Meet the Breed: The Hovawart



  • Height: 23" - 28”
  • Weight: 55 - 90 pounds
  • Historical function: Property and livestock guard
  • Modern function: Farm dog, search and rescue, companion
  • AKC classification: Foundation Stock Service, working designation

Physical Characteristics:

The Hovawart very much resembles a Golden Retriever, particularly the blond variation. This is a medium to large-sized dog with a powerful build. The females are generally lighter in build. They are slightly longer than tall at the withers. The muzzle is about the same length as the skull with a defined stop. The medium oval-shaped eyes are brown. The triangular ears are drop. The weatherproof double coat is long and thick, slightly wavy. The hair is longer on the chest, abdomen, backs of the legs and tail. The Hovawart comes in three colors: blond, black, and black and tan.

History of the Breed:

Hovawart is German and means "guardian of the property". It is one of the oldest breeds that still exists today possibly originating in the Bronze Age. The earliest written references to the breed was in 1210 when a Hovawart saved a German lord's infant son after the castle was invaded and the occupants killed. Though the dog himself was injured, he managed to drag the baby to a neighboring estate. This young boy, Eike von Repkow, grew up to become a legendary figure in the history of German law, making it a severe crime to steal or kill a Hovawart, requiring restitution.

Over the centuries, the Hovawart became less popular and replaced with other German breeds. By the end of the last century, the Hovawarts were almost extinct. During the 1920's a group of enthusiasts started to revive the breed with a strict breeding program. In 1937, the Hovawart was officially recognized as a breed in Germany.


The Hovawart is alert, faithful, trustworthy, extremely intelligent, fun loving, and stubborn. A Hovawart likes to have a meaningful job to do, or he will use his creative nature to find one. It is important to realize that the Hovawart works with people and not for people. They take approximately two years to mature. Currently Hovawarts in North America are participating in search and rescue organizations, therapy dog activities, obedience trials, agility trials, flyball and service dog training. They do like children and make good family companions. They bond very closely, which is where their protective nature comes from. Just be sure your Hovawart knows his place in the family or he will assume the alpha role.

  • Best suited for: An experienced dog owner. This highly intelligent dog requires a large investment in training to get the best out of him. Not suitable for apartment living.
  • Preferred living conditions: This large dog requires room and needs at least a medium-sized yard.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Easy-care coat requires occasional brushing and combing. This breed sheds moderately.
  • Exercise needs: Daily long walk and meaningful work.
  • Life expectancy: 14-15 years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to having an underactive thyroid in European lines.

Breed Club Links: Hovawart Club of America Perfect Pairings: Hurtta Padded Dog Y-Harness

Have any stories about a Hovawart? Please share!

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

This entry was posted by Mary.
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