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Puli

Puli Breed Information

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Other Common Names:

Hungarian Puli

Description:

The Puli is easily recognized by its distinct corded coat. The adult Puli's coat can reach the ground. Pulik are square in shape, fine boned and muscular. The puli's tail is curled tightly along its back.

 
Lively and cheerful, the Puli has a distinctive corded coat

Country of Origin:

The Puli originated in Hungary

Height:

Puli males are 16 to 17˝ inches (41-46 cm.), females 14˝ to 16 inches (36-41 cm)

Weight:

Puli males are 25-35 pounds (11-16 kg.), females 20-30 pounds (9-14 kg.)

Colors:

Black is the most common Puli color, but they can be a variety of colors including any shade of gray, white, cream and apricot. Some cream Pulik can have black masks.

Coat:

The Puli's corded coat begins to form at the age of six months, at which point it should be separated by hand by the owner into strands the thickness of a pencil. This is a relaxing process for the dog and only takes a small amount of time. Otherwise the Puli's coat requires little grooming, but can take up to two days to dry after bathing.

Temperament:

A cheerful little family dog, the Puli is lively and highly adaptable with a mind of its own. They are highly obedient and are vocal if they feel their owner is being threatened.

Health Concerns:

Pulik are thoroughly tested for eye problems and hip dysplasia, although they are not prone to any major problems.

Life Expectancy:

A Puli can be expected to live 12 or more years.

Living Environment:

A Puli is highly adaptable and will do well in extremely hot climates as well as extremely cold ones. It is highly energetic and loves to romp and play, especially with its owners. Some Pulik are naturally excellent swimmers, while others are not. A swimming Puli should be closely supervised.

AKC Group:

The Puli is in the Herding Group

Related Dog Breeds:

 
Pulik - In Depth

Whether you know him as the Puli, the Hungarian Puli, or the Hungarian Water Dog, there is no mistaking the looks of a Puli with his long corded coat that resembles a Rastafarian’s dreadlocks.

What does a Puli look like?

Most Pulik (the plural form of Puli) are solid black, although they may be solid white, solid gray, solid cream, or cream with a black mask. They stand from 16 to 17 inches high at the withers and weigh between 20 and 30 pounds. The characteristic cords may be flat or round, depending on coat texture, and may be thick or thin, although thin cords are preferred. There is little to no shedding for this breed.

How does the corded coat of a Puli develop?

The good news is, you don’t have to spend hours braiding the coat to produce the cords. It results naturally from a process of controlled matting of the dense, woolly undercoat and the wavy top coat. The top coat spirals around clumps of the undercoat to form long cylinders. The bad news is that you are the one who has to do the controlling to keep the cords thin and neat. Later in this article, we’ll discuss grooming more fully.

What is a Puli’s personality like?

This dog is very intelligent and fairly easy to train for both obedience and agility trials. Training should begin in puppyhood, as the adult Puli is both independent and strong-willed, making later training more difficult.

Due to their herding ancestry, Pulik are very protective of both their families and their territory. Distrustful of strangers, they are very loyal to their human families. Their preferred method of watch-dogging is intimidation, although they are not averse to physical attacks when they sense a threat.

Prospective Puli guardians must be prepared for the high activity level of these dogs. They retain their youthful exuberance throughout their lives and need both mental stimulation and physical activity to be happy.

Where did the Puli come from?

It is thought that the Puli was brought to Hungary from Central Asia, where his history goes back perhaps as far as 4500 B.C. This small-to-medium herder and livestock guard was documented in Hungary as early as the 9th Century. The Puli should not be confused with the similar Komondor, which is also from Hungary and sports a corded coat, but is much larger. Hungarian shepherds often used the two dogs together to provide round-the-clock protection to their flocks. The Puli worked during the day, herding the sheep and guarding against intrusion by wild animals. At night, the Komondor attacked any predators that threatened the sheep. Although the Komondor typically slept during the day, he would react when the Puli sounded off a warning of a nearby predator. The Puli provided the advance alert, while the much larger Komondor provided the muscle to repel the attack.

