Temperament: Loyal, Smart, Home-Loving
- Height: 17 inches (male), 16 inches (female)
- Weight: 25-35 pounds
- Life Expectancy: 10-15 years
- Group: Herding Group
No other breed can be mistaken for the Puli, a compact but powerful herder covered from head to tail with profuse, naturally occurring cords. Bred to work closely with humans, these agile and faithful little dynamos are quick learners.
The Puli is a compact, square appearing, well balanced dog of medium size. He is vigorous, alert and active. Striking and highly characteristic is the shaggy coat which, combined with his light-footed, distinctive movement, has fitted him for the strenuous work of herding flocks on the plains of Hungary. Agility, combined with soundness of mind and body, is of prime importance for the proper fulfillment of this centuries-old task.
About the Puli
First, there are those dreadlocks, the instantly recognizable feature of the Puli (pronounced “Poo-lee”—”Pulik” is the plural). The coat’s naturally occurring cords are woolly, dense, and weatherproof. Either corded or brushed out, Puli coats require lots of attention. Under the dreads there’s a compact but powerful dog, standing 16 to 17 inches at the shoulder. Puli are remarkably agile and light on their feet, earning a reputation as the “acrobat of the dog world.”
NUTRITION The Puli should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
GROOMING The Puli can be kept corded, brushed, or with a clipped coat. Until a Puli puppy is 8 to 10 months old, there is no grooming to do except for regular bathing and ears, and grinding toe nails. When the Puli’s undercoat begins to come in, the coat will begin to feel thick and matted to your fingers. You will begin to feel natural separations in the coat, where the hair seems to clump together close to the skin. This is the beginning of a cord. At this time, you can separate these soft clumps from each other by pulling them apart with your fingers. Cords are simply “organized mats” that have tightened up with time. This is a process that will be repeated many times over the course of about six to nine months. Once the coat has distinct cords, all you do is bathe the dog when needed and separate the cords—a good time to do this is while you are watching TV and need something to do with your hands. The breed’s national parent club,
EXERCISE The Puli is a high-drive dog who requires both physical and mental stimulation. In fact, mental exercise is as important as physical exercise for this breed. Reputable breeders caution people to not overdo the physical exercise when the dog is young and the growth plates have not yet fused or closed. The Puli excels at canine sports including herding, obedience, and agility, among other activities.
TRAINING This is a breed that needs to be kept mentally active. Pulik are incredibly intelligent, agile, and loyal, which makes them able to learn quickly, and they strive to please their owners. However, they do not suffer fools lightly (there is a running joke that you need to be very smart to own a Puli), and they require a firm but fair hand. This is a headstrong breed who has no problem humiliating you in public—so prepare yourself. Pulik are herding dogs, and as such, many of them do not give up control easily. They will follow commands, but they do things their own way. They do not care for repetition. With puppies especially, it is important to do proper socialization.
HEALTH Reputable breeders test their breeding stock for health problems that can occur in most any breed. Breeders who are members of the Puli Club of America agree to the club’s guidelines, which include Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) testing to determine that breeding stock is free of inheritable disease. The CHIC testing required by the breed’s parent club includes OFA or PennHIP screening for hip dysplasia, OFA test for patella, OFA test for degenerative myelopathy (DNA test), and CERF eye testing (to be updated every three years). Additional tests that can be performed, but are not required, include OFA for elbows, cardiac, and thyroid, and the BAER (hearing) test. If you are considering getting a Puli, ask the breeder if they test for these conditions, in particular the club’s required tests.
Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:
- Hip Evaluation
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
- Patella Evaluation
- Degenerative Myelopathy DNA Test