Pumi

Table of Contents

pumi dog portrait
Meet the Pumi, a lovable bundle of energy wrapped in a curly coat! This enchanting Hungarian herding breed is stealing hearts worldwide with its quirky, spirited personality and distinctive looks. Boasting a whimsical, corkscrew-like coat and expressive, bat-like ears, the Pumi is truly one-of-a-kind.

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 Pumi is well-suited for families, as they form strong bonds and display a natural protective instinct. However, their high energy levels and need for mental stimulation may not be suitable for sedentary lifestyles or first-time dog owners without proper guidance and commitment.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEPumi
OTHER NAMESHungarian Pumi
ORIGINHungary
BREED GROUPHerding Group
BREED SIZEMedium
HEIGHT15-18.5 inches
WEIGHT22-33 lbs
LIFESPAN12-13 years
LIVING SPACESmall
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSModerate
EXERCISE NEEDSHigh
TRAINABILITYHigh
BARKING TENDENCYHigh
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK140th
pumi standing on grass
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images

Appearance

The Pumi (plural: Pumik) is a medium-sized, robust canine with a square-shaped body that exudes agility and strength. Their well-proportioned physique allows them to excel in various physical activities, making them a versatile companion for work and play.

Pumik typically stand between 15 to 18.5 inches tall at the shoulder, with males being slightly larger than females. Their weight ranges from 22 to 33 pounds, depending on their gender and overall build.

The Pumi’s head is characteristically wedge-shaped, with a flat skull and a well-defined stop. Their muzzle is straight and fairly long, tapering toward the nose, which is usually black or self-colored according to the coat. The breed’s strong jawline and scissor bite ensure a firm grip, which was essential for their herding tasks.

One of the most striking features of the Pumi are their semi-erect ears, which are set high on the head and covered in curly hair. These expressive ears are medium-sized, V-shaped, and highly mobile, often described as resembling bat-like or butterfly-like wings. This gives the Pumi an endearing, alert expression that easily captures attention.

Their eyes are medium-sized, oval-shaped, and set obliquely, contributing to their lively and intelligent gaze. The eye color typically ranges from dark brown to black, harmonizing with the coat color.

The Pumi’s body is compact yet sturdy, with a level topline, deep chest, and well-sprung ribs. Their muscular loin and slightly arched croup showcase their athleticism and power. The breed’s tail is customarily docked to one-third of its original length, although undocked tails are also accepted. When alert or excited, the Pumi’s tail is carried curled over the back.

One of the most distinctive aspects of the Pumi is their unique coat. Comprised of a combination of harsh, curly outer hairs and a soft, dense undercoat, the Pumi’s coat forms characteristic curls or waves all over the body. The coat is neither too tight nor too loose and is typically 1.5 to 3 inches in length.

Pumi coats come in various colors, including black, white, gray, and fawn, as well as shades of these colors.

pumi sitting behind tall grass
Photo: Rita Fodorne Mate/Getty Images

Temperament

If you’re seeking a dog breed that embodies the perfect blend of charm, intelligence, and sociability, then look no further than the Pumi. This breed boasts an array of qualities that make it an ideal companion for those who appreciate a dog with a robust personality.

The first thing to note about Pumik is their sociability. They are naturally friendly creatures that love being in the company of their human families. Their strong bond with their owners can be seen in their affectionate nature. Whether it’s curling up on the couch for a cozy evening or sharing in the excitement of a family trip, you’ll find a Pumi happily by your side.

The Pumi’s sociability extends beyond their immediate family. While they may initially appear shy and reserved around strangers, give them a little time. You’ll soon see their cheerful disposition shine through as they warm up to new faces. Their ability to adapt to different social situations showcases their remarkable emotional intelligence.

Despite their sociable nature, Pumik are not just fluffy bundles of joy. These dogs are highly alert and always ready for action. Their keen senses keep them attuned to their surroundings, making them quick to react even to the slightest sound. This alertness, combined with their protective instincts, adds an extra layer of security to your home.