Because the Puli was prized for both his herding and his guarding abilities, nomadic shepherds paid as much as a year’s salary for just one dog. Puppies who didn’t immediately perform as expected were routinely sacrificed, an early means of selective breeding. To survive as a breed, Pulik had to be agile, willing to work, intelligent, and physically fit from the time they were weaned.

How hard is it to groom a Puli?

Make no mistake about it, if you have a Puli, you will spend a significant amount of time on grooming. It takes about four or five years to grow the full coat all the way to the ground, so many Pulik in the show ring are older than dogs of other breeds. At about nine months, the texture of the undercoat becomes more springy and dense, causing the formation of cords. This change starts just ahead of the tail and moves forward to the head over the course of anywhere from a week to several months. As new cords begin to form, you must separate them all the way to the skin from existing cords, both to keep the cords thin and to allow air to reach the skin.

Although the coat could be brushed, there is no real need to do so. Dirt and debris can be removed by simply running your fingers through the dog’s coat, which you will be doing anyways to separate the cords. Keeping the everyday dirt out of your dog’s coat means you won’t have to bathe him very often, which is good because drying a Puli would challenge even the patience of Job.

How do you bathe a Puli?

Bathing your Puli too often can cause the cords to shrink, giving the appearance of a shorter coat than the one you worked so hard to grow out! Really the only reason to bathe a Puli is to remove any urine that has splashed up onto his coat. A good way to prevent urine splash is to have the dog relieve himself on a gravel surface, where the urine immediately drains to the ground underneath, rather than leaving a puddle for the dog to walk through. Keeping the coat shorter than ground-length can also help prevent urine odor.

Before bathing the dog, the cords should be separated by running your fingers through his coat. After thoroughly soaking the coat with water, lather with a mild shampoo, then rinse thoroughly. Make sure all of the shampoo is fully rinsed to prevent skin irritation. This will take at least 30 minutes to be sure all of the shampoo is out.

Dry, dry, and dry some more

Squeeze the cords to remove as much water as possible. If you see more soap suds while you are squeezing, it means you need to rinse longer. Keep wringing out the cords until you are physically unable to continue.

The next stage of drying involves soaking up as much of the remaining moisture as possible. Towels may work for most dogs, but not so much for the Puli. Veterinarian and breeder M.C. Wakeman suggests using sweatshirts purchased in large quantities from garage sales. Place one on the dog as you normally would (as if the dog were getting dressed), then place the other over the back end as if the tail were a second head. Pin them together with diaper pins to keep them from sliding around. Leave them on for about 15 minutes, then replace with two dry shirts. Replace the second set with a third set, leaving each pair of shirts on for 15 minutes. Wakeman states that this cuts down on the time required under the dryer by as much as 70%.

After the third set of sweatshirts, you are ready for the cool air dryer. Place the dog in a mesh cage with one 18” fan placed under the cage pointing up and another fan at cage-level pointing towards the dog. Wakeman recommends building a stand to hold the cage, with a hole cut in the platform to allow the air into the cage. He also suggests that the cage be placed on the stand upside down so that the pan can be removed without allowing the dog’s paws to fall through the mesh. It is vital that the dog be fully dried after his bath, as trapped moisture can cause mildew and skin irritation. A Puli who scratches a lot is at risk of losing his beautiful coat entirely. Complete drying may take as much as 8 hours!

Clipping the Puli’s coat

Whether you keep your Puli’s coat long or short, you will need to trim the fur around the head to produce an umbrella shape. The fur should lay over the eyes, similar to many sheepdogs. Don’t worry – your Puli is able to see perfectly well through the cords. The Hungarians have a saying: “The Puli, through his hair, sees better than you.” As the dog walks, his cords move, allowing him a full view of his environment. If it really bothers you, it is permissible to tie the hair up out of his eyes with a covered elastic band if you are not showing the dog in conformance trials.

Is the Puli the right dog for me?

This high-energy, playful dog may be perfect for you if you are prepared for the high maintenance grooming requirements. He is smart and well-suited to being a family pet and/or a watchdog.


 

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