The beginnings of the Hovawart are largely unknown, although it first appears in records dating back to 1210. Under seige by Slavik invaders, the German castle Ordenstritterburg witnessed the slaughter of its lord, family and household, only for the lord's young son, Eike von Repkow, to be dragged from the wreckage by one of the castle's Hovawarts. Despite being fatally wounded, the Hovawart is thought to have taken Eike to a nearby castle where the boy was safely held, growing to become one of Germany's prominent figures in the history of medieval law. Originating in the Black Forest region of Germany, the breed faced extinction at the beginning of the 20th century, being fortunately resurrected by the efforts of a group of enthusiasts before the Second World War, successfully crossing Newfoundlands, German Shepherds, Leonburgers and a Bernese Mountain Dog to develop the modern Hovawart. With the onset of war, many Hovawarts were enlisted by the German army, although most were to perish before its end.
Often likened to the Golden Retriever in appearance and structure, the Hovawart or 'Hovie,' as it is popularly known, is characterised by a powerful, athletic body, a rounded forehead, high-set ears, a long-haired dense coat in colours of black, gold and blonde, and a long tail. It is common for a Hovawart to have longer hair or feathering on its underside, tail and on the back of its legs. An old working breed, the Hovawart boasts many talents and is commonly observed in tracking, search and rescue and competitive obedience.
Possessing an obedient and gentle temperament, the Hovawart is well suited to active domestic life, either in a family or for a dedicated sole owner. Dedicated to its master and highly compatible with children, the modern Hovawart will act fearlessly in the face of threat or danger, whilst otherwise remaining calm, mannered and affectionate. A great addition to any home setting, providing its needs for regular exercise, mental enrichment and human companionship are met. On average, a healthy Hovawart will weigh between 30-50 kg depending on its gender, with a life expectancy of roughly 10-12 years, although it is not uncommon for the breed to outlive this expectancy.
Typically very healthy, the Hovawart is sometimes identified with hip dysplasia, a common condition across breeds, whilst an under-active thyroid is commonly observed in European lines.