Meet The Breed: ‘Acrobat Of The Dog World’ Puli Dog

There is no breed alive that can be mistaken for the Puli. Just look at that coat - who wouldn't remember the name of this breed? Read on to discover more about this breed.

Puli is a smart, loyal and home-oriented dog who isn’t afraid to show you just how powerful he is.

There is no breed alive that can be mistaken for the fantastic Puli – this is a natural herder covered with unique cords, from head to tail.

Puli was originally bred to spend time close to humans, helping them with everyday tasks and challenges.

Puli is best known for its dreadlocks that are one of a kind in the canine world, which are wooly, dense, and weatherproof.

As you may expect already, this kind of coat demands significant time and lots of attention.

Under these adorable and demanding curls, the Puli is a surprisingly powerful dog, standing 16 to 17 inches at the shoulder. This dog is extremely light on their feet, and as such is known as the “acrobat of the dog world.”

Quick Facts

Real name: Puli dog
Other names: Hungarian Pulie
Common nicknames: Hungarian Water Dog
Origin: Hungary
Breed type: Herding Dogs
Weight: 25-35 pounds
Height: 17 inches (male), 16 inches (female)
Lifespan: 10 – 15 years
Litter Size: 4 – 6 puppies
Color: Usually black. Other color variations may include white, gray, or cream with black masks
Coat: Corded, dense, and weather resistant coat. Soft, wolly and dense undercoat.

Puli History

Dog fanciers and canine historians believe that this medium-sized dog of unique appearance was brought by Hungarians in the 9th century.

At that time, Hungarians invaded parts of Siberia, and ever since the Puli has been a sheepdog on the Hungarian ground.

According to many documents, it is believed that Puli is the ancestor of the Poodle. In the 1920s the breed was heavily studied by Dr. Emil Raitsitz from Hungary’s veterinary college.

In their early days, Puli worked closely with white large and powerful Komondor, a Hungarian breed of livestock guardian dog.

These two dogs worked as a team, with Komondor guarding cattle at night, and Puli herding and guarding the flock during the day.

In a case of a wolf attack, Puli would react and Komondor would face the wild animal. Puli might have a weather resistance coat, but that doesn’t mean that this dog had any water-related duties.

When people moved from shepherding to intensive farming, the role of Puli significantly decreased which eventually lead to lesser popularity of the breed. Even today, the breed hasn’t been able to regain the popularity it previously enjoyed.

Purebred Pulik was imported to Beltsville, Maryland in 1935 as a part of an experiment.

The initial plan was to try to help American agriculturists with herding dogs. There, the breed was crossed with other breeds, including the German Shepherd.

Fan Fact:The plural of Puli is Pulik (always pronounced the same way).

Puli Physical Appearance

The Puli is a medium-sized dog with a well-built and compact body. In fact, this is one of the best-built dogs of medium size. This is an alert and active dog who loves being active.

Puli has one of a kind shaggy coat which is rather striking and demands a fair share of your time when it comes to brushing.

The head is of medium size in proportion to the body. Eyes are almond-shaped and large.

Ears are set higher than the level of the eyes, and overall ears are of medium size and have V-shape. The nose is always black.

The neck is strong and muscular, while the chests are moderately broad, whit a short loin. The tail is carried over. Dewclaws may be removed.

The body is well-covered with a weather-resistant coat. The outer coat is either wavy or curly, but never silky. The undercoat is dense, wooly, and soft. The Puli may be shown either corded or brushed.

As Puli gets older, the coat can become long and even reach the ground. However, one should be extremely careful of this characteristic because long dog hair doesn’t stand for quality.

Living With Puli

When getting a dog, it’s extremely important to understand the breed’s original purpose.

If you love spending hours in front of your TV then herding a dog like Puli or Borador isn’t the best choice for you. Instead, you should focus on getting a dog with a low energy level.

As a herding dog, Puli will demand active time. He may even try to ‘herd’ people by nipping at their owners’ heels – this is why you should educate your children on how to behave around dogs and what’s allowed and what is off-limit.

