Polish Lowland Sheepdog

Table of Contents

polish lowland sheepdog portrait
Get ready to meet your new best friend, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog! With its irresistibly shaggy coat and heartwarming smile, this breed is bound to steal your heart. Affectionately known as PON (Polski Owczarek Nizinny), these lovable canines are famous for their intelligence, loyalty, and playful nature.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog is an ideal companion for active individuals or families who are ready to embrace a loyal and energetic furball in their lives. PONs thrive in households that provide ample mental stimulation and exercise, as these herding dogs are both smart and athletic.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEPolish Lowland Sheepdog
OTHER NAMESPolski Owczarek Nizinny, PON, PLS
ORIGINPoland
BREED GROUPHerding Group
BREED SIZEMedium
HEIGHT16-20 inches
WEIGHT30-50 lbs
LIFESPAN12-14 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERLow
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSHigh
EXERCISE NEEDSHigh
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK181st
polish lowland sheepdog lying in the park
Photo: Yurii Sliusar/Getty Images

Appearance

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog is a medium-sized dog breed, boasting a muscular and compact build that hints at their incredible strength and agility.

Standing at a height of 17 to 20 inches for males and 16 to 19 inches for females, these sturdy dogs typically weigh between 30 to 50 pounds, with males being slightly larger than females. Their well-proportioned bodies are designed for endurance and efficiency, perfectly suited for their original herding tasks.

The head of a Polish Lowland Sheepdog is medium-sized, in proportion to the rest of its body. They have a broad, slightly domed skull with a distinct stop, which is the point where the forehead meets the muzzle. Their strong muzzles are neither too long nor too short and are equipped with powerful jaws and a scissor bite.

The PON’s nose is large and dark, while their medium-sized, oval-shaped eyes exude a lively and intelligent expression. The color of their eyes usually ranges from hazel to brown, harmonizing with the coat color.

One of the most distinctive features of the Polish Lowland Sheepdog is their ears. Set high on the head, the ears are medium-sized, heart-shaped, and hang close to the cheeks. When the dog is alert, their ears may lift slightly, giving them an attentive appearance.

The body of a PON is strong and well-muscled, with a level topline and a deep, wide chest that extends to the elbows. Their well-sprung ribs and tucked-up abdomen provide ample room for their lungs and other organs, ensuring optimal performance during physical activities.

The tail of the Polish Lowland Sheepdog is customarily docked, but undocked tails are becoming more common. When undocked, the tail is long and carried low, with a slight curve at the end.

Perhaps the most iconic attribute of the Polish Lowland Sheepdog is their shaggy, dense double coat. The topcoat is long, wavy, and harsh to the touch, while the undercoat is soft and dense, providing excellent insulation.

This breed’s coat comes in a variety of colors, including white, black, gray, and beige, often with patches or spots of different shades. The PON’s coat is designed to protect them from harsh weather conditions, making it both functional and charming.

Overall, the appearance of the Polish Lowland Sheepdog perfectly reflects their hardworking, intelligent, and lively nature. Their unique physical characteristics contribute to their undeniable charm, making them an attractive and distinctive breed.

two polish lowland sheepdogs in the park
Photo: Yurii Sliusar/Getty Images

Temperament

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog, also affectionately known as PON, is a breed that exudes an irresistible charm. Their shaggy coat and bright eyes are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their appeal. Beneath that fluffy exterior lies a personality that is as vibrant and colorful as their appearance.

One of the defining traits of the Polish Lowland Sheepdog is their intelligence. These dogs are sharp as a tack, always alert and ready for action. Their minds are constantly at work, observing their surroundings, remembering patterns, and making connections. They have an excellent memory, capable of recalling experiences and lessons long after they’ve happened.

However, don’t make the mistake of assuming that their intelligence makes them docile or subservient. The Polish Lowland Sheepdog is known for its stubborn streak. They know their own mind and aren’t afraid to assert themselves. While this might pose a challenge at times, it’s also a testament to their independence and self-confidence.

When it comes to their family, the PON is nothing short of affectionate. They forge deep bonds with their human companions, offering unwavering loyalty and love. They thrive on companionship and enjoy being part of family activities. Whether it’s a quiet evening at home or a day out in the park, your PON will be happiest by your side.

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog is also a vigilant watchdog. They are highly territorial, always keeping an eye out for anything unusual in their domain. They are alert and protective, ready to spring into action at the slightest sign of trouble. But again, this doesn’t translate to aggression. Instead, they are measured and controlled, ensuring the safety of their family without unnecessary hostility.

