Hovawart Breed Characteristics & Traits

The Hovawart is a medium-sized and very powerful dog that belongs to the recognized service and working dog breeds. But he is also a great family dog, who is excellent with children, very friendly and playful, but also brave and self-confident.

History & Origin

In the Middle Ages, large, sturdy farm dogs were known in the German-speaking areas, which guarded the house, yard, and herds and were referred to as court guards, court wardens, or hovawarths. What these dogs looked like can no longer be said today, but they are probably the ancestors of today’s Hovawart. Only from the early 19th century are there pictures showing farm dogs that are very similar to today’s Hovawart.

When these dogs became fewer and fewer at the end of the 19th century and the more agile, agile shepherd dogs took over their tasks, lovers of the big, sturdy dogs began to protect them from extinction and later to found their own breed.

A man named Kurt Friedrich König is considered to be the founder of the first Hovawart breed club in his country of origin, Germany. He crossbred mainly the Newfoundland, but also the Kuvasz, the Leonberger, and the German Shepherd to create a dog that looked like the old farm dogs and was by nature suitable as a guard dog and protection dog. In 1937 the Hovawart breed was recognized by the VDH.

Numbers, Data, Facts

  • Country of origin: Germany
  • Life expectancy: 8 – 11 years
  • Weight males: 25-40 kg
  • Bitch weight: 25 – 40 kg
  • Males: 63-70 cm
  • Bitches: 58-65 cm


Today’s Hovawart is very flexible and versatile. Dogs of this breed make excellent guard and protection dogs, companion dogs, and therapy dogs. They also work as tracking dogs, man trailers, and avalanche search dogs. They are working dogs and equally great family dogs.

Classification, breed standard & breed standard

  • FCI Standard No. 190
  • Group 2: Pinschers and Schnauzers – Molossoids – Swiss Mountain Dogs
  • Section 2: Molossoids
  • 2.2 Mountain Dogs
  • With work test

The Character & Essence of the Hovawart

In terms of character, the Hovawart is a very stable and calm but also self-confident dog. His stimulus threshold is very high and there is hardly any risk of him jumping over it. Nevertheless, the Hovawart has protective instincts and fighting instincts. He is very attached to “his people” and seeks their closeness. In terms of temperament, the Hovawart is usually relaxed and reserved, but still very sporty. However, he can also be quite dominant if he is not or wrongly trained. It is, therefore, more suitable for experienced dog owners and is not a beginner’s dog. In any case, he should come to people who show assertiveness and consistency in his upbringing. He must be taught by his owners that he can concentrate fully on “being a dog”. If the hierarchy is clearly regulated, he is by nature a great family dog.

Dealing with family & children

Despite its considerable size, the Hovawart is well suited to dealing with children because it is tolerant, friendly, and easy-going towards them. He also loves to play himself and likes to romp around with children. Nevertheless, the children in the household should be a bit older. Small children must be taught that dealing with a living being is always mutually respectful. The Hovi, as it is affectionately called, has rather poor motor skills, and young dogs in particular romp so wildly that they can accidentally knock over a smaller child. The dog must also be trained very carefully because otherwise, it will sometimes try to get its own way.

In dealing with strangers

When dealing with strangers, the Hovawart is friendly, reserved, and easy-going as long as they don’t encroach on his territory. If they do that, he reacts in a clearly reprimanding manner. He’s not particularly fond of delivery people and postmen.

When dealing with other dogs

Most Hovawarts have a strong craving for recognition from their peers. They like to show them who’s the stronger one here (especially when they actually are physical). Adult males, in particular, often show a pronounced demeanor, the bitch is a little more reserved or not quite as bold. On the other hand, they also show a lot of tolerance towards significantly smaller and weaker dogs. In general, the Hovawart divides other dogs into chosen friends and enemies according to sometimes incomprehensible criteria, and if you meet a strange dog, you should put your Hovawart on a leash to check its reaction.

When dealing with other pets

How the Hovawart interacts with other pets, such as cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, or birds, depends on whether he recognizes them as a member of the pack. If he does that, then the other pets are not in danger, because the intelligent dog will not hurt any other pack member and certainly not eat them. For this reason, animal family members must be presented to the dog in a correspondingly urgent and careful manner, after which they are largely safe.

Urge to move

As a strong, muscular dog, the Hovawart needs a lot of exercise, and walks alone are not enough for most animals of this breed. They also want to be kept busy and busy elsewhere. In addition to running on the bike and as a companion when horseback riding and jogging, many dog ​​sports such as agility, tournament dog sports, obedience, and tracking are suitable. The best way to find out which the dog likes best is to try it out. Throwing and ball games should be avoided with large dogs in order not to damage the joints. If it is possible, you should also let your Hovawarts “work”. Otherwise, he loves to live in a house with the largest possible garden, because he loves being outdoors.

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