The Erdelyi Kopo: Hungarian or Transylvanian?

By now, you all know how to pronounce the plural of the Hungarian dog breeds, right? Right?  

Magyar Agar—>Magyar Agarok

Some might say there’s a breed missing from the list, the Erdelyi Kopo, or Transylvanian Hound, and its “Hungarian-ness” depends upon the source. Hungary was a country divvied up after WWI, and people who’d regarded themselves as ethnic Hungarians living in Hungary now found themselves living in a different country even though they’d never moved! Transylvania was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and after the war, it became part of Romania.

Though the breed’s name is “Transylvanian,” the smooth-coated scenthound originated in Hungary over 1,000 years ago when dogs belonging to invading Magyars bred with dogs then native to Hungary. Eventually, one type of dog emerged, but because of varying terrains, there were two versions of it, one with longer legs than the other. Over time, the longer legged dog prevailed, the other vanishing into the mists of time. The hound became highly valued as a bear and wolf hunting dog, particularly by Hungarian royalty and aristocracy during the Middle Ages, but industrialization, a shrinking of agriculture, and developments in forestry pushed the breed back into the woods of the Carpathian mountains, and a decline in the breed resulted. By the beginning of the 1900s, the Transylvanian Hound was almost extinct.

Happily, Hungarian breeders revived it with determined and organized breedings in 1968, and in 2006, the Transylvanian Hound was recognized by the United Kennel Club. In 2015, the breed was accepted into the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service Program for breeders hoping to establishing it in the United States. That said, it’s still a rare dog breed in this country, and may stay so as it’s not a breed for everyone.

Some may find hard the breed’s independent nature hard to manage, but blame should go to how – and where – the Hound was bred. The dog had to locate and hunt game on his own, then return to his owner only to the sound of the hunting horn without any kind of direction from his owner. This was due to Hungarian hunting laws which dictated that hounds could only be used to drive wild boars and look for wounded game. Accustomed to vast Transylvanian forests, hounds also don’t find it easy to adapt to broken up hunting areas found in other countries, but they can learn that it isn’t worth wandering away from the line of driving since the prey can only be shot there.

These days, the hounds are kept mostly by hobby keepers, and until recently, a small percentage of hunters who value their stamina, excellent nose, uncanny sense of direction, and a resounding, high pitched and ringing bark that gives the hunter his dog’s location during a hunt. More and more hunters, however, are discovering the breed. The bigger challenge for them may be in finding one. It’s thought that around only around 800-1000 hounds live in Hungary, and only 80-90 pups are registered each year. Not helpful to the gene pool are litters are born from un-pedigreed parents who were likely not health tested.

For the right owner, this handsome, balanced and friendly dog makes an ideal companion.

Image: By sajat keszites – sajat gep, CC0,


4 thoughts on “The Erdelyi Kopo: Hungarian or Transylvanian?”

  1. These are the plurals when you are speaking Hungarian NOT when you are speaking English, please stop spreading this idiocy! Huns use English plurals when they speak English, native English speakers need to do the same. This ridiculous fashion needs to end and your blog is a main offender. If I had a $ for every time I was asked what is a Mudik…..this k mania only spreads confusion. Just say no to k and yes to s! Ebből elég!

    • Huns???? That is also offensive to Hungarians, Celeste, and as Hungarian was our first language, we are also entitled to our opinions based on our experiences. We will never dumb down our posts because we feel our readers are up to learning how things are in other cultures, and while they may choose to say “Pulis” instead of “Pulik,” they will at least know what “Pulik” means. As an aside, the American Kennel Club, our default source, concurs as they refer to “Pulik” on their website as does the Puli Club of America.

  2. My husband is Hungarian and I live in Hungary for 16 years now. What the AKC and PCA promote is not always correct. I once read in an AKC journal article that the PCA club wrote, that the Puli has a short muzzle so it can pull its head back faster from the hoof of the kicking cow, obviously American Pulis can defy the laws of physics too. I have asked many Hungarians and NONE understand this strange custom of Americans to use the Hungarian plural of their dog names when speaking English (they certainly don’t do this when they speak English) and what is worse the native English speakers use it incorrectly. It should be pulik, pumik, mudik, etc., NOT Pulik, Pumik and Mudik, etc. They also say I have 3 Mudik, 3 Pumik and 3 Pulik which is incorrect as well. Why are the plurals of every other non American breed not also so heavily promoted? Why do Americans also leave off the diacritical marks of not only dog names, but people names too, this is offensive considering they can use the plurals of the dog names with such abandon. Why? Because this is a stupid fashion that makes no grammatical sense, only confusion. Either speak English or magyarul, not both at the same time. If someone wants to use these plurals, then learn and speak Hungarian.

    • Evidently, this is a hot button for you, and we’re not inclined to get into a sparring match over something you seem to take so personally. For our part, we appreciate it when a non-Hungarian speaker makes the effort to learn anything about the culture, including its language. You’ve made your point for all to see, we’ll leave it at that.

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