One of the most endearing aspects of the Pumi breed is their playful temperament. Life with a Pumi is never dull – they bring a touch of adventure and lots of laughter to everyday life. Their terrier-like behavior means they’re always up for a game or a fun activity. This playful nature contributes to their overall happy-go-lucky attitude, making them a joy to be around.

When it comes to their emotional world, Pumik are known for their expressive nature. Their eyes and ears, always animated, speak volumes about their feelings. Whether they’re excited, curious, or simply content, you’ll be able to tell just by looking at them. This ability to express themselves so vividly makes communicating with a Pumi a unique and rewarding experience.

Finally, it’s worth noting that Pumik are hard-working dogs. Despite their sociable and playful nature, they possess a strong work ethic that stems from their herding origins. This doesn’t mean they need a job to do at all times, but rather that they enjoy having a sense of purpose.

pumi walking in a park
Photo: Rita Fodorne Mate/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The ideal environment for a Pumi is one that caters to their physical and mental needs while providing ample opportunities for socialization, training, and exercise. These energetic dogs thrive in environments where they can engage in stimulating activities and bond with their owners.

Physical Environment

Physically, Pumik are adaptable to various living situations, from spacious rural properties to smaller urban dwellings. However, they do require a securely fenced outdoor area where they can safely run and play off-leash.

Homes with yards or access to dog parks are particularly well-suited for this breed. Apartment living can also be suitable for a Pumi, provided they receive adequate daily exercise and mental stimulation.

Climate Adaptability

Regarding climate adaptability, the Pumi’s dense, curly coat provides some insulation against cold weather, making them fairly resilient in chilly conditions. However, it’s essential to ensure they have proper shelter and protection during extreme cold or snowy weather.

Pumik can also tolerate moderate heat, but it’s crucial to provide them with shade, fresh water, and opportunities to cool down during hot summer months. Avoid exercising your Pumi during the hottest parts of the day and always be mindful of signs of heat stress or dehydration.

Ideal Owner

When it comes to pet parents, the Pumi is best suited for active individuals or families who enjoy spending time outdoors and participating in various activities with their canine companions.

First-time dog owners may find success with a Pumi, but they should be prepared to invest time and effort into training and socializing their new pet. Experienced dog owners who understand the importance of consistent training and mental stimulation will likely find the Pumi to be a rewarding and engaging companion.

Other Pets

In terms of other pets, Pumik can coexist peacefully with fellow canines and other animals if they are raised together or properly socialized. However, due to their herding instincts, it’s crucial to monitor their interactions with smaller pets and teach them appropriate behavior.

pumi's face up close
Photo: Rita Fodorne Mate/Getty Images

Grooming

The Pumi has specific grooming needs due to its unique curly coat, but with a consistent routine and proper tools, maintaining their appearance can be manageable. Regular grooming not only keeps your Pumi looking their best but also promotes good health and hygiene.

Coat Care

One of the most important aspects of grooming a Pumi is maintaining their distinctive curly coat. Unlike many other breeds, the Pumi’s coat does not require frequent brushing, as it can cause the curls to become frizzy. Instead, their coat should be groomed every 4 to 6 weeks using a technique called “wet grooming.”

Wet grooming involves wetting the coat thoroughly, either by bathing or using a spray bottle, and then separating the curls with your fingers while the coat is still damp. This process helps remove dead hair and prevent matting without damaging the natural curl pattern. It is essential to use your fingers instead of a comb or brush, as these tools can disrupt the curls and lead to frizz.

After wet grooming, you can allow your Pumi’s coat to air dry. Do not use a hairdryer, as this can also cause frizz. Once the coat is completely dry, you can trim any excess hair to maintain a neat appearance. Pay particular attention to areas such as the ears, paws, and tail, where hair may be more prone to tangling or matting.

The Pumi’s coat requires occasional trimming to keep it in optimal condition. Depending on your dog’s specific coat growth rate, you may need to trim their coat every 2 to 4 months. You can either learn to trim your Pumi’s coat yourself or take them to a professional groomer familiar with the breed’s grooming requirements.

Pumik do not require frequent bathing, as it can strip the natural oils from their coat and skin. Bathing your Pumi every 3 to 4 months or when they become dirty is usually sufficient. When bathing your Pumi, use a gentle dog shampoo and be sure to rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue.

