Puli Guide

Herding Dog Breeds

The puli is a compact dog of square proportion and medium bone. Its gait at a trot is quick stepping, but neither far reaching nor mincing. It is of utmost importance that the puli be able to change directions instantly, and it is quick, agile and even acrobatic. Its weatherproof coat consists of a soft, wooly, dense undercoat and a wavy or curly outer coat. This coat will form round or flattened cords, but it may also be brushed out.

A mop on springs, the puli is full of bouncing energy. It is busy and curious and needs daily exercise. This smart dog is also headstrong and tough. It can be aggressive toward other dogs. Alert and watchful, it is also protective of its family. It barks a lot.

AKC RANKING 129

FAMILY livestock, herding, gundog

AREA OF ORIGIN Hungary

DATE OF ORIGIN Middle Ages

ORIGINAL FUNCTION sheep herding

TODAY'S FUNCTION herding trials

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 17 Weight: 25-35

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 16 Weight: 25-35

OTHER NAME Hungarian puli, Hungarian water dog

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Energy level High energy

Exercise needs Medium

Playfullness Moderately playful

Affection level Somewhat affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Shy

Friendliness toward other pets Friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Shy

Ease of training Easy to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Very protective

Grooming needs High maintenance

Cold tolerance High tolerance

Heat tolerance Low tolerance

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This is an energetic breed on the lookout for a job, preferably something to herd. It can be satisfied with a good walk or jog, or a lively game and training session, however. It can live outdoors in temperate to cool climates, but it also makes an excellent house dog. Its coat can hold debris. Its nonshedding coat can be brushed or corded; if brushed, it needs brushing every one to two days. If corded, the cords must be regularly separated because the coat tends to hold dirt; bathing is time consuming and drying takes as much as one day. Pets can be clipped, but then part of the breed's unique appeal is lost.
• Major concerns: CHD
• Minor concerns: none
• Occasionally seen: PRA
• Suggested tests: hip, eye
• Life span: 12 – 16 years
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Around the 9th century, the Magyar tribes came from the eastern Urals to occupy the central Danube area, intermingling with Turkish people along the way. They brought with them various sheepdogs, including the forebear of the modern puli. The puli's resemblance in body structure to the Tibetan spaniel has led some to surmise that the latter may have played a role in the puli's development. Whatever the origin, the small dogs were agile sheep herders, able even to turn a sheep by jumping on its back. The black color was important so that it could be easily spotted by the shepherd among the sheep. Thus, the Magyar's larger dogs were probably used as nighttime guards, and the small black dogs as daytime herders. After the decimation of Hungary by invaders in the 16th century, the country was repopulated by people, sheep and dogs from western Europe. These dogs interbred with the native pulik to produce the puli, and then the puli and pumi were interbred to such an extent that the original puli breed was nearly lost. In the early 1900s, an effort began to resurrect the puli; the first standard was written in 1925. Around that time, pulik in Hungary varied greatly in height from large "police" through medium "working" to small "dwarf" sizes. The medium-sized dogs were most representative of the traditional herding puli and were established as the desired size. In 1935, the U.S. Department of Agriculture imported several pulik in an effort to improve herding dogs in America. This effort was thwarted by war, but the breed's working ability became known in America, and by 1936 the AKC recognized the puli. The breed's fame spread farther throughout Europe as a result of Hungarians fleeing the war, bringing their dogs with them. The modern puli remains an adept herder, but it enjoys only modest popularity as a pet or show dog.
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