The Slovenský Čuvač is one of several national dog breeds of Slovakia. The breed was originally known as Tatranský Čuvač owing to its natural development in areas of the Tatra Mountains. It is a very old breed whose DNA reveals a link to polar dogs descended from Arctic wolves and whose pre-ice age remains have been found in the mountains of Europe (the Caucasus, Balkans, etc.) through to the edge of the glaciers. It is also believed that the Čuvač is related to dogs brought into the region by the Goths and the inhabitants of the Pommern, who allegedly drove their cattle from the southern most parts of Sweden into parts of southern Europe. No matter what their exact heritage may be, these white, thick coated, mountain dogs have been living with the Slovak people long before they were documented in the 17th century. They were valued by the sheep herders who bred them as guardian dogs due to their naturally watchful and protective character. The Čuvač became part of the culture of the mountain people in this area of the world.
In the mountainous regions of what is now Slovakia and the Czech Republic, there is a strong tradition of sheep farming and the Slovenský Čuvač could be found there guarding sheep, cattle, goats, chickens, other livestock and their humans. The Čuvač guarded its master's household from wolves, bears, lynx, other predators and humans. When visitors from the lowland areas visited the mountains, they often saw these beautiful white dogs with the expressive brown eyes and soft wooly coats. They fell in love with the adorable white puppies and brought them home to other regions throughout Slovakia, Moravia and other countries.
But as herding methods were modernized and wolves began to disappear from the mountains, the site of a large, white Čuvač dog, guarding its flock, became rare. World War I took its toll on these dogs and when the fighting ended, the breed was in definite decline. By the end of World War II, the Slovenský Čuvač was nearly extinct, in part because of the war, but also through careless breeding habits and exportation to other countries, often under other breed names such as the Kuvasz.
But after World War I, Dr. Antonin Hrůza, a professor on the faculty of the Brno School of Veterinary Medicine, decided to do something about this national treasure, the Čuvač, that was heading towards extinction. He realized that this beautiful, native breed was disappearing and he set out to save the Slovenský Čuvač. In a radio broadcast, he heightened people's awareness that the Tatranský Čuvač was disappearing from the country. In 1929, Dr. Hrůza set up a program to revive the breed by gathering some of the remaining Slovenský Čuvač from the regions of Liptovská Lúžna, Kokava, Východná v. Tatrach and the area of Rachovo in the Carpathians. He sought to improve the breed through selective, controlled breeding. This breeding was designed to set the distinct characteristics, what are referred to as "type", for the Slovenský Čuvač. Later, these would become the breed standard accepted today as the ideal Slovenský Čuvač.
Dr. Hrůza found two unrelated Čuvač puppies called Jerry and Kora and placed the pups with his son-in-law Joseph Skoupil, owner of the kennel "ze Zlaté studny" (of the Golden Fountain) in the municipality of Skalice nad Svitavou, which is now in the South Moravian Region of the Czech Republic. Jerry, who was born in August 1925, and Kora, who was born in March 1928, were the foundation of Hrůza's organized breeding effort to revitalize the Tatranský Čuvač. The first registered litter of three puppies out of the pair (Gero, Rek and Bella) was born in 1929. From June of 1929 through January 1932, Jerry and Kora produced five litters for a total of 14 purebred Tatranský Čuvač puppies. As these puppies grew, they were bred to produce more litters of puppies. The Carpathian breeding station was called “z Hoverla” (of Hoverla).
At first, a great deal of inbreeding occured which set the desired breed characteristics (type). At that time there were two recognized types of Čuvač - the larger mountain type with a shoulder height of 65 cm. for males and 60 cms. for females, weighing 35-45 kg., and the smaller lowland type with a shoulder height of 40-50 cms., weighing 20-25 kg. As both types were bred together, the differences began to vanish and gradually the smaller lowland type disappeared. To this day, the current breed standard makes allowances for some of these differences.
On September 23, 1933, a group of breeders based in Brno, founded the "The Club of the Breeders of Tatranský Čuvač" and the club started its own stud book (registered dogs), recording all the dogs, their pedigrees and litters. The club became a member of the former Czechoslovak Federation Canine Kennel Club and the Czechoslovak Union and its members through the Fédération Cynologique Internationale - FCI.
But World War II and the German occupation brought an end to most of the organized breeding and the breeding of Čuvač dogs slowed down as the people in these areas suffered during the war. But when Prof. Hrůza died in 1950, grief over his passing caused a revival of the Tatranský Čuvač breed club and interest in breeding was renewed.
The written breed standard was approved in 1964 by Dr. Viliem Kurz. In June of 1965, at the Fédération Cynologique Internationale's General Assembly meeting held in Prague, the FCI recognized the Tatranský Čuvač as an independent breed and a breed standard was published under FCI Number 142 Slovakian Chuvach. The reason that the name was changed from Tatranský Čuvač to Slovakian Chuvach was due to the fact that the FCI had already recognized a similar breed from Poland called the Tatra Owczarek Podhalańska. Dr. Ludmila Laufbergerová, a representative on the FCI's Standards Commission who had advocated for recognition of the Tatranský Čuvač, recognized that the similar breed and similar names might cause a controversy, so "Tatranský" Čuvač was changed to "Slovakian" Čuvač to avoid potential objections by committee members.
But in late 1967, another controversy arose. This time Hungary submitted a protest against the recognition of the Slovakian Chuvach as a separate breed from their national breed, the Kuvasz. The Kuvasz does share similar traits as a white livestock guardian breed but there are many differences in the size, coat, set of the ears, the "stop" and also the temperament.
Professor V. Kurz, who played a major role in the breed development of the Slovenský Čuvač and in writing the breed standard, responded to the Hungarian protest. At the FCI Commission for Standards meeting in Belgrade in1969, Prof. Kurz, along with the president of the Slovenský Čuvač farmers club, presented their defence of the Čuvač as a separate breed with a distinctive breed standard. The FCI agreed the Čuvač was indeed a unique and separate breed.