Although not as popular as the Rottweiler or the German Shepherd, the Hovawart is nonetheless a stoic member of the German canine elite. Originating from the regions of Harz and Black Forest in Germany, the Hovawart’s name means “a guardian of estates.” The breed was first created by the German barons of old to guard their castles and estates. Although a very ancient breed, the Hovawart has not survived as a result of direct ancestry but through an effort of resurrection by dedicated breeders.
The Hovawart is a powerfully built dog with extremely strong legs, chest and hindquarters. Their feet end in compact pads and they are able to traverse a variety of terrain with ease. The Hovawart’s head is large and powerful and its teeth meet in a sharp razor bite. The dog’s ears are triangular and pointed and droop down high on the head. Hovawarts come in three main colors – black, blonde and black and gold.
Hovawarts are intelligent, self-assured and brave. Over the years they have excelled as guardians as well as search and rescue dogs. However, they can be strong-willed and are not recommended for beginner owners.
The Hovawart is a powerfully built dog with extremely strong legs, chest and hindquarters.
The Hovawart’s history begins in the Harz and Black Forest regions of Germany where it was bred as a dedicated guard dog. One of the first documented recordings of a Hovawart comes from the early 1200’s when the Ordensritterburg castle of Germany was invaded by Slavic invaders. The story goes that the castle was torched to the ground and all its inhabitants were slaughtered; except for the infant son of the castle lord. The infant was saved by one of the castle’s Hovawarts that, despite being injured itself, dragged the youngster to a neighboring castle and to safety. The boy named Eike von Repkow grew up to be one of the most notable figures in German law.
Although the Howavart had earned itself a place in German culture and history, its popularity started to decline towards the early 20th century as breeds like the German Shepherd grew in popularity. In 1915, a group of Hovawart enthusiasts led by a zoologist named Kurt Friedrich König started a concentrated effort to resurrect the breed. They started off by looking for dogs that fit the Hovawart’s description in the farms of the Black Forest region and then crossing them to various other breeds. Their efforts bore fruit when the first Hovawart litter was entered into the German Breeding Registry in 1922.
However, the breeders’ hard work was almost all for naught as the Hovawart was all but wiped out during the outbreak of World War II. Due to its exceptional abilities the breed was used in the German military and thousands perished during the war.
After World War II drew to a close, a breeder named Otto Schramm and a group of fellow Hovawart enthusiasts worked hard to preserve the breed and formed a new breed club.
It is believed that in the process of creating the modern Hovawart, they were crossed with various breeds such as Newfoundlands, German Shepherds and Leonbergers, as well as a Bernese Mountain Dog and an African Hunting Dog.
Hovawarts are hard workers and need a well-balanced diet. They can be fed on most high-grade dry foods.
Unlike most other working breeds Hovawarts are not as eager to please their masters and require various reward based training methods.
Unlike most other working breeds Hovawarts are not as eager to please their masters and require various reward based training methods. If positive encouragement is not used, these dogs can lose interest and become stubborn during training. It is also important that owners display a loving but firm style of leadership with these powerful dogs.
A full grown Hovawart male can weigh up to 110 pounds.
Temperament and Behavior
Hovawarts have loud booming barks and are extremely watchful. They are also highly devoted to their families and will risk their own lives willingly to protect them. These characteristics which have existed in the breed since ancient times make them an excellent watchdog and guard dog.
However, it is important to note that for a Hovawart to enjoy a well-balanced life its owners must powerful dogs can try to assume leadership of their human pack and this in turn can lead to various behavioral issues. This can also be dangerous considering how strong the breed is.
Although reserved in nature, Hovawarts are extremely affectionate towards their families and make excellent family dogs. Provided that they are socialized well and are given rules, boundaries and limitations from an early age.
Hovawarts also get along well with other dogs and pets and are not easily provoked into aggression.
Common Health Problems
Hovawarts are an extremely healthy breed and do not suffer from any hereditary ailments. They can however suffer from hip dysplasia occasionally, as is common with large breeds of dogs.
Hovawarts enjoy life spans ranging from 10 to 14 years.
Hovawarts were bred to be hard workers and require at least an hour’s worth of rigorous exercise each day. When not provided with an outlet to release their excess energy these dogs can become stubborn and destructive. They make excellent jogging, running and hiking partners. Like most working dogs, Hovawarts too require a “meaningful” task to which they can devote themselves to each day in order to be happy.
Hovawarts have loud booming barks and are extremely watchful.
The Hovawart is included in the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service.
The Hovawart has a long coat made up of soft hairs. They do not require a great deal of grooming and need only be brushed occasionally. They are average shedders.
As with all powerful breeds it is extremely important that training and socialization of Hovawart puppies begins at a very early age.
Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).
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