|Photo by Christel Janssen, from left to right, Biko, Lara and Aico|
What is it about the Hovawart that hooked me?
It was their personality. A Hovawart has a noble and self-aware aura. They are curious and intelligent. Sovereign and independent. Proud and strong. A prototype of a dog that does not want to please you. It takes more then a treat. Their strong and independent personality thrives on your respect. Your reward is respect in return. Give them consistency and fairness and you will have a unconditional partnership for life. Once you earned their respect you will also find them to be loyal and devoted. Devoted to you. Devoted to your family.
Hovawarts love to learn new things. Repetition bores them. They do a lot of thinking of their own down the road. Like when you are trying your 3rd "fetch it" in a row in the same training session. They will probably start to think it makes no sense doing things over and over again, and find something with more variation to do.
With the Hovawart you can only use training methods based on positive reinforcement. If training is based on punishment, they will block. They have the ability to think and act independently, and will turn away from you. Punishment doesn't belong in a relationship based on mutual respect. For them it is all about working with you, not for you.
The Hovawart is from origin a guarding dog. They were bred to defend, not to attack. They have been used and bred as working dogs, but were replaced by German shepherd dogs, Malinese, etc., as these dogs are easier to train and mature earlier. Hovawarts actually mature very late. First at an age of three years, a Hovawart is considered mentally "fully grown".
|Indy the "reading" Hovawart|
Actually, they are quite versatile and you'll find them participating in most types of sport, or "jobs", for dogs. Hovawarts are even used in different types of therapy work, like visiting the elderly or mentally disabled people, or supporting children with reading difficulties as reading-dogs.
If you are looking for a sport for your Hovawart to do and don't know where to start, consider anything that has to do with some type of nose work, they will love it. And they will love your for it.
And for the guarding dog part, you will not have to do anything for that, it comes with the package so to say.
Did I mention they are cute? It is difficult to pass by people and kids when you have a Hovawart, everybody wants to come over and hug that cute teddy bear you have on your leash.
|Tilde and Kenzo|
Blond Hovawarts are difficult to distinguish from golden retrievers. As black Hovawarts look almost the same as flat coated retrievers. General rule of thumb is that they are higher, have slimmer muzzle and are not as round headed as retrievers. So if you meet a big retriever, maybe you are looking at a Hovawart!
The Hovawart is an "old" and a "new" breed at the same time. Their ancestors come from medieval Germany, where they were used as rural guard dogs. They almost became extinct twice, but the last remaining individuals where saved and used to re-establish the breed. Being a newer breed, is thought to contribute to the fact they are not as prone to genetic diseases like other breeds, although also the Hovawart does have its issues.
Wait a minute
Before you are rushing out of the door to find yourself a Hovawart. Remember this:
- Take a leap of faith and check for adoptable Hovawarts before getting a puppy. There are always Hovawarts pups for adoption on "Hovawarte In Not"
- The Hovawart breed is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). To find a responsible breeder, you are on your own. Edie Jarolim wrote an article with some great tips on how to make sure you do just that: How to recognize a good dog breeder. And to add my own golden rule to Edie's tips: "Any doubt is out"
The original article was from October 2010, and updated in February 2017.