Their interaction with strangers is quite different from their behavior around family. Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are often reserved and aloof with people they don’t know. They take their time to warm up to new faces, assessing their intentions before deciding to let down their guard.

Despite their watchful nature, the PON is an even-tempered breed. They are stable and calm, maintaining a level-headed approach to life. They take things in stride, handling changes and challenges without getting overly anxious or stressed.

Finally, one can’t talk about the Polish Lowland Sheepdog without mentioning their lively spirit. They are animated and full of energy, bringing a touch of joy to everything they do. Their vitality is contagious, spreading happiness and positivity wherever they go.

polish lowland sheepdog standing in a park
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog thrives in an environment where their physical and mental needs are met consistently.

Physical Environment

As an active and intelligent breed, they require a living situation that provides ample space for exercise and play. Ideally, a home with a securely fenced yard would be perfect for them, as it allows for outdoor activities and off-leash time. However, PONs can adapt to apartment living if they receive sufficient daily exercise and mental stimulation through walks, playtime, and interactive toys.

Climate Adaptability

The PON’s dense double coat is designed to protect them from harsh weather conditions, making them well-adapted to cold climates. Their thick undercoat provides excellent insulation, while the long, wavy topcoat serves as a barrier against snow and rain.

However, it is essential to ensure that they have access to a warm, dry shelter in extremely cold weather, as no dog should be left outdoors for extended periods in freezing temperatures.

As for hot climates, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog’s double coat can make them more susceptible to overheating. In warmer environments, it is crucial to provide plenty of shade, fresh water, and a cool place for them to rest.

Avoid exercising your PON during the hottest parts of the day, opting for early morning or evening walks instead. Regular grooming, including brushing and occasional trimming, will help maintain their coat’s health and manage shedding, but avoid shaving their coat, as it serves as a natural protection against the sun.

Ideal Owner

These dogs are best suited for pet parents who are willing to invest time and effort in training, socialization, and providing regular exercise. Individuals or families with an active lifestyle will appreciate the PON’s energy and enthusiasm for outdoor activities.

They are also a good fit for those interested in participating in dog sports, such as agility, obedience trials, and herding events, as these activities cater to the breed’s innate intelligence and athleticism.

Other Pets

In terms of adaptability to other pets, Polish Lowland Sheepdogs generally get along well with other animals, particularly when raised together from a young age. Early socialization is key to ensuring harmonious relationships with other household pets.

Introducing your PON to various animals and environments during their formative months will help them develop into a well-adjusted and sociable adult dog.

polish lowland sheepdog walking in the forest
Photo: bgsmith/Getty Images

Grooming

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog, with its distinctive shaggy coat, requires regular grooming to maintain its overall health and appearance. While their grooming needs may appear daunting at first glance, a consistent routine and the right tools can make the process manageable and enjoyable for both you and your PON.

Coat Care

One of the primary aspects of grooming your Polish Lowland Sheepdog is coat care. Their long, wavy topcoat and dense undercoat are designed to protect them from harsh weather conditions but are prone to matting and tangling if not brushed regularly.

It is essential to brush your PON’s coat at least two to three times a week using a slicker brush or a pin brush. These brushes help remove loose hair, prevent tangles, and distribute natural oils throughout the coat, promoting a healthy shine.

When brushing your PON, start at the base of the coat and work your way up, section by section. This technique ensures that you reach the undercoat and remove any loose hair or debris. Be gentle when working through any tangles or mats, as pulling too hard can cause discomfort and damage to the coat. If you encounter stubborn mats, a dematting tool or comb can be used to break them apart gently.

In addition to regular brushing, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog’s coat may require occasional trimming, particularly around the eyes, ears, paws, and sanitary areas. This trimming helps keep their appearance neat and prevents dirt and debris from accumulating.

Professional grooming every few months can also be beneficial in maintaining the coat’s overall health and manageability. However, avoid shaving your PON’s coat, as it serves as a natural protection against the elements.

Bathing your Polish Lowland Sheepdog should be done as needed, approximately every six to eight weeks or when they become dirty or smelly. Use a mild dog shampoo to cleanse their coat and skin, taking care not to get soap in their eyes or ears. Ensure that you rinse the coat thoroughly, as residual shampoo can cause skin irritation.

Dental Care

Dental care is another essential aspect of grooming for your PON. Regular teeth brushing with a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste helps prevent plaque buildup, tartar, and bad breath.

Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth daily, but even two to three times a week can make a significant difference in maintaining their oral health. Additionally, providing dental chews and toys can help support their dental hygiene.

Nail Trimming

Nail care is also crucial in maintaining your PON’s overall well-being. Trim their nails every three to four weeks using a dog nail clipper or grinder, taking care not to cut the quick, which can be painful and cause bleeding. Regular nail trimming helps prevent discomfort while walking and reduces the risk of injury from overgrown nails.

Ear Care

Lastly, inspect and clean your Polish Lowland Sheepdog’s ears weekly using a gentle ear-cleaning solution and cotton balls. This routine helps prevent the buildup of wax and debris, reducing the risk of ear infections.

polish lowland sheepdog herding a sheep
Photo: GoDogPhoto/Getty Images

Exercise

As a herding breed, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog is an active and energetic dog with considerable exercise needs. Meeting their daily exercise requirements is essential to maintain their physical health, mental well-being, and overall happiness.

A sedentary lifestyle or lack of stimulation can lead to boredom, which may result in behavioral issues such as excessive barking, digging, or destructiveness.

Exercise Amount & Types

To keep your PON happy and healthy, it is crucial to provide them with at least one hour of exercise per day. This exercise can be divided into multiple sessions, including walks, playtime, and other activities that engage both their body and mind.

Daily walks should ideally be brisk and long enough to allow your PON to explore and expend energy. You may also consider incorporating off-leash playtime in a securely fenced area, where they can run and interact with other dogs.

Polish Lowland Sheepdogs enjoy engaging in various physical activities, such as playing fetch, tug-of-war, and frisbee. These games not only provide them with physical exercise but also help strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

Another effective way to engage your Polish Lowland Sheepdog’s mind is through puzzle toys and interactive games that require problem-solving skills. These toys can be used during indoor playtime or when outdoor exercise is limited due to weather conditions.

Dog Sports

Additionally, PONs excel in dog sports like agility, obedience trials, and herding events, which cater to their intelligence, athleticism, and natural instincts. Participating in these activities is a great way to challenge your PON and offer them mental stimulation.

Exercise Precautions

When exercising your PON, it is essential to consider their age, health, and individual needs. Puppies and senior dogs may have different exercise requirements compared to young and adult dogs. Always monitor your dog’s energy levels and adjust the exercise routine accordingly to prevent overexertion or injury.

polish lowland sheepdog's face up close
Photo: wepix/Getty Images Signature

Training

Training a Polish Lowland Sheepdog can be a rewarding experience, as these intelligent dogs are eager to learn and please their owners. However, their independent nature and occasional stubborn streak require a consistent, patient, and positive approach to training.

By understanding the nuances of training your PON, you can develop a strong bond with them and enjoy a well-behaved and responsive companion.

Early Training & Basic Obedience

Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are highly trainable, thanks to their intelligence and innate desire to work alongside their human counterparts. Early training is crucial for this breed, as it helps establish a solid foundation for lifelong learning and good behavior.

Begin with basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, and heel, gradually progressing to more advanced skills as your PON masters each command.

Positive Reinforcement

When it comes to training methods, positive reinforcement techniques are most effective with Polish Lowland Sheepdogs. Using rewards like treats, praise, and toys encourages them to repeat desired behaviors and fosters a positive association with training sessions. Avoid harsh or punitive methods, as they can damage the bond between you and your dog and create resistance to learning.

Consistency

Consistency is key when training your PON. Establish clear rules and expectations, and ensure that all family members follow the same guidelines. This consistency helps your dog understand what is expected of them and prevents confusion caused by mixed messages.

Socialization

Socialization is another vital aspect of training for your Polish Lowland Sheepdog. Expose them to various people, animals, and environments from an early age to help them develop into a confident and well-adjusted adult. Positive experiences with different situations will make your PON more adaptable and reduce the likelihood of fear or aggression towards unfamiliar stimuli.

Advanced Training

Polish Lowland Sheepdogs excel in dog sports such as agility, obedience trials, and herding events. These activities not only provide mental stimulation but also offer an outlet for their natural instincts and energy. Engaging in dog sports is an excellent way to strengthen the bond with your PON while reinforcing their training and social skills.

polish lowland sheepdog lying on a park bench
Photo: Yurii Sliusar/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

A well-balanced diet is crucial for maintaining the health and well-being of your Polish Lowland Sheepdog. Providing them with high-quality, age-appropriate food that meets their nutritional needs will support their growth, energy levels, and overall health.

