Should you ever come across a briskly jumping giant mop, don’t doubt your sanity. Rather, you will meet a representative of one of the oldest dog breeds in Europe: the Puli. The curious look of the dog with the dreadlocks is of course not the only thing that makes the herding dog so popular as a family member. Puli has a loyal and witty character. However, their need for space and their urge to move to speak against keeping them in a small city apartment.
The origin of the Puli
The lively pulik accompanied shepherds in what is now Hungary as early as the ninth century; targeted breeding of the breed has only taken place since 1867. In the epochs before that, there were various political obstacles that thwarted the spread of the dog. However, the appearance of the Puli has hardly changed. The breed has been recognized since 1924, including by the breeders’ umbrella organization Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).
The nature of the Puli
Puli is herding dogs through and through. They have a mission, namely the protection of their herd (alternatively: the human pack). Strangers – whether human, conspecific, or another animal – are viewed suspiciously and barked energetically. Pulik are affectionate and loyal to their direct attachment figures. As a typical herd manager, the spirited fur nose tends to take control. There are anecdotes about Puli “rounding up” children at play. Another remarkable characteristic of the lovable shaggy animal: If it feels unfairly treated, it is offended and shows this by demonstratively ignoring its human for hours.
Training and husbandry of the Puli
The original Puli had the task of protecting and keeping together herds of pigs, small ruminants, or poultry. For this, the dog must be able to make independent decisions. Puli should therefore be kept close to nature. If the animal is not used for its intended purpose anyway (e.g. to herd a flock of sheep), it needs a lot of exercises, stimulation, and above all: tasks. Puli is a very athletic dog and is suitable, for example, for agility or hidden object games. The Puli wants to please its people: Praise and speech are important means of education.
Gentle perseverance and empathy are the order of the day when raising the Puli. The animal should accept its human as a consistent leader in order not to strive for the alpha post in the “pack” itself. A visit to the puppy group or dog school contributes to socialization, strengthening of character, and practicing basic obedience.
Allow some time for grooming the Puli. According to the breed standard, the coat should not be brushed, but rather must be “tangled” by hand into the cord structure described below. The Puli should only be bathed in exceptional cases. His fur dries slowly, there is a risk of catching a cold. The coat of hair around the anus region must be cut, as well as that over the eyes so that the nose can see through. The Puli coat should always be kept at a length that is workable for the animal.
Peculiarities of the Puli
The Puli’s distinctive coat develops over a period of several years. In a natural process, the outer hair becomes matted with the undercoat, creating the fur cords reminiscent of Rasta braids. So that this felt does not spread out over a large area, the fur must be arranged and brought into a cord shape. The dense felt fur has a useful function for the original herding dog: it protects against both the weather and the bites of attacking wild animals. With older animals, the heavy fur can become a burden; the dog should then be clipped.