When thinking through the perfect dog breed for your family, don't count out the hovawart! Calm and loyal, these hard-working dogs can be a great addition to a family. This intelligent working dog breed can do it all, with hovawarts commonly working as rescue dogs, therapy dogs, and watchdogs. However, before adopting a hovawart, familiarize yourself with this breed to help you decide if they're the right fit for your household.
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Hovawart dog history
The hovawart is a very old working dog breed from Germany who nearly went extinct in the early 20th century. Their unique name comes from an older German language in which "hova wart" roughly translates to "farm or yard watcher."
Starting in 1922, the few hovawarts left were cross-bred with similar working breed dogs, like German shepherds, Leonbergers, and Newfoundlands to revive the hovawart breed. In 1937, the German Kennel Club officially recognized the hovawart. They are affectionately referred to as "hovies."
Hovawart dog characteristics
The hovawart is a large-breed dog with an adult male or female dog weighing between 65 and 90 pounds and standing 23 to 28 inches tall in height. The American Kennel Club classifies the hovawart in the foundation stock service group, though the breed doesn't yet have official AKC recognition.
With a similar build to the golden retriever, the hovawart is a large-size dog with a coat that can come in a few different colors. The coat color can be black, blonde, or black and tan. They have a long double coat, deep chest, floppy drop ears, and a bushy tail.
Hovawart dog training & temperament
Breed is not a reliable indicator of personality; however, hovies are affectionate, intelligent, and obedient dogs with a superior sense of smell. They can be a working companion with a playful streak. Whether they are guarding property, looking after livestock, or working through an agility course, these dogs love to work and be active. That's why they make great search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs, service dogs, and guard dogs.
Hovies are not typically aggressive or possessive, but these guard dogs do show fierce loyalty and care for their family, including children, and their pack. That's why it's so important to properly socialize them to people and pets from puppyhood. These strong-willed working dogs only respond well to positive, reward-based training, so be sure to sign them up for puppy training classes as well.
Hovawart dog grooming
These seasonal shedders only need occasional grooming. A good brushing of their coat, especially their softer undercoat, twice a week should suffice to remove tangles and dead hair. Concentrate on the chest, belly, and legs, where the fur tends to knot.
An occasional bath every two months or more is needed only if your pup develops a doggy odor. Don't forget to trim the toenails every couple of weeks to prevent overgrown nails from impeding mobility.
Hovawart dog exercise & health
These working-breed dogs need plenty of activity and do best when given a job. This dog breed excels at agility, flyball, obedience, scent work, and rally. They'll need at least an hour of exercise each day, and they make great hiking buddies. If you enjoy an active, outdoor lifestyle, then the hovie is for you.
Hovies are long-lived dogs with a life expectancy between 10 and 14 years. There are no health problems specific to this dog breed, although some from European lines may suffer from thyroid issues. Others may develop hip dysplasia, which is common with other large breeds, like the German shepherd, but is less prevalent in hovies.
Hovawart dog puppies
These large-breed puppies are relatively slow to develop, and a hovawart puppy isn't considered a fully grown adult until he reaches around 2 years of age. For this reason, it's best to feed your hovie a large-breed puppy diet until he is an adult to prevent rapid growth that could lead to joint issues. Expect that these dogs will be around 30 to 40 pounds when they are between 6 and 9 months old.