What to Feed & How Much

When selecting food for your PON, look for premium dry, wet, or raw foods that adhere to the guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). These guidelines ensure that the food contains the necessary nutrients and appropriate ratios to support your dog’s health.

Make sure to choose a formula that aligns with your dog’s life stage – puppy, adult, or senior – as each stage requires different nutrient profiles.

The amount of food your Polish Lowland Sheepdog needs will depend on factors such as their age, weight, activity level, and metabolism. As a general guideline, an adult PON typically requires around 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high-quality dry food per day, divided into two meals.

However, this amount may vary based on your dog’s specific needs. It’s essential to monitor your PON’s weight and body condition, adjusting their food intake accordingly to prevent overfeeding or underfeeding.

Puppies have different dietary requirements compared to adults, as they need more energy and nutrients to support their growth and development. Puppy food should be fed in smaller, more frequent meals – usually three to four times a day. As your PON transitions into adulthood, you can gradually reduce the number of daily meals to two.

Treats

When it comes to treats, moderation is key. While treats can be a valuable tool for training and rewarding good behavior, excessive treats can lead to weight gain and nutritional imbalances. Opt for healthy, low-calorie treats and make sure they comprise no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.

Water

Fresh water should always be readily available to your Polish Lowland Sheepdog. Make sure to provide clean water in a bowl that is easily accessible and refill it frequently. Encourage your PON to drink water, particularly during hot weather or after physical activity, to prevent dehydration.

polish lowland sheepdog lying on the floor at home
Photo: bgsmith/Getty Images

Health

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog is generally a healthy and robust breed with a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. However, like all dog breeds, they are prone to certain health issues. Providing a healthy diet, regular veterinary check-ups, and staying up-to-date with vaccinations can help prevent or manage potential health problems and ensure your PON enjoys a long, happy life.

Here are common health issues associated with the Polish Lowland Sheepdog breed:

Hip Dysplasia: This genetic condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and pain in the affected joint. Regular veterinary check-ups and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage this condition. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is an inherited eye disorder that causes the gradual degeneration of the retina, eventually leading to blindness. Regular eye exams by a veterinary ophthalmologist can help detect early signs of PRA and monitor its progression.

Cataracts: Cataracts are a common eye issue in Polish Lowland Sheepdogs, causing cloudiness and reduced vision. Regular eye exams can help identify cataracts early, and in some cases, surgery may be recommended to remove them and restore vision.

Hypothyroidism: This hormonal disorder occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, resulting in symptoms such as weight gain, lethargy, and skin issues. Regular blood tests can help diagnose hypothyroidism, and treatment typically involves daily medication to supplement the missing hormone.

Allergies: Polish Lowland Sheepdogs can be prone to allergies, which may manifest as skin irritations, itching, or gastrointestinal issues. Identifying the cause of the allergy, whether it’s food, environmental, or contact-based, is crucial in managing the condition. Treatment may include dietary changes, medications, or topical solutions to alleviate symptoms.

To keep your Polish Lowland Sheepdog healthy, it’s essential to provide them with a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. Regular veterinary check-ups and vaccinations are also vital in preventing and detecting health issues early on, allowing for timely intervention and treatment.

In addition to routine care, staying informed about potential breed-specific health risks can help you monitor your PON’s well-being and take proactive steps to ensure they enjoy a long, healthy life. By prioritizing your Polish Lowland Sheepdog’s health, you can minimize the risk of common health issues and support their overall well-being.

polish lowland sheepdog's face
Photo: BigWest1/Getty Images Signature

History

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog boasts a rich and fascinating history that dates back several centuries. Originating in Poland, this versatile herding breed has played an essential role in the country’s agricultural practices and has left an indelible mark on its culture and canine lineage.

The exact origins of the Polish Lowland Sheepdog are subject to debate, but it is widely believed that they descended from ancient herding dogs that arrived in Poland with migrating tribes.

One theory suggests that the breed’s ancestors were the Puli dogs brought to Poland by the Huns during their invasions in the 4th and 5th centuries. Another possibility is that the breed developed from the Tibetan Terrier, which came to Europe through trade routes in the 13th century.

Regardless of their precise ancestry, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog quickly established itself as a highly valued working dog among Polish farmers and shepherds.

