The Hungarian Puli Dog is a hardworking breed with compact build and agile step boasting an eye-catching corded coat that keeps it warm year-round in their native European environment. It’s one of the oldest breeds in the world, dating back to the 9th century!
What’s In This Guide
- Puli dog breed At A Glance
- Where does the Puli come from?
- In-depth Breed Review
- Puli Training And Care
- Pros And Cons Of Getting A Puli
Our readers’ most popular and frequently asked questions about the Puli Dog breed:
- How can you groom a Puli dog?
- Are Pulik good family dogs?
- What breed is Mark Zukerberg’s dog?
- Where does the Puli come from?
Breed At A Glance
- Popularity: 160 of 193 breeds on AKC
- Purpose: Herding dog
- Weight: 25-35 pounds
- Temperament: Smart, loyal and independent
Puli Breed Review: Contents
- Where does the Puli come from?
- History and original purpose of the Hungarian Puli
- Fun facts about the Puli dog
- Puli dog appearance
- Puli temperament
- Exercising your Puli
- Training and socialization
- Puli health and care
- Do Puli dogs make good family pets
- Rescuing a Puli
- Finding a Puli puppy
- Raising a Puli puppy
- Similar breeds
Where does the Puli come from?
The Hungarian Puli comes from (no surprise here) Hungary.
In Hungary, these dogs are so beloved that their owners claim they are not dogs. To their owner, this dog is a person with fur. This is something most dog owners already know, of course.
These dogs are playful, smart, sensitive, and incredibly hardworking.
As adult dogs, they can also have doggie dreadlocks (called cords in the show ring), which officially makes them one of the coolest dog breeds on the planet.
History and original purpose of the Hungarian Puli
Despite their fluffly appearance, this dog is one of the hardest working breeds you will ever meet.
In fact, those carefully groomed cords can serve a vital protective purpose: keeping them warm and dry while working outside year-round in what is often a harsh, cold, wet mountain climate of their native Hungary.
The Puli is an ancient dog breed, which historians have traced all the way back to the 9th century! It is thought that their ancestors may date back as far as 4,500 B.C.
Their history begins with the partnership between nomadic Hungarian shepherds and their dogs.
A shepherd would have a small group of Pulik that would work together with their shepherd to herd and protect the livestock from predators and natural dangers.
Fun facts about the Puli
The Puli dog is an eye-catching companion, there is no doubt about it.
But while many people have seen one here or there, far fewer people know this dog breed’s actual name, the Hungarian Puli.
Or exactly how to pronounce it (“pooh-lee”, if you were wondering!). The plural of this name is Pulik (“pooh-lick”).
In 2017, a Puli dressed up as a mop for Covington, Kentucky’s annual Paw-rade, and her brilliant costume went viral, delighting viewers across the globe. This reignited the wider public’s interest for the breed.
Puli dog appearance
The Puli Hungarian sheepdog sure doesn’t look like a working dog breed when you first meet one that is sporting a full long adult corded coat!
These dogs look like they belong on the red carpet or in the show ring.
The protection and waterproofing the coat cords provide evolved to help this breed stay warm and dry while working outdoors in the Hungarian mountains.
Now that many of these dogs are considered a pet as well as a working dog, owners sometimes opt for a short haircut.
This helps to reduce coat maintenance as well as preventing overheating in warmer climates.
Pulik with a fully-corded adult coat can look quite a bit bigger than this dog actually is underneath all that hair!
They typically weigh 25 to 35 pounds, hair included, at maturity and will stand 16 to 17 inches tall (paw to shoulder).
Males tend to just slightly outweigh females and may stand an inch taller.
Among Pulik, the most common coat color is pure black. However, silver, white, brown, cream, and rust coat colors are also possible.
A purebred will always have a solid single-color coat.
This dog has a wonderful personality and temperament for families with older children.
Through generations of livestock herding and guarding work, this breed has developed into an excellent watchdog and because of that, Pulik are still a great choice as a working dog.