Like, explain to them why they should disturb the dog when sleeping,e rating, or testing in his area, and why dog toys are off-limits.

He can swim, just make sure to help him out when he gets really exhausted. As expected, there will need some extra time to dry that corded coat.

Puli Training

This is a breed that loves being active, and as such mental stimulation is a must. Pack treats and organize fun and short training sessions, that will keep your Puli engaged and happy.

Dogs love having a job to do and Puli is no exception.

As one of the most intelligent breeds, Puli can learn quickly and will go the extra mile if you offer him his favorite treats.

There is a joke among dog fanciers, that one needs to be very smart to own a Puli, otherwise, this dog will outrun them.

This is a headstrong breed that won’t have any issues humiliating you in public – so arm yourself with extra patience.

Puppies are able to learn basic commands as of eight weeks old, so make sure that you start training as soon as you get your puppy.

If you are getting an adult or even a senior dog, do not despair, these dogs can still learn new tricks easily.

If you feel like you need extra help with training your Puli, make sure that you attend puppy classes, or hire a professional dog trainer to help you raise a well-behaved canine.

In the meantime, educate yourself on training dogs, learn which trust can help you make training a stress-free and effortless process.

Puli Grooming

So special coat comes with demanding maintenance. Puliks’ coats can be corded, brushed, or kept in order with a clipped coat. No grooming is needed until Puli turns 8-10 months.

All that you should do in that period is to keep ears, nails, and teeth in order. Provide foods that will keep teeth strong and healthy, and learn which human foods may harm your Puli.

Once the undercoat appears, the coat begins to feel thick and matter under your fingers. Soon after, you will see natural separations in the coat – this is the begging of a cord.

This is also a time when you can separate these soft clumps from each other by pulling them apart with your fingers.

Cords are nothing else but organized mats that have tangled over time. Bath your Puli only when really needed, no matter how messy they might look, they do not need extreme bathing, unless they got themselves into something really nasty.

In general, dogs do not need frequent bathing as humans do. The rest is regular maintenance:

  • Brush weekly
  • Learn how to clean dog’s ears
  • Trim or grind nails regularly
  • Check gums weekly
  • Brush dog’s teeths as recommended by the vet

Puli Health

Reputable breeders will always test their breeding stock for any health issues. In fact, they will always present you with the dog’s medical documentation as proof that that the dog is 100% healthy.

Of course, some health issues can occur in almost any breed, but again – responsible breeders will be honest about it, and inform you of the entire dog’s health history, including the health history of his parents.

Not sure how to choose the responsible breeder for your Puli?

Check the Puli Club of America to find everything Puli-related, including Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) testing to determine that breeding stock is free of inheritable disease.

Breeders who are members of Puli Club of America are 100% committed to the club’s guidelines, so you can be sure that they are doing their best to deliver a healthy dog.

The Puli has an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years, and during his lifetime this breed may experience major health issues such as canine hip dysplasia (CHD).

In Pulik often seen, conditions are progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and deafness. Eye testing is available almost everywhere, so make sure that you adress that possible issues on time.

Once you get a dog you are directly responsible for his weight. Obesity in pets is one of the rising issues in the States, and your dog should be part of that statistic.

Make sure that you know how much you should feed your dog on a daily level, how much exercise you should provide on a daily level, and how often you should offer treats to your dog.

Don’t overdue with treats and use them only to reward positive behavior. Provide high-quality food, feed your Fido on time, and exercise together.

The Bottom Line

The Puli is a powerful herding breed, with quick reflexes. One of the smartest of all breeds, Puli is packed with confidence and intelligence.

This breed is primarily for experienced owners who know their way around dogs. This is important because Puli is prone to making decisions on his own.

This is why routine, training, and firm leadership are important for handling this breed. Yet, this is a sensitive dog who won’t tolerate any harsh handling.

Just like with any other dog breed use only positive reinforcement techniques. If you want a dog who is agile, sheds less than other breeds and thrives on exercise and athletic activities, then a Puli may be right for you.