The Puli is a compact dog of square proportion and medium build. Their gait at a trot is quick stepping, but not far reaching. The Puli is able to change directions instantly, and is often quick, agile, and even acrobatic. Their weatherproof coat consists of a soft, wooly, dense undercoat and a wavy or curly outer coat. This coat will form round or flattened cords, but it may also be brushed out.
Around the ninth century the Magyar tribes came from the eastern Urals to occupy the central Danube area, intermingling with Turkish people along the way. They brought with them various sheepdogs, including the forebear of the modern Puli.
The Puli’s resemblance in body structure to the Tibetan Spaniel has led some to surmise that the latter may have played a role in the Puli’s development. Whatever the origin, the small dogs were agile sheepherders. Their black color was important so that they could be easily spotted by the shepherd among the sheep. Thus, the Magyar’s larger dogs were probably used as nighttime guards, and the small black dogs as daytime herders.
After the decimation of Hungary by invaders in the sixteenth century, the country was repopulated by people, sheep, and dogs from western Europe. These dogs interbred with the native Pulik to produce the Pumi, and then the Puli and Pumi were interbred to such an extent that the original Puli breed was nearly lost. In the early 1900s, an effort began to resurrect the Puli. Around that time, Pulik in Hungary varied greatly in height from large “police” through medium “working” to small “dwarf” sizes. The medium-sized dogs were most representative of the traditional herding Puli and were established as the desired size.
In 1935, the Puli were introduced to America and by 1936 the AKC recognized the breed. The breed’s fame spread farther throughout Europe as a result of Hungarians fleeing the war, bringing with them their dogs. The modern Puli enjoys modest popularity as a family pet.
A mop on springs, the Puli is full of bouncing energy. They are busy and curious and need daily exercise. This smart dog is also headstrong and assertive. They may need to be carefully introduced to other dogs. Alert and watchful, they tend to bark a lot.
This is an energetic breed on the lookout for a job, preferably something to herd. They can be satisfied with a good walk or jog, or a lively game and training session, however. Their coat can hold debris. Their nonshedding coat can be brushed or corded; if brushed, it needs brushing every one to two days. If corded, the cords must be regularly separated because the coat tends to hold dirt; bathing is time consuming and drying takes as much as one day. This dog can be professionally groomed or clipped.