WHAT IN THE WORLD IS A PULI

The Puli is a medium sized, active dog with a distinctive appearance. He wears a corded coat, and with his tail carried curled tightly over his back, it’s sometimes hard to tell if he’s coming or going. He is extremely active, intelligent, and manipulative. He is happy and playful to an advanced age. His origin is Hungary, where he was a hardy sheep herding dog and superb companion to his shepherd. He is a square, compact dog with a very short loin, but he may appear longer as a teen ager, due to changes in outline as the corded coat develops, and between coats of different density and texture.

The personality of the Puli is its most important characteristic, and the hardest thing for the judge to evaluate at a dog show! The Ideal Puli is supremely self-confident and self-possessed. He may choose to be either out-going or discriminating in his relationships, but he will always guard his own from any intrusion. He is a loud, expressive watch dog, but does not usually bark inappropriately. He is very serious about his responsibilities, which means that he will tend to stay with his premises to make sure things are properly managed.

Males range from 16 to 18 inches at the shoulder and females from 15 to 17, according to the standard, which errs on the high side. The weight of a Puli depends both on its height and its coat. A 15 inch female with a short haircut will go about 23 to 25 pounds. A 17 inch male in full show coat may weigh about 37 pounds (the coat will weigh about 5 to 7 pounds on this dog). He is a hard, dry, and muscular animal, and naturally athletic. Given his active personality, most individuals will be in good muscular condition, even if housed where formal exercise opportunities are limited. He is a hardy working dog, and all those features which go into suiting a dog for rugged service are important in his makeup. The Puli should have strong bone and ample muscle to cope with hard work, and quick changes of direction. His bone structure should not be so heavy as to cause him to lumber in his movement, nor so light and delicate as to make him prone to injury while performing his demanding work. He should have strong back, shoulder, neck and thigh muscles, and be capable of clearing a 6 foot fence from a flat-footed start.

The Puli has profuse coat on all parts of the body. The coat is corded (imagine a black string mop). Differences in the proportions of the harder outer coat and softer under coat, which determie the exact form of the cords, are present between all individuals in all litters. The best coat is "self cording" where divisions show themselves prominently in the puppy coat, enabling the coat to cord on its own with little assistance from the owner as the coat begins to start forming mature cords, at about 8 to 10 months of age. Usually this starts first in the area of the rump, and proceeds forward at a pace which varies with the individual. As the coat texture changes, the actual formation of cords begins. The softer under coat is packed into the interior of the spiral tendril of outer coat, forming a felted structure.

Most Pulik are black, with the next most numerous color in Hungary being Fako, a color best described as that of the inside of a whole wheat roll (zsemle, in Hungarian). The Fako usually has some gray shading on the muzzle and the ends of the ears. We do not include the Fako in the standard in the United States, however. There are also white Pulik. The color of a black Puli is very deliberately described as a ’weathered’ black. This is due to two factors; first, all black coats begin to have a few white hairs show up, as early as 1 year of age. This trend continues to the point that jet-black teenagers grow into salt and pepper or charcoal colored adults. Second, a mature Puli coat with cords to the floor is from 4 to 5 years old; the cords do not shed, making the dog hypoallergenic.. As these mature cords are exposed to the air and the sunlight they lose some of their color intensity. The ends of cords, when picked up and compared to the coat at the midline of the back, will be less black, and may also have a reddish ‘rusty’ cast. The eyes, nose, and lips and gums should be as dark as possible, even in a white dog.

The Puli is an athlete and should always move as though he has plenty of reserve strength. He should never labor to move. The ideal Puli moves at an elastic collected trot, and when trotting at speed, will extend nicely and show good reach and drive. A balanced Puli moving at a fast trot, will have a perfectly level topline. The front and rear feet should just clear the ground. There should be no high-stepping hackney movement in the front, nor should there be any kicking out in the rear, with the bottom of the pads reaching for the sky. The Puli gait is described as quick stepping at the trot; this description is for the movement at the collected trot, and is a product of temperament, not structure. The Puli likes to move out and his frustration at spinning his wheels is what we see at a slow trot. Most importantly, this description of the movement should never be taken as an excuse for a poor front with restricted reach. In Hungary, where there are many entries in a class, and neither room to move the dogs briskly, nor is it the style of handling prevalent there, the class will all be spinning its wheels in its desire to go faster.

The Puli is dedicated to his family and whatever other charges he feels belong to him. He is the smartest of dogs and has a great sense of humor. Bred during the last 1,100 years to be the sole companion of the shepherd on long days and during months of isolation in alpine pastures, he is above all, the most complete companion imaginable. While he is a herding dog, his first and best use is above all as a companion. His proper place is with his human, and he will always return from his flock to check on his human's safety and be with him, whether returning from barking an alarm, or turning a flock.


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