Puli

Breed At A Glance

Classification
Herding

Personality
Adaptable, loyal and cheerful

Life Expectancy
12-13 years

Average Height
16-17 inches

Average Weight
25-35 lbs

Coat Color
Solid black, rusty black, gray, apricot, or white

Coat Length/Texture
Very long and profuse water-resistent corded coat

Shedding Propensity
None

Also known as Hungarian Puli, Pulik, Hungarian Water Dog

General Temperament

The lively Puli (plural: Pulik) is an even-tempered breed, deeply faithful to it’s owners and territory. Although they are not aggressive, they will bark vigorously to defend their home or flock against perceived danger. They are lively, active and affectionate. This breed often excels in obedience and agility trials, and make excellent herding dogs.

The Puli can get along with well-behaved children, but do not take kindly to being pestered or having their cords pulled. With proper socialization early in life, they can live harmoniously with dogs and some other household pets, but they should not be trusted with more docile pets (such as rabbits).

Intelligence and trainability are a hallmark of this breed. Pulik enjoy pleasing their masters and learn new tasks easily as long as the training is firm. This breed functions best with a master that can keep the upper hand throughout the dog’s life. Although their original purpose was as a herder, they make excellent military and police dogs.

Pulik are energetic yet extremely adaptable dogs, and can be happy everywhere from an apartment to a farm, from an unusually hot to an unusually cold climate. Regardless of their living quarters, they require a significant amount of exercise and love to have a chance to run off-leash in a secured area.

Breed History

When the Magyars left their homeland south of the Ural Mountains and settled in the Carpathian basin (modern day Hungary) around the 10th century, they brought a variety of herding dogs with them. These early shepherding breeds resembled the Komondor and the Kuvasz, as well as a smaller dog that resembled the modern Puli (although it has been theorized that the Puli was actually derived from the Tibetan Terrier). In the 16th century, the Ottomans conquered Hungary and introduced their own sheepdogs, which intermingled with the local Pulik. This gave rise to a new breed which was termed “Pumi,” and the Puli in it’s original version was nearly lost. Dedicated 20th century breeders developed a meticulous breeding program to reinvigorate the breed.

The Puli was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1936.

Body Structure and Composition

The Puli is a medium-sized and well-proportioned dog, square in appearance and compact in structure. The head is similarly well-proportioned, with a truncated muzzle that comprises one third of the total length. The medium-sized, pendulous ears are set slightly higher than the level of the eyes. The body is quite refined, a fact which is masked by the thick and profuse cords. A Puli’s back is level and it’s chest is moderately deep and broad. On a properly exercised individual, the legs are well-muscled and strong. The tail is carried curled up over the back and blends smoothly with the rest of the coat. This breed exhibits a free and extremely agile gait, capable of changing directions very quickly and distinctly, it’s long cords harmoniously accentuating it’s movements.

The Puli’s distinctive cords are formed naturally as the long profuse outer coat intertwines with the soft wooly undercoat after puppyhood. A minor amount of help is needed from the owner to make sure that the cords do not grow together, forming a heavy mat.

Medical Information

Due to a very careful breeding program guided by conscientious and dedicated breeders, the Puli has developed into a relatively healthy breed. But, like all dogs, they are not completely free of potential medical problems.

The most prominent problem encountered by the Puli is Hip Dysplasia, a condition which occurs when the head of the thigh bone degenerates and no longer fits into the cup provided by the hip socket, causing lameness and arthritis-like symptoms. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) provides certification of breeding stock to help prevent the spread of this disease, and reputable breeders should be able to provide this information to potential puppy buyers upon request.

Some Pulik are also prone to hearing problems or ear infections, as well as possible eye problems. Be sure to discuss these potential problems with the breeding when searching for a puppy.

The Pulik coat does take some effort during it’s initial growth to prevent it from becoming a matted mess. Somewhere between 6 and 9 months, the under and outer coat begin to intertwine, creating “clumps.” The clumps should be split by hand from the tip to the skin, creating cords that are roughly no smaller than the diameter of a pencil. Occasional bathing is necessary, of course, and unfortunately the cords take quite some time to dry (up to a couple of days is allowed to dry naturally). The benefit is this breed does not shed.

Anecdotal Information

The Puli is a rare breed in the United States, reaching only 141st out of 157 dog breeds based on 2007 registration statistics provided by the American Kennel Club.

A Puli’s vision is not impaired by the cords hanging from the face, contrary to what one might assume. The effect is somewhat like looking through Venetian blinds. The cords move along with the dog, and some say that Pulik can see better than humans. Nevertheless, some owners prefer to keep the cords tied up out of the dog’s face, particularly during agility or obedience competitions.

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