Dental Care

Maintaining good dental hygiene is crucial for the overall health of your Pumi. Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth with a canine toothpaste can help prevent tartar buildup, gum disease, and bad breath. Ideally, you should brush your Pumi’s teeth daily, but even brushing a few times a week can be beneficial. In addition to brushing, providing dental chews or toys designed to clean your dog’s teeth can help maintain their oral health.

Nail Trimming

Regular nail trims are essential for the Pumi to prevent overgrown nails, which can cause discomfort and potential injury. Depending on how quickly your dog’s nails grow, trimming every 2 to 4 weeks may be necessary. You can use a guillotine-style or scissor-style nail clipper designed for dogs. If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s nails yourself, a professional groomer or veterinarian can provide this service.

Ear and Eye Care

It’s essential to regularly check your Pumi’s ears for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or an unpleasant odor. Clean their ears with a dog-specific ear cleaner and cotton balls or pads, taking care not to insert anything deep into the ear canal.

Similarly, inspect their eyes for any signs of irritation, discharge, or cloudiness. Gently clean the area around their eyes with a damp cloth or pet-safe eye wipes to remove any debris or buildup.

pumi standing on a hill
Photo: mirceax/Getty Images

Exercise

The Pumi is an energetic and athletic canine that requires a significant amount of exercise to stay healthy, happy, and well-behaved. These lively dogs thrive when given ample opportunities to burn off their energy through various physical activities and mental stimulation.

Exercise Amount & Types

As a general guideline, expect to provide your Pumi with at least 60 to 90 minutes of exercise daily. This can be divided into multiple sessions throughout the day, such as morning and evening walks or playtime in the yard. It’s essential to offer a combination of structured and unstructured activities to keep your Pumi engaged and satisfied.

Structured activities can include brisk walks, jogs, or hikes, which not only provide physical exercise but also help to reinforce leash manners and socialization skills. Be sure to vary the routes and environments to keep your Pumi mentally stimulated during these outings.

Unstructured activities can involve playtime in a securely fenced area, where your Pumi can safely run and explore off-leash. Games like fetch, tug-of-war, or frisbee are excellent options for burning off energy and strengthening the bond between you and your Pumi. Additionally, incorporating interactive toys or puzzle feeders can provide mental stimulation and keep your Pumi’s mind active.

Dog Sports

Pumik excel in various dog sports and competitions due to their agility, intelligence, and eagerness to please. Enrolling your Pumi in activities such as agility, obedience, or herding trials can provide both physical and mental challenges that cater to their natural instincts and abilities.

Participating in these events can strengthen your Pumi’s training, socialization, and overall well-being while offering a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your dog.

Another option to consider is enrolling your Pumi in canine sports classes or clubs, which can provide a supportive environment for learning new skills and connecting with other dog owners who share similar interests. These group settings can further enhance your Pumi’s socialization and adaptability.

pumi standing in a fenced park
Photo: Valentyna Gupalo/Getty Images

Training

The Pumi is highly intelligent and eager to please, making them a delight to train. These quick learners excel in various training scenarios, from basic obedience to advanced dog sports. However, their energetic and spirited nature requires consistent and engaging training methods to keep them focused and motivated.

Start Early

When it comes to training a Pumi, it’s essential to start early, ideally during puppyhood. Early socialization and exposure to various environments, people, and other animals will help your Pumi develop confidence and adaptability. Puppy training classes can be an excellent way to introduce basic commands, proper behavior, and socialization skills in a structured setting.

Positive Reinforcement

Pumik respond best to positive reinforcement techniques, such as praise, treats, and play. Their eagerness to please makes them receptive to rewards-based training methods, which help foster a strong bond between you and your dog.

It’s crucial to maintain consistency and patience during training sessions, as well as to ensure that all family members are on the same page regarding commands and expectations.

