The Puli is quite a rare breed, ranking 160th in popularity of a total 193 American Kennel Club breeds. Nevertheless, these dogs are extremely recognizable, sporting a long dreadlock-like coat and bearing an uncanny resemblance to a string mop. An offshoot of dogs like the Komondor and Kuvasz, the Puli has a herding history that dates back over 1,000 years, where it served faithfully on the farms of Hungarian shepherds. Today, the Puli still possesses many of the qualities of a true herder, though it makes a great family pet.
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The Puli’s coat is not only its uniquely defining feature, but also a practical one that protects it from the elements, prickly plants, and threats from other animals. A dense undercoat is covered by a curly or wavy, wooly outer coat, which becomes cord-like as the Puli matures into adulthood. Standard Pulik are black, silver, or white, though this breed can also be found in non-standard colors like brown, cream, and rust, with black mask or black or white markings.
While the Puli’s coat may give it the appearance of being larger than it actually is, these dogs are actually fairly small, reaching 16 to 17 inches at adult height and weighing between 25 and 35 pounds. Still, the Puli is compact and sturdy, enabling it to be highly effective as a herding breed. From its neck and back to its chest, the Puli is well-muscled throughout and quite athletic. Underneath its long coat, the Puli has a pair of V-shaped ears and a set of dark almond-shaped eyes that match its black nose.
The expected lifespan for a Puli is around 10 to 15 years. Though they aren’t very large dogs, Pulik are tough as nails and can be stubbornly independent. The Puli, like many other herding dogs, is vigilant as a watchdog and constantly aware of its surroundings. Pulik are not afraid to bark or take on a challenge, so it’s important to properly introduce these dogs to any guests. Particularly when it comes to its home and family, the Puli can be quite defensive and territorial; don’t be surprised if the Puli shows a more aggressive side when it perceives a threat on its turf. When in the company of its family, however, the Puli is a loving and playful dog that gets along well with adults and children.
Pulik are incredibly intelligent dogs and it’s important to train them early on to minimize bad behavior, most of which can be traced back to its herding instincts. Adventurous, vocal, and bent on chasing and herding animals, the Puli should always be kept on a leash or behind a secure fence or an electric dog fence. Since the Puli has a surfeit of energy and loves using its smarts, these dogs excel in many canine sports and activities, in addition to their traditional role as a farmhand.
Having lived and worked alongside humans for so many centuries, the Puli prefers to be in the company of its family. A well-trained Puli can be brought along when traveling, but don’t be surprised when its unusual appearances draw the attention and comments of strangers.
Caring for a Puli
The Puli is a great dog, but certainly requires some special attention in order to ensure proper behavior and a healthy lifestyle.
A nutritious dog food or organic dog food from a reputable company should sustain the Puli well enough to serve its dietary needs, provided necessary adjustments are made to accommodate the dog’s age at a given time. As with other breeds, it’s important to speak to a veterinarian about how much your dog should be eating, as weight gain and obesity can be problematic among Pulik and lead to a variety of health concerns. In the event that a Puli suffers from food allergies, consider replacing its existing diet with a minimally processed wet dog food or a grain free dog food.
Pulik have impressive energy supplies and need to expend their energy in a healthy and productive way. Giving the Puli a practical job herding something is probably the most constructive and natural way to tame this dog’s near-limitless sum of energy. If not, a bored Puli may end up herding other animals, or even children, around the house. For those Pulik who are left jobless, other options include canine agility and other sports, running, hiking, or long walks, and some free time to run around in a yard or open space outdoors.
The Puli is certainly intelligent enough to learn all the tricks of an award-winning show dog, but this stubborn breed will quickly show you that is much easier said than done.
The Puli’s general health is very good overall, as this tends to be a healthy breed with fewer than average health concerns. Unsurprisingly, the coat of the Puli is high maintenance and requires semi-regular grooming by a professional.
Like other purebred dog breeds, Puli can find themselves at greater risk for genetic diseases, many of which can be more effectively treated when detected early in life. A dog DNA test that screens for conditions like Primary Lens Luxation, Bardet Biedl Syndrome, and Degenerative Myelopathy can prove itself quite useful, and many breeders will have already conducted these tests and should freely offer their results to prospective dog owners interested in their litter.
In addition to the aforementioned genetic diseases, Puli can also suffer from eye problems like Multi-Focal Retinal Dysplasia and cataracts. Like so many other breeds, the Puli also has a history with hip dysplasia. Preventive measures for these conditions include avoiding obesity maintaining a healthy diet and weight and adequate exercise, as well as taking the dog to a veterinarian for regular checkups and ophthalmological and hip screenings/evaluations. Owners should also be sure to frequently clean and check a Puli’s ears for any signs of infection, and brush its teeth with a toothpaste for dogs.