Let's talk Hovawarts

Powerfully built with a watchful, noble character to match, the Hovawart is an exceptional dog in so many ways. Little known outside of their native Germany, Hovawarts were bred as guard dogs. Undoubtedly devoted to their humans – this is a dog that will defend you, no canine questions asked. Hovawarts are a dog for life, such is their unbending allegiance to home and all those in it, especially the head of household (this is a working dog, after all). The dynamic, independent yet well-mannered Hovawart dog makes a wonderful companion.

Official name: Hovawart

Origins: Germany

Black and white portrait of a Hovawart
 Drooling tendencies   Warm weather?  Medium
 Shedding level  Medium Suited to apartment living?   
 Physical activity needs High Kid-friendly?
 Compatibility with other pets  High Can stay alone?  

We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Inline Image 15
Illustration of a Hovawart
63 - 70 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
29 - 40 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight
58 - 65 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
29 - 40 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight


 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 15 months
 Adult age  15 months to 5 years
 Mature age  5 to 8 years
 Senior age  From 8 years

Beige Hovawart standing alert in front of a row of corn


Get to know the Hovawart

All you need to know about the breed

A solid powerhouse of a dog physically, the Hovawart is a combination of brawn and brains, with a whole lot of long, luscious fur thrown in for good measure. Supreme watchdogs, the breed is also known to be rather easygoing and all about their humans. There is also an air of mischief inherent in the self-confident, curious Hovawart breed, evident as they bound around their garden or farm exploring every nook and cranny.

The Hovawart possesses a sharp intellect and equally sharp guarding instincts (they are wary of strangers). They can also have a tendency to dominate – this is a big dog with big confidence - which means that early obedience classes and socialisation will help instill the best canine manners. Boldness is in their nature, as is a certain strong-willed vibe, so Hovawarts need a loving yet firm owner to ensure they are trained as much as you would like them to be. They definitely need to feel invested (think treats). Hovawarts excel where courage is concerned, and are commonly used as part of Search and Rescue teams.

This good-natured, affectionate breed savours as much time with their family as they can get and makes an excellent family dog once trained, giving as good as they get on the snuggle front.

A beige and a black Hovawart puppy sat on a rock


2 facts about Hovawarts

1. Maybe. I’ll let you know.

Working dogs usually have a strong desire for praise from their masters when it comes to training. Not so much the Hovawart. Unusually, they aren’t that fussed about pleasing their owners – don’t get us wrong, they are devoted and incredibly affectionate. They’re just not that into training for the sake of a smile. Treats or rewards, yes. Just make sure any food treats come out of your Hovawart’s daily kibble portion for optimal health.

2. What’s in a name?

No matter which source you use, the translation of the Hovawart’s name from the old German pretty much tells us what the dog was bred to do. “Guardian of the estate”, “guard of the farm”, “farm watchman”…you get the idea. With their booming bark – which they only really use when necessary - and on-the-lookout demeanour, the Hovawart is an exceptional guard dog, especially for their humans.


History of the breed

Originally bred to guard castles, homesteads and flocks in the Black Forest and Harz regions of Germany, the Hovawart has both old ancestry and recent. There are records of the original Hovawart standing their own against Slavic invaders and saving lives in the 13th century. The breed, however esteemed, nearly died out post-medieval times, only revived thanks to local enthusiasts around 1915.

What is unclear is whether they found real Hovawarts on local farms or dogs that seemed to fit the description – either way, they crossed these dogs with Newfoundlands, German Shepherds, Leonbergers, Kuvaszok, a Bernese Mountain Dog and an African hunting dog to arrive at the Hovawart we know and love today, the first litter of which was welcomed in 1922.

The breed nearly became extinct again in World War II, like many breeds. Yet somehow the first German Hovawart Club was formed in 1947, with the first Hovawarts appearing in the UK in 1980 (and granted United Kennel Club recognition in 1996). They are commonly used in Search and Rescue missions with great success.

Black and white portrait of a Hovawart


From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Hovawarts

1. Coat

Long, double coat, close and a little wavy. Sparse undercoat.

2. Head

Muzzle and skull are around the same length.

3. Colouring

Can be black with gold markings, solid black, or blond (light fawn).

Sat Hovawart sat looking directly at the camera


Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Hovawart
Black Hovawart bounding along a row of hay


Caring for your Hovawart

Grooming, training and exercise tips

With their flowing double coat, long fur on the outside and a shorter soft undercoat, your Hovawart will need twice-weekly brushing to keep shine in and knots at bay. Switch to daily brushing during shedding seasons or when their outdoor time includes brambles and undergrowth – or water! Nails should be trimmed regularly and teeth brushed often to ward off tartar buildup. A monthly visit to the groomers will keep your Hovawart looking sharp and feeling comfortable. A Hovawart requires moderate to high amounts of exercise each day to burn off their livewire energy, with up to 3 hours a day as the recommended time. This can be long walks, running with their favourite human, even play time or agility training. They also enjoy having jobs to do – this is a working breed after all. Training your Hovawart will require patience. Quite intelligent and strong-willed, this breed will respond best to training given with firm but kind consistency, plenty of positive reinforcement, and a sense of humour.


All about Hovawarts

A generally affable breed all around, Hovawarts are really good with children, once trained. They are devoted to their human families and are terrific guard dogs, too. As with any breed, children shouldn’t be left unsupervised for any length of time with dogs. Also, as the Hovawart is a big energetic dog, they could accidentally knock over smaller children.

Hovawart dogs aren’t known to be particularly barky though they will use their booming voice to alert you to any visitors – or intruders! But they don’t tend to express themselves without reason.


1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/