Before I go through the individual maintenance of coat on the Komondor I would like to first take the chance to put out some main points;
The Basics : Regular Care
The hair of a Komondor is never brushed or combed, as this would make it impossible to form the curls required for it to cord.
With regular care, the coat of a Komondor is not hard to keep. I would like to start by dispelling the rumour of the coat smelling, as a well kept coat will not smell.
The cords are formed by gently ripping the hair down to the skin, I have always only used my hands to complete this exercise.
The cord width can, ultimately be determined by you. When choosing a width keep in mind that they tend to shrink more as the dog gets older, therefore do not have them too thin at the start or they will fall out. Especially in a young dog it is better to have them thicker, as you can always split them further as the dog grows. Cords should be thickest along the topline and thinnest on the paws, beard and head. Some people choose to keep the head of their Komondor shaved to prevent the dirty beards and to be able to see their eyes, a Komondor with a shaved face can not be shown during conformation.
As a guideline to how thick the cords should begin, try to use the width of your thumb and forefinger when pressed together as an idea of the width for along the back, neck, chest and thighs, while on the lower legs and face you can use just the width of your thumb. Try to never create cords any thinner than your thumb as it is these cords which will inevitably fall out before they become fully grown.
In my time of having Komondor I have never had a Komondor show any signs of discomfort of their hair irritating their eyes or irritating them in general, When young and the hair starts to matt quickly I tie the hair over their eyes up during the day for a few hours, however some do not appreciate this and will often scratch and roll until they get the hair band out.
The hardest places to complete the cording progress is on the ears and tail, the ear leather of Komondor tends to be very thin and can be torn easily if you pull too hard or the dog jerks away, I urge caution when working with their hair in sensitive places.
The tail can be difficult to split, I always work it very slowly as this is one area where if the hair comes out as you rip it does not grow back quickly or at all and can often leave bald patches or 'missing pieces' as the dog grows. Do not stress if the tail becomes slightly matted for a period of time as long as the dog is not showing any discomfort as I would prefer this over it becoming bald especially in young dogs. I then gently start from the top to rip foundations for the cords, and have had success in doing this with a dog who was over a year old before having his tail worked.
The only places I have ever trimmed the hair on my Komondor is minimally around the genitals.
Types of Coat
Different Komondor have different coat types, some cord easily naturally and some will need more assistance from you as the hair will clump together, the different types are referred to as cording and plating. The progress is all to do with the undercoat of the dog, in the same litter even some dogs will cord while others begin to plate.
Cording is the less thick of the two types, they form more naturally, the hair is easier to work with when it comes to separating it into individual cords
Plating in the coat is a type more typically seen in the Bergamasco breed. It is defined by the thicker set hair and as a young dog has a tendency to clump together and require more manual help.
Depending on the individuals preference it is possible to tidy up and round the ends of your Komondor' cords to make them more defined, this is done by removing the puppy hair off of the ends and stray hair from the sides of individual cords. preferably you should not start this progress until over 16 months, we do it at 18 months on a select few of our dogs to give the coat ample time to form.
You can leave the coat entirely natural without any cutting or rounding of the hair as we have done for our male, Bokorszeri Guba. Neither style is incorrect.
Size and Length - It is vital to ensure that the foundation cord is thick enough at the base to hold the weight of an entire cord. If too thin it will cause the cord to fall out when it gets caught, or even when the dog scratches. A minimum of a thumb width should be used throughout, with thicker (two fingers) on the topline, upper thigh and chest.
Cleaning the Coat
Most of the work with a Komondors coat will be found in pulling out objects which become trapped, the most common being twigs, grass seeds, loose leaves or nettles.
The adult komondors coat is a lot more self maintaining than a lot of people appear to realise. If left alone, the mud/dirt will fall off itself, however may slightly stain the fur.
I do not believe in always keeping the coat of a Komondor in 'show condition'. Nor would I ever bleach or alter the colour of my dogs coat by force, in cleaning I use a Concentrated Whitening Shampoo and no conditioner. In especially dirty places particularly the legs, chest, beard and underbelly I will wash it two or three times in the course of a few days to bring up the white colour better before shows.