Their intelligence, agility, and natural herding instincts made them adept at managing livestock, while their dense double coat protected them from harsh weather conditions. The breed’s versatility extended beyond herding, as they were also employed as guard dogs and even used for pulling carts.

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog’s popularity began to spread beyond Poland’s borders in the early 20th century, thanks to their exceptional working abilities and unique appearance.

In the 1920s, Polish veterinarian Dr. Danuta Hryeniewicz took an interest in the breed and began studying and documenting PONs. She played a pivotal role in standardizing the breed and promoting it both nationally and internationally.

During World War II, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog faced the threat of extinction due to the devastation that swept across Poland. However, dedicated breed enthusiasts, including Dr. Hryeniewicz, worked tirelessly to protect and preserve the breed. Their efforts paid off, as the PON population gradually recovered in the post-war years.

In popular culture, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog has made its mark through various avenues. One of the most notable PONs is Smok, the mascot of the Polish Scouting Association. Smok became famous for his heroic acts during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, where he carried messages between resistance fighters under enemy fire.

The breed’s official recognition by the American Kennel Club (AKC) came relatively recently, with the first PON registered by the AKC in 1999. Since then, the breed’s popularity has continued to grow in the United States, where they are cherished for their intelligence, loyalty, and distinctive shaggy appearance.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Polish Lowland Sheepdog in the United States is the American Polish Lowland Sheepdog Club (APONC). Founded in 1988, the APONC is dedicated to promoting and preserving the PON breed in the US. The club focuses on educating the public about the breed, supporting responsible breeding practices, and providing resources for PON owners and enthusiasts.

To learn more about the American Polish Lowland Sheepdog Club, you can visit their website.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed.

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Polish Lowland Sheepdog’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

polish lowland sheepdog peeking out of a window
Photo: bgsmith/Getty Images

Acquiring

When considering acquiring a Polish Lowland Sheepdog, it’s essential to prepare yourself for the responsibility of owning this intelligent and active breed. Research the breed’s characteristics, grooming needs, and exercise requirements to ensure they align with your lifestyle.

Adopting from a rescue organization is a great option, as it gives a deserving dog a second chance at a loving home. The American Kennel Club and the American Polish Lowland Sheepdog Club (APONC) can help connect you with rescues or reputable breeders who prioritize the health and well-being of their dogs.

If you choose to work with a breeder, ensure they follow ethical breeding practices, provide proper health clearances, and prioritize socialization. Visit the breeder’s facility and ask questions about the dog’s lineage, temperament, and health history. By taking these steps, you can make an informed decision and welcome a happy, healthy Polish Lowland Sheepdog into your family.

FAQs

Are Polish Lowland Sheepdogs good pets?

Yes, Polish Lowland Sheepdogs make excellent pets for the right family. They are intelligent, loyal, and affectionate dogs that form strong bonds with their owners. However, they require regular exercise, mental stimulation, and consistent training to thrive.

Do Polish Lowland Sheepdogs shed?

Polish Lowland Sheepdogs have a dense, shaggy double coat that sheds moderately. Regular brushing is essential to remove loose hair, prevent matting, and maintain a healthy coat.

Are Polish Lowland Sheepdogs hypoallergenic?

No dog breed is completely hypoallergenic, but Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are considered a low-shedding breed, which may be more suitable for individuals with mild allergies. However, it’s essential to spend time with the breed before committing to ownership to ensure you don’t have an allergic reaction.

How much exercise do Polish Lowland Sheepdogs need?

Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are an active and energetic breed that requires at least an hour of daily exercise to stay healthy and happy. They enjoy activities such as walks, hikes, and games of fetch. Providing ample physical activity and mental stimulation will help prevent boredom and destructive behaviors.

Are Polish Lowland Sheepdogs good with children?

Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are generally good with children, especially when raised together from a young age. They are playful and protective, making them excellent family companions. However, it’s crucial to teach children how to interact respectfully with dogs and supervise interactions to ensure the safety of both the child and the dog.

How difficult is it to train a Polish Lowland Sheepdog?

Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are intelligent and eager to please, which makes them relatively easy to train. However, they can also be independent and stubborn at times. Consistent, positive reinforcement training methods work best with this breed. Early socialization and obedience training are important for well-rounded behavior.

What health issues are common in Polish Lowland Sheepdogs?

Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are generally healthy, but they can be prone to certain health issues such as hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cataracts, hypothyroidism, and allergies. Regular veterinary check-ups, a healthy diet, and proper exercise can help prevent or manage these conditions.

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