The translation of his name already tells one the most important task the Hovawart had to fulfill – that of “guardian of the property”.
The Hovawart belongs to a very old group of working dogs that were found all over the middle European and Mediterranean countries whose task it was to guard his master’s family and property against human and animal aggressors. Therefore he had to be of medium height, strong rather than fast, as his task was supervising and controlling not herding. He had to do this independently so he needed a good measure of self-reliance and a good sense of discrimination.
An old breed from the Harz and Black Forest regions of Germany, Hovawarts were used and bred by the Barons of Germany as reliable watch dogs and guardians of the flocks, castles and farms. Although the Hovawart is of very old ancestry, he did not survive as a breed but more as a type and his resurrection was due to the breed’s modern day founder, zoologist Dr. K. Konig, who began his work shortly after the First World War.
Kurt Konig decided to revive the breed based on descriptions and drawings of the Hovawart of the middle ages. He searched for dogs from the Herz and Odenwald areas that resembled their original descriptions and together with a few other breeders crossed these Hovawarts and Hovawart types with the old German Shepherd dogs, the Kuvacz, Newfoundlands, Leonberger cross Bernese Mountain dogs and an African Hunting dog. In 1922 the first litter was registered in Germany.
The Second World War put an end to breeding and great numbers were lost or killed. However, in 1947 the remnants of enthusiasts of the Hovawart joined together and the German Hovawart Club was formed.
Hovawarts first appeared in the UK in 1980 and their numbers have increased slowly, numbers currently being about 310. A breed club was formed in 1982 and holds full Kennel Club recognition.
The Hovawart is a naturally beautiful dog and no part of him is exaggerated. Three colours are permitted: Blonde, Black, and Black and Gold. All colours can occur in the same litter depending on the colours of the ancestors.
Hovawarts are medium sized, impressive but not heavy, with drop ears and a longish coat. Dogs and bitches are visibly different in their appearance and size.
Height; Dogs 63-70 cm. Bitches 58-65 cm.
Weight; Dogs 35-45 kg. Bitches 28-35 kg.
Hovawarts are hardy dogs, inured to all weather, intrepid, watchful, agile, not nervous, affectionate, intelligent and naturally obedient. They retain their lively good natured puppyhood until they are at least two years old. They have quick and enquiring minds and need the minimum of a garden to keep them occupied. Some form of mental exercise is recommended and socialisation in puppyhood is essential. Hovawarts enjoy obedience and agility training at an appropriate age.
Their most important asset however is their stable temperament. They are and should remain a family dog or working companion and are certainly not suited to a kennel life. Not quarrelsome or possessive but of great courage and faithfulness, they are not easily excitable and are usually dignified in manner. However, if roused Hovawarts will defend themselves with all that they have. They can be willful and dominant towards other dogs but are not easily provoked.
The Hovawart was and still is bred to be a reliable companion for all kinds of work, be it the guardian of the property, agility, working trials, rescue, etc. They love above all to do something with or for their owner.
Finally a Hovawart is a friendly dog that does not forget his friends or his enemies – once a friend, always a friend, in the mind of a Hovawart!