Puli

Table of Contents

puli dog portrait
Ready to unravel the mystery behind the Puli – the bouncing bundles of charisma and curls? These Hungarian charmers are not your average furry friends! From their dreadlock-like coats to their boundless zest for life, they are an enchanting blend of charm and intelligence that will leave you utterly smitten.

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 Puli is an excellent choice for active individuals and families who appreciate a lively, intelligent, and devoted companion. They thrive in environments where they can engage in both physical and mental stimulation, making them perfect for those who enjoy outdoor adventures or dog sports like agility and herding.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEPuli
OTHER NAMESHungarian Puli, Hungarian Water Dog
ORIGINHungary
BREED GROUPHerding Group
BREED SIZEMedium
HEIGHT14-17 inches
WEIGHT25-35 lbs
LIFESPAN10-15 years
LIVING SPACESmall
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERLow
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSHigh
EXERCISE NEEDSVery High
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELLow
POPULARITY RANK161st
puli sitting in a park
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Appearance

The Puli (plural: Pulik) is known for its distinctive appearance, which is characterized by a compact, square-shaped body and a profuse, corded coat. These medium-sized dogs typically stand between 16 to 17 inches at the shoulder for males, and 14 to 16 inches for females. In terms of weight, male Pulik can range from 30 to 35 pounds, while females usually weigh between 25 to 30 pounds.

The Puli’s body is well-muscled and slightly longer than it is tall, giving them a robust and athletic build. They possess a level topline and a deep, broad chest that extends to the elbows. The breed has a moderately tucked-up abdomen, contributing to their agile and flexible nature. Their tails are customarily carried curled tightly over their backs, adding to their unique silhouette.

The head of a Puli is relatively small in proportion to their body, with a domed skull and a well-defined stop. Their muzzle is straight and strong, leading to a black nose with wide nostrils. The breed’s eyes are medium-sized, almond-shaped, and dark brown in color, conveying an alert and intelligent expression.

The Puli’s ears are V-shaped, medium-sized, and set fairly high on the head. They hang down close to the cheeks, with the tip reaching the level of the corner of the mouth.

The coat consists of a dense, weather-resistant double layer. The outer coat is wavy or curly, while the undercoat is soft and woolly. As the dog matures, the coat forms cords that resemble dreadlocks. These cords can vary in thickness, ranging from thin pencil-like strands to wider, flat bands. The coat can be found in various colors, including black, rust, silver, and white, as well as multi-colored variations.

In addition to its unique coat, the Puli’s overall appearance exudes a sense of strength, agility, and grace. Their nimble movement, combined with their sturdy build, makes them well-suited for various tasks, such as herding livestock or participating in dog sports.

Overall, the Puli’s distinctive physical characteristics not only make them stand out in a crowd but also contribute to their exceptional working abilities and endearing charm.

puli standing on a road
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Temperament

The Puli is as intriguing in personality as it is in appearance. With their corded coats and spirited nature, they are truly a breed apart.

Pulik are known for their intelligence. These dogs are quick on their feet and have a knack for picking up new things. But their intelligence isn’t just about learning quickly. Pulik are also agile thinkers, capable of outsmarting you when you least expect it. This cleverness often manifests in playful, mischievous ways, making them an entertaining companion.

The Puli is also a breed that thrives on affection. They love to be in the company of their family, whether it’s snuggling up on the couch or engaging in some fun playtime. They are happiest when they’re with their loved ones. This affectionate nature extends to all members of the family, including children, which makes them wonderful family pets.

Despite their friendly demeanor, Pulik are also known for their wariness around strangers. This makes them excellent watchdogs, always ready to protect their family. They may be small in size, but their courage is commendable. A Puli won’t hesitate to stand guard if they sense something amiss.

One of the most endearing traits of the Puli is their fun-loving personality. These dogs are full of energy and zest for life. They bring a sense of joy and laughter to every moment, their cheerful disposition proving infectious. Owning a Puli means embracing a life filled with fun and adventure.

