The Polish Lowland Sheepdog is a cobby, medium-sized dog, slightly longer than tall, with great agility. The breed is strong and muscular, enabling the dog to control livestock. The gait is fluid with a long stride, allowing this dog to trot effortlessly for hours. The dog is inclined to amble, which can act as a reconnaissance energy-efficient gait. Toeing in is considered natural. The coat is long, dense, shaggy, and double, providing great protection against the elements.
The Polish Lowland Sheepdog is known in much of the world as the Polski Owczarek Nizinny (pronounced poleski off-chair-ick na-gin-nee), and even in America it goes by its nickname, the PON. The breed’s origins probably reach back to Central Asia from one or more Tibetan breeds, such as the Tibetan Terrier, which were probably introduced to Eastern Europe by Tibetan traders. The long-coated Tibetan dogs were probably interbred with corded-coated Hungarian sheepdogs introduced by the Huns in the fourth century. While large flock-guarding dogs staved off large predators, the smaller PONs worked with shepherds to move and control sheep, and also kept watch against intruders. Unlike larger dogs, they didn’t scare the sheep and they could work all day. They worked on the Polish lowlands for centuries until interest in purebred dogs and livestock swept through Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Several PONs left the plains to live and work on large estates. In 1924 PONs were shown at a Warsaw poultry and dog show. Most dogs had to be abandoned when Germany invaded Poland in 1939, but legend has it that a Warsaw PON named Psyche was valued for her ability to predict incoming bombs, alerting people to take cover in shelters. The first PONs were registered with the Polish Kennel Club in 1957. In 2001 the PON was admitted to the AKC under the English translation of its name, Polish Lowland Sheepdog.
Lively and loyal, the PON has been shaped by centuries of work as a shepherd. This is a territorial breed that is often wary of stranger, but is affectionate to family and friends. A PON’s bark is one of its best friends, and the typical PON shows that bark often. The PON has an independent and even willful side. The dog learns quickly, but sees no use in following commands blindly. Despite the shaggy dog look, the PON can be quite a serious dog. PONs are good with considerate children, most other pets, and most other dogs, although if challenged by a dog, they will hold their own.
The PON is not a cuddly overgrown lapdog, but a serious worker that needs a job to be satisfied. This dog needs to exercise the body and mind daily, flourishing when allowed to herd or learn agility. The PON does not accept extended confinement, but does best living inside and working and playing outside. The coat needs considerable care, preferably brushing every couple of days.