Hovawarts are loyal working dogs that originate from Germany; the name Hovawart actually means guardian of the homestead (or farm). Hovawarts are large in size, powerful and protective of their home and family. Although they are protective when they need to be, Hovawart dogs are known for being calm, confident and alert. Hovawarts make excellent family dogs but they enjoy being busy and having a job to do. The Hovawart is a well-balanced dog that resembles other retriever breeds including the Golden Retriever.
The Hovawart breed is well-balanced and has a similar appearance to the Golden Retriever and other retriever breeds. They are strong, powerful dogs and the male Hovawart dogs are larger than the females. Hovawarts have deep muzzles, well-developed nostrils and medium-sized brown eyes. This breed always has an intelligent and alert look in their eyes. Hovawarts have triangular ears that hang loosely but are carried slightly forward when the dog is alert or excited.
Hovawarts have a deep chest and a tucked up belly giving an overall athletic appearance. Their legs are well muscled and powerful and the Hovawart have compact feet with arched toes and thick pads. Hovawart dogs have long tails that they carry over their backs when they are on the move.
The coat of the Hovawart is long, dense and can be either straight or wavy. The Hovawart’s hair is noticeably short on their head and the front of their legs. Hovawart dogs are usually black, blonde or black and gold in colour.
How big do Hovawart dogs get?
Height - Males: 63 - 70cm, Females: 58 - 65cm
Weight - Males: 30 - 40kg, Females: 30 - 40kg
Hovawarts are highly intelligent, outgoing dogs that are eager to please and easy to train. Hovawart dogs love to be around their family and are known for being playful and mischievous at times. As the Hovawart breed is traditionally a working dog they have a lot of energy so love to go for long walks. The Hovawart is also a great breed choice if you are looking for a protective and dependable guard dog that will let you know when something suspicious is going on.
Are Hovawart dogs intelligent? Yes
Are Hovawart dogs affectionate? Yes
Do Hovawart dogs have high or low energy levels? High energy levels (5/5)
Are Hovawart dogs loyal? Yes
Are Hovawart dogs playful? Yes
Are Hovawart dogs aggressive? No
Are Hovawart dogs easy to train? Yes, although they do better with short training sessions
Are Hovawart dogs good guard dogs? Yes, they are natural watchdogs and are always alert
Hovawart dogs are highly social and don’t have a high prey drive, meaning they tend to get along well with other pets that they have grown up around. The friendly nature of the Hovawart means they are good with other dogs too. Hovawarts are good with children but they can be a bit boisterous at times so could accidentally knock a child over. The Hovawart is naturally suspicious of people they don’t know and would rather keep their distance until they have determined whether they need to stand their ground and protect their family and home.
Do Hovawart dogs get along with other pets? Yes, they tend to get along with other pets that they have grown up with.
Do Hovawart dogs get along with other dogs? Yes, they are very social and friendly with other dogs
Are Hovawart dogs good with kids? Yes
Are Hovawart dogs good with strangers? They will usually keep their distance from people they don’t know
Hovawart dogs are well suited to first time owners and ideally need to live in a home with a good-sized garden. Due to the sensitive nature of the Hovawart, they do best in more rural environments where they have more space to roam. Hovawarts can get bored easily, they can be left alone for short periods of time but not all day. Overall, Hovawart dogs are adaptable and people-orientated so they do well in most situations as long as they get enough physical and mental stimulation.
Are Hovawart dogs good for first-time owners? Yes, as long as they have enough time to dedicate to this high energy breed
Are Hovawart dogs hypoallergenic? No
Are Hovawart dogs prone to drooling? No
Are Hovawart dogs a good breed for apartment living? No, they need access to a secure garden
Do Hovawart dogs shed a lot? No
Do Hovawart dogs bark a lot? Yes, some of them bark a lot
Can Hovawart dogs be left alone at home? Yes, for short periods
Can Hovawart dogs handle the heat? Yes
Can Hovawart dogs handle cold temperatures? Yes
Are Hovawart dogs sensitive to loud noises? Yes
The average lifespan of a Hovawart is 10 - 14 years. Although these dogs are generally healthy there are a few hereditary health problems they are more prone to so are worth knowing about:
Hip dysplasia - this is a painful condition caused by the abnormal development of the hip joints. Treatment options include exercise management, physiotherapy, medication and surgery.
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) - this is a disease that causes the heart muscle to become weak. While it isn’t curable the condition can be managed with medication. Dilated cardiomyopathy usually develops over time and symptoms include low energy, fainting, exercise intolerance and a heart murmur. The condition can be diagnosed with an ECG, an ultrasound scan, X-rays or blood tests.
