Best known for his long, corded coat resembling dreadlocks, the Puli is a hardworking herding dog and family companion. Energetic and lively, this moplike dog breed hailing from Hungary appears much larger than he is due to that distinctive coat. Thanks to his self-confidence and intelligence, the Puli will have no problem being the center of attention in your home.
The Puli, also known as the Hungarian Puli, the Hungarian Water Dog, the Drover and, when plural, the Pulik, has been assisting Hungarian sheepherders for centuries. Its name is thought to be derived from “Puli Hou,” which means “Hun Destroyer” – a reference to its link with the ancient Magyar people. The Puli’s most distinctive feature is its unique, dense double coat, which can be corded or brushed. Due to the qualities of their coat, Pulik can live happily in any type of climate. These are highly intelligent dogs that retain their herding instinct. They are naturally wary of strangers and are deeply loyal to their people. The Puli was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1936 and is a member of the Herding Group.
- The Puli is vocal and tends to bark.
- The Puli loves his family but is suspicious of strangers.
- Because he’s a highly intelligent dog with a great deal of self-confidence, the Puli gets bored with repetitive tasks, such as obedience. Agility and herding are much more to his liking.
- The Puli can be a bit stubborn, so housetraining might be a challenge at first. Crate training is recommended.
- Pulik have a reputation for remaining puppyish well into their older years. They love to play and like to have a lot of toys.
- Grooming the Puli is difficult, especially if the coat is corded. New owners should seek help to learn how to properly groom their dogs.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they’re free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
- The plural of Puli is Pulik.
- The medium-size Puli has a square body covered in shaggy hair that furls over his head like an umbrella and covers his body profusely, giving the illusion that he is bigger than he is. He moves with a springy gait and is much more agile than he might appear to be at first glance.
- Comparable Breeds: Komondor, Tibetan Terrier
|Hungarian Post stamp with a Puli|
The Puli can live outside in cool or temperate climates, but is also excellent as a house dog. As it is an energetic breed, it is always on the lookout for a task, like herding livestock. A good jog or walk, or a training and lively game session, can satisfy its exercise needs.
Its non-shedding coat holds debris and should be brushed on alternate days. If it is corded, the cords should be separated regularly because the coat tends to accumulate dirt. Bathing takes a lot of time and it takes an entire day for drying. Pulis kept as pets may be clipped, but the breed’s distinctive appeal is lost.
The Puli will adapt to almost any circumstance, be it an apartment or a farm. This breed is suited to all climates. In the heat of Australia and Florida it does extremely well and, conversely in the extreme cold of areas like Denver in winter it also does likewise. It is fairly active indoors and will do okay without a yard.
Pulik were bred to be independent as well as for their ability to make certain decisions while herding and protecting livestock. This will never be bred out of them. These traits can make it difficult to train a Puli unless training begins from the time he is a pup. Highly intelligent and headstrong, the Puli requires an experienced trainer who can prove to be a leader without being aggressive. The use of tasty treats tends to make a Puli more interested in training sessions so have plenty on hand.
If training continues throughout the life of the dog, a Puli can excel in obedience and herding trials, agility courses and the breed ring. Many have even gone on with their training and became certified as therapy dogs or water rescue dogs. With training, Pulik can do almost anything.
Pulik are athletes so they do require a fair amount of exercise. For an active family, the Puli would be thrilled with romps in the yard, a bit of fetch and maybe a hike in the woods. Without proper exercise, the dog will become anxious and destructive. You never want to meet a bored Puli because there won’t be a whole lot left of your belongings. When he’s left alone, mentally stimulating toys should be provided to keep him out of trouble.
After a hard day of work or play, the Puli will want to chill out with the family on the couch. Although active, he still needs time to relax with the family and get the attention that he loves so much.
The Puli has a dense, weather-resistant coat that can be wavy or curly but never silky. The undercoat is soft, woolly and dense. The hair clumps easily and if left to itself will form woolly cords as the dog matures, starting when he is about 9 months old. Depending on the coat’s texture and the amount of undercoat and outer coat, the cords may be flat or round. It takes four to five years to grow out completely and may eventually reach the floor.
The Puli coat can be brushed or left to cord. If you plan to brush the coat rather than let it cord, start early and expect to brush it every day or two.
The coat doesn’t shed much, but the cords must be separated regularly to maintain their look, and they do attract dirt and debris. The Puli’s coat should never be dirty, matted or bad-smelling. To prevent problems, ask the breeder to show you how to care for the coat. Trimming the hair around the mouth and cleaning the dog’s face after meals is one way to help reduce odor. Bathing and drying a Puli can take hours. Be sure he is dry all the way down to the skin or he will smell as if he has mildewed. If you don’t plan to show him, you may choose to keep his coat trimmed short for easier upkeep.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, and brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears weekly for dirt, redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian. Begin grooming the Puli while he is young so he becomes accustomed to it and accepts it willingly.
Children And Other Pets
The well-socialized and well-trained Puli is a good companion for children. He’s playful — probably even more playful than the kids. He’s protective of the children in his family and shuttle them around the house, tugging gently at them to move them away from perceived (or real) danger.
As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
The Puli gets along with other dogs and pets, as long as he taught to do so from a young age. Early, positive introductions to other animals make it easy for the adult Puli to accept other pets into his home.
Is the Puli right for you?
If you are looking for a loyal, active companion to join you on life’s adventures, the Puli could be the dog breed for you. Puli owners are dedicated to their dogs’ grooming needs and take obedience training seriously. The Puli, like most herding dogs, is better suited for more experienced dog owners, as the breed is both physically strong and strong-willed. Pulik get along well with children and other pets, and their playful personality will charm all of your dog-loving friends.
Did You Know?
Several dog breeds have coats that cord, but the Puli coat is unique. No other dog coat is quite like it. The outer coat is long and profuse, and the undercoat is soft and woolly. The puppy coat is tufted, and as it grows the undercoat becomes tangled with the top coat, forming long cords and giving the Puli a look that is unkempt to say the least.
- In 1978 a Puli called Cinko Duda Csebi won the world exposition organized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale. The Mexican-born dog was owned by breeder Roberto Hernández Ávalos.
- The dog known as “The Auditor” is assumed to be a Puli. It lived in the contaminated Berkeley Pit copper mine in Butte, Montana. Notable for being one of the few things that could live, and thrive in such a place, in time it became a sort of mascot for the town. After The Auditor died, several memorials were erected, celebrating its existence.
- British grunge-rock band Bush featured a picture of a leaping Puli in the booklet to their album Sixteen Stone. This particular Puli belonged to frontman Gavin Rossdale and was named Winston.
- Lovey and Dude Romeo of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania have appeared extensively online and in YouTube videos Puli PrayingOriginally from Green Bay Wisconsin.
- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a white Puli named Beast.
- In the 1960s, writer Harlan Ellison adopted a Puli named Ahbhu and wrote about him in the 1975 Hugo-winning novelette “The Deathbird” (part of the 1975 collection Deathbird Stories). In addition, Ahbhu appeared in the 1969 short story “A Boy And His Dog” as a predecessor to the main character’s telepathic dog Blood.
- American novelist T.C. Boyle used to own several Pulik and still has one. One of them, named “Kutya” (Hungarian for “dog”), is commemorated in his novel The Harder They Come.