If I am bathing more than twice a month, I will also dilute the whitening shampoo with a small percent of skin care shampoo, as while I have never had skin problems with my dogs, with such high amounts of highly concentrated shampoo I like to have something being more gentle on their skin.
Drying Of A Komondor
The most timely part of the bathing experience is the drying progress which follows. There are a few methods to choose from when it comes to drying;
Wet & Dry Vacuum - This is our favourite method for the adult Komondorok, it is able to suck the cords dry while also helping to get out any hard to move dirt or grass seeds which were not removed during the bath itself. The vacuum for us has never damaged or ripped out any of the cords and has massively sped up the drying progress to as little as a day and a half.
Cage Drying - It is important to first note the cage dryer being used should preferably be blowing in regular or cold air to prevent the dog from overheating, furthermore I advise using it for only half an hour to an hour at a time before giving the dog a break outside of the cage, and repeating the progress until the dog is dry.
Natural Drying - When the weather permits, we are able to let our dogs dry naturally. They are active and love to run around, soaking everything in sight! We provide them with towels and waterproof surfaces to roll on, and for the Komondor with the longer cords tie them up in bunches after an hour or so of running around.
Hand Drying - Drying by hand is a timely but often worthwhile procedure. It is done by first bunching and squeezing the water out of the cords by gently twisting it in your hands, once you have done this throughout the body you can then separate individual or fewer cords and squeeze your fingers together from the base, forcing the water down and out of the cords. The advantages of this is that it allows you to ensure each of your Komondor' cords are individually split to the skin. The coat can be easier to split when wet (or slightly damp) so for a Komondor who is in the progress of changing from their Puppy to Adult coat, this method works perfectly.
Towel Drying - Towel drying can be difficult in a dog who is in the progress of growing the beginnings of their cords, do not Scrub or Rub with a towel as if you scrub you will undo the hair, the most common place we seen this problem is on the back and the top of the head. I only ever use towels to squeeze out the excess water, never rubbing or scrubbing as to not damage the coats even in the adult dogs.
Blow Drying / Blasting - I do not recommend this for drying a Komondor, especially when young. This method will undo the cording progress and in a young dog will make them have a fuzzy appearance. In a slightly older Komondor (over two years) you can use this method to dry areas such as the feet, beards and faces after a walk, as well as drying the stronger blasters will also help to blow the dirt out before it becomes embedded within the cords.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will the cording irritate my Komondors skin?: No, between each cord and the skin there is a finger-sized gap where the hair is not matted. This forms naturally in most komondor and prevents any irritation to the skin, allowing air to travel freely. If you notice there is no space between the cord and skin, try to split the hair more regularly.
Will my Komondor overheat during the summer?: The coat of a corded dog is all weather resistant and dual purpose, it helps to keep the dog cool during the summer months and in winter assists in keeping the heat in. As long as shade and shelter is provided, your Komondor will not overheat during the Summer, there are Komondor who happily live in Spain, they are a breed who adjust well to their surroundings.
What age are cords noticeable?: The cords tend to come into the beginnings of their potential at 16 months, it is at this age that you should try to finalise any adjustments in the width of the cords you would like for the dog in the future, keeping in mind they need to be thick enough to hold the weight without falling out. I recommend no smaller than a thumbs width.
Will my Komondor smell?: Komondor do not smell anymore than any other dog breed would, with the basic maintenance of trimming around genitals, bathing when required, and ensuring the dog is thoroughly dry you will find your Komondor will not have a distinct odour to them.
Will the coat grow back if shaved?: In one word, yes, the coat will grow back, but likely to a different standard to the original. A komondors cords are formed by the adult coat intertwining with the puppy coat, shaving removes the puppy coat and often the coat which grows in after shaving is more prone to matting and clumping, taking longer to form cords with and as a consequence picking up more debris than the average coat.
Before and After: Bathtime
Before and After: Coat Rounding
On the right, before and after of an eighteen month old Komondor after the first coat trim to round cords. Images taken 22 hours apart.