The Hovawart was first mentioned back in 1210 where in a German castle “Ordensritterburg” the son of the lord was saved by one of the “Hofwart” dogs of the castle. In spite of his injuries the dog managed to drag the child to one of the castles in the neighbourhood.
This child, Eike von Repkow, who later on wrote the oldest German law book “Der Sachsenspiegel 1274” (see image), had nothing but praising words for this breed and he even mentioned that a compensation had to be paid if such a dog was stolen or killed.
In 1473 the Hovawart can be found in the list of the 5 most noble breeds, where he is being described as “an ideal tracking dog to hunt down all kinds of criminals”.
Afther the medeveal period the breed was slowely replaced by newer breeds like the German Sheperd that is then more commonly used as a guard- and working dog. In the beginning of the 20th century the Hovawart had almost disappeared.
A group of enthousiasts, amongst whom Kurt Friedrich Konig (see picture), decided to try to save the breed. They visited all the farms in the “Black Forest” in Germany to find all the Hovawarts that were left. Thanks to a very careful breeding program, using the dogs they found and crossing them with Hongarian Kuvasz, Newfoundlander, German Sheperd, Leonberger, Bernese Mountain Dog and even an African wild dog … in 1922 the first official litter was registered in the German breeding register.
In 1937 the German Kennel Club officially recognised the Hovawart as a breed.
The results of all these efforts were almost destroyed during the second world war. The Hovawarts were used as war dogs because of their capacities as working dogs. In 1945 there were only a few Hovawarts left.
Because of the great interest in the breed and the efforts of Otto Schramm in 1947, the “Rassezuchtverein für Hovawart-Hunde Coburg” was founded. Thanks to the efforts of this club, recognised by the German Kennel Club in 1964, the Hovawart was the seventh breed recognised as a “working” dog. This was the start for the breeding in other European countries (and also the rest of the world).
In 1984 the “International Hovawart Federation” (IHF) was founded. In this organisation clear agreements are made regarding the breeding of Hovawarts. Today 13 countries are member of the IHF, and they promote the breeding of the Hovawart, the perservation and improvement of the breed.