Slovak Cuvac

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Slovak Cuvac

Large, white and fluffy, from a distance you would be forgiven for mistaking the Slovak Cuvac for a polar bear! These handsome and noble dogs are native to Slovakia and work as both shepherds and livestock guardians. One of the most remarkable features of this breed is their luxurious white fur coat that protects them from both the local harsh weather and any potential attacks.

A good working dog must be alert and driven; both traits which the Slovak Cuvac possesses in spades. They form firm attachments with their owners and would likely sacrifice their lives for them if asked. Not a breed recommended for first-time owners, this dog can be strong-willed, dominant and likes to be constantly on the go.

About & History

The Slovak Cuvac is also known as the Slovensky Cuvac and is a large and well-furred dog that hails from the mountains of Slovakia. The UKC recognise the Slovak Cuvac within their Guardian Dog group and the AKC include them in their Foundation Stock Service but they are not currently acknowledged by the British Kennel Club. Most agree that they originally descended from Arctic wolves.

The Slovak Cuvac has been a trusted and important companion of the Slovakian sheep farmer for many years, likely since as long ago as the 17th century. As well as shepherding the livestock, they would protect them from any nearby predators, particularly wolves and bears. On top of this, this multi-purpose breed would also pull carts and served as a loyal companion to their family. In rural areas, when you are a dog as large as the Slovak Cuvac requiring plenty of food, it serves to carry out several functions in order to earn your keep.

Most agree that this dog’s name derives from the Slovakian word ‘cuvat’ meaning ‘to hear’, as they have to have exceptional senses in order to notice any predators on the prowl. Today, Slovakians are keen to keep the breed alive and have established a breed club within the capital, Bratislava.


Slovak Cuvac Large Photo

The Slovak Cuvac is not dissimilar in appearance to the Pyrenean Mountain Dog or even the more popular Golden Retriever. In order to carry out their purpose, it has historically been important for them to look large and imposing but also to be able to move swiftly.

The Slovak Cuvac has an enormous head with a wide forehead and pendulous triangular ears. Their eyes are relatively small and oval shaped; always dark brown in colour. Their muzzle is medium in length and not overly narrow, ending in a big, black nose. Their jaws are strong and their teeth meet in a scissors bite. Their neck is wide, particularly in the male and may be covered in a mane of fur. Their chest is broad while their back is straight and strong. They have thick bones and well-muscled limbs ending in well-padded feet. Their tail hangs low and should not have an obvious curl at the tip. Their gait should be quick and nimble despite their size and they should have the ability to work well on all terrains.

The double-coat of the Slovak Cuvac is impressively dense, offering ample protection from the external environment. It is slightly less thick on the head and limbs. The only permitted fur colour is white – though there may be some yellowing at the ears (a trait which is not desirable).

A large breed, the bitch reaches heights of 59cm to 65cm and weighs between 31kg and 37kg. Males are larger, measuring from 62cm to 70cm and reaching weights of 36kg to 44kg.

Character & Temperament

It is essential that the Slovak Cuvac be faithful and dedicated to its herd and master, never wavering in its devotion. Courage is also important, and this dog should not show any hesitation even when faced with a large adversary.

Always alert and on guard, the Slovak Cuvac can find it hard to relax and ‘switch off’ from duty. Lively and energetic, they can prove a real handful as a family pet. They are committed guard dogs that will make their owner aware of any intruder and loudly warn them off. Despite their ability to fiercely defend their territory, they are affectionate gentle giants with their own family members. Similarly, they can do well in the company of other dogs, though owners should ensure they are socialised from a young age to increase tolerance and reduce the risk of fighting.

Best suited to a rural environment, this is a dog that is used to living outdoors and having ample freedom. It would not be fair to keep this breed in a small home and they should have access to plenty of land on which to roam.


Photo of Slovak Cuvac puppy

Training a Slovak Cuvac is not a task for the faint-hearted, as they require the experience and knowledge of a dedicated trainer. They can be strong-willed and have a tendency to want to be the dominant one in the relationship so require a firm hand and a consistent programme.

In the wrong hands, the Slovak Cuvac can become a dangerous animal as they can be distrustful of new people and may use aggression as their defense. It is critical that they are taught their role in the household from a young age and any disobedience is swiftly dealt with.

When it comes to learning how to perform those tasks they have been bred for, the Slovak Cuvac performs extremely well and their intelligence is evident. They rarely forgot something once it has been shown to them and they seem to instinctively pick up on skills such as shepherding.


This breed is known to enjoy very good health on the whole. However, while bred to be rugged and hardy, the Slovak Cuvac is not exempt from inheriting certain conditions, and the following should be monitored for within the population:

Hip Dysplasia

The coxofemoral joint, or hip joint, can cause an animal a lot of problems if not properly formed. Unfortunately, in some dogs, this joint can become deformed during their growth period. While practically any dog can be affected, it tends to be the large, pure-breed dogs that are ultimately diagnosed with hip dysplasia.

As well as genetic factors, experts believe that nutrition and exercise also play an important role in the development of this disease. Symptoms vary depending on the severity of the condition, but dogs may ‘bunny hop’ when running, have a wobbly gait or lose muscle in their back legs. For a working dog, a diagnosis of hip dysplasia often means the end of their career and also tends to exclude them from the breeding pool.


Bloat is the informal term for ‘gastric dilatation’, whereby the stomach of the dog fills with gas and the abdomen appears ‘bloated’ from the outside. A dog with bloat will often salivate profusely, retch and have trouble settling. Time is of the essence and the sooner a dog is treated by a veterinarian, the better their prognosis.

Exercise and Activity Levels

A dog that is used to working non-stop in poor weather conditions, the Slovak Cuvac is not one that is going to enjoy sitting still all day within the house. Those with a sedentary lifestyle should look elsewhere if thinking of adopting one of these active guys.

A mountain dog at heart, this breed enjoys going on long runs and hikes in the great outdoors and is quite happy swimming in lakes and rivers. They enjoy participating in a multitude of canine activities and do particularly well in sheepdog trials.


Not surprisingly, the heavy coat of the Slovak Cuvac is not low maintenance. They are heavy shedders and lose all of their undercoat in the summer months. During this season, they benefit from grooming once or even twice a day. House proud owners may find the level of vacuuming required to keep the fur levels down a real pain!

Such a large and potentially powerful dog needs to be introduced to their grooming routine from an early age to prevent them from putting up a fight. From the first day they are taken home they should be comfortable with owners trimming their claws, cleaning their ears and checking them all over for twigs or other debris they may pick up from outdoors.

Famous Slovak Cuvacs

A dog that is not well-known outside of central Europe, while the Slovak Cuvac is a prized farm dog in its homeland of Slovakia, there are no famous examples of this breed just yet.


There are no popular crossbreeds of the Slovak Cuvac.

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