Are you looking for breed that is both highly active and extremely intelligent?What about a sweet set of canine dreadlocks? Awesome! The Puli is a stylish, fun-loving, medium-sized breed that is great for an active family or individual.
Also known as the "Pulik" or "Drover," the Puli is of Hungarian origin and believed to have descended from the Tibetan terrier, which was brought to Hungary around the 9th Century with the Huns. Some quick math tells us that this is a VERY old breed; the Puli has roots that reach back thousands of years! Since those times, however, the Puli and Pumi (a herding breed) have been cross-bred and are now almost identical. It wasn't until a breeder revitalized the Puli breed that we got the striking, head-turning dogs we have today!
Hungarian Work Dogs
The Puli is a remarkable sheep herding and livestock guard dog. Hungarian shepherds have used the Puli for this very purpose for thousands of years. Hundreds of years ago, they would spend upwards of a year's worth of wages to purchase just one. The breed is STILL being used as a sheepherding and guard dog in Hungary and was only brought to the United States in the 1920s.
"Dreads" for Days
The most distinctive feature of the Puli is definitely their outer coat, which resembles "dread-locks." In the dog world, these are called "cords." The cords of a Puli can be thick or thin and can even be brushed out to lay flat. Unfortunately though, their striking coat also means the Puli has some pretty high maintenance grooming needs!
As for color, while black is the most common for a Puli, they also come in gray or white. Their skin can be blue or gray, but they all have a large black nose and dark brown eyes. Amusingly, their neck and tail tend to blend in with their body due to their abundance of cords.
The Puli's height ranges from 15 to 18", and they usually weigh somewhere between 23 and 30 lbs. They have been described as having a "square" body type and are considered a medium build dog. They are very muscular, very powerful animals.
Pulis are highly active, headstrong, and intelligent. They enjoy being outdoors and will need access to a backyard on a regular basis. They LOVE their family and are extremely playful. In fact, many call them "perpetual puppies," as their youthful exuberance is on display well through adulthood. However, it should be noted that, as a guard dog, the Puli has a tendency to mistrust strangers. Early training is advisable to ensure this tendency does not get out of hand. Also important to note is that because of this breed's thick, heavy cords, they are NOT water dogs. If you own a pool, your Puli will need constant supervision around the water.
Will Work for FUN!
As a hard-working herding breed, the Puli has a high activity level. They would LOVE for you to give them an outdoor job or to participate in herding or agility competitions! A 30-minute walk two to three times a day is a must for this breed, but beyond their need to exert themselves, they also need to put their intelligent minds to work. If you can't stimulate both their mind and body, you'll end up with a bored and restless Puli that will find fun ways to entertain itself (i.e. tearing apart the house!). Because of its activity needs, this breed is probably not a good choice for apartment dwellers, nor is it an ideal choice for a busy working family.
The Heat Is On
Pulis are prone to eye problems, hip dysplasia, and deafness. Also, because of their extremely thick coat, extra care should be taken to avoid heat stroke in hot climates. The typical lifespan of a Puli is between 12 and 16 years.
As you begin looking for a Puli, please check with rescue organizations first. Every year, there are millions of dogs being euthanized - not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescue agencies. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!
At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.
On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!
So what's the verdict? Are you sold on those awesome dreads!?!?
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Dog Bible, Edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, 2005