Preventing Boredom

Due to their high energy levels and active minds, Pumik require engaging and varied training exercises to prevent boredom and maintain their interest. Incorporating fun and challenging activities into your training routine can help keep your Pumi motivated and eager to learn. For example, you might introduce scent work or hide-and-seek games to tap into their natural instincts and problem-solving abilities.

pumi walking on snow
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Diet & Nutrition 

A well-balanced diet is crucial for the overall health and well-being of your Pumi dog. Providing proper nutrition helps maintain their energy levels, supports growth and development, and contributes to a healthy coat and skin.

What to Feed & How Much

When selecting food for your Pumi, it’s essential to choose a high-quality dog food that follows the guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This ensures that the food meets the minimum nutritional requirements for your dog’s specific life stage (puppy, adult, or senior). You can opt for dry kibble, wet food, or even a raw diet, depending on your preferences and your dog’s dietary needs.

The amount of food your Pumi requires will depend on various factors, such as their age, weight, activity level, and metabolism. As a general guideline, you can refer to the feeding instructions provided on your chosen dog food packaging.

However, it’s important to monitor your dog’s weight and body condition to ensure they are receiving the appropriate amount of food. If you’re unsure about the proper portion size for your Pumi, consult with your veterinarian for personalized recommendations.

Puppies typically require more frequent feedings than adult dogs, as their growing bodies need additional nutrients and energy. It’s common to feed puppies 3 to 4 times per day until they reach around six months of age, after which you can gradually transition to feeding them twice a day.

Treats

When it comes to treats, moderation is key. While treats can be a useful training tool and a way to reward good behavior, it’s important not to overindulge your Pumi, as excessive treats can lead to weight gain and an unbalanced diet. Opt for healthy, low-calorie treats and make sure they don’t exceed 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.

Water

Fresh water should always be readily available for your Pumi. Make sure their water bowl is clean and filled with fresh water at all times to keep them properly hydrated, especially during hot weather or after physical activities.

pumi looking up
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Health

The Pumi is generally considered a healthy and robust breed, with a life expectancy of 12 to 13 years. However, like any breed, they can be prone to certain health issues. Providing a healthy diet, regular veterinary check-ups, and staying up-to-date on vaccinations are crucial steps in maintaining your Pumi’s overall health and well-being.

Some common health issues associated with the Pumi include:

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition in which the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and potential mobility issues as the dog ages. Regular veterinary check-ups can help monitor your Pumi’s hip health, and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the strain on their joints.

Patellar Luxation: This condition occurs when the kneecap dislocates or slips out of its normal position. It can cause pain, limping, and may require surgical intervention in severe cases. Keeping your Pumi at a healthy weight and engaging in appropriate exercise can help minimize the risk of patellar luxation.

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

Primary Lens Luxation (PLL): PLL is another inherited eye condition in which the lens of the eye becomes detached, potentially leading to glaucoma and vision loss. Early detection and treatment by a veterinary ophthalmologist are essential for managing this condition.

Allergies: Pumik can be prone to various types of allergies, including food, environmental, and contact allergies. Symptoms may include itching, redness, and skin irritation. Identifying and minimizing exposure to allergens, along with appropriate veterinary care, can help manage allergy symptoms.

To keep your Pumi healthy, it’s essential to provide a well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs and maintains a healthy weight. Regular veterinary check-ups, including routine bloodwork, dental care, and vaccinations, can help detect and address potential health issues early on.

Additionally, staying informed about the common health risks associated with the breed can help you make informed decisions regarding your Pumi’s care and well-being.

pumi running in a field
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History

The Pumi has a rich and fascinating history that traces back to Hungary, where they were primarily used for herding livestock and guarding farms. These versatile and energetic dogs developed through the crossing of various Hungarian herding breeds with terrier-type dogs, which contributed to their unique appearance and spirited temperament.

The exact origins of the Pumi are not entirely clear, but it’s believed that their development began in the 17th and 18th centuries. During this time, Hungary experienced an influx of various herding breeds brought by shepherds and farmers who migrated to the region.

Among these breeds were the Puli and the Mudi, both native Hungarian herding dogs, as well as other European breeds like the Hutespitz and the German Spitz. As these different breeds intermingled, a new type of herding dog emerged, displaying the curly coat and agile build that would later become characteristic of the Pumi.

