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Hovawart: Info, Pictures, Facts & Traits

Written by: Kathryn Copeland

Last Updated on May 24, 2024 by Dogster Team

Hovawart dog in the forest

Hovawart: Info, Pictures, Facts & Traits

With a name like Hovawart, this dog can only be from Germany! Pronounced “Hoe-va-vart,” the breed is protective and has a dominant personality but is also loving and beautiful.

Here, we get into the details of this German dog, which can help paint a picture of what it’s like to make the Hovawart a part of your family.

Breed Overview


23–28 inches


65–90 pounds


10–14 years


Black, blonde, or black with gold markings

Suitable for:

Active families or singles, experienced owners, house with a large, fenced yard


Loyal, alert, intelligent, protective, stubborn, confident, fearless, even-tempered

The Hovawart was bred in Germany around 1220 to guard livestock and estates. Sadly, this version of the breed is no longer around, having died out after WWI. The Hovawart today was essentially recreated and is considered a newer breed.

These large dogs look similar to the Golden Retriever with their double-coated, medium-length wavy hair. They can be blonde, which adds to the reason that they are often confused with Goldens, but they can also be all black or a combination of black and a reddish-tan color.

Hovawart Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Hovawart Puppies

hovawart puppy walking in the lawn
Image Credit: Michal Ninger, Shutterstock

The Hovawart is relatively popular in Germany and other Scandinavian countries but less so in countries outside of Europe. So, if you live in North America, you’re unlikely to find a breeder unless they’re willing to fly one of their puppies to your location. If you decide to go this route, you must find an ethical breeder to avoid backyard breeders and puppy mills. Ask questions that you know a responsible breeder would be willing and able to answer.

We typically prefer to recommend the adoption of dogs in need, but you won’t be able to find a Hovawart at your local animal shelter or rescue group unless you’re in Germany.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Hovawart🧠

The Hovawart is exceptionally intelligent and quite an active breed. Since they were bred to guard property, they are excellent guard dogs: They have strong protective tendencies and are fearless! They tend to be wary of strangers until they become accustomed to them, which is another quality that makes them the perfect working dog.

But while Hovawarts are working dogs through and through, they are also affectionate and gentle toward their families. They are also known to excel in search and rescue and as therapy dogs.

mother hovawart dog with her puppies
Image Credit: Michal Ninger, Shutterstock

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Hovawarts make excellent family dogs! They are playful and gentle with children, but it’s important to note that young children must be supervised at all times and not left alone with the dog, even if you trust them.

You must also teach your children how to be gentle and respectful of the dog, which means they should never be ridden like a horse or put up with having their ears and tail pulled. One way of teaching children about respect is to include them in caring for the dog.

The Hovawart must be socialized with the children from a young age. They’ll consider your kids as a part of their pack, which also means they will be quite protective of them.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽 

If socialized well and raised alongside other pets, the Hovawart should get along quite well with them. There might be dominance issues with other dogs, particularly if they are the same sex. Still, the Hovawart can be trained and socialized enough to handle these interactions.

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Things to Know When Owning a Hovawart

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Your Hovawart should be fed high-quality food that supports their current age and weight but is also formulated for a high-energy dog. Discuss with your vet how much you should feed your pup, and get their input on the best food brands. Dog treats are fine, but remember that treats are meant to be given only on occasion (besides during training) and should only constitute 10% of your dog’s diet.

Not enough stress can be placed on the importance of water! All dogs must have access to fresh and clean water at all times.

hovawart dog sitting on the rock
Image Credit: Michal Ninger, Shutterstock

Exercise 🐕

The Hovawart is an active dog and requires a minimum of a 1-hour walk daily, in addition to plenty of opportunities for full-on runs and playtime. This dog is energetic and needs multiple opportunities to burn off that energy, so people who love being outdoors can be the best owners of this breed.

Since the Hovawart is intelligent, they also need mental exercise opportunities, which involve playtime and other activities that they enjoy. You can teach them new tricks, enroll them in rally, obedience, and agility tasks, and find fun activities that you can do indoors.

Training 🦮

Training the Hovawart can be easy to a degree, but it’s also a job for experienced dog owners. They are eager to please their owners and quite intelligent, but they also can take up to 2 years to fully mature. Since they are so smart, they are prone to being stubborn and quick to determine what course of action they should take without proper guidance from you.

Always use positive reinforcement and never use harsh disciplinary actions. This will only scare them and make them lose their trust in you.

Grooming ✂️

The Hovawart has a double coat, but unlike many other double-coated breeds, their undercoat isn’t that thick. However, since they have a longer outer coat, they should be brushed several times a week to prevent tangles and mats. During the spring and fall shedding seasons, you might want to brush them more frequently. Daily might be best.

This breed only needs a bath every 6 weeks or when necessary. Just ensure that you use a good dog shampoo. Dogs have sensitive skin, and it will become dry if they are bathed too often or with a shampoo not meant for dogs.

Since the Hovawart has longer ears, you’ll need to check them weekly for ear infections and clean them about once a month. You’ll also need to brush their teeth daily and trim their nails about every 3–4 weeks.

hovawart dog running with stick on its mouth
Image Credit: Michal Ninger, Shutterstock

Health and Conditions❤️

For a large breed, the Hovawart is surprisingly healthy! A common health condition that can afflict large breeds is hip dysplasia; fortunately, in the Hovawart, the cases are less than 5%, which is a very low rate!

But while the Hovawart is a healthy breed, there is always the potential for issues to crop up, so it’s important to be aware of these.

Minor Conditions
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Sebaceous adenitis
Serious Conditions
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Hip dysplasia

Male vs. Female

Hovawart males are slightly bigger than the females at roughly 25 to 28 inches tall; the females are 23 to 26 inches. Beyond this, there might be a difference in temperament between males and females. It has been noted that it generally takes male dogs longer to mature, which could also mean they take longer to train. Females are thought to mature faster, making them easier to train, but it’s also believed that they aren’t always as affectionate as male dogs.

It’s up to you to decide if this is accurate; how a dog is raised and socialized is more likely to be the answer.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Hovawart

1. The Hovawart’s Name Describes Why They Were Bred

The Hovawart was bred as a guard and watch dog on farms and estates in Germany. The name “Hovawart” comes from the Middle High German word, “hovewart,” which roughly translates to “watchman of the yard or farm.”

2. The Hovawart Was “Reconstructed” Through Cross-Breeding

The breeding of the Hovawart didn’t start in earnest until 1922, but it was necessary to crossbreed the LeonbergerGerman ShepherdNewfoundland, and Kuvasz to reestablish the Hovawart breed.

3. The Hovawart Is Technically a New Breed

The Hovawart was around in the Middle Ages but practically disappeared when the German Shepherd gained popularity. Once the breed was reestablished, they were recognized as a breed by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 1937 and became a member of the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service in 2010.

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Final Thoughts

The Hovawart is rare outside of Germany, so if you live in North America or anywhere else far away from the country, it’s going to be difficult to find one. But if you’re still considering one of these dogs, you should ensure that this is the right breed for you. You should have enough space, both indoors and outdoors, and experience dealing with a strong-willed dog, and it’s best if you have older children or none at all.

The Hovawart makes a wonderful companion, provided that you’re the right family for them. If so, you’ll have a loving dog that will protect your family and enjoy accompanying you on your outdoor activities.

Featured Image Credit: Michal Ninger, Shutterstock

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