The International Hovawart Federation (IHF) is a unique breed-specific organization in the dog world: all member countries share the same “picture” of the Hovawart. The IHF consists of 15 Hovawart breed clubs around the world. There is currently one breed club per country. Amongst others, there are 2 factors that guide our aim to foster the originality of the Hovawart breed. We share the common goal to have ONE Hovawart worldwide without any country-specific lines, such as those that have developed within some breeds. We also share the primary goal to preserve the Hovawart according to Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) breed standard No. 190 in all aspects: health, temperament, appearance and performance as a working dog. We carefully and prudently uphold the heritage of this noble dog that was almost extinct a century ago.
The fulfillment of our goals entails supporting Hovawarts and their owners everywhere. The IHF ensures that there is an approved Hovawart club to offer life-long support for puppies when breeders export puppies to foreign owners. The affiliated IHF club in the importing country gladly welcomes new owners who choose to join. Appropriate representatives of the local club will then be available to communicate directly with owners about health, behaviour, and training. The Breeding Directors of member countries will be able to foster the welfare of a dog by exchanging information about it with the IHF and the foreign breeder. The local IHF club also offers support if an owner is not a club member. In sum, the IHF provides a network of communication and safety net for the development of a dog throughout its life. This network includes the breeder and owners as well as clubs in the countries of origin and residence.
To enhance the integrity of the breed, the IHF maintains a database of health and background information for more than 90,000 Hovawart dogs all around the world. The database includes a 5 generation pedigree for each dog. The data helps identify mating possibilities that would strengthen and improve the breed. Breeding Directors of all member countries use this data base to plan quality breedings and contribute to its up-to-date status.
The IHF holds high standards for member countries and their approved breeders because ethical breeding is as crucial as health, temperament, appearance and working ability. We require member countries and their breeders to abide by regulations that are even stricter than the FCI and local kennel clubs. One procedure to maintain these standards is that the IHF oversees border exchange of stud dogs to increase the gene pool by avoiding “popular stud dog syndrome”. We also ensure that there are quality breeders within the different member countries by coordinating transparent, comparable testing results to help breeders determine breeding suitability. The highest levels of consideration, coordination, and care are given to the planning, birth, and early development of each litter. Adherence to these measures assures the universal standard of a well bred Hovawart for any puppy born under the IHF umbrella. Moreover, these measures enable us to establish the best quality gene pool with the lowest in-breeding coefficient.
In terms of how we function, the IHF supports approved breeders of all member countries, under the direction of their respective Breeding Directors. Our group works closely in a tight network of member clubs that support one another. We meet around a table at least annually to discuss experiences, breed data, and future plans. We employ shared health information, concerted actions, and thorough monitoring to combat diseases internationally for the sake of effective prevention. Also, we provide the means of direct contact among affiliated officials to cooperate speedily as they exchange information and resolve problems.
Last but not least, the IHF sponsors sanctioned shows that award the IHF Champion Title as well as IHF Tracking and Obedience World Championships.