Kuvasz Vs Great Pyrenees - A Closer Look At These Guardian Dogs
Are you interested in a white, fluffy dog that’s also an amazing guardian? Then both the Kuvasz and the Great Pyrenees could be great options for you. These large dogs are smart, mischievous and passionately guard what’s theirs. The downside? They need consistent training and socialization, and might not do great with younger kiddos. To decide if either one of these dogs is a good fit, read today’s in-depth review.
Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa | Doctor Of Veterinary Medicine
Sara is Wileypup’s Veterinarian Adviser and helped compose this article to ensure the information is up to date and accurate. For more information on Sara click here
Interested in how the Kuvasz and/or Great Pyrenees shapes up against some other breeds? Check out our guides below:
Great Pyrenees vs Kuvasz: Similarities
Kuvasz vs Great Pyrenees: Differences
Kuvasz & Great Pyrenees: Their Origins
One of the main differences between the Kuvasz and the Great Pyrenees is their origin story. Both are ancient breeds, but while the Kuvasz is native to Hungary, the Great Pyrenees was mostly found in the Pyrenees Mountains in France.
The Kuvasz came to Hungary around the 13th century from Turkey and the Tibet. Since then, it became a favorite of Hungarian royalty.
These mighty dogs were initially bred as livestock guardians, hunting and herding dogs. King Mathias I of Hungary made the breed popular in the 15th century. He kept several dogs for company and as guardians.
Fun Fact: “King Mathias I of Hungary kept Kuvasz as personal protection dogs, and he trusted them more than he trusted his personal guards”
From then on, Kuvasz were popular in Hungary as beautiful working dogs. During VV1 and WW2, the breed almost went extinct. After the Hungarian occupation, German troops hunted and killed Kuvasz because they were fierce guardians of their homes and families. In fact, experts state that in the end of WW2 there were only 30 Kuvaszok in Hungary! 
Since then, the Kuvasz has been slowly recovering and is now the national Hungarian breed. Nevertheless, it’s still a rare sight outside of his land.
On the other hand, we have the Great Pyrenees. They descend from Mastiff-type dogs to protect dogs and chase away predators like wolves and bears. Their pure white coats allowed them to blend in with the sheep they guarded, making it easier to sneak up on predators.
“[Great Pyrenees are…] steadfast guardians usually exhibit a Zen-like calm, but they can quickly spring into action and move with grace and speed to meet a threat.” – American Kennel Club
Unlike the Kuvasz, the Great Pyrenees were found in the French mountains for centuries. In fact, archaeologists found fossil remains belonging to domesticated Great Pyrenees dating back to the year 3,000 BC! This breed probably descends from ancient Tibetan Mastiff and later incorporated lineages from Roman hounds from Spain.
The Great Pyrenees was bred to protect sheep from large predators like bears and wolves. As farming jobs dwindled with the First and Second World War, more Great Pyrenees dogs became family companions and pets.
What Do They Look Like?
This is one of the main similarities between these two breeds. Both the Kuvasz and the Great Pyrenees are big, white, fluffy dogs. Nevertheless, there are still some differences!
The Kuvasz is a large, sturdy dog with a double white coat. Although sometimes you might find ivory-colored dogs, pure white is more common. As for their coat, the Kuvasz have a plush double coat with a slightly coarse/wavy texture. They’re very muscular, but shouldn’t look bulky. Their wedge-shaped head and strong muzzle are one of the distinguishing features of this breed. Kuvaszok have broad, triangle-shaped ears that flop over their head.
On the other hand, Great Pyrenees have also very elegant lines. This breed is also fluffy and white, although some ivory or light beige markings can appear as well. They have a powerful muzzle, inherited from their mastiff ancestors . Their ears are smaller than those of the Kuvasz.
Other than that, these two dogs are quite similar and only true connoisseurs can easily distinguish the two.
PRO TIP: To tell apart these two breeds, looking at their coat’s texture is a good starting point. Kuvaszok have wavier hair, while Great Pyrenees have straight, polar bear-like strands.
Great Pyrenees and Kuvasz Dogs: Training & Behavior
These large, powerful dogs need consistent training and care to be great family pets. Their size and behavior makes them better suited for homes with large to very large backyards.
These two breeds are caring and loving, and want to make their families happy. For them, this means guarding their home, the kids and spending time together (after a hard day at work, of course). Nevertheless, they do behave somewhat differently.
First, we have the Great Pyrenees. They have a distinct tendency of working independently. Because of their guarding past, they are accustomed to being on their own for hours on end. Of course, they were focused on keeping their flock safe and keeping predators away, especially at night. Because of that, many Pyrenees owners report their dogs are very active in the middle of the night. This breed rarely barks, but when they do, it’s probably at night!