The breed’s name is thought to be derived from the Hungarian word “pum,” which means “quarrelsome” or “spirited,” reflecting their lively and spirited nature. Alternatively, the name may have originated from the Finnish word “pystykorva,” meaning “prick-eared,” referring to the Pumi’s distinctive erect ears.

The Pumi’s primary role was to herd sheep, cattle, and pigs on Hungarian farms, using their agility and keen senses to control and move the animals effectively. They were also valued for their ability to guard the farm and protect livestock from predators, thanks to their alertness and courageous disposition.

Despite their long history in Hungary, the Pumi remained relatively unknown outside of their native country for many years. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that efforts were made to standardize and promote the breed.

In 1921, Dr. Emil Raitsits, a Hungarian veterinarian, published the first breed standard for the Pumi, officially distinguishing it from other Hungarian herding breeds. In 1935, the Pumi was recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), further solidifying its status as a distinct breed.

The Pumi’s journey to the United States began in the late 20th century, with the first known Pumi imports arriving in the early 1990s. The American Kennel Club (AKC) first recognized the Pumi as a member of the Herding Group in July 2016, marking a significant milestone in the breed’s history.

Today, the Pumi continues to gain popularity as both a versatile working dog and a loyal and spirited companion, capturing the hearts of those who are fortunate enough to know and love them.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Pumi dog breed in the United States is the Hungarian Pumi Club of America (HPCA). Founded in 2005, the HPCA is dedicated to promoting and preserving the Pumi breed within the US. The club provides education, resources, and support to Pumi owners, breeders, and enthusiasts. Visit their website to learn more.

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

pumi sitting on a park bench
Photo: Rita Fodorne Mate/Getty Images

Acquiring

If you’re considering adding a Pumi dog to your family, it’s essential to prepare and gather information before making this important decision. Research the breed’s temperament, exercise needs, and grooming requirements to ensure the Pumi is a good fit for your lifestyle.

Consider rescuing a Pumi instead of buying from a breeder, as there are many dogs in need of loving homes. The American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Hungarian Pumi Club of America (HPCA) can assist you in finding reputable rescue organizations or available Pumik for adoption.

If you decide to buy a Pumi from a breeder, make sure to choose a responsible breeder who conducts health testing and follows ethical breeding practices. Prepare your home by gathering necessary supplies such as a crate, food, toys, and grooming tools. Finally, be ready to invest time in training, socialization, and bonding with your new Pumi companion.

FAQs

Are Pumik good family dogs?

Yes, Pumik can make excellent family dogs due to their intelligence, loyalty, and affectionate nature. They are well-suited to active families who can provide them with regular exercise, mental stimulation, and consistent training. Early socialization and proper introductions to children are important for building a positive relationship.

What makes a Pumi unique?

The Pumi is known for its distinctive curly coat, erect ears, and spirited temperament. This breed combines the herding abilities of Hungarian herding dogs with the agility and alertness of terrier-type breeds, making them versatile and adaptable working dogs and companions.

Do Pumik bark a lot?

Pumik can be quite vocal, often using their voice to communicate with their owners or express excitement. While they may not bark excessively, it’s essential to address excessive barking through training and providing appropriate outlets for their energy and mental stimulation.

What group does the Pumi belong to in the American Kennel Club?

The Pumi is a member of the Herding Group within the American Kennel Club (AKC). This classification reflects their historical role as herding and farm dogs in their native Hungary.

Are Pumik hypoallergenic?

While no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic, the Pumi’s curly coat produces less dander and sheds minimally compared to many other breeds. This makes them a better choice for individuals with mild allergies. However, it’s essential to spend time around Pumik before committing, as individual reactions may vary.

How much exercise does a Pumi need?

Pumik are energetic and active dogs that require at least an hour of daily physical activity to maintain their health and happiness. A combination of walks, playtime, and mentally-stimulating activities such as training or dog sports is ideal for meeting their exercise needs.

What type of coat does a Pumi have, and what is its grooming requirement?

The Pumi has a unique, curly coat that is a combination of harsh and soft hair. To maintain their coat, regular brushing and occasional trimming are necessary. Pumik typically require professional grooming every 3-4 months to keep their coat in optimal condition.

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