Polish Lowland Sheepdog
"Poland's Farm Worker"
The Polish Lowland Sheepdog's roots reach back to central Asia, most likely to one or more Tibetan breeds such as the Tibetan Terrier. These Tibetan dogs may have been interbred with cord-coated Hungarian breeds such as the Komondor or Puli as early as the fourth century. Larger PONs (short for Polski Owczarek Nizinny, as they're known in most places) were used as flock guards and smaller ones as sheep herders. The smaller size was advantageous for herding because they were less likely to scare the sheep. In addition, smaller dogs could stay on the move all day. The dogs worked on the Polish Lowlands for centuries. Although largely unknown elsewhere, they were sometimes used to create other sheep-herding breeds. In 1514, a Scottish shepherd saw some PONs at work and was so impressed, he acquired some and used them to interbreed with his dogs. These dogs are thought to be the foundation of the several Scottish herding dogs, most notably the Bearded Collie. National pride after World War I raised the PON's reputation and increased interest in selective breeding. But after World War II their numbers were reduced to only about 150 dogs. A handful of fanciers rescued the breed and increased their visibility throughout the world. The first PONs came to America in the 1980s, and they were recognized by the AKC in 2001. Still rare in America, they now rank 142nd out of 155 AKC breeds in popularity.
Energetic and enthusiastic but never frivolous, the PON is always ready for action. Bred for centuries to stay on the go, he's not content to lounge around the house with nothing to do. He's good with children, very affectionate to family, but wary of strangers. He's territorial and brave, and won't back down from people or dogs he feels are threatening. He's one of the more independent of herding breeds. He is a gifted barker, and enjoys showing off his ability.
He looks like a carefree ragamuffin, but under that tousled coat is a strong, muscular body built for work. He's medium-sized, slightly longer than tall, with fairly heavy bone. His face is framed by drop ears and covered by a mop of hair, but beneath the hair are oval eyes. The tail is set on low, and short (no longer than two vertebra). In America, it may be docked. The coat is long, dense, and shaggy, it's not customarily clipped or shaped. All colors are acceptable, but he's often seen in combinations of white with large patches.
Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are smart, but they are also independent, even willful. This preference to think for themselves stems from their long history of working sheep on their own. The best way to train a PON is to start young, using reward-based techniques, and keep him challenged so he doesn't think of better ways to do what you tell him. Activities that combine mental and physical challenges, such as agility or herding, are ideal.
Grooming & Care
The Polish Lowland Sheepdog's dense coat needs to be brushed at least every other day, preferably every day, to prevent matting. Work out tangles with a steel comb. Keep ears clean and dry, trim nails, and clean teeth. This is an active breed that needs to have both his mind and body exercised every day. Without sufficient exercise, a PON can become frustrated and even destructive. They do not take well to extensive confinement, so don't leave them home alone all day.
The Polish Lowland Sheepdog has no particular genetic health problems of record, but don't neglect regular veterinary visits to catch any problem that could develop.
Famous Polish Lowland Sheepdog
Smok, who lived in the 1950s, is the anscestor of almost all present-day PONs. He was also the model for the breed standard.
|Challenges||This dominant breed will do best with an experienced and confident owner.|
|Height||17 to 20 inches|
|Weight||30 to 50 pounds|
|Life||11 to 14 years|
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