It is an equally great choice if you are interested in getting involved in obedience, agility, rally, herding, etc. because Puli dogs are smart and strive to please their owners.
As a family pet, the Puli will need regular daily exercise and lots of enriching play (both solo and interactive).
Exercising your Puli
The Puli is a naturally agile and athletic medium sized dog breed.
At first glance it can seem like there is nothing to worry about when you see your pup jumping up and down off furniture, or running full-tilt after a squirrel in the yard.
However, in the first year of your pup’s life, it’s important to prevent extraneous activities.
Up until a year old, your Puli puppy is still growing, and his bones are still fusing together.
It is best to talk with your pup’s veterinarian before beginning any ongoing training for agility or other canine work.
Your vet can examine your puppy and X-ray the growth plates as needed.
This can determine when you are in the clear to start more vigorous physical activity with your pup.
Training and socialization
After centuries of solo herding and guarding dog work, the Puli has also evolved to have a naturally high drive and energy level along with a natural independent streak.
Luckily, these dogs are also very smart and are known to be quick learners who really want to please “their” people.
Because of these traits, Pulik will respond better to positive training. These dogs are simply too intelligent and sensitive to cope with any type of negative reinforcement (punishment) in training.
On the other hand, Pulik are inclined to guard and herd, so it’s important to begin socializing your puppy as early as possible.
Puli health and care
Like most purebreds, the Puli has certain genetic health issues that tend to be more common to this breed.
However, pre-screening tests are now becoming available for many known genetically transmitted canine health issues.
These tests can help breeders avoid passing heritable but preventable health conditions along to future generations.
The Canine Health Information Center recommends that breeders test their Pulik for the following known genetic health issues:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Patellar luxation
- Degenerative myelopathy
- Eye issues
- Cardiac issues (recommended)
- Congenital deafness (recommended)
Before you choose to work with a Puli breeder, be sure to ask for verification that parent dogs have been cleared of each of these known health issues so that they won’t be passed down to your puppy!
You will also need to clean your Puli’s ears, clip his nails, and brush his teeth regularly.
Cleaning your dog’s ears will be especially vital: the iconic cords of their fur can drape down over the ear canals and prevent air circulation, and trapped dirt and debris can easily develop into an ear infection.
Your dog relies on your care to keep their ear canals clean and clear!
Some people state the eye-catching coat of the Puli dog doesn’t shed. This isn’t true: Pulik do shed, but shed hair is typically incorporated into the existing cords, so you just don’t see it laying on the floor.
How do you groom a Puli Dog?
This breed has a signature dreadlock coat that gives it a distinct presence on and off the ring. Their coat needs specialized attention, and it’s your responsibility to provide that.
For the first 6 to 10 months of his life, your Puli puppy’s coat will be relatively like that of other pups.
For this time period, you will simply need to groom and brush your puppy’s coat to remove any trapped dirt, debris, or shed hair.
However, at some point in late puppyhood, the adult coat will start to grow in.
This may look unlike anything you have ever seen before on a dog. It can look like your dog is just turning into one big matted furball, which is exactly what is happening!
At this point, the undercoat and the outer coat are both beginning to grow in, often at different rates.
The under coat is soft and fine, and the outer coat is coarse and wiry.
It is the intermingling of the two layers that starts the cording process.
From here, your Puli dog will rely on you to assist with separating the mats into thinner cords that can continue to grow and develop.
You do this by using your fingers or shears to cut the mats into thinner cords.
This initial process can be easier if your pup has inherited a coat that is even in undercoat and upper coat growth.
And if the coat is less shiny and more textured.
However, every dog’s coat is different, and some dogs will naturally have thicker cords while others are thinner.
The grooming process from here forward is all about managing the growth and health of the cords.
After the initial six- to nine-month cord development period, the cords will have set.
Your duties from here will simply be to keep them clean and trimmed at the ends.
