The Puli (plural Pulik) is a lively, cheerful little dog who is very loyal. It is small-medium in size, its origin lies in Hungarian herding and livestock guarding dogs and is known primarily for its long, corded coat. The tight curls of the coat, similar to dreadlocks, make it virtually waterproof. A similar looking, but much larger Hungarian breed is called Komondor.
Puli are reasonably intelligent, agile dogs. Despite their bulky appearance and very thick coat they are very fast, agile and able to change directions instantlyand are obedient enough to train for athletic competition. They are devoted and form close bonds with their owners.
They are excellent family pets and will adapt to most surroundings and circumstances. Their innate intelligence makes them easy to train. If the Puli senses their owners are not as strong minded as themselves they will become willful with a mind of their own, as they will believe they need to make up their own rules of the home. They do very well in obedience and agility as well as in the show ring.
As a family dog, they make good security dogs and faithful family guardians. They can be very friendly and playful, even in old age. They regard their family as their flock, and will keep their distance until they are sure a stranger is not a threat. When annoyed, they may attack without warning, so a considerable distance may be advisable for strangers.
Puli are not recommended for small children who may tease or be rough with them.
As a working dog, the Puli is very obedient, focused and determined when assigned a task. Some of them are used as police dogs. As a livestock guarding dog they are fiercely protective of their territory and flock, and, despite their relatively small size, will fearlessly try to scare and drive any intruder away, however they very rarely inflict any real injuries.
Puli compete in dog agility trials, obedience, flyball, tracking, and herding events.
Physical Characteristics and grooming
The Puli is a solid coloured dog that is usually black. Other less common coat colours are white, gray, or cream (off white or fakó in Hungarian). A variety of the cream-coated dogs have black masks. The white Pulik are often blue-eyed and called Roxies. The breed standard is for females about 16.5 inches (42 cm) at the withers, and 17 inches for males.Females weigh 23-25 pounds, males slightly more. The coat of some Puli dogs can be different, thinner or thicker cords, either flat or round, depending on the texture of the coat and the balance of undercoat to outer coat.The coat is the result of a controlled matting process. Thin rope-like corded coats are desired and the grooming should control the coat towards the forming of thinner ropes. The Puli’s coat needs considerable grooming to keep its cords clean, neat, and attractive. With age the coat can become quite long, even reaching the ground.Alternatively, the coat can be trimmed short regularly for easy maintenance, although the corded coat is what attracts many people to the breed. Contrary to some beliefs, the coats of healthy puli will grow out again after trimming. This breed has little to no shedding.
The corded coat begins to form around the age of 6 months when the soft woolly undercoat intermingles with the harsher outer-coat. The mats thus formed should be separated by hand very regularly at this stage. The clumps should be torn apart by hand from the tip to the skin. Each coat is individual but as a rough guide, these sections should not be made thinner than the width of a pencil. It is a relaxing and enjoyable process for dog and owner and if done regularly, takes little time. Keeping a fully corded Puli is very easy since they take little care apart from regular coat separation and, of course, bathing. Bathing is as easy as washing a sweater but drying does take some time. With a dryer a fully corded Puli coat will take several hours and without a drier can take around 2 days to be fully dry. Eyes and ears should be cleaned regularly; nails kept clipped.
The Puli is an ancient sheepdog, from Hungary, introduced by the migration of the Magyars from Central Asia more than 1,000 years ago. The Puli were used for both herding and guarding livestock. The Puli would commonly work together with the much larger, white Komondor, a Hungarian dog livestock guardian dog. The Komondor is a large, solidly-built dog, around 30 inches tall. The Komondor (or several Komondorok if the there was a large amount livestock) guarded the sheep or cattle mostly at night, while the Puli herded and guarded them during the day. When wolves or bears attacked the livestock, the Puli would alert the pack and the Komondorok would come and fight the intruders. Puli can be good at fighting off wolves, because the thick coat protects their skin from being bitten. The Komondorok usually rested during daytime but at night walked around the flock, constantly moving, patrolling the area.
Nomadic shepherds of the Hungarian plains valued their herding dogs, paying as much as a year’s salary for a Puli.
In Asia, the breed dates back 2,000 years and anecdotal evidence suggests that a Puli-like dog existed 6,000 years ago. This breed is possibly the ancestor of the modern Poodle. Although the coats may look slightly similar, the Puli has never worked in water and the Puli’s coat does not grow continuously in the same fashion as a Poodle’s once the cords are formed.
Possibly the Puli’s ancestors are ancient Hungarian shepherd dogs. Travelers brought the Puli with them to the Carpathian-basin, to help organize the flocks, and herd the stallions of the area. The huge Komondor and the Kuvasz were used for guarding the belongings of the owner, while the Puli would keep the animals together. Around the beginning of the 20th Century a real turning point for the breed came when it was rediscovered but no longer used much as a sheep dog; extensive shepherding was replaced by intensive farming. The Puli’s role was reduced in the life of the flock. Although, their traditional duty was kept, they started to fulfill jobs that were convenient in the circumstances of their owner: they became house dogs. After World War II, the breed became a less popular pet; even now the breed has not been able to regain the popularity it previously enjoyed.
The Puli is a very hardy breed, with hardly any health issues. Responsible breeders screen their puppies for Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia. Opinions between breeders can differ as to when a puppy should be screened. Ideally pulik should be screened as puppies and again after they are a year old for MRD, ensuring that the condition has not developed once the puli is fully grown. Eye testing is available in most areas of the country on a fairly regular basis.
The average age for the puli to be hip scored is between 12 -18 months however a puli can be hip scored beyond this date and the average hip score for the puli at this time is approximately 16 at this time.