Dog trains man

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Forgotten Hovawarts

"Wildmarken" Hovawart, courtesy of
www.die-hovawart-familie.de
This good-looking boy on the picture to the left is a Hovawart too. Meet Rico, a "wildmarken" Hovawart.

What? you might think, did I not tell you on this blog they are either black, blond, or black-and-tan. True, I did. Let me explain what happened.

In short, what happened was the German Kennel Club and the FCI.

When the Hovawart was recognized as an official breed by the German Kennel Club in 1937 and in 1964 by the FCI, they did what they always do when they get a new breed on board. They defined the Hovawart based on a set of exterior characteristics, among others on color.

But the Hovawart was more a type of dog. And while in the 30's and 40's many of the enthusiastic breeders trying the re-establish the Hovawart roamed the country side for ancestors of the original dog while crossing them with breeds like Newfoundland, German Shepherd, Kuvacz and Leonberger's, a lot of differently colored Hovawarts had emerged.

"Blondmarken" Hovawart
They were either light-blond, darker-blond, bronze - even red -, and blond with black markings. Or the opposite, ranging from black, black with dark-blond markings, etc.

The whole idea of the Kennel Club and FCI starting to select on color was for some in sharp contrast with the original idea of the breeders to rediscover a dog that was well-balanced, independent and intelligent. A dog that could reach the ideal of the estate guard dogs mentioned in the ancient law text of Eike von Repgow, that saved his life.

The German zoologist Kurt F. König, that played such a central role in the Hovawarts' future, was one of those who was not pleased with all the attention. He remained active outside of the Kennel Club and FCI standards until his passing in 1975.

His third and last re-creation attempt resulted into the Hovawarts that we know now as "Wildmarken" and "Blondmarken". I couldn't find data on their exact roots. But my best guess would be based on the photo's, more Leonberger than the former attempts.

Nordmann, courtesy of www.working-dog.eu
The Hovawart stammzucht Interessen gemeinschaft (HST) still builds on this third line of König outside the control of the FCI. Their motto is: "a good dog cannot have a wrong color". They trace their Hovawarts back to among others the Hovawart Nordmann that was part of König's third line.

The "Wildmarken" and "Blondmarken" Hovawart originate from the same gene pool as the modern Hovawart and its off-spring can therefore carry all colors, also the ones accepted by the FCI: blond, black, and black-and-tan. When your scroll down on this page, you'll find a good overview of the different colors that exist and how they evolve from puppy to adulthood.

The HST meets opposition as they act outside the more or less regulated area of the FCI and other clubs. But the breeders are passionate about their dogs. Although they cannot show their dogs and win prizes on prestigious dog shows, they too carry the flame of the quest for the Hovawart that started it all.

Maybe forgotten by many today. But they are still here and ready to stay. Who knows what the future will bring for these forgotten Hovawarts? And what role they could play for the Hovawart breed as a whole on the longer term?
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4 comments

  1. Hey, considering most of my Hovawart knowledge has come from you, this is also news to me! Those are beautiful dogs.

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    Replies
    1. It has happened with other breeds too, I don't know of the Dobermann, but I will not be surprised you could find long lost family members out there as well.
      They are beauties! Wonder why the FCI never allowed them. To be continued no doubt.

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  2. Breed history is so fascinating. I have to fully support any group that takes the focus off coat colour and places it where it should be: health and temperament. The colour hardly makes a difference when it comes to the ideal Hovawart nature. Hopefully there are groups like this in other breeds as well, fighting behind the scenes. It would make for some interesting research.

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  3. Very interesting! The other color "combinations" of the Hovawart have always fascinated me. I've tried looking up information and pictures, but haven't been able to find anything, so thanks! :)

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