But it’s not all fun and games with the Puli. These dogs also have a sensitive side. Pulik are great at reading moods and will often mirror the emotions of their owners. If you’re feeling down, your Puli will be there to offer comfort. If you’re excited, they’ll join in your enthusiasm. Their ability to empathize makes them a comforting presence in any household.

Being adaptable is another key trait of the Puli. They adjust well to different environments and situations, taking everything in stride. Whether it’s a change in their routine or a new addition to the family, Pulik handle it all with grace and ease.

At times, Pulik can also be quite headstrong. They have a certain independent streak that reflects their confidence. But this doesn’t make them difficult. Instead, it adds a layer of depth to their personality, making them even more fascinating.

puli walking on a park with his owner
Photo: Laura Fay/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The ideal environment for the Puli is one that caters to their high energy levels, intelligence, and social nature. Pulik thrive in settings where they can engage in regular physical activity and mental stimulation, as well as spend quality time with their human family members.

Physical Environment

A home with a securely fenced yard is highly recommended for this breed, as it provides a safe space for them to run, play, and exercise. Pulik are agile and fast, and they enjoy participating in various outdoor activities such as hiking, jogging, or playing fetch with their owners.

Access to parks and open spaces where they can explore, socialize, and work on their training is also beneficial for their overall well-being.

Climate Adaptability

Regarding climate adaptability, the Puli’s dense, corded coat provides excellent insulation against both cold and hot temperatures.

In colder climates, their weather-resistant double coat keeps them warm and protected from the elements. However, it’s essential to monitor them during extreme cold spells and provide additional protection if necessary, such as a dog coat or access to a warm indoor space.

In hot climates, the Puli’s coat can help protect them from the sun’s rays, but it’s essential to be mindful of their comfort and safety during periods of intense heat. Ensure they have access to shade, fresh water, and proper ventilation, and avoid exercising them during the hottest parts of the day. Regular grooming is also crucial to maintaining the health and cleanliness of their coat, regardless of the climate.

Ideal Owner

The ideal owner for a Puli is an active and engaged individual or family who can match the breed’s high energy levels. Puli owners should be committed to providing regular exercise, mental stimulation, and consistent training.

With a love for outdoor adventures and a willingness to maintain their unique coat, the perfect Puli owner embraces the playful charm and devoted companionship of these delightful Hungarian herders.

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, Pulik can generally adapt well to living with other animals, particularly if introduced and socialized from a young age. They have a natural inclination to work in a team and can get along with other dogs and even smaller pets like cats, provided they are raised together or properly introduced.

puli walking on grass on a sunny day
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Grooming

The Puli’s unique corded coat requires specialized grooming to keep it healthy, clean, and looking its best. While Pulik are considered a low-shedding breed, their grooming needs are relatively high-maintenance compared to other breeds.

Coat Care

The Puli’s coat consists of a dense double layer, with a wavy or curly outer coat and a soft, woolly undercoat. As the dog matures, these two layers naturally form cords, which can vary in thickness from thin pencil-like strands to wider, flat bands. It’s crucial to regularly maintain these cords to prevent them from becoming dirty, matted, or tangled.

During the early stages of cord formation, typically between 9 months and 2 years of age, you will need to gently separate the forming cords by hand to ensure they grow evenly and don’t mat together. This process can be time-consuming but is essential for keeping the coat healthy and manageable.

Once the cords have fully formed, they’ll require less hands-on maintenance, but it’s still essential to regularly check for any debris or tangles and remove them as necessary.

Bathing a Puli can be a time-consuming process, as their corded coat takes longer to wash and dry than a conventional coat. Bathe your Puli every 4 to 6 weeks using a mild dog shampoo, carefully working the product into each cord and rinsing thoroughly to avoid residue buildup.

It’s critical to dry the cords completely after bathing, either by using a towel to squeeze out excess water or a pet-specific hairdryer on a cool setting. Failure to dry the coat properly can lead to unpleasant odors and potential skin issues.

Dental Care

Like all dog breeds, Pulik require regular dental care to maintain good oral health and prevent issues such as gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath. Brush your Puli’s teeth at least two to three times a week using a dog-specific toothpaste and toothbrush.