Degenerative Myelopathy - this is a condition that causes nerves in the lower spine to stop working properly resulting in weakness and paralysis of the back legs. This is not painful but tends to impact a dog’s quality of life as the condition progresses.
Osteochondritis dissecans - this is a joint disorder that commonly affects the shoulder, knee, hip or elbow. It develops in young dogs, often between 6 - 9 months old and is more common in male dogs.
Hypothyroidism - symptoms of hypothyroidism include low energy, weight gain and fur loss. The condition is caused by underactive thyroid glands but medication is available to replace missing hormones.
Bloat - this is considered a medical emergency so if you notice your dog has bloat (a swollen belly) contact a vet immediately.
How long do Hovawart dogs live? 10 - 14 years
Hovawart dogs are high energy and need lots of daily exercise. As a working dog, the Hovawart has a lot of stamina and is well suited to long walks. Leisurely walks in the countryside or park are good for Hovawart dogs and ideally, they should spend most of this time off lead. Hovawarts should also have access to a secure garden where they can play and roam freely.
How much exercise does a Hovawart dog need? At least 2 hours per day
Do Hovawart dogs like water play? Yes, they love swimming and playing in water
Hovawarts are not prone to weight gain but it is important they receive the right amount of food each day based on their age, build, health and activity level. As Hovawart dogs have been known to experience bloat, it is best to feed them a couple of smaller portions each day rather than one big meal. It is also worth getting a food stand so they don’t have to stretch their necks down to eat.
A Hovawart puppy needs between 265 - 625g of dry food per day, split into 3 - 4 portions. The actual amount will depend on the individual puppy, their age and their build. As this is just an estimate and every dog is unique it is important to have a personal dietary plan made.
Are Hovawart dogs prone to weight gain? No
How much should I feed a Hovawart puppy? Between 265 - 625g of good quality dry food per day depending on the puppy’s age and build
How much should I feed an adult Hovawart dog? Between 285 - 600g of good quality dry food per day depending on their weight, build and activity level
Grooming: Hovawart dogs have long, thick double coats that shed moderately year round. To keep the coat of the Hovawart in good condition it is best to brush them a few times a week. This helps to remove tangles, dirt and any loose hair. The Hovawart also need to have their ears and teeth checked and cleaned on a regular basis and their nails trimmed as required.
Emotional Care: The Hovawart is a loyal and intelligent dog that is full of energy. The breed needs lots of exercise and mental stimulation each day to prevent them from getting bored. Hovawarts do best with short, interesting but consistent training sessions as this will help to keep them focussed and eager to please. The Hovawart dog is happy when they have something to do so it is important to take them for long walks where they can explore and let off steam. If a Hovawart does not get enough mental and physical stimulation they will become bored and may exhibit destructive behaviours around the house.
History of the Hovawart
The Hovawart is an ancient breed that was bred to guard livestock during the Middle Ages. The breed was almost extinct by the beginning of the 20th century but was recreated at the end of the First World War by Dr Kurt Konig. Dr Konig found similar looking dogs in the regions the Hovawarts were known to be (possibly surviving individuals of the originally Hovawart breed) and used these for his breeding programme. He bred them with Newfoundlands, German Shepherds and other breeds to produce a dog that looked like the Hovawarts seen in paintings and drawings.
It is only recently that the Hovawart breed was introduced to the UK but they remain rare outside of Germany. In Germany Hovawarts are popular family pets. It is quite common for Hovawarts to be mistaken for other retrievers as they look similar.
Hovawart means “guardian of the homestead”
Hovawarts were first bred in the Black Forest and Harz region of Germany
Hovawarts were bred to guard castles, estates and livestock
The Hovawart breed existed in the Middle Ages
The story of Eike of Repgow mentioned the Hovawart in 1220
If you are ready to bring a puppy home take a look at our buying guide for advice on finding and buying a puppy. Buying anything online comes with risks and it is important to be aware of scams and bad practises when looking for your new dog. To make things easier, all breeders on Puppies have been vetted to ensure they are responsible. Head over to our Hovawart puppy page to find dogs available in your local area.
How much does a Hovawart cost to buy? £1000 - £1800
How much does a Hovawart cost to feed? £55 per month
How much does insurance for a Hovawart cost? £40 per month
As there are not many Hovawart puppies available in the UK, an alternative option is to adopt a Hovawart. We recommend speaking to your local rescue centre or contacting the associations below: