The Hovawart has its roots traced back as early as the 13th Century when it was first documented in 1210 when Germans were being besieged by Slavic invaders. It was also mentioned in 1274 in the Schwabenspiegel, a German code of law where it was stated that a Hovawart killed or stolen should be replaced and pay restitution for. It was described by Heinrich Mynsinger in 1473 as one of the “five noble breeds” where one of its supposed uses was to track robbers and other law breakers. At the turn of the 20th Century and with the rising popularity of other German guard and watch dogs, the Hovawart population slowly began to decline until it almost became extinct. However, thanks to a group of breed enthusiasts lead by zoologist Kurt Friedrich Koenig, a careful breeding program was established which slowly brought back the Hovawart numbers to a good level. The first Hovawart litter was registered in the German Breed Registry in 1922 and was officially recognised by the German Kennel Club in 1937.
Like the other working dogs, the Hovawart is a versatile companion and working breed. It is highly adaptable, devoted, confident, lively, and hard-wearing. Those who have owned a Hovawart described it as a kind dog with an even temperament, loyal to its master, confident, audacious, tolerant and composed, neither shy nor aggressive. It is an outstanding watch dog, somewhat reserved towards people it is not familiar with. It is an excellent family companion that is very devoted and loyal. However, the ideal owner of this breed should have prior experiences in owning and training a dog with similar temperament because the Hovawart is not suitable as a pet for first-time dog owners.
As one of Germany’s working breeds, the Hovawart is fairly easy to train. It does exceptionally well in tracking and working activities as well as in search and rescue operations. Training the Hovawart especially in obedience should be done in a firm and gentle manner with positive reinforcement to get the best out of the breed. It is not quite as easy to train compared to the other German working dogs because it is not as eager to please as the others, so proper motivation is highly recommended to get the dog to do what is commanded of him. It has the ability to think and act independently and its strong guarding instinct means that it doesn’t require any real training when it comes to this ability. It already runs in the blood because this is what it was developed for.
Hovawart is one of those dog breeds that is easy to take care of. Its main function as a working dog (as opposed to a show dog) means that it should not be excessively groomed. It has a medium-length coat that needs thorough combing or brushing once or two times a week. This breed has a very thin undercoat which makes the dog almost self-cleaning and which makes grooming so much easier. It sheds very little to none at all and the coat does not form mats. Combing helps remove loose dead hair and helps in proper blood circulation which makes the skin healthy and the coat shiny. Bathe the Hovawart only when necessary (i.e. when the coat becomes really dirty or smells unpleasant).
The following are known possible health issues that affect the Hovawart:
This breed is a very energetic dog which requires a considerable amount of exercise. Taking the dog for regular, long walks on a daily basis with an opportunity to run and play off-lead are the best exercise routines for the Hovawart which will keep the dog fit both physically and mentally. As a true working dog, it will also benefit the Hovawart if given the chance to go on hiking or backpacking in the wilderness or participating in dog sports such as agility, herding trials, Schutzhund, obedience training and tracking. Young puppies, however, should not be subjected to vigorous exercises because this may lead to injuries and bone and joint problems in the future.
The Hovawart is a loyal and devoted family pet, very affectionate with the whole family and is excellent with children. It is typically a one-person dog but this docile pet goes quite along well with everyone, including other dogs in the house. Its natural born instinct to guard makes it wonderful with children of any age. Early socialisation to as many experiences as possible as a young puppy is highly recommended in order to raise a well-balanced dog.