The Hovawart was first mentioned in 1210 when the Ordensritterburg (a German castle) was mobbed by Slavic invaders. Though the castle collapsed and all its dwellers, including the Lord, got slaughtered, a Hovawart saved the Lord’s infant son’s life and dragged him to a nearby castle.
According to Heinrich Mynsinger’s description in 1473, the Hovawart is one of the ‘Five Noble Breeds’ and among its uses are for tracking thieves and other criminals.
Hovawart’s fame began to decline following the Middle Ages. A new set of dog breeds such as the German Shepherd outshined the Hovawart as a guard and working dogs.
By the early 20th century, the Hovawart nearly disappeared in Germany. In the year 1915, Kurt Friedrich König (a zoologist) together with a group of fanciers, decided to rescue the breed from extinction. They searched the farms within the Black Forest (a wooded mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, southwest of Germany).
König then started a careful breeding program using these dogs and crossed them with Kuvaszok, Newfoundlands, German Shepherd Dogs, Leonbergers, a Bernese Mountain Dog and an African Hunting Dog.
Around 1937, the German Kennel Club officially recognised the Hovawart. After being used in World War 2, many Hovawarts died. By 1945, only a few of these dogs survived the bloodshed.
Two years after, Otto Schramm and some co-fanciers established a new club – the Rassezuchtverein für Hovawart-Hunde Coburg (the club is still running today). In 1964 the German Kennel Club recognised the Hovawart as Germany’s 7th working breed which triggered other countries to start owning this breed.
Traits and Behavior
These dogs are very observant, active, loyal and hard-working. They are popularly used by dog owners to guard their property due to their trainability and high intelligence. These dogs are extremely faithful to their trainer or owner where they can tackle anyone who comes across as a harmful entity to their owner or trainer.
Hovawarts love the company of people they are familiar with and can also become wary of strangers. These dogs are not good when left alone because they are easily prone to self depression.
In terms of training ability, Hovawarts are well-known to be cooperative to tasks and tricks. They need a firm, calm approach of a trainer to allow them to obey commands.
Manifestation of aggression and attacks can be a result of poor training thus this may lead the Hovawarts to be destructive, vicious and harmful. As well-trained dogs, they show strong affinity and care to the family and children.
Pet Care and Diseases
For grooming needs, these dogs are average shedders and, therefore, must have occasional brushing and combing.
Bathing is provided, only when necessary, but over-bathing must be avoided as it may lead to skin irritation which may deplete the natural oils of its skin. Ears must be checked for mucous plugs or infection while nails must also be clipped once in a while.
Hovawarts are active dogs that have to undergo a proper exercise regimen such as running, walking, digging, tracking or even engaging in dog sports like Frisbee.
With such a very energized type of dog, they are not suitable for apartment living due to their size and natural habits of being uncomfortable with small spaces.
The Hovawarts may be susceptible to some health problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia.
Adult males stand around 63–73 cm or 25–29 inches tall while females are only about 58–65 cm or 23–26 inches tall (at the withers). The weight of a Hovawart ranges between 30–50 kg or 66–110 pounds.
This breed looks like a Golden Retriever. The forehead is round and broad. The nose is black while the oval-shaped eyes are medium brown. The long, dense coat is slightly wavy with feathering on the chest, abdomen and posterior side of the legs and tail. The coat comes in various colors such as black, mixed black and gold, and blonde.
The Hovawart has a lifespan of about 10-14 years. The Hovawart has an average litter size of 6 puppies. The name’s origin stems from Middle High German (an old form of German); Hova or Hof meaning yard or farm, and wart or Wächter which means watchman.