeds, while the trio of smaller Puli, Pumi, and Mudi breeds round out Hungary’s canines.
There are obvious differences in purpose, size, body type, and coat; for instance, the sleek and athletic Viszla stands in stark contrast to the mop-like appearance of the Komondor and the Puli. But it’s interesting to note that as a group, these Hungarian dog breeds are noted for having a courageous but even-tempered disposition. This is likely the reason for the devoted following of each of these Hungarian dog breeds, despite the relative rarity outside of their homeland.
The most popular of the 9 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 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 competition and make an outstanding running partner.
Height: 22 to 23 inches
Weight: 45 to 50 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Muscular and well proportioned with a copper or rust-colored short, smooth, dense coat
The most recently developed Hungarian dog breed, the Wirehaired Vizsla (WHV) is similar to the typical Vizsla in temperament and stature, but with a wiry coat and heavier bone structure. The breed is the result of selective cross-breeding between the Vizsla and the German Wirehaired Pointer in the 1930s.
The wiry coat and more robust build of the WHV offered hunters a retriever that was better built for trudging up Hungarian hills and combating bramble and undergrowth in pursuit of quarry. Today, the bushy beard and expressive eyebrows of the wirehaired Vizsla set it apart from it’s smooth-coated cousin.
Height: 23 to 25 inches (male); 21.5 to 23 inches (female)
Weight: 55 to 65 pounds (male); 45 to 55 pounds (female)
Physical Characteristics: Medium to large build with an athletic stance; wiry, close-lying coat with pronounced eyebrows and beard; folded ears and expressive eyes
While the Vizsla may be the most popular Hungarian dog breed, the Komondor is certainly 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. It’s 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.
Height: 26 to 28 inches
Weight: 80 pounds and up
Physical Characteristics: White corded coat; large head; deep chest and muscular body
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 make excellent watchdogs for livestock and property and became a versatile farm dog.
The Kuvasz gained AKC recognition in 2003, about 70 years after first being imported into the United States. Today the breed is very popular in its native Hungarian homeland but is still rare in the United States.
Height: 28 to 30 inches (males); 26 to 28 inches (females)
Weight: 100 to 115 pounds (males); 70 to 90 pounds (females)
Physical Characteristics: Large breed with square head and folded ears; thick double coat that is straight to slightly wavy but always solid white
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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 strong 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.
Height: 16 to 17 inches
Weight: 25 to 35 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Naturally corded coat; colors include black, silver, and white
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.
Height: 15 to 18.5 inches
Weight: 22 to 29 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Compact body with semi-erect ears and a tail that curls over the back; wavy, curly coat in black, white, gray, or fawn
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, did produce the Hungarian dog breed that today is known as the Mudi. The Mudi is considerably more rare than the Puli or Pumi, but it did gain 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 that has the Merle gene but also produces healthy solid white dogs (many other merle-carriers born solid white as a result of a double merle cross are born blind or deaf).
Height: 15 to 18.5 inches
Weight: 18 to 29 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized build with erect ears and pointed muzzle; short to medium-length coat that is wavy to curly; colors include black, brown, gray, gray-brown, white, merle
The Hungarian sighthound (also known as an agar) looks like a more robust greyhound but is a breed all its own. These gazehounds or windhounds, as the name ‘agar’ means in Hungarian, have an ancient history tied up in the tale of the Myagar people that settled Hungry in the late ninth century.
The Hungarian sighthounds 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.
Height: 24.5 to 27.5 inches
Weight: 50 to 70 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Typical greyhound body with long legs, deep chest, and tucked abdomen, but thicker bones and a more wedge-shaped head with shorter muzzle; smooth, straight coat in many colors including black, fawn, red, brindle, and more
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Like other Hungarian dog breeds, the Transylvnian 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 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.
Height: 22 to 26 inches
Weight: 55 pounds or more
Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized with well-proportioned legs and typical hound-shaped head with semi-pointed muzzle and hanging ears; the coat is short and coarse and is black with tan points