Other names: Hungarian Puli
The Puli is a medium-sized dog that was originally bred in Hungary and was used for herding livestock. It is recognised most readily by its long and corded coat. The ‘dreadlock’ appearance of the dog’s coat is shared only with the Puli’s larger cousin the Komondor. The Puli is an agile, intelligent and loving dog but one that is prone to stubbornness and independence. The word used for a gathering of two or more of these dogs is ‘Pulik’.
Key facts about the Puli
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Origins and history
Pulik are an ancient breed of dog known to have been used by Hungarian farmers of the Middle Ages. They were introduced to Hungary by nomadic Asian tribes and so are believed to have first been used by farmers of the Middle East and India. Pulik with light-coloured coats were set among herds of sheep in an attempt to protect the animals from poachers and wild animals. The popularity of the breed as a house dog in the United Kingdom waned after World War II and has not surged since.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)
Section 1 : Sheepdogs
Physical characteristics of the Puli
Female : Between 14 and 17 in
Male : Between 15 and 18 in
Female : Between 22 and 29 lb
Male : Between 29 and 33 lb
A Puli’s coat can be coloured completely black or black with some areas of grey. Other less common coat colours are white, grey or fawn. Fawn-coloured Pulik often have black faces; this gives us an impression of them wearing a mask.
Type of coat
Their hair is long.
The Puli’s coat is usually corded or curled but can vary slightly in appearance from dog to dog determined by the nature of the undercoat and texture of the top coat. Some Puli coats are self-cording but most are corded by the dog’s owner. The Puli’s coat takes around four years to fully develop.
The Puli’s eyes are usually coloured dark brown.
The Puli has a sturdy and well-balanced look. The thickness of the fur belies the lean but muscular body. The top line of the dog appears almost horizontal. The dog’s long tail curls flatly over its croup. Despite its sturdy appearance the dog’s skull is usually small and fine and its muzzle short. The ears are reasonably high on the dog’s head and hang close; they widen at the base.
Good to know
Although the Puli’s coat is arguably the dog’s best-loved feature it does have its drawbacks. The dog is especially intolerant to heat and great care must be taken to avoid the Puli overheating. Additionally, the coat will weigh very heavily on a swimming dog. Care should be taken to assist a Puli from the water if the owner believes the dog is getting tired.
The Puli has a pleasant personality and if trained and treated correctly is affectionate and loyal. They are highly-strung dogs and their ancestry as an active and agile herding dog should be taken into account before choosing this breed as a pet. A Puli will consider itself the guardian of the family.
Some Pulis are playful but others can be a little standoffish. This breed has a juvenile sense of fun throughout almost its entire life and generally tolerates playtime. However, it can become impatient for too much rough play.
The Puli is not a nervous dog and does not easily scare. It is exceptionally inquisitive. Sights, smells and sounds are just causes for the Puli to become excited. The Puli has a tendency to lose itself in a moment of great enthusiasm and then to become silly.
The Puli’s exceptional intelligence lends itself to excellent obedience and an ability to win agility contests, but the dog’s intelligence also gives rise to traits of manipulation and demand. The dog possesses a great deal of energy and determination; its tendency to cause mischief cannot be emphasised enough.
Pulik are not hunters; they are herding dogs. As such they do not have a high prey drive.
Fearful / wary of strangers
The Puli is not wary of strangers. In fact, the dog’s will to protect his family comes to the fore when meeting unfamiliar humans. It will tend to rush up to a visitor in order to gauge their intentions. If the dog is not happy with the meeting, an owner’s gentle encouragement and patience is required in order to allay the dog’s fears and let it finally make a connection with the visitor.
Pulik were bred to make their own decisions in the field, and the modern Puli is in all respects independent. If the Puli is not socialised and trained correctly in early life it will attempt to take control of the environment in which it finds itself.
Behaviour of the Puli
Pulik do not tolerate solitude. If left alone for an unduly long time the Puli becomes agitated and upset. Leaving any dog for a long time on its own is not advisable. Doing so can cause behavioural problems that are not easily tackled.
