The Hungarian Puli is a medium-sized pastoral breed that owes its origins to the Hungarian herding dogs of the Far East brought to the west by the Magyars. This nimble and extremely intelligent breed is often referred to as a lively dog, often wary of strangers but never showing any signs of timidity or unprovoked aggression. The Puli is a solid-coloured dog where black is the most common colour. The other less common coat colours are white, fawn, and grey. Its main physical distinction is its long, profuse, corded coat, where the tight curls of the coat look similar to dreadlocks. It is similar in looks to another Hungarian herding dog, the larger sized Komondor. The coat of the Hungarian Puli may vary from dog to dog where some can have thinner or thicker cords, either flat or round. The cords are results of a controlled matting process and can be trimmed for easy maintenance or let to grow long to floor-length. The ideal size of a male Hungarian Puli is 40cm to 44 cm while a female may be between 37cm to 41cm. Weight usually varies: males are between 13 to 15kg while females are typically between 10 to 13kg.
The Hungarian Puli is an ancient sheepdog, with anecdotal references dating back to six millennia ago. The modern ancestor of the Puli, however, dates back to the migration of the Magyars from Central Alisa more than 1,000 years ago, where these dogs were used for herding and guarding livestock. The Puli would work in tandem with the much larger Komondor. The Komondor would guard the flock by night while the Puli would herd and guard them during the day. When predators attack the flock, the Puli would alert the pack of Komondor which would then attack the predator. Both the Puli and the Komondor’s thick corded coat protects them from being bitten. The Hungarian Puli was rediscovered around the start of the 20th Century where it served the double duty of being a flock guardian and a companion house dog. The breed suffered during the onset of the two World Wars but breed enthusiasts kept the numbers from dwindling. Today, the Hungarian Puli still remains popular, although not as popular as it was prior to the wars.
Being a flock guardian in its native setting, the Hungarian Puli is regarded as intelligent, lively, wary of strangers but not shy or aggressive. These attitudes make it an excellent watchdog. It is an agile dog despite its bulky appearance and thick coat. It can run quite fast and can stop and change direction very easily. It is very obedient and devoted that it forms close bonds with its owner. Inside the home, the Hungarian Puli is an excellent security dog that treats the family as its flock, fiercely protecting them from strangers. It is very friendly and playful with the family even as an adult.
Although intelligent, focused and active, the Puli is a natural sheep herder with strong determination and an independent attitude. With that being said, the Puli may sometimes need obedience training as a puppy in order to become a well-balanced adult. When given a task, the Puli is highly determined to do the job. There are well-known Hungarian Pulik that are used as police dogs. Guarding also comes naturally with the breed and requires no training. It will fearlessly defend its flock and drive away intruders and attackers despite its relatively small size.
The Hungarian Puli’s long corded coat is characteristic of the breed and proper understanding of coat maintenance is tantamount to giving the dog a fit and healthy life. Some owners who don’t show their dogs in the ring opt to keep the cords at a shorter length while show ring dogs have longer cords, often reaching to the floor. The coat starts to form into cords from age six months until about 4 to 5 years of age. Once matured, the coat is not brushed but managed by grooming using the fingers in order to separate the developing chords. Different dogs will have unique chord development. Some can have long thinner (pencil chords) or thicker (ribbon) cords, either flat or round. Trimming around the mouth area and under the feet is required. Checking the eyes and ears regularly and looking for signs of irritation or infection is also very important.
The Hungarian Puli is one of the working dog breeds that generally benefits from good health and can stay well and active and be long lived. However, like most other dogs, the Puli is prone to a few health issues where it needs to be monitored at. Being a working dog, the Hungarian Puli is prone to canine hip dysplasia and eye problems such as multifocal retinal dysplasia.
Exercise is on the moderate side. If kept as a household pet, the Puli requires enough exercise to channel all its reserve energy. It is an adaptable breed and can have no problem living in an urban setting as long as it gets enough exercise on a daily basis. However, it will thrive best if given a home where it can roam freely in the open. A Hungarian Puli with inadequate exercise can become mischievous and can develop destructive behaviour. Running alongside a bike, brisk walking, hiking, jogging, field works are all ideal exercises for the breed, preferably done on a daily basis.
Children and Pulik go along together very well. Being a natural-born guardian, the Puli will often act as a babysitter and guardian of not only children but other animals in the house as well. It is a fun-loving breed, highly affectionate, smart and hardworking that loves human attention not only from the children but from the whole family. It also gets along well with other dogs and pets especially if socialised properly and early.