Rather than hijack the comments to Lindsay's post, I decided to hijack Biggie's blog instead, because he does not have opposable thumbs and is napping now. Biggie's tolerable behavior illustrates the kuvasz temperament beautifully:
Like every other kuvasz I have ever heard of, Biggie's mission in life is to guard. When we go to the dog run, he is always aware of everything on the other side of the fence. Anyone who comes too close must be watched, assessed, and, if deemed a threat, challenged and chased away by charging at the fence with ferocious barking. For the most part, the people he deems threatening are understandable: WTFs, big loud men, fast-moving (and loud) bikes, scooters or rollerbladers. At best, we manage the behavior by trying to teach him that most of the people who walk up to the fence are friendly, and he is slowly getting it; if I walk up and talk to the person, he will stand and watch but won't bark. And sometimes he is so busy playing that he will break just to look and decide to go back to playing. But even while he is playing, he has half an eye on the fence.
One point here is that a "protective" dog doesn't necessarily mean a dominant or aggressive dog. Dog owners who know him call him a "mush," a "flirt" and a "softie" and are always amazed at how gentle he is with other dogs, letting the younger and smaller ones climb all over him. I have never seen him hump another dog, yet others hump him all the time when they're playing, and when he's had enough he simply walks them off, no snapping or snarling. He will roll another dog if he thinks it's necesary, but he has an amazingly high tolerance level, and has only done it two or three times in his 18-month life.
The other morning our neighbor's Boston terrier mix came into the run and immediately started barking and snarling and nipping at Biggie's neck aggressively. Biggie just stood there and looked at him sideways before deciding he'd had enough and walked to the dog run gate and waited there to leave. At that point he was a little droopy, like, "Who brought this little bully in here to spoil my fun?" Biggie could have done a lot, but he chose not to. The neighbor's dog was definitely (fear) aggressive but not dominant, while Biggie was neither aggressive nor dominant.
2. PREY DRIVEOne of the few things Biggie gets really excited about is chasing small living things, like mice and birds. Sometimes when the weather is crisp and windy, he will chase leaves and pieces of paper blowing around. It must be the irregular and unpredictable motion, because if you throw a ball, Biggie may chase it up to 2 times. On the other hand, Biggie has chased and caught a duck, a mouse, and a pigeon; the duck he chased and caught at 6 months, and the latter 2 he caught recently while on leash, and all 3 times I've been screaming at him to cut it out. Fortunately he didn't kill any of the animals he caught; he knows bite control and just likes to chase and catch them, and eventually lets them go after enough yelling.
Which brings me to another issue dear to my heart: Dog owners need to teach their dogs some self-control. The guarding instinct and the prey drive are VERY strong in the kuvasz, but that doesn't mean these behaviors can't be tempered. Teaching your dog self-control is like teaching children the difference between "inside" and "outside" voices; your dog can still be a dog, he just doesn't need to attack the food delivery guy or chase every single pigeon he sees.
3. SOCK (and other clothes) STEALINGOk, this one has been going on for a while. Luckily he doesn't tear them up, but Biggie will raid the clean and dirty laundry piles and select socks or bras to snuggle with and mouth when I'm not home. When he was younger he used to do it to get us to chase him; now it's just a sad gauge of how crazy my workload can get, because once I'm home he doesn't do it at all. It's just so sad to come home and see the big goofball, happy to see me, with a pair of slobbery socks by his side, that I just don't have the heart to try to train this out of him.
4. PAWING AT STUFF (not people, thank goodness)This would be a lot cuter if Biggie were a 10 -lb dog, and it sure is better than incessant barking. Biggie only barks when guarding, and the rest of the time he's the strong but silent type. If he's thirsty, he'll just sit in front of his water bowl, shooting us doleful looks. If he's hungry, he wanders into the kitchen and wanders out, looking at us meaningfully, then back into the kitchen and back out. But sometimes if we're not catching his looks, he uses his big bear paws - to paw at his tip-proof water dish, his empty food bowl, but most often at a door that he wants opened. When he paws at a door, he sounds like a horse pawing at his stall. It's not the claws - our doors are amazingly unmarked - but the sheer weight of his paws that make it so loud.
5. Peeing in the house when his flock leaves unexpectedlyThis dog has the biggest bladder I've ever seen. He can hold it for 12+ hours without an accident, so long as he is being left alone on a schedule he is comfortable with. On the weekends, if we go out, it's usually not on a regular schedule, and chances are just better than 50-50 that he won't make a little anxiety pee near the door. He doesn't cry, he doesn't get destructive, sometimes he just makes a little dribble.
6. LazinessThis is just a function of the kuvasz independence and stubbornness. Unless properly motivated, The Big One just moves at his own speed. He'll come when you call him, but only when he's good and ready. And even then, he'll just walk. At 18 months, he does like to play, but if you leave him alone he will find a spot (usually between you and the door) to contentedly be a blob. Unless he's guarding, of course. There is no laziness in the guarding.