Is There An Easier Way?
If working towards a fully corded coat sounds too daunting to you, you could also opt to forgo the cording process.
Just keep your dog in a short haircut or a long, brushed style.
In either of these two cases, you will need to do at least a weekly brushing, and your dog’s coat will look very fluffy.
If you want to show your dog, however, you will need to develop the corded coat to be eligible.
Do Puli Dogs make good family pets
The Puli can be a great family dog, especially for an active family that has plenty of time to spend with their pup. With a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years, you can expect to enjoy plenty of time with your Puli.
Because of its origin, this dog is a naturally great guardian for families and individuals but will need consistent training and exercising to keep their energy in check.
Even though they can be very sweet and loving, breeders and owners advise against selecting a Puli dog if you have very young children.
This breed tends to be sensitive and may not tolerate the rough and inexperienced handling children can give. On the other hand, it’s a great choice for teen households!
Similarly, their herding and guarding instincts make this a dog that fares best as an only-dog in a family with no other pets of any species, with a special focus on socialization.
Rescuing a Puli
Of course, adoption comes with a few risks, especially if you don’t know much about raising a dog.
If you’re a first time owner, it’s best to stick to healthy, well-behaved puppies. At your local rescue you will have all the guidance needed to make the right choice for you and your family.
Nevertheless, most adoptions are a smooth process that ends with a happy family and a thriving dog. Take a chance and visit your local rescue to see if they have any Puli dogs waiting for a forever home. Here’s a list of some rescues you can check.
Finding a Puli puppy
It’s important to find puppies that come from reputable, trust-worthy source. Puppy mills and pet stores breed puppies without caring about their health or possible genetic traits they might be passing on.
Because of this, be sure the breeder is responsible and can show proof that
- the breeding stock has been screened and cleared of all heritable health conditions
- the puppies have had all required vaccinations
- you will receive an initial guarantee of health
- you get a take-back guarantee if your new puppy doesn’t work out for any reason
Beyond this, look for a Puli puppy with bright eyes and ears, clear skin, and healthy coat.
They should be alert, friendly, willing to be held, eager to play, and well-socialized with littermates and people.
Raising a Puli puppy
Puppyhood is an adventure-filled time, and it’s your responsibility to provide a safe, healthy environment where your pup can thrive. To prevent any infections, check out our guide on cleaning your puppy’s ears, and 12 great places to socialize your Puli so they can be calm and friendly in any environment.
After learning how to care for your puppy, here are some breeds that could also be a great fit for your home.
Comparing the Puli with other breeds
For an in-depth review of other breeds with true dreadlocks (or even lookalike ones!), check out our guide on dogs with dreadlocks.
If you love the look of this breed but are unsure about other traits, don’t despair! There are several different breeds that sport the same raggedy, carefree hairstyle!
Pros And Cons of Getting A Puli
It’s important to weigh the pros and cons to make sure you’re a good match for this breed.
- Need lots of exercise
- Strong herding drive needs consistent training and socialization
- Not suitable for a household with other pets
- Intensive grooming required
- Smart and loyal
- Fit for active families
- Great with older children and teens
- Full of personality
Puli Breed Rescues
In spite of its sweet character and family disposition, this remains somewhat of a rare dog. If you want to get involved and rescue a Puli pup to be your companion, you can either check with your local rescues or reach out to these groups that are specifically focusing on rescuing this breed.
Do you know of a local Puli association? Comment down below!
References And Resources
- Szeremy et al. “What’s a Puli?.” The Puli Club of America. 2016.
- CHIC. “Puli” Canine Health Information Center. 2018.
- Castleberry, C. “Hungarian Puli Dresses Up As a Mop for Dog Parade.” Daily Mail Online. 2016.
- Tarpataki et al. “Prevalence and features of canine atopic dermatitis in Hungary.” Acta Veterinaria Hungarica. 2007.
- Hungarian Puli Club of GB.
- The Puli Club of Canada.