Additionally, provide dental chews or toys designed to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup, and consider regular professional dental cleanings as recommended by your veterinarian.

Nail Trimming

Pulik have strong, fast-growing nails that need regular trimming to prevent them from becoming overgrown, which can lead to discomfort, difficulty walking, and potential injury. Trim your Puli’s nails every 3 to 4 weeks using a nail clipper or grinder designed for dogs.

Be careful to avoid cutting the quick, the sensitive blood vessel inside the nail, as this can cause pain and bleeding.

Ear Care

Regular ear care is essential for Pulik, as their V-shaped ears hang down close to their cheeks, which can create a warm, moist environment conducive to infections. Check your Puli’s ears weekly for signs of redness, odor, or discharge, and gently clean them using a soft cloth or cotton ball moistened with a dog-specific ear cleaner.

Avoid using cotton swabs, as these can push debris further into the ear canal and potentially cause injury.

puli's face up close
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Exercise

The Puli is an energetic and agile canine with a strong work ethic, making it essential for them to have regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being.

Exercise Amount & Types

They require at least 1 to 2 hours of daily exercise, which can be divided into multiple sessions throughout the day. This exercise routine should include a mix of activities that provide both physical exertion and mental stimulation.

As a versatile and adaptable breed, Pulik enjoy various forms of exercise, including walking, jogging, hiking, and playing fetch or other interactive games. They have a natural instinct for herding, so incorporating activities that tap into these instincts, such as herding exercises or training, can be particularly fulfilling for them.

Dog Sports

In addition to traditional forms of exercise, Pulik excel in dog sports and competitions due to their intelligence, agility, and enthusiasm for working. Some popular dog sports that Pulik may enjoy participating in include agility, obedience, rally, and herding trials.

Agility is a fast-paced sport in which the dog navigates through a series of obstacles such as jumps, tunnels, and weave poles, under the guidance of their handler. Pulik’s nimble movement and quick thinking make them a natural fit for this competition.

In obedience trials, dogs demonstrate their ability to perform various commands and tasks as directed by their handlers. Pulik’s intelligence and eagerness to please make them excellent candidates for this sport.

Rally is a combination of agility and obedience where dogs and their handlers navigate a course with various stations, each requiring the performance of a specific command or task. Pulik’s adaptability and focus make them well-suited for this challenging sport.

Herding trials showcase the dog’s natural herding abilities as they work with their handler to move livestock through a designated course. As a breed with strong herding instincts, Pulik can excel in these events.

Exercise Precautions

When planning exercise sessions for your Puli, it’s essential to consider factors such as weather conditions, the dog’s age, and any health concerns that may affect their ability to participate in certain activities. Always provide access to fresh water during exercise and monitor your dog for signs of fatigue or overheating.

puli standing outdoor in nature
Photo: Bigandt_Photography/Getty Images

Training

The Puli is known for its intelligence, eagerness to learn, and strong work ethic, making them highly trainable and adaptable to various tasks. However, their independent nature can sometimes lead to stubbornness, so it’s essential to approach training with patience, consistency, and the right techniques.

Early Training & Socialization

When training a Puli, it’s crucial to start early, preferably during puppyhood, to establish a strong bond and lay the foundation for future learning. Early socialization is also essential to expose your Puli to different people, animals, and environments, helping them develop a well-rounded and confident personality.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement-based training methods are most effective with Pulik, as they respond well to rewards such as treats, praise, and playtime. Using these techniques helps to keep them motivated and engaged in the learning process while strengthening the bond between pet and owner. Avoid harsh or punitive methods, as these can lead to fear, anxiety, and a breakdown in trust.

Consistency

Consistency is key when training a Puli, as they need clear and reliable guidance to understand what is expected of them. Be patient and persistent, and remember that progress may be gradual. Break down complex tasks into smaller, manageable steps, and build on your dog’s skills over time.

