Komondor breed profile

Komondor

Komondors are intelligent, affectionate dogs with a unique corded hairstyle. Bred to guard livestock, these working dogs are rare in the U.S.
By Sarah Kuta
July 12, 2021
Komondor
Breed Group
Dog Size
Other Traits
Temperament

Komondor

height
  • 25.5–27.5 inches
weight
  • 80–100 pounds
life span
  • 10–12 years
breed size
  • large (61-100 lbs.)
good with
  • families
  • children
  • cats
  • dogs
temperament
  • gentle
  • willful
intelligence
  • high
shedding amount
  • infrequent
exercise needs
  • medium
energy level
  • calm
barking level
  • when necessary
drool amount
  • low
breed group
  • working
coat length/texture
  • long
colors
  • white
other traits
  • tolerates being alone
  • hot weather tolerant
  • cold weather tolerant
  • strong loyalty tendencies

With their distinct corded hairstyle, komondors are one of the most recognizable dog breeds on the planet. These large, highly intelligent dogs—also sometimes referred to as Hungarian komondors or komondor mop dogs because of their white cords—were developed in Hungary to protect sheep, cattle, and herdsmen. 

These loyal, instinctual overseers are independent and still task themselves with looking after their home and family, but they're also affectionate and loving to anyone in their inner circle. Though you may occasionally spot a komondor dog on a farm or a ranch, this dog breed is rare as a family pet. But they do remain popular in rural parts of Hungary.

"Komondors are a large, muscular breed that's known for being light on their feet, despite their unique double-coat appearance," says Annette Louviere, DVM, veterinarian for Wisdom Panel. "They tend to be brave and affectionate, making them excellent guard dogs."

Appearance

Komondors are unmistakable dogs, thanks to their unique coats. Instead of traditional fur, komondors are covered in long, white, tassel-like cords. These cords are made of hair and form naturally as komondor puppies begin to age—younger dogs have shorter cords, while older dogs have longer cords. 

komondor standing in park
Komondors are adoring family dogs, but can be suspicious of people they don't know. Socializing komondor puppies early will help them grow into well-adjusted adults.
| Credit: lenkadan / Adobe Stock

The cords form when a komondor's coarse outer coat begins to trap the dog's softer undercoat, similar to some dreadlock hairstyles worn by humans. These cords cover a komondor's entire body, including his head and tail.

Komondors only have one coat color: white. Other corded Hungarian dog breeds, such as the puli, come in other colors, but there's no such thing as a black komondor dog.

Underneath that dense, mop-like coat, komondors have muscular bodies. The komondor's size is impressive—they typically weigh between 80–100 pounds and stand 25–27 inches tall. Although their faces can look like a mess of cords, these dogs have large heads, almond-shaped eyes, and triangular ears that hang down on either side of their face.

Temperament

Originally developed to guard livestock in Hungary, the komondor temperament is independent and watchful when it comes to looking after their animal (and human!) flocks. But when they're with their people, they're extremely loving and affectionate.

komondor shaking
Bred to watch over their flock, komondors are still independent and watchful. But when surrounded by their family, they are loving and gentle dogs.
| Credit: Everita Pane / Shutterstock

Because of their breeding history, komondors may take a while to warm up to strangers. If a new person arrives at your house for the first time, introduce them to your komondor slowly and calmly. But once a komondor adopts a new person or animal into his flock—whether that's a family cat or a new human sibling—he's a devoted friend for life. Some people say that komondors never forget someone they perceive to be part of their family and will recognize them immediately, even if a lot of time has passed.

Komondors are independent thinkers and do best when they can make their own decisions during training, guided by plenty of positive reinforcement (think praise and treats as rewards). Early komondor puppy training classes and socialization can also help them grow up to be well-behaved dogs. 

And though you may be smitten with their mop-like locks, these dogs are really the best fit for more experienced dog owners.

"These highly intelligent, athletic, and fearless dogs are wonderful and showy dogs for experienced and committed dog owners, but they can be difficult for the novice dog owner," says Jen Jones, a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist who runs Your Dog Advisor.

komondor lying near flowers
Those cords do more than give komondors a funky hairdo—they help keep these pups warm in the cold and cool in the summer.
| Credit: muro / Adobe Stock

Komondors tend to adapt their energy levels to whatever situation they're in. Some enjoy swimming and running, but each dog is different. Though they can handle a fair amount of alone time, these devoted dogs need regular attention, affection, playtime, and exercise with their humans to be happiest. 

"They are social dogs who enjoy spending time with their owners and often need projects to keep their minds busy," Louviere says. Interactive toys and food puzzles are helpful for keeping their minds engaged, too.

Living Needs

Komondors thrive on large properties with plenty of open space, such as farms and ranches—they don't make the best apartment dogs. They're happiest when they can do what they were bred to do, which they consider to be "their job"—that is, overseeing herds or flocks of animals including sheep, goats, alpacas, and cattle. 