Easy to train / obedience
The Puli is a strong-willed animal and one that is not easily trained. Being independent the Puli will learn when it wants to learn. An owner’s half-hearted efforts won’t make much difference. The Puli requires an even stronger-willed leader who is confident and consistent. Do not berate a Puli; this is a proud dog yet sensitive and any harshness of language or actions will only make the job of training harder.
The Puli’s bark is notably irritating. However, it is worthwhile to say that any dog’s excessive barking will probably be the fault of the owner: leaving the Puli on its own for too long, and not giving the dog adequate training and exercise are all causes of excessive vocalisation. The bark is not high-pitched but it will grate after a while.
Tendency to run away
Consistent training will ensure that on most occasions your Puli will respond to your voice and not run away. Reinforcing the ‘recall’ command is always worthwhile.
If it finds itself at home for long periods of time without human company the Puli will inform you of its displeasure by destroying your furnishings and carpets.
Greedy / Gluttony
To own an active dog does not preclude someone from administering a strict dog food diet. Pulik require two meals a day of high-quality dog food, ideally formulated for active dogs. The Puli is prone to obesity if fed too many treats or too much human food.
The alertness of the Puli makes this breed a worthwhile watchdog. Even the slightest sounds or movement outside may cause it to bark. The Puli is also not afraid to back up its bark with a bite.
It is a very good choice for a first adoption. This breed is suitable for many profiles and its great qualities will allow novices to learn to educate a dog without much difficulty (but always with consistency and firmness).
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Puli in a flat
The happiest Pulik are those that live in the countryside and are able to roam freely. However, a Puli can live in a flat if exercised and interacted with regularly. The Puli will not do well if confined to a flat that is empty for the greater part of the day.
Need for exercise / Sporty
Pulik enjoy hiking, running, swimming and roaming across fields. They are active dogs that are accustomed to endless solo explorations. An owner must take into account the original nature of the Puli in order to tailor an exercise regimen accordingly. Failure to exercise these dogs enough will result in them behaving antisocially.
Travelling / easy to transport
Once trained, Pulik are exceptionally obedient and comfortable with new experiences. The Puli is not a dog that prefers to stay in one place for a long period of time.
Puli and cats
The Puli will tolerate a household cat but only if he is taught (and reminded about) how to behave. Early socialisation with cats will help the Puli to understand the cat’s importance to us.
Puli and dogs
Pulik interact well with other dogs but they have a tendency to want to dominate and boss.
Puli and children
The Puli does not tolerate rough play. Its patience is liable to run out with young children who do not understand the dog’s nature and who enjoy teasing the dog. The Puli will also try to herd children and may nip at them to try to bring them into line. The dog holds no malice towards children but sees them as he would a herd of sheep. Playtime should be supervised.
Puli and the elderly
Because it is a dog that requires lots of grooming and exercise the Puli may not be the perfect choice of dog for some of senior years.
Puli costs between £560 and £740.
To care for a Puli, you should count a budget between £60 to £100 per month.
The uncorded Puli coat should be brushed regularly to prevent its hair from becoming tangled and matted. The corded coat must be groomed by more delicate means: dampen the coat with water and then separate the cords and curls of the coat by hand. You may want to bath your Puli from time to time because its coat collects foreign matter from the outdoors. The Puli is usually trimmed in the spring in readiness for the summer.
The Puli coat is considered to be non-shedding and hypoallergenic.
Nutrition of the Puli
It is always worthwhile to feed a Puli a high-quality and specially formulated dog food rather than human food. The Puli’s diet should consist of good amounts of protein and fat.
Health of the Puli
13 to 15 years.
Strong / robust
A Puli outdoors will not care what the weather is like. This particular breed of sheepdog is one of the hardiest. The agility and strength of the Puli prevent it from injuring itself.
The Puli does not tolerate hot weather at all. A four to six inch trim in the springtime is recommended in readiness for the summer heat.
The double coat of the Puli keeps the dog warm even when walking in the rain and snow. Dry a Puli off after a particularly wet walk (it can take up to 12 hours for the Puli’s coat to completely dry).
Tendency to put on weight
Weight gain can be a feature of the Puli. If your Puli is not exercised as regularly as it should be and is fed too much human or substandard food it will become obese.
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