One of three dogs native to Hungary, the Pumi was conceived by pairing the Puli with Western European herding dogs and terriers. Until the 1900s, however, the Pumi was not distinguished as a separate breed from the Puli. Ranking 151st of 193 American Kennel Club breeds, the Pumi is far from popular in the United States and was first recognized by the AKC in 2016.
In Finland, however, where the Pumi was first introduced in 1972, the breed is the most popular Hungarian herding dog. Despite its rarity, the Pumi is an excellent companion and exemplifies the qualities of an intelligent working breed.
Medium in size, the Pumi stands between 15 and 18.5 inches in height, with females weighing 22-24 pounds and males coming in slightly heavier at 27-29 pounds.
The Pumi sports an alert and intelligent appearance, and is almost always aware of its surroundings. Whether for work or play, the Pumi is prepared to respond and act quickly, where it thrives as a herder of livestock, as a canine athlete, or just as a playmate for the family. Of course, the Pumi’s athletic, agile build is an important factor, and despite its light weight, this dog is actually quite well-muscled.
Square in shape, the Pumi has a much different appearance than its Puli ancestor and has a much shorter, curly coat that is never corded. A Pumi’s coat comes in black, fawn, gray, silver gray, white, born brown, and born gray, and the only markings that may appear are black and tan.
Pumik are expected to live for roughly 12 to 13 years and love to fill their waking hours with plenty of work and play. Though the Pumi may not appear to be tough or physically inclined, this breed is quite proficient in its pastime of herding. The Pumi is vigilantly observant and has an alacrity for its work, so these dogs are at their best when given a task and some purpose. In addition, Pumik are full of energy and will enjoy chasing, fetching, running, walking, and canine agility and obedience sports. For active owners, this breed is a perfect companion for adventure, and automatic fetch machines can help those who are less inclined to bring the Pumi along for an outdoor adventure.
The Pumi is a great family dog, too, and tends to bond quickly with all members of its family, including children. When raised alongside other dogs or cats, the Pumi will usually recognize the animal as an ally, and Pumik are usually cordial toward other dogs, or completely uninterested. When facing rodents or other small animals, however, the Pumi may yield to its terrier instinct for ratting, so animals like guinea pigs, rats, gerbils and hamsters should be kept far away from this dog.
Another great quality of the Pumi is its ability to serve as a watchdog. Using its intelligence and alertness, the Pumi isn’t shy about barking at any unfamiliar visitors, and can be fairly territorial and protective of its family and flock. While the Pumi is loving and affectionate toward its family, it may be reserved and cautious around strangers.
Caring for a Pumi
The Pumi is a unique, high-energy breed that demands its owner’s proper attention and care to help promote a healthy and happy lifestyle.
Finding the right for a Pumi shouldn’t be much of a challenge at all. As always, the Pumi should be provided a diet that is appropriate for its age, with puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs having distinct nutritional needs. A wet dog food or a grain free dog food are certainly options for the Pumi, though it’s also acceptable to provide a home prepared diet for the fussier Pumi, if need be. The Pumi should never be overfed, and an automatic dog feeder can help ensure uniform portion sizes. Care should also be taken to avoid giving the Pumi foods that are too high in fat, like cooked bones and fat trimmings from meat.
Pumik have a lot of energy and are incredibly athletic, which is part of what makes them such effective herders. While the Pumi may be a great cuddler at times, this breed is far from sedentary. Exercising the Pumi can be a serious commitment, so this isn’t the dog for anyone seeking a lazy breed. Pumik enjoy just about any form of exercise, particularly if it involves chasing a ball or a toy. Of course, the Pumi will also be thrilled to chase around and herd livestock and to hunt rodents, as it was employed to do back in Hungary.
The Pumi is a sharp dog that picks up on things rather quickly and is quite eager to please its owner, making it a fairly easy breed to train. While the Pumi’s alertness gives it the capability to learn just about any trick, it can also mean the breed gets distracted rather easily. To combat this, training sessions should be kept short to improve retention. The Pumi is also liable to bark, so it’s important to start training and obedience early and to avoid encouraging barking, especially for apartment dwellers.
The Pumi enjoys great overall health, but there are still certain conditions owners should keep an eye out for. A dog DNA test can be helpful in determining any genetic disorders; many reputable breeders will already have the results of such a test.
Pumik are susceptible to a few orthopedic problems, including the knee problem patellar luxation, as well as hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Other health concerns that may present in Pumik are generally related to the eyes and include primary lens luxation and degenerative myelopathy. All of the above mentioned conditions should be screened for, whether by a condition-specific DNA test, or a hip or patella evaluation.
In addition to professional testing and veterinary visits, Pumi owners should take care to do their part to maintain this dog’s general health. Avoiding obesity is imperative and can be achieved through regular exercise and a healthy diet. The Pumi doesn’t require very much grooming, but owners should still make sure to give the Pumi an occasional bath with dog shampoo, brush its teeth with a toothpaste for dogs, and check its ears for any symptoms of infection.
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