The Puli dog breed is a distinctive-looking working dog from the Herding Group. The corded coat gives them the typical mop-like appearance that makes these dogs look bulky. But they are very quick as well as agile, two of the most important requirements of a herding dog. These fearless and independent dogs make excellent watch dogs for the family and the property. They can live in the city if adequate outdoor activities are provided, but are ideally suited for country life.
The Puli dog breed originated in Hungary, but it has a long history going as far back as the Middle Ages and beyond. Several breeds of sheep dogs were part of the nomadic tribes that occupied Hungarian plains in the Danube river basin in the early centuries. The Puli dogs are thought to have descended from the Magyar tribes who flourished in the area in the 9th century, but their long coat indicates their probable relation to the Tibetan breeds of similar appearance.
The exact origins cannot be ascertained, but it is known that these dogs have been used for herding sheep, a job they performed perfectly. They are known to herd the sheep in the direction they need to go by jumping on them.
The invasion of Hungary in the 16th century led to the dispersion of the shepherd tribes of the area. It took years for the area to be filled with sheep and people again, and resulted in several new breeds from Europe coming in with people from the European countries. The original Puli breed, which was earlier called Pulik, was thus interbred with some of these dogs to result in a type of dog referred to as Pumi.
More crossbreeding with other dogs resulted in them losing their identity over the years until, in the beginning of the 20th century, some dog enthusiasts strived to revive the Puli breed and restore its breed characteristics. The Puli breed was standardized in 1925, and it was introduced to several countries. They became popular in the United States and the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1936.
The Puli dog breed is medium-sized with a long coat of curly hair that is non-shedding. Their double coat grows continuously, resulting in matting of the hair to form long dreadlocks which can reach the ground. The dogs typically measure 16 to 17 inches at the withers and weigh 23 to 27 pounds, and look like a smaller version of the Komondor breed from Hungary.
Under the long coat that makes the dogs appear larger than they really are, they have a surprisingly fast and agile body. Black is the usual coat color, but dogs in white, cream or grey coats also occur.
The Puli dogs are intelligent and capable of working on their own without constant interaction with their owners. This makes them independent and headstrong. Early obedience training is absolutely essential as adult dogs are difficult to train. These dogs are very loyal to their owners and protective of their family members and homes. They are active and playful, retaining their puppy-like enthusiasm all through their life. They are wary of strangers and are known to attack if they come too close. They are belligerent with other dogs too.
Grooming and exercise
The corded coat of the Puli dog breed is its main distinctive feature. But this long coat can gather dust and debris, and can be difficult to clean. Many owners decide to keep the coat trimmed for easy grooming, but at the risk of losing this unique appearance. When the coat is kept short it requires a thorough brushing every day.
The Puli dogs have high levels of energy and require plenty of exercise and other activities to expend it. Several brisk walks or jogs along with their owners should be part of their life, but herding is what they are best at. Any opportunity to herd would provide physical exertion as well as mental stimulation which the dog requires to remain happy. These dogs are highly intelligent and amenable to training, making them ideal candidates for obedience training and other agility tests.
The heavy coat of the Puli dogs makes them intolerant to heat, but offers them ample protection from cold and wetness. They can live outdoors round the year even in extremely cold areas. But these well-behaved dogs deserve to be allowed indoors to live with their family at night.
Common health issues of Puli dog breed
The Puli dog breed is generally healthy but canine hip dysplasia is a common occurrence. Other health problems found in this breed are deafness and progressive retinal atrophy. However, most dogs enjoy a healthy and long life spanning 10 to 15 years.