Hovawart Dog Breed

Black & Gold Hovawart
  • Other names:
  • Hovie

Pronunciation: "Who-fay-vat" or "Ho-va-vat"

The Hovawart is a German farm or yard guarding breed noted as early as the 13th century. These dogs are prized for both their intelligent bravery and faithful companionship. The breed's talents don't stop there, however, and in addition to being a top ranking guard dog they excel in therapy work and search and rescue. The breed is not recommended for the inexperienced owner or an apartment dweller. They are very healthy dogs but still need daily outdoor exercise and plenty of interaction with people. Train and socialize them early and they may be able to live happily with other pets.

Hovawart Breed Details

Breed Specs
Purebred10-14 yrs.23-28 in.60-100 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

The Hovawart is a German breed long beloved as property guardians (the name translates to yard/farm watchman). The rare breed is recognized by several major Kennel Clubs, including the FCI, and is currently part of the AKC's Foundation Stock Service (2010). The affectionate and protective nature of these dogs makes them good choices for families that are experienced with large, working breeds. They need active owners that have time to spend with them daily and are not suited to apartment life; in fact, a large yard is recommended. Seasoned owners seeking a challenge will truly enjoy this breed as they are obedient to "pack leader" personalities and excel in activities such as agility training, sports, search and rescue, and therapy work. Check out these Hovawart quick facts:


  • Good with children
  • Good with other pets if well socialized
  • Excellent guard dog and watch dog
  • Average barker unless on the alert
  • Wonderful exercise buddy
  • Trained easily by experienced owner
  • Affectionate therapy dog
  • Able to be trained to search and rescue
  • Can spend reasonable amounts of time alone
  • Coat requires little care (although long)


  • May be overly protective or aggressive if not trained and socialized
  • May not be suitable to live with other male dogs
  • Needs immediate socialization to be part of a multi-pet household
  • Needs daily outdoor exercise-- best for active owner/family
  • Inexperienced owners discouraged
  • May exhibit destructive behaviors if not exercised physically and mentally
  • Not hypoallergenic, regular shedder
  • Not for apartment living (fenced yard is a plus)

Hovawart Breed Description

For those seeking the 101 on Hovawart dogs this page will give you some basics on what to expect from the breed. Overall appearance shows a medium-large sized muscular working breed; at 23-28 inches (shoulder height) and 60-100 pounds, their look is somewhat likened to a Golden Retriever-- strong but not overly muscular. The long, silky coat is often wavy and exists in 3 color varieties: black, blonde, and black and gold; the hair is longer on the chest, belly, back of legs, and tail. The head is about equal length to the muzzle with oval medium to dark brown eyes and ears that are high set, triangular and drop.

1. Intelligence- These dogs are very smart and need little to no training to excel in their guarding and protecting duties. Some say they are independent thinkers that work with you and not for you; they are also known to guard defensively-- not offensively (an important distinction). They should be fairly easy to train if you are an owner experienced with large working dogs. Hovawarts excel at agility and obedience training, therapy work, and search and rescue activities.

2. Kids, Strangers, Pets- A well socialized and trained Hovawart is an excellent family companion and playmate for children but may present an accidental hazard due to size. They will likely remain suspicious or aloof around strangers but shouldn't be aggressive unless they feel called upon to guard you. Whether they can coexist peacefully with other dogs and cats depends upon their level of socialization.

3. Exercise- This breed is of moderate energy and will need daily outdoor exercise (at least 45 minutes or so). They are great exercise partners and enjoy sports, long walks, jogs, hikes and trips to the dog park. They aren't suited to apartment living and a large, fenced yard is ideal.

Hovawart Coloring

The long, shiny and slightly wavy coat of the Hovawart is standard in 3 colors (according to the FCI); these are black, blonde, and black and gold.

  • Black Hovawarts are pretty much solid black with the exception of white areas on the chest, toes and tail tip; these white hairs may or may not be present
  • Blonde Hovawarts are a medium shade of blond that fades on the legs; white areas are allowable on the chest, toes and tail tip.
  • Black/Golden Hovawarts are mostly black with gold marking above the eyes, on the chest, on the legs, under the tail, on the hocks and belly, and on the nose and throat. White is allowable in the same areas mentioned for the previous colors.

Hovawart Temperament

Protective, intelligent, even-tempered, affectionate, and at times stubborn, the Hovawart temperament is one of loyalty and strength. These dogs will be friendly and loving with family members, and are exceptionally skilled at protecting them at all costs. One of the Hovawart's strongest personality traits is its instincts for protection and dominance (a result of its development as a personal and livestock guardian); this means these dogs will need owners willing to play the role of the "alpha" in their lives, starting during puppyhood. Hovawarts get along well with kids, and they socialize well with most other pets (though they might try to dominate other dogs). Overall, your Hovawart will benefit greatly from obedience training and socialization, starting at a young age.

Speaking of training: a Hovawart is intelligent, and can generally respond well to it--but its potential stubbornness means the dog may require a few repetitions when learning commands or tasks. As with any breed, firm, consistent, reward-based training methods are best.

And the Hovawart's watch- and guard dog ability is perhaps the breed's best quality. Alert, confident, and protective, these dogs will surely bark at investigate unknown sights or sounds--and chances are they'll have no problem neutralizing potential threats like intruders.

Hovawart Photos

Below are pictures and images of the Hovawart.

Black & Gold Hovawart
Black Hovawart
Black Hovawart Headshot
Black & Gold Hovawart
Black & Gold Hovawart in the Snow
Blond Hovawart Puppy
Black & Gold Hovawart Puppy
Blonde Hovawart in the Snow

Hovawart Health

The Hovawart seems to be an exceptionally healthy breed as they have no well documented health concerns. Even the dreaded Hip Dysplasia that plagues nearly every other canine breed seems to have less prominence among these dogs. Kept tasked or well exercised the Hovawart usually lives somewhere between 10-14 years with an average of 11-12 years.

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Underactive Thyroid

Hovawart Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Hovawart as a dog breed:

  • American Canine Registry
  • America's Pet Registry
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • Foundation Stock Service
  • Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • National Kennel Club
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
  • View all 10...