I’m writing this article the day my youngest dog finished her championship. She already had performance titles in agility, rally, and obedience and had passed a temperament test with flying colors. She is now what many would call a “well-balanced dog,” because she has titles at both ends of her name. She has proven that she meets the requirements to be a champion of record, while also excelling in performance venues.
She is far from the only Kuvasz to do this. However, well-balanced Kuvasz are still the exception rather than the rule. Why is that?
In general, someone wanting to excel in performance events doesn’t look to the Kuvasz as their first choice. Kuvasz were bred for centuries to be independent, thinking dogs and to act with decisiveness. That means that their trainers need to be patient, imaginative, and truly dedicated to the long-term success of their partnership. This leaves the creation of well-balanced dogs to the true lovers of the breed—the people who love the breed first and enjoy building the incredible relationship that only comes with the level of teamwork and communication necessary to succeed in performance venues. It is a big undertaking, and many people don’t do it, for a variety of reasons.
However, this is a very exciting time for performance events. There are new events that Kuvasz owners can participate in, including carting, barn hunt, coursing, and nose work. In some cases, these events don’t require months or years of training or special equipment but allow the handler and dog to have a new, broadening experience, and by all accounts an incredibly fun time. Coursing and barn hunt appeal to the prey drive and scenting ability of the dogs. These are things that should be instinctual to this breed. Nose work should also come naturally to our dogs, but this does require training. Carting requires training and equipment, but the dogs seem to really enjoy having a job and take to it quite well.
There are many other performance opportunities for Kuvasz and their handlers to engage in. AKC agility is designed to appeal to a broad swath of breeds and in addition to the regular classes also offers preferred classes, where the dogs jump lower heights and have more time to complete the course. In obedience, there are now many more intermediate classes offered. This results in a much more gradual transition from Novice to Open to Utility. You can practice the skills necessary for the next level with a reduced level of difficulty and build confidence in the ring. Tracking, while requiring some space and the time to invest in training, doesn’t require a lot of specialized equipment. Additional tracking tests have been added to cater to those living in cities and suburbia. And rally continues to be a great option for Kuvasz and their owners.
So, the moral is that having a Kuvasz who both meets the standard and can achieve performance titles is a wonderful thing. It’s up to those of us whose first love is of the breed but who want to participate in activities that highlight these incredible dogs while enhancing our relationship with them.
Please join me in creating more well-balanced Kuvasz!
—L.M. (January 2015), Kuvasz Club of America