Health and Breeding
Nowadays, there are three breeding associations recognised by the VDH (Verband für das Deutsche Hundewesen [German Dog Federation]) in the Hovawart's country of origin: the Pedigree Breeding Association for Hovawarts, the German Hovawart Breeding Community (Hovawart-Zuchtgemeinschaft Deutschland, HZD) and the German Hovawart Club (Hovawart Club Deutschland, HC).
In the 1950s, breeders in other European countries also became aware of the German breed. Especially in Switzerland and the Netherlands, some Hovawart breeders soon came together in state-wide associations. In the 1970s and 1980s, further Hovawart associations were formed in Austria, Britain, France, Italy and the USA. In the 1990s, more clubs emerged in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. The International Hovawart Federation was founded within the FCI in order to exchange relevant information and expertise about the Hovawart breed between the different countries. Present-day members of the IHF are the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Germany.
Thanks to strict rules and regulations breeders and associations are subject to in different countries, it has been possible to breed very healthy dogs with a balanced character. In comparison to other dog breeds of the same size, the proportion of severe and moderate hip dysplasia (HD) is very low amongst Hovawarts. Dogs that show a disposition towards HD, a light form of the latter or other hereditary diseases are excluded from the breeding process. These strict requirements for the health of the breed animals, an extensive database accessible to all Hovawart owners and collaboration with scientists are the reasons why pedigree breed Hovawarts are now in such robust health. Furthermore, the Hovawart's life expectancy of 12 years or above is higher than for many other dog breeds.
It goes without saying that the significant effort responsible breeders put into breeding such healthy and robust dogs doesn't come cheap. Hence, be careful with supposedly cheap Hovawarts costing less than 1000 euros. Any saving on the purchase price can quickly turn sour if you're constantly having to go to the vet or canine therapist with your dog.
Of course there's no guarantee that “expensive” Hovawarts will stay healthy for their entire life. However, responsibly reared puppies with healthy parents simply have the best prerequisites to live a long and healthy life. With the right care and living conditions, you can further contribute to keeping down veterinary costs for your canine.