Breed of the Week: Puli

This is one dog breed I never heard about in my normal, everyday life.  I didn’t even know such a dog existed until I started researching dog breeds out of curiosity (as I’m wont to do sometimes).  For those who do know the Puli, they probably know the breed best for its corded coat resembling dreadlocks.

Puli puppiesThe coat does not form these cords naturally.  Newborns have a little crimp to their fur.  As they get older their fur grows into fluff until the Puli’s adult coat grows in at about a year old at which time it is separated into cords by hand.  The process of separating the cords is continued for 3-4 months until the cords are fully set.  The coat will reach the ground when the Puli reaches adulthood at about 4 years old.

Grooming for a Puli with a fully grown corded coat is not an easy job.  Even groomers may have difficulty with a corded coat as it isn’t a very common style for most dogs.  In fact, many Puli owners that don’t intend to show their dogs will simply keep it trimmed down to a manageable length and not bother with the cords at all, though Puli enthusiasts frown upon this as they think it removes something essential from the Puli identity.  In any case, if one intends to keep the distinct corded coat, one should seek out a groomer versed in corded coat care or a Puli breeder with proper grooming knowledge.

The Puli coat comes in only a few solid colors: rusty black, black, all shades of gray, and white.  In Hungary there is a common color known as fako, which is described as the color of the inside of a wheat roll.

Although the breed is thought to have originated in what is now known as the Middle East, it was more fully developed in Hungary as a herding dog and still herds sheep there to this day, much to the pride of their shepherds.  Pulik, the plural of Puli, are confident, intelligent, and sensitive to the needs and emotions of those they consider to be “theirs.”  Their confidence and intelligence aids in their sheep herding duties while their empathetic nature makes them perfect babysitters for young children and any other animals in the home.  It also makes them excellent therapy dogs.

Pulik love attention (though that might be an understatement!) and even expect it from their family members and close friends, but they can be suspicious of strangers.  They can also be exceedingly bossy, though some owners may not even notice it as their Puli gently herds them to bed or to a certain chair when it’s time to sit or herds the kids and other pets around the house.  They are fun-loving and affectionate and enjoy being with their family, but they are also hard-working and athletic and often need a job to do to keep them from getting bored or frustrated, which can result in unwanted behaviors like constant barking, inappropriate chewing, and digging in places one doesn’t want dug up.  For this reason, many owners enter their Pulik into agility or herding competitions, both of which they excel at.  Surprisingly, because they were bred to herd hundreds of sheep at once, they may even outdo the much vaunted Border Collie.

Pulik are strong-willed dogs and will take charge, very possibly in ways their owner doesn’t like, if no one else does.  Their owner should be gentle, but firm in command and train their dog to respect and obey them from an early age.  As they are very vocal dogs, a “quiet” command should be taught early on.

The Puli does not do well in small spaces.  They can become restless and, if left in a small space for long enough, develop unwanted traits such as becoming hyperactive or aloof and lazy.  The best place for a Puli is a place with easy access to the outdoors and a large yard or farm/ranch property to roam.  Should they be intended as a house pet, the owners should be prepared to exercise them regularly, and not just a light jaunt around the neighborhood.  These dogs were bred to go!  An active owner that jogs, runs, bikes, and/or hikes often is ideal.

If you are interested in purchasing or adopting a Puli, please do your research!  As with many breeds, this type of dog is not for everyone.  Pulik need exercise, and a lot of it.  They also require, even demand, a lot of time and attention, especially considering their grooming needs.  Although, a plus here, they shed very little!  Even so, please only purchase or adopt a Puli if you know you can handle its energy level, demand for attention, suspicion around strangers, and headstrong personality.

Mark Zuckerberg

Fun Fact:  Mark Zuckerberk, the CEO of Facebook, owns a white Puli named Beast.

Do you or have you owned a Puli?  Please tell us about him/her in the comments below!  I’d love to hear about your experiences with the breed.

Have suggestions?  Comment below!

Have a breed you’d like to see featured in our next Breed of the Week?  Leave your suggestion in the comments below!

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