Posted in Working Group

A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function with soundness essential.  Breeders and judges should at all times be mindful of features which could be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.


The Hovawart is a very old German working dog breed. The name’s origin stems from Middle High German (an old form of German); Hova=Hof (=yard, farm) and wart=Wächter (=watchman). Since 1922 the breeding of this breed, by using dogs similar in type still found on farms, has been restored. Apart from this, in the early years of breeding, crosses with German Shepherd Dogs, Newfoundlands, Leonbergers and other breeds were admitted. Due to the strict measurements taken in selecting the breeding stock, the original working type was attained again. In the country of origin very great importance is attached to the health of the Hovawart, especially the presence of hip dysplasia has been reduced to a small percentage by selecting, for decades, breeding stock free from dysplasia. It is to be expected that all other Hovawart breed clubs will aim for this exemplary goal.

The Hovawart is a powerful, medium size, slightly elongated, long-haired working dog. Difference between sexes is clearly recognisable, specially in shape of head and build of body.

Length of body comprises at least 110 and 115% of height at withers.

Recognised working dog with versatile usage. Kind and even disposition. Has protective instinct, self-confidence and ability to take stress; of medium temperament; combined with a very good nose. His balanced body proportions and special devotion to his family make him an outstanding companion, watch, guard, tracking and rescue dog.

The nasal bridge is straight and parallel to the skull. Muzzle and skull are of about the same length. The skin of the head fits tightly. 

Skull - The powerful head has a broad, rounded forehead.
Stop - Well visible. 

Nose - Nostrils well developed. In black/gold and black dogs pigmentation is black; in blond dogs it is black; ‘snow nose’ (temporary loss of pigmentation) accepted.
Muzzle - Strong, tapering only slightly when seen from above and in profile.
Lips - Fit tightly.
Jaws/Teeth - Strong complete scissor bite with 42 teeth according to tooth formula. Teeth set square to the jaws. Pincer bite accepted. 
Eyes - Oval, neither protruding nor deep set. Colour: dark to medium brown. Eyelids fit tightly.
Ears - The loosely fitting triangular drop ears are set on high and wide apart, thus giving the optical illusion of broadening the skull. They reach in length to the corners of the mouth (labial commisure). Their tip is slightly rounded. When the dog is at ease, they are kept hanging flat, when alert they may be carried directed slightly forward. Their front edge lies approximately halfway between eye and occiput.

Strong, of medium length. Skin tightly fitting.

Back - Straight and firm.
Loin - Strong, slightly longer than rump.
Croup - Medium long and slightly sloping.
Chest - Broad, deep and strong.

Bushy, reaching to below the hocks, but not to the ground. According to the dog’s mood it is carried high and curved over the back or hanging down.

General appearance: Forelegs strong, straight and vertical, seen from the front and side.
Shoulders - Very well muscled. Shoulder-blade long and well laid back.
Upper Arm - Long, closely fitting to body.
Elbows - Fitting well to chest.
Pastern Joint - Strong.
Pastern - Moderately sloping.

General appearance: Hindlegs strong and vertical when seen from behind. Hindquarters are well angulated.
Upper and Lower Thigh - Very well muscled.
Hock Joint - Strong, well let down. 


Roundish, strong and compact. Toes arched and tight. Dewclaws to be removed except in those countries where this is prohibited by law. Nails with black pigmentation in black/gold and black dogs; in blond dogs there may be less pigmentation.


In all gaits the movement of the Hovawart is on a straight line and covering the ground well. The trot is very extended, with powerful drive from the hindquarters.


Tightly fitting all over. With a bluish sheen in black/gold and black dogs, with a mostly pink sheen in blond dogs.

Hair: The strong, long-haired coat is lightly waved and lying close, with only little undercoat. It is longer on chest, belly, rearside of forelegs, rearside of thighs and tail. It is short on head and at the front side of the fore and hinglegs. The coat is dense.


There are 3 colour varieties: black/gold, black, blond.
Black/Gold:  The coat is black and shiny, the colour of the markings medium blond. On the head the markings begin below the nasal bridge and extend round the corners of the mouth into the marking of the throat. The point-shaped markings above the eyes are clearly visible. The chest markings consist of two adjacent patches which may be connected. On the forelegs, the marking, seen from the side, extends from the toes to about the pastern and tapers off on the rearside at about elbow level. On the hindlegs, seen from the side, the marking below the hock is seen as a broad stripe, above the hock only as a narrow stripe which extends on the front side of the hindleg up to the level of the belly. A marking is also present beneath the set on of the tail. The markings are distinct in outline everywhere. Single small white spots on the chest as well as some single white hairs on toes and tip of tail are permissible. Black pigmentation on eyelids, lips and pads. 
Black: The coat is black and shiny. Some single white spots on the chest as well as some single white hairs on toes and tip of tail are permissible. Black pigmentation on eyelids, lips and pads. 
Blond: The coat is medium blond, shiny and becomes lighter towards legs and belly. Single small white spots on the chest, as well as some single white hairs on toes and tip of tail are permissible. Black pigmentation on eyelids, lips and pads. 

Height at the Withers - For Dogs: 63-70cm
For Bitches: 58-65cm.

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.


Aggressive or overly shy dogs.

Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
* Dogs which do not conform to the impression of original breed type
* Distinctly ‘doggy’ bitches
* Distinctly ‘bitchy’ dogs.
* Distinctly differing body proportions than those quoted in the standard
* Aggressive, anxious, gun shy or lethargic dogs.
* Lacking stop
* Blue eye or wall eye
* Erect, tipped ears, rose ear; off-standing ears
* Undershot, overshot or wry mouth
* Absence of more than 2 of the 4 PM1 or the 2 M3, or absence of any 
other tooth
* Distinct dewlap or very throaty
* Pronounced sway or roach back
* Narrow or barrel shaped chest
* Abnormal tail; tail much too short; pronounced ring tail
* Much too high in hindquarters (overbuilt)
Hair -
* Predominantly curly coat (ring curls)
Colour -
In general :
* All colours not conforming to the standard e.g. blue-grey, deer colour, brown, white, patched, blond with smutty touch or predominantly banded hair
* White patches. Single white hairs on the inside of the upper thighs are not a disqualifying fault

Black/Gold Dogs :
* Grey or brown patches other than the correct markings
* Undercoat predominantly of another colour than black
* Predominantly grey or whitish markings
Black Dogs :
* Grey or brown patches
* Undercoat predominantly of another colour than black
Blond Dogs :
* Some single white hairs on the nasal bridge are not a disqualifying fault
* Red-blond colour throughout without getting lighter
* Whitish-blond colour, also on ears
* Distinctly white markings
* Dark patches or dark mask
Size :
* Undersize
* Oversize by more than 3cm
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.                                                                               

   Copyright FCI 27/09/1998- Re-printed with permission

The publisher of this edition is the Kennel Union of Southern Africa.  All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without permission writing from the publisher.

FCI Standard No 190 (Group 2)

Fedco 12/1995

Fedco 06/2017

Most recent changes to this Standard has an effective date of 01/01/2018