If you have seen The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, you may have noticed a mop or two sauntering around the ring. Well, they are not mops. They are two unique breeds of dogs that are only for experienced dog owners. There a primarily two kinds that look like mops, the Komondor, and the Puli.
The Puli is the mini-me of the Komondor, though they have very different temperaments. Pulik (plural of Puli) tend to be a little easier to handle and easier going while Komondorok are much more of a challenge. This is in my humble opinion. I feel that having that much extra weight can make them difficult to handle if training is not properly addressed early on, whereas a naughty Puli is easy to pick up. Pulik are much smaller than Komondor, and live a bit longer. Pulik tend to live 12-16 years, and Komondorok live 10-12 years.
Do not be fooled by Animal Planet’s guides to these two dogs. They are both very difficult to train and are only for an experienced owner. I always tell people that I feel fully prepared to have a herd of children after having a Kom! My best description of these dogs is a manipulative toddler trapped in a mop body until they are two years old. After two, they start to behave more, and you can trust them in your home alone. Of course, I mean this with love. Please contact a reputable dog trainer such as Nassau County dog training Canine Commander if you have any questions or need help with training any dog, not just a Komondor.
Before I got a Komondor people always told me I had no idea what I was getting myself into, I completely agree with them now. If you are interested in either of these breeds, meet one before you buy one! Moreover, if you do decide to buy one make sure you get it from a reputable breeder. Both breeds are prone to different ailments such as hip and eye problems. A good breeder will be able to provide you with test results of the puppies and the parents.
Komondorok males weigh 100 plus pounds, and females 80 plus pounds. Ghost is just over a year old and is at 87 pounds, and I expect him to gain at least another 30. I have heard of Komondorok in Hungary, their originating country, weighing 165 pounds! This is not uncommon. Expect your Kom to weigh more than the average. A small Kom is pretty uncommon (get it?). Komondorok mature later than most dogs, achieving their full weight around 1.5-2 years old, and females getting their first heat around 18 months.
Now you are probably wondering about their coat. Does it hurt them? No, it does not! I get stopped in pet shops all the time with people wondering about him. Their cords are very similar to human dreadlocks. It would hurt if it was one huge mat, but their hair is separated into individual cords, not to exceed 2 inches in diameter. Any larger than this and the skin does not get enough air, and the cords can pull on the skin like a regular mat. Some people shave their Komondorok, but mostly only dogs that are used for livestock guarding. Any show dog has to have cords. Ideal cords are about a half inch in diameter, any smaller and you run the risk of having them break off. Cords take a very long time to grow, and it can be very irritating to have all of your hard work fall off!
Both breeds are very prone to skin problems, which brings me to bathing. This is by far the hardest dog to groom I have ever seen. Bath time takes all day, sometimes two. Keeping them white is nearly impossible; most show dogs wear suit type things to keep their cords clean. Naturally, the Komondor seems to be attracted to mud. It is Ghost’s favorite activity in fact which makes keeping him clean very hard. Thankfully we do not to shows! Komondorok should only be bathed two times per year to minimize the risks to their skin, so we do a lot of paw and face washing instead of all of him at once.
Think of their cords as sponges. How would you wash a sponge? You have to squish it. A lot. (Their cords float on water!) So bathing works best if you have a large bath tub with a shower head attachment. I fill the tub and let his cords soak until they are nice and went, and then I suds him up with a whitening shampoo. I let the shampoo sit for as long as I can, but Ghost usually starts getting antsy around the half hour mark. Then rinse, rinse, and rinse some more. And then some more. One more time! Getting all of the shampoo out is imperative for skin health.
After that, it is drying time. Many people invest in circular dryers, but a few box fans work just as well in my opinion. First we have to squeeze out his cords until they no longer drip. Let gravity work to your advantage! By the time I am done with this, it is usually mid evening, so I give Ghost his dinner and put him in his kennel with box fans on all sides. His kennel is huge and is pretty much just thick wire attached to a plastic base, but it works very well for getting air to all sides of him. Make sure the air hits your dog no matter where he/she lays down. I leave him in his kennel overnight and then let him out to potty in the morning, and put him back in with his breakfast until around noon, at which point he is usually dry. Do not use a human hair dryer! It can easily overheat your dog.
Now keep in mind, this is the very abbreviated version of bath time. I can get into much more detail about how to separate their cords, icky molding (not kidding!), ears, etc., but this is a snapshot of the Komondor in general. If you are interested in learning more, check out Sara Abraham’s videos on YouTube about bathing.
Lastly, I’d like to touch on the fact that both the Komondor and Puli are guard dogs. I leave my doors unlocked in a large metropolitan city because no one dares come into my home. Their cords were originally for guarding purposes, not for show, as bears and wolves could not bite through them when they were guarding their flock. This guarding instinct can be a great thing, but can also be very bad if they are not properly socialized. They need to figure out who is good and who is bad, according to you. Not them! If you do not socialize them at an early age, they will decide for you and will not let anyone into you home, friend or burglar.
The Komondor Club of America’s website is very helpful, and they have a detailed history of the breed in their Judge’s Education section. They also have a list of reputable breeders and rescues. For information about training, contact Nassau County dog training Canine Commander today.