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Unusual Dog Breeds: The Puli

Lively, cheerful and very loyal, this pooch would be welcomed in any family!

May 24, 2018 6 min read
Unusual Dog Breeds: The Puli

The Puli is a lively and cheerful little dog that is extremely loyal to its owner and those it loves. They are excellent family pets, and will easily adapt to most environments.


The Puli, an ancient breed, crossed the plains into Hungary with the Magyars several thousand years ago where they were used as sheep dogs. Many shepherds seemed to prefer black dogs, but this was probably because they are easier to see among the flock. The Puli was the herding and droving dog, and prized for its light, agile movement. The Komondor, the larger Hungarian breed, was more often used as a guarding dog for the flocks. At the time of the second world war, the breed had almost died out and its numbers were reduced to two figures. However, a controlled breeding program, assisted by dedicated breeders around the world, ensured the survival of these unique little Hungarians. The Puli was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1936.

General Appearance

The Puli is a very hardy breed. When choosing a Puli, make sure you are using a reputable breeder, as they will test their stock for hip dysplasia and eye maladies, even though there are no known major health problems with this breed.

The Puli is a compact breed with a short, square appearance, but is a well-balanced dog of medium size. He is energetic, alert and active. His uniquely striking, shaggy coat combined with his light-footed, distinctive movement suits him well for the strenuous work of herding flocks on the plains of Hungary, where the breed originates. The Puli's agility, in combination with his confidence, help make him the playful, exuberant companion that is fun to be around.

Males are generally 17 inches measured from the withers to the ground; while females are slightly smaller at 16 inches. An inch over or under these measurements is acceptable. They have a tight body structure, which gives them a square shape. Puli's have a strong muscular neck and a broad chest, with a tail that is carried over its back and blends into the backline.

The marvelous coat of the Puli is dense, weather-resistant and quite thick all over its body. The outer coat is wavy or curly, and never silky. The undercoat is soft, wooly and very dense. The coat clumps together easily and, if allowed to develop naturally, will form cords in the adult. The woolly cords vary in shape and thickness, either flat or round, depending on the texture of the coat and the balance of undercoat to outer coat. The Puli may be shown either corded or brushed. It is essential that the proper double coat with correct texture always be apparent. With age the coat can become quite long, even reaching to the ground; however, only enough length to properly evaluate quality and texture is considered necessary, so as not to penalize the younger or working specimens.

The corded coat begins to form around the age of 6 months, when the soft woolly undercoat intermingles with the harsher outer-coat. The formed mats should be regularly separated by hand 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 the dog and owner, and it takes little time if done regularly. 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 to dry. Without a drier, it can take around 2 days to fully dry. Eyes and ears should be cleaned regularly, and nails kept clipped. This breed does not shed its coat. If you are allergic to dogs in general, testing compatibility with a Puli is recommended since their coat is unique. A good breeder will let you visit several times by prior arrangement to see how their dogs affect you before you consider purchasing a puppy.

The Puli is typically a lively and acrobatic dog that is quick footed and agile with the ability to instantly change direction. When at a full trot, the Puli covers ground smoothly and efficiently, and it reflects the breed's natural herding style.

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Temperament and Adaptability

The Puli is a naturally affectionate, intelligent and home-loving companion that is sensibly suspicious, and therefore makes an excellent watchdog. Their intelligence makes them very easy to train. They excel in obedience and agility, as well as in the show ring. Though they are never overly aggressive, Puli's can be wary of strangers, and may well give a vocal warning if they feel their owner might be in danger. In addition, Puli are not recommended for very small children who may tease or be overly rough with them.

If the Puli senses their owners are not as strong minded as themselves they will become willful with a mind of their own, and believe they need to make up their own rules of the home. Therefore, it is essential to make sure your Puli knows who is in control and that you remain consistent with what is acceptable behavior and what is not.

The Puli will adapt to almost any circumstance, be it an apartment or a farm. Despite their heavy coats, they are well suited to all climates. In both the heat of Florida and the cold of Denver, they thrive extremely well.

General Care and Exercise

The proper care of a Puli is both essential to his and your well-beings. If you give your puppy a fresh, natural marrow bone, not a "knuckle bone," he will find it preferable to furniture, shoes, and your favorite book. He prefers fresh water at all times, in a pet waterer which doesn't make his whiskers wet. A companion is nice, either a human in need of direction, or another Puli. He prefers a large bed as well as a soft sofa for napping, and loves a window from which to watch the outside world in all its activity.

The Puli needs a daily walk or jog. While out on a walk the dog must be made to heel beside or behind the person holding the lead, as instinct tells a dog the leader leads the way, and that leader needs to be the human. These dogs are energetic and lively, and are in their glory when allowed to romp and play freely, especially if their owner or a companion dog joins in the fun. Some of them are fond of water and can swim very well; however, not all have this tendency, and swimming should never be permitted without supervision.

The Puli is fairly active indoors and will do fine without a yard, but for his outdoor laps, he likes a securely fenced-in yard where he can run. Don't be discouraged if you do not have a huge yard, or live in a rainy climate, as he will do just fine indoors and make good use of your living room for laps.

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