The old German working breed, the Hovawart, is usually seen in a black-and-tan coat. In fact, about 60% of Hovies are this coloration. The breed also appears as a blonde, and while they may have more fun, blonde Hovawarts are often mistaken for Golden Retrievers. We talked about that in an earlier post seen below:
The AKC breed standard, which at present is the FCI breed standard, indicates three color varieties, two of which have been mentioned above: Black/gold, and blond. The third color is black.
With a shiny coat the color of midnight, the black Hovawart is a handsome dog. Some single white spots on the chest are allowed, as are some single white hairs on toes and tip of tail, and as uncommon as the blond coloration is in the breed, just ten percent of Hovawarts are black.
Here we dip a toe into the deep end of the pool: Color genetics. If both Hovawart parents are homozygous black, they transmit only black genes, and thus their puppies will be black and homozygous.
Black puppies, however, can also show up in the whelping box when one of the parents is blond and the other black because the dominant black gene masks the blond gene. Put another way, the blond genes are suppressed because they are recessive.
Black pups can also show up if the parents are a blond bred to a black and gold, a blond bred to a black, and a black and gold bred to a black.
Having an entire litter of blond Hovawarts is rare because both parents must be blond.
We may never know the color percentage of the Hovawart prior to 1922. Why?
By the beginning of the twentieth century, the breed had declined precipitously in numbers. To resurrect it, zoologist and breeder, Kurt Friedrich König, joined forces with breed enthusiasts to save the breed starting in 1915. They scouted farms in the Black Forest for similar dogs, and using strict measurements in selecting their breeding stock, they crossed Leonbergers, German Shepherd Dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Newfoundlands and others. In the end, they successfully retained the original working type. In 1922, the first modern Hovawart litter was entered into the German Breeding Register. Unfortunately, Germans used the Hovawart in WWll, and by the end of the war, few remained. In 1947, the breed was revived once again by Otto Schramm and other enthusiasts in Coburg.
As of this writing, the Hovawart is part of the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service. When it “officially” joins the AKC family with full recognition, it will take its place in the Working Group.
Top image by Claudia Damrich from Pixabay