With a Stunning “Dreadlock” Coat, this Devoted Shaggy Dog Is Very Active and One of the Smartest of All Breeds
A natural-born herder with a “dreadlock” coat, the Hungarian Puli is a puppy for life. Full of energy and extremely agile, this shaggy dog is an excellent watchdog but has an affectionate disposition. While desired for its Rastafarian looks, this breed requires a significant commitment to grooming to maintain the health, pleasure and stunning appearance of its uniquely attractive coat.
For more than 1,000 years, the Puli has been a Hungarian shepherd, valued as both a guard dog and watch dog. While its exact ancestry isn't clear, many believe that the breed may have migrated with Siberian Magyar invaders; however, other researchers think that the breed was developed near Tibet in western China.
The Puli made its first appearance in America in 1935 when it was included in a project undertaken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to evaluate shepherding breeds. One year later, the Puli was recognized officially by the American Kennel Club, classified in its Herding Group. The Puli Club of America was formed in 1951. Although the breed is still used in many countries for herding purposes, it has become a popular family companion, as well as a great competitor in the show arena.
A medium-sized dog, the Puli usually stands about 15 to 18 inches high at the shoulder and will weigh between 20 and 40 pounds as an adult. Its trademark "shaggy" coat offers the appearance of long cords, and is typically black in color, although it may be white, cream, or gray. It may also be predominantly black with some white hairs intermingled. Those with white coats are called Roxies and frequently have blue eyes. The corded coat does not shed and may take several years to fully grow in.
Some dogs have thick cords, while others have thinner cords. Round or flat, the shape of the cords often depends on the balance between the outer coat and undercoat, as well as the texture of the hair. The Puli generally has a large, black nose, with hanging ears that are V-shaped and blend in with the coat. Some people compare the appearance of the Puli's coat to that of "dreadlocks" made famous by the Jamaican Rastafarians. So striking is this dog’s charisma that some of society’s elite have found the breed desirable, one being Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg who owns a white Puli whom he named “Beast.”
Energetic and playful, Pulik (plural for Puli) behave in a puppy-like manner for life and prefer constant companionship. This is a dog breed that requires plenty of mental stimulation and exercise, as it is high-energy and extremely agile. Only naturally active families who have time to spend with such a pet should consider the Puli.
Self-confident and one of the smartest of all dog breeds, the Puli can be mischievous, demanding, and manipulative, so it is essential to begin obedience training and socialization at a young, impressionable age. Because it has a long genetic history of herding, the Puli has a strong instinct to chase other animals, especially those that are small. If you have other pets, the amicable Puli will likely enjoy frolicking with them. However, some can be arrogant, territorial, and may try to dominate other pets.
Because of the breed's exceptional hearing, sharp eyesight, and natural suspicion of strangers, the Puli serves as a good watchdog always ready to protect its family and territory. While rarely aggressive, the dog may resort to loud barking when strangers approach.
With a high activity level and energetic nature, the Puli is ideal for homes with a fenced yard, or life on a farm or other rural setting. This breed needs plenty of room to romp around, which is so essential to its well-being. Adaptable to nearly any climate, this dog can tolerate a variety of conditions whether extremely hot or extremely cold.
Like many other dog breeds, the Puli is often prone to PRA (progressive retinal atrophy) and hip dysplasia, an orthopedic disease very common in dogs. Other health issues sometimes encountered with the breed include allergies, heart disease, hypothyroidism, luxating patella (knee problems), diabetes mellitus and von Willebrand disease (a blood disorder like hemophilia). Most Pulik have a life span of 12 to 14 years.
When considering this breed for your family, it's important that you talk with the breeder about the health of their litters. Ask about whether there have been genetic issues with previous litters, whether they have had good veterinary care, and what health guarantees, if any, are offered.
There is a common misconception that the Puli Dog breed does not require much grooming, when in fact the opposite is true. Because of its heavy, tightly curled locks, this is a dog that requires a substantial amount of grooming. The "dreadlocks" can lock in dirt, dead skin cells, sweat, and other debris, which means that regular shampooing is essential in order to keep your pet smelling clean without an unpleasant odor. A mild shampoo and thorough drying with a towel are recommended. If you see any tangles or matting, be sure to separate or untangle prior to your pet's next bath in order to prevent the tangling from getting worse.
Because of the tight weave of the Puli's hair, it is essential that the owner makes certain the home and yard are as free of ticks and fleas as possible; the coat of this breed makes an infestation extremely difficult to control with simple combing and bathing.