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.