In contrast, Kuvaszok aren’t nocturnal animals. They do have guarding tendencies but prefer to have company (unlike the Great Pyrenees). Kuvaszok are very gentle and caring with their family. Nevertheless, they won’t show it like a Golden retriever would. This breed shows their love by supervising your home and guarding your family. They won’t be overly aggressive against visitors but will stay vigilant.
“The Kuvasz possesses keen intelligence and determination […] While these qualities make them wonderful companions, they can also challenge the novice dog owner.” – American Kennel Club
In spite of their differences, these two dogs are smart, loyal to their work, and family. Because of their working past, they are courageous, curious and devoted. Both the Great Pyrenees and the Kuvasz are energetic dogs and need daily exercise to be happy. Get ready for hour-long walks on a daily basis!
Since both of these are working breeds, they have lots of mental and physical energy to burn. That means you’ll have to provide ample exercise to keep them entertained. If not, you risk having a misbehaved, bored, potentially mouthy dog that will probably wreak havoc in your home.
Specific Training Needs
As we’ve already mentioned, both of these breeds are very smart and love to learn new things, on their own terms. As with all dogs, they respond better to positive training instead of punishment. Nevertheless, if you’re choosing either of them as family pets, their training will look slightly different.
In the case of the Great Pyrenees, their working past makes this a very independent dog. This breed doesn’t take orders well, especially when they consider it “dumb”. The goal with their training should be making them understand the benefits of good behavior.
PRO TIP: Although Great Pyrenees are very loving, you’ll probably have better results training them with food incentives rather than using only verbal praise.
On the other hand, Kuvaszok are very sensitive to praise and reprimand, so you should be careful when training them. Of course, they’ll need consistent training, especially as puppies. Nevertheless, a stern tone should be enough to correct unwanted behavior. This breed can also be uninterested in their training. You need to make sessions interesting, only teach them useful cues and let them understand you are the alfa in the relationship.
Fun Fact: “Kovasz are smart and get bored easily. You need to make training interesting for them.”
Kuvaszok can develop aggressive habits if you don’t provide proper training and exercise . Many people get rid of their Kuvasz once they grow up: this is the owner’s not the dog’s fault. You need to understand the character of the dog you’re adopting: they guard their home, their family and their things. It’s on you to provide adequate training and socialization!
Pro Tip: With giant breeds like these, it’s important to train mouthiness. It might look cute when they’re puppies; you won’t want an adult dog using their teeth while “playing”
With both of these dogs, socialization is key. Especially if you want to host guests or have small children, they need to get accustomed to the noise and fast movement. This is easier with young puppies, but adult dogs can also learn if you’re patient and gentle.
Health of the Kuvasz and Great Pyrenees
Because of their working past, these two dogs are usually healthy and strong throughout their lives. In general, if you choose one of these dogs they will be beloved companions from 10 to 12 years.
Nevertheless, there are still some health concerns you should be aware of. Like other large and giant breeds, they are prone to elbow and hip dysplasia , patellar luxation and cardiac conditions.
In particular, the Kuvasz can be slightly prone to von Willebrand’s disease . This disorder causes chronic blood clots to form. A responsible breeder will screen their litters to avoid passing on the disease.
On the other hand, Great Pyrenees don’t have specific health concerns other than bloat, which is very common among all large and giant breeds .
Which One Is Best For Your Family?
If you’re considering whether the Kuvasz or the Great Pyrenees is the best fit for your fam, it’s important to consider your lifestyle. Either of these two breeds will be a good fit if you:
The Kuvasz is a better choice if you
The Great Pyrenees is the best option for you if you
If you’re still unsure, you can check out our article on the Maremma Sheepdog vs the Great Pyrenees. It might offer interesting insights into a breed you might have not considered!
- American Kennel Club. Great Pyrenees. Extracted on May 2020, from [https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/great-pyrenees/]
- American Kennel Club. Kuvasz. Extracted on May 2020, from [https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/kuvasz/]
- K9 Web. Everything you need to know about the Kuvasz. Extracted on May 2020, from [https://www.k9web.com/breeds/kuvasz/]
- United Kennel Club. Great Pyrenees. Extracted on May 2020, from [https://www.ukcdogs.com/docs/breeds/great-pyrenees.pdf]
- United Kennel Club. Kuvasz. Extracted on May 2020, from [https://www.ukcdogs.com/docs/breeds/kuvasz.pdf]
Vedrana Nikolić (B.A. in Cultural Anthropology) - Professional Writer.
Vedrana is a writer, anthropologist & dog lover. Currently pursuing a Masters degree in Semiotics studying, among other things, the communication between animals and humans.
For more info on Vedrana click here