Additional Training Tips

In addition to basic obedience training, it’s essential to teach your Puli good manners and impulse control. This includes behaviors such as not jumping on people, walking politely on a leash, and waiting patiently for food or treats. These skills help to ensure that your Puli is a well-behaved and enjoyable companion both at home and in public settings.

puli sitting among yellow wheat
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Diet & Nutrition 

The diet and nutrition of the Puli play a crucial role in maintaining their overall health, energy levels, and well-being. A high-quality, balanced diet is essential to provide them with the necessary nutrients to support their active lifestyle.

What to Feed & How Much

When selecting food for your Puli, look for high-quality commercial dry, wet, or raw options that follow the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. These guidelines ensure that the food provides complete and balanced nutrition for your dog’s specific life stage and activity level.

Always consult your veterinarian for guidance on the most suitable diet for your Puli, as factors such as age, weight, activity level, and any underlying health conditions may influence their dietary needs.

The amount of food your Puli requires will depend on their size, age, and activity level. As a general guideline, adult Pulik typically require around 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality dry dog food per day, divided into two meals. Puppies, on the other hand, may require more frequent feedings, usually 3 to 4 times per day, as they grow and develop rapidly.

It’s essential to monitor your Puli’s weight and body condition regularly and adjust their food intake accordingly to prevent overfeeding and obesity, which can lead to various health issues. Consult your veterinarian if you’re unsure about the appropriate portion sizes or feeding frequency for your dog.

Treats

Treats can be a useful tool for training and rewarding positive behavior, but they should be given in moderation to avoid excessive calorie intake. Opt for healthy treats such as small pieces of lean meat, vegetables, or specially formulated dog treats, and ensure that they make up no more than 10% of your Puli’s daily caloric intake.

Water

Fresh water should always be readily available for your Puli, particularly during exercise or hot weather, to prevent dehydration. Regularly clean and refill their water bowl to encourage proper hydration.

gray puli in a park
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Health

The Puli is generally a healthy and robust breed with a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years. However, like all dog breeds, they may be predisposed to certain health issues. By providing a healthy diet, regular veterinary check-ups, and keeping up to date with vaccinations, you can help ensure your Puli remains in optimal health throughout their life.

Some common health issues associated with the Puli include:

Hip Dysplasia: This is a hereditary condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and discomfort. Regular veterinary check-ups, maintaining a healthy weight, and providing age-appropriate exercise can help manage this condition.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is an inherited eye disease that causes gradual deterioration of the retina, potentially leading to blindness. Responsible breeding practices and early detection through regular veterinary eye exams can help manage this condition.

Patellar Luxation: This occurs when the kneecap (patella) slips out of its normal position, causing pain and mobility issues. Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding activities that put excessive strain on the joints can help reduce the risk of patellar luxation.

Deafness: Some Pulik may be prone to congenital deafness or experience hearing loss as they age. Regular veterinary check-ups can help detect and manage any hearing issues.

Dental Problems: Like all dog breeds, Pulik can be prone to dental issues such as gum disease and tooth decay. Regular dental care, including brushing, dental chews, and professional cleanings, can help maintain good oral health.

To keep your Puli healthy, provide them with a balanced diet that meets their specific life stage, size, and activity level. Consult your veterinarian for guidance on the most suitable diet and portion sizes for your dog.

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to monitor your Puli’s overall health and detect any potential issues early on. In addition, keeping up to date with vaccinations can help protect your Puli from various infectious diseases.

puli resting in front of a house
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History

The Puli has a rich and fascinating history that can be traced back over a thousand years. Originating in Hungary, it’s an ancient herding breed known for its intelligence, agility, and distinctive corded coat.

The breed’s early history is closely linked to the Magyar people, a nomadic tribe who migrated from Central Asia to Hungary during the 9th century. The Magyars brought their livestock and dogs, including the ancestors of the modern-day Puli, with them on their journey.

The Puli was primarily used as a herding and guarding dog, responsible for protecting flocks of sheep, goats, and cattle from predators and guiding them across the Hungarian plains.

Their compact size, nimble movement, and keen instincts made them highly effective at this task, earning them a valued place within the pastoral communities they served. Pulik worked alongside larger Hungarian breeds such as the Komondor, which guarded the flock at night, while the Puli took charge during the day.

