The akbash and the kuvasz are both large, white livestock guarding canines. Both excel at controlling any predators threatening their herds. If necessary, their guarding instinct can transfer to home or farm protection. Both sport ancient lineage, with the akbash originating in Turkey and the kuvasz hailing from Hungary by way of Tibet.
The American Kennel Club breed standard describes the kuvasz as a well-muscled, medium-boned dog. Although large, he moves with agility. Renowned for their beautiful heads, the kuvasz boasts dark brown, almond-shaped eyes and ears shaped like a V. The akbash, not recognized by the AKC, has similar ears, but the head is larger than that of the kuvasz in male dogs. Eye color ranges from dark to golden brown. The somewhat coarser head of the akbash also contains jaws more powerful in appearance than the kuvasz.
White is the only acceptable color for the kuvasz, but heavily pigmented, dark skin is encouraged. "The more slate gray or black pigmentation, the better," according to the AKC breed standard. While the akbash is also white, the breed standard permits "biscuit" or pale tan coloring on the ears, ridge line and in the undercoat. These dogs generally have piebald, or black and white, skin. Like the kuvasz, plenty of skin pigmentation is desirable. Both breeds possess double coats.
Height and Weight
At maturity, the male akbash stands 28 to 31 inches tall at the shoulders, with females slightly smaller at 27 to 29 inches in height. Males weigh between 90 and 130 pounds, with females weighing 75 to 100 pounds. Akbash females are markedly more refined-looking than the males. The adult male kuvasz is slightly smaller, ranging between 28 and 30 inches tall and weighing 100 to 115 pounds. Adult female kuvasz stand between 26 to 28 inches tall and weigh between 70 and 90 pounds.
Temperament as Pets
In his native Turkey, the akbash is strictly a working dog, not treated as a pet. Although he can serve as a companion animal, he's not the dog for a city or suburban resident. His guardian instincts often result in aggression toward other canines. Because this is a dominant breed, the akbash needs a confident owner with dog experience. Early and constant socialization, as well as obedience training, are key to making this dog part of your life.
The kuvasz can make a suitable pet, but he requires plenty of daily exercise. He's not the most affectionate of canines, so don't expect a big, white snuggle bunny. While he'll protect children in his family, he'll also protect them from other kids -- but he can't tell the difference between a real threat and kids playing around. For best results, keep the dog away from visiting kids, especially small ones.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.