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Petful, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Petful, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

9 Fuzzy Facts About the Komondor

Petful, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Petful, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Is that a dog or a mop? Learn more about this dog in sheep’s clothing. 

1. THEY COME FROM HUNGARY. 

There are a lot of arguments about where these shaggy dogs came from, but many suggest the dogs migrated to Hungary with the Cumans—nomadic Turkic people of the steppes—who were fleeing a Mongolian invasion in 1246. Skeletons resembling the Komondor have been found in Cuman graves. Others suggest that it was the Huns that introduced the dog after coming across the breed while traveling through Russia. The earliest written mentions of the dogs don't pop up until the 16th century, in a Hungarian codex.

2. THEY’RE DIRECT DESCENDANTS OF A RUSSIAN HERDING DOG. 

The Komondor is said to be a direct descendant of the Aftscharka, or Russian herdsman's dog. Aftscharka were used in southern Russia as guard dogs and to watch herds. They came in all different colors and had thick curly coats. 

3. THE PLURAL OF KOMONDOR IS KOMONDOROK. 

In the Hungarian language, the letter k acts a lot like English's letter s. For example, ember (person) becomes emberek (people).

4. THEIR COAT IS USED AS CAMOUFLAGE. 

Hannah Keyser

Believe it or not, this dog was not bred to clean your floors. The mop-like coat is actually used as a clever form of camouflage. When keeping watch over a flock of sheep, it’s easy for Komondorok to blend in thanks to their wooly fur. This works to their advantage when an unsuspecting wolf comes over to snack on the sheep: The guard dogs can surprise the predator and keep it from gobbling up the livestock. 

5. THEY MAKE GREAT GUARD DOGS. 

Thanks to their pedigree as herd dogs, Komondorok are excellent protectors. But because of this, they tend to be wary of strangers and don’t get along very well with pets outside of the family. It’s important to socialize a Komondor early to prevent any future conflicts with neighbors (or neighbors' pooches). 

6. THIS BELOVED ALBUM COVER FEATURES ONE. 

The cover for Beck’s 1996 album, Odelay, features a shaggy Komondor mid-air. In the years since its release, the image has become one of the most recognizable covers of all time. But the choice to use the photograph was actually a last minute decision: According to the book 100 Greatest Album Covers, Beck arbitrarily picked it so that the record could come out on time. His girlfriend, Leigh Limon, found the picture in a book of dog breeds; well-respected photographer Joan Ludwig had taken the photograph, and Beck’s co-art director Robert Fisher added the text. As Fisher explained to 100 Greatest Album Covers

Once we had found the picture of the dog I set out to see if we could obtain the original transparency…. [Ludwig] happened to live just a few blocks from the office. She was in her late ’70s, I think, and was enthusiastic to have someone come visit her. Her garage was filled with boxes of dog pictures and after hours of searching I couldn’t find it so I ended up scanning the image directly from the book. The quality wasn’t so great but it did give the cover a certain look that I liked. 

7. THE BREED STANDARD REQUIRES CORDS. LOTS OF THEM. 

According to the American Kennel Club, any Komondor that doesn’t develop the breed's signature cords will be disqualified in competition. It usually takes about two years for the dog’s coat to get to that point—before that, they have fuzzy, curly hair. On average, a Komondor can have as many as 2000 cords, and their coats can weigh around 15 pounds. 

8. THOSE COATS NEED A LOT OF CARE.

Since their coats naturally form dreadlocks, Komondorok don’t need to be brushed. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean their grooming routine will be easy. Owners have to be vigilant about keeping their dog’s cords separated. Their coats are also magnets for dirt so the dogs need frequent baths. Baths are time-consuming and the cords take a long time to dry off. Owners are also urged to trim around the muzzle to keep food from their staining their fur. If not properly cared for, their massive coats can start to smell like mildew. 

9. HUNGARY CONSIDERS THEM A NATIONAL TREASURE 

Hungary’s largest dog is also, arguably, its favorite. Hungarians consider the breed a national treasure and fiercely protect the breeding standard from modification.  

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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Animals
If You Want Your Cat to Poop Out More Hairballs, Try Feeding It Beets
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Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to get your cat to poop out its hairballs instead of hacking them up? If so, you’re likely a seasoned cat owner whose tolerance for gross stuff has reached the point of no return. Luckily, there may be an easy way to get your cat to dispose of hairballs in the litter box instead of on your carpet, according to one study.

The paper, published in the Journal of Physiology and Animal Nutrition, followed the diets of 18 mixed-breed short-haired cats over a month. Some cats were fed straight kibble, while others were given helpings of beet pulp along with their regular meals. The researchers suspected that beets, a good source of fiber, would help move any ingested hair through the cats’ digestive systems, thus preventing it from coming back up the way it went in. Following the experiment, they found that the cats with the beet diet did indeed poop more.

The scientists didn’t measure how many hairballs the cats were coughing up during this period, so it's possible that pooping out more of them didn’t stop cats from puking them up at the same rate. But considering hairballs are a matter of digestive health, more regular bowel movements likely reduced the chance that cats would barf them up. The cat body is equipped to process large amounts of hair: According to experts, healthy cats should only be hacking hairballs once or twice a year.

If you find them around your home more frequently than that, it's a good idea to up your cat's fiber intake. Raw beet pulp is just one way to introduce fiber into your pet's diet; certain supplements for cats work just as well and actually contain beet pulp as a fiber source. Stephanie Liff, a veterinarian at Pure Paws Veterinary Care in New York, recommends psyllium powder to her patients. Another option for dealing with hairballs is the vegetable-oil based digestive lubricant Laxatone: According to Dr. Liff, this can "help to move hairballs in the correct direction."

[h/t Discover]

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