The Puli’s unique corded coat not only distinguishes them visually but also serves a practical purpose. The dense double-layered coat provided protection from harsh weather conditions and potential injuries inflicted by predators or livestock.

The Puli’s popularity in Hungary remained relatively stable throughout history, but it wasn’t until the early 20th century that the breed began to gain recognition outside its native country. Interest in the breed grew in Europe and the United States, leading to the establishment of breed clubs and increased efforts to promote and preserve the Puli’s unique characteristics.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) first registered the Puli in 1936, and the breed was officially recognized in the Herding Group in 1959. Since then, the Puli has continued to grow in popularity as both a working dog and a companion animal. The breed’s distinctive appearance, intelligence, and agility have also made them a popular choice for dog shows, performance events, and various dog sports.

In popular culture, the Puli has made several notable appearances, thanks in part to its unique and eye-catching appearance. Notable examples include the famous musician and producer Mark Ronson, who owns a Puli named Maude, and the iconic fashion designer Ralph Lauren, who featured a Puli in one of his advertising campaigns.

Despite their increased visibility, the Puli remains a relatively rare breed, with dedicated breeders and enthusiasts working to preserve and promote their unique qualities.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Puli in the United States is the Puli Club of America (PCA). The PCA is dedicated to preserving and promoting the Puli breed through education, breed preservation, and organized events showcasing the breed’s unique characteristics and talents. Visit their website to learn more about the Puli Club of America.

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 Puli’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

puli puppy lying on a dog bed
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Acquiring

When considering acquiring a Puli, it’s essential to research and prepare for the responsibilities that come with owning this unique breed. Familiarize yourself with their exercise, grooming, and training needs to ensure you can provide a suitable home.

Instead of purchasing a Puli from a breeder, consider rescuing a dog in need of a loving home. The American Kennel Club and the Puli Club of America (PCA) can help connect you with Puli rescue organizations or individuals looking to rehome their dogs.

Before bringing your new Puli home, prepare a comfortable space, including a bed, toys, food, and water bowls. Ensure you have a secure outdoor area for exercise and training. Finally, schedule a veterinary check-up to ensure your Puli’s health and well-being.

By rescuing a Puli and providing a loving, supportive environment, you can make a positive impact on the life of a deserving dog.

FAQs

Are Puli dogs good pets?

Yes, Puli dogs can make excellent pets for the right family. They are intelligent, loyal, and affectionate with their families. However, their high energy levels and need for mental stimulation require an owner willing to invest time in training and exercise.

Can Puli dogs see through their corded coats?

Despite their unique corded coat, Puli dogs have no trouble seeing. The cords typically hang away from their eyes, allowing them to see clearly. Regular grooming can help ensure that the cords do not obstruct their vision.

What kind of dog is a Puli?

The Puli is an ancient Hungarian herding dog breed known for its intelligence, agility, and distinctive corded coat. They were primarily used for herding and guarding livestock and are now part of the Herding Group in the American Kennel Club.

Are Puli dogs water dogs?

While Pulik are not classified as water dogs, their dense, corded coat provides some protection against water and harsh weather conditions. They can swim if necessary, but they are not specifically bred for water-related activities like retrieving or water rescue.

Are Puli dogs hypoallergenic?

Pulik are considered to be a low-shedding breed due to their unique corded coat, which captures most of the loose hair. While no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic, Puli may be a better option for people with mild pet allergies. However, individual reactions to dogs can vary, and it’s essential to spend time with a Puli before committing to ownership if you have allergies.

How much exercise does a Puli need?

Pulik are energetic and require one to two hours of daily exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. Daily walks, play sessions, and activities such as agility, herding, or obedience training can help keep a Puli engaged, fit, and happy.

How often should I groom my Puli’s coat?

Pulik require regular grooming to maintain their unique corded coat. In the early stages of cord formation, daily or weekly grooming may be necessary to separate the cords and prevent matting. As the cords mature, less frequent grooming is needed, but it’s essential to regularly check for debris and ensure the coat remains clean and healthy.

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