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
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.