"Working dogs are bred to have a job, frequently working out in fields for hours and hours," says Nicole Ellis, CPDT-KA and pet lifestyle expert with Rover. "Those traits don't go away just by bringing a dog into a home—they are genetic—and you must ensure you meet your dog's mental and physical daily needs or it can lead to issues and frustration."

komondor in front of door
Komondor puppies lack the long cords the breed is known for. But as they grow, their double coat begins to form their signature dreadlock-like look.
| Credit: annatronova / Adobe Stock

They're generally friendly to other dogs, particularly those they share a home with, but may not do as well in a dog park-like setting with lots of unfamiliar pups around. To be happy and healthy, these athletic dogs need regular exercise including walks, running around in the yard, and playing with their four-legged brothers and sisters or human companions.

Komondors are good with children, especially kids in their family, though parents should always supervise interactions between dogs and kids and make a point of teaching their children how to be kind, gentle, and respectful of all dogs, including komondors. Komondors are also typically gentle with cats they live with.

Because of their working history, komondors enjoy spending long periods of time outdoors and don't mind a little inclement weather. They're also just as happy to come inside, where they're known for following their owners from room to room.

komondor puppy lying in grass
Credit: TrapezaStudio / Adobe Stock

Care

This breed's unique corded hairstyle requires some special care and attention, but the komondor's grooming needs aren't overly complicated or difficult. 

"The cords of a komondor's coat grow naturally but require care to maintain its beauty," Louviere says. "Mature cords cannot be brushed, but the occasional bath still provides benefits."

Though komondor haircuts aren't frequent—their cords are meant to grow long—regular bathing will keep them from getting smelly and dirty. It's important to fully rinse all of the dog shampoo out of their cords, which can require a little extra care and time. 

komondor sticking tongue out
Komondor dogs, unlike other corded Hungarian breeds, are always white.
| Credit: lenkadan / Adobe Stock

When drying a corded komondor after a bath, it's best to squeeze the cords with a towel to remove excess water, rather than rub the towel up and down their bodies. To keep the komondor's cords clean and fresh, it's also important to set up a fan to help them dry off more quickly (many komondors love nothing more than laying on their backs in front of a fan!). 

With proper upkeep, a komondor's cords are clean, beautiful, and bright white; as he gets dirty again, his locks may start to appear off-white. Though it's uncommon to see a komondor shaved, some owners shear off their cords every spring and let them regrow through the fall and winter. 

If you're caring for a komondor puppy, Louviere says you may want to gently help organize their burgeoning cords so they grow into long, beautiful, mature tassels over time.

"Puppies initially have soft, curly coats that grow into a dense, woolly undercoat and tassel-like corded outer coat, giving them a distinct mop-like appearance," Louviere says. "As puppies mature, their coats will start to clump. And separating those clumps into quarter-sized sections helps ensure the cords will grow more evenly in appearance."

komondor lying on dark-floor
Mop or dog? With the white komondor's corded fur, sometimes it's hard to tell!
| Credit: OLI SCARFF / Getty

Komondors don't shed the same way other dogs do, as the their hair doesn't flow freely. Occasionally, a komondor may shed an entire cord, but this isn't very common.

These dogs also benefit from regular nail trims and nightly tooth brushing, plus dental exams and cleanings at the veterinarian's office when necessary. It's also a good idea to regularly clean the komondor's ears and check their cords for burrs, weeds, twigs, or other debris.

Health

Though they're hearty dogs with no major genetic health issues, responsible komondor breeders will still test for hip dysplasia and eye issues. They typically have lifespans of 10–12 years.

Like other large dogs, komondors may suffer from a serious and life-threatening condition called bloat, or gastric dilatation-volvulus. Veterinarians still don't know exactly what causes bloat, but owners can take some steps to lower their dog's risk. These include encouraging your dog to eat more slowly with a special slow-feed bowl, lowering causes of stress and anxiety, and feeding them smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. Talk to your veterinarian about how you can reduce your pup's risk.

komondor closeup
Credit: Ben Pruchnie / Getty

History

One of the most well-known Hungarian dog breeds, komondors have a long history dating back to at least the 16th century, if not earlier, according to the Komondor Club of America (KCA).

This ancient breed is likely a descendent of the Russian ovcharka breed, transported to Hungary by the Magyar peoples. For centuries, komondors protected herds of cattle and flocks of sheep in Hungary, where they are considered to be the chief or king of the herdsman's dogs.

The American Kennel Club recognized the komondor in 1937, but the dogs almost went extinct after World War II. According to the KCA, only a few dozen were left before the breed was slowly rebuilt in Hungary and exported worldwide. 

Fun Facts

  • Wondering why a komondor's cords are white? Some people believe the white color allows the dogs to blend in with sheep, which are often their charges. The white coat also makes komondors easy for their human owners to see at night.
  • Color aside, a komondor's coat also serves as protection from severe weather, including super-hot and very cold temperatures—the coat can both insulate and cool the komondor. It may also protect against the bite of an attacking animal.
  • Komondors are sometimes mistaken for pulis, another Hungarian livestock guarding dog with a similar corded coat. The main differences between the two are their coat colors and sizes. Komondors are much larger than pulis, and while there's no such thing as a black komondor, there are black pulis. In fact, adult pulis often look like a black komondor puppy.