"The Rasta Dog"

Photo of Puli


Nobody knows for sure what went into the Puli recipe, but it's possible the Tibetan Spaniel played a role. Other forebears were the dogs of the Magyar tribes, who occupied the central Danube area in the 9th century. The shepherds developed two types of livestock dogs, a larger one that guarded the flocks at night, and a smaller, more agile one that herded them by day. The smaller dogs mostly came in black, making it easier to spot them amongst the sheep. These were the dogs that became the Puli. When Hungary was invaded in the 16th century, the new settlers brought European breeds that interbred with the native Pulik (plural of Puli). The breed they produced was the Pumi, which was bred with Pulik to such an extent that the Puli was nearly lost. Only after a concerted effort to resurrect the breed in the early 1900s did the dog we now know as the Puli emerge. In 1935 the United States Department of Agriculture imported Pulik in an effort to improve American herding dogs. Although the project was curtailed by World War II, these Pulik made such an impression that the AKC recognized the breed in 1936. The breed spread throughout the world alongside its Hungarian masters fleeing the war. Perhaps because of the coat care involved, the Puli has remained near the bottom of the AKC popularity list, at 140th out of 155 breeds.


The Puli is an enthusiastic herding dog, known for jumping on the backs of sheep and getting them moving no matter what it takes. Like all herding dogs, the Puli is extremely smart, but equally energetic. This combination of high energy and high intelligence means you better have something to occupy his time unless you want him to think up his own, less popular (and potentially destructive), projects. Pulik are among the more protective herding dogs. They can be aggressive toward strange dogs, and wary of strange people, so keep control over them in situations where they might encounter surprises. They are gifted barkers – a quality not everyone appreciates.


The Puli is a medium-sized, compact dog of square proportion. The most obvious feature is his abundant thick coat, which consists of a dense, wooly undercoat and a coarser outer coat that tends to be wavy or curly. If brushed out, the coat is somewhat frizzy, but it otherwise forms long rounded or flattened cords, like mop tassels. Beneath the coat he has a slightly domed skull, V-shaped drop ears, and almond shaped eyes. His back line is straight, and he carries his tail over his back. He comes in black, rusty black, gray, or white.


Because Pulik tend to be wary of strangers, early socialization is essential with this breed. Puli were bred not to take no for an answer when it came to sheep, and they tend to take that same attitude with people. If you try to out-stubborn one, he will likely win. This is such a bright dog that he does best when challenged with new mental exercises regularly. As with most dogs, reward based training is most effective, although a firm (but fair) hand may sometimes be required.

Grooming & Care

The Puli's corded coat doesn't shed, but it tends to mop up leaves and debris from outside and bring them in. If you brush out the coat, you'll need to keep brushing it out every day or two to prevent mats. If allowed to cord – and cords are essentially long, shaped, mats – the cords must be regularly separated as they form. Bathing and drying a corded dog can take up an entire day. Some owners elect to clip their dogs, creating a cute look with less hassle. Don't forget to keep nails trimmed, ears clean and dry, and teeth well-brushed. The Puli needs a lot of exercise, at least an hour a day of vigorous play or jogging.

Health Concerns

The Puli's only major inherited health concern is hip dysplasia. All breeding stock should have their hips checked before breeding. Ask the breeder for evidence of these tests for your puppy's parents.

Famous Puli

Australian Grand Champion, American & Canadian Champion Cordmaker Mississippi Mud, who goes by the name of “Amish.”

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 4
Schedule 6
Home 9
Children 48
Experience 55
Quick Facts
Grooming 56
Exercise 60
Challenges Needs a job; grooming time.
Height 16 to 17 inches
Weight 30 to 35 pounds
Life 14 to 16 years
Home Alone 83
With Kids 114
With Strangers 91
Availability 95

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

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