Over 1000 years ago, the Magyar brought the Puli to Hungary, where they were prized as herding dogs. They were extremely valuable to shepherds, and a good Puli would cost a year's wages. While their coats come in many different colours, the shepherds preferred the black Puli, (or Pulik, which is the plural form) because they were more easily visible among the herds of sheep. Owners of the Puli had extremely high standards of expectation from their dogs, and quickly dispensed with any dog that did not perform its duties. Many believe that this is a factor in the high intelligence level and vigorous health of today's Pulik.
Appearance and Coat
The most outstanding feature of the Puli's appearance is his corded coat, which resembles dreadlocks. Puppies are born with a light wave to their coats, and at about a year old, the adult coat begins to develop. The cords must be shaped by hand on a regular basis, and by four years of age, the coat can reach the ground. Pulik that are used for showing must maintain the corded coat, but some pet owners prefer to trim the coat, as it takes a great deal of dedication and skill to keep the cords looking their best. Many people feel that the distinctive coat is what gives this breed its personality, but fail to take into account the effort it takes to maintain it. Find a groomer that is familiar with this breed and has the skill to manage it, or learn to do it yourself, or you will end up with a matted mess.
Underneath his coat, the Puli is a surprisingly small dog, standing about 16 inches high and weighing in at about 30 pounds. All Pulik, regardless of coat colour, should have dark eyes and strong black pigment of the nose, foot pads and inside the mouth.
Health and Temperament
The Puli is a lively dog with a high energy level, and needs room to run and play to its heart's content. Some take to agility or flyball, but they tend to be independent and free-spirited, and are easily bored. Early obedience training is essential as this breed can be "bossy" and will test his owner's alpha role. They also have a tendency to bark, so this should be nipped in the bud with a firm command. While fun-loving and loyal, they are suspicious of strangers, making them good watchdogs. They are unusually sensitive, and don't take harsh words or any form of punishment well. Because of their sensitive nature, they make excellent therapy dogs.
This breed is fortunate in having relatively few health problems. Hip dysplasia is occasionally seen, and they are somewhat prone to eye problems, such as progressive retinal atrophy, a deterioration of the retina leading to blindness and they are known to develop cataracts.
Pulik retain their puppy-like playfulness well into old age, which for a Puli is 10 to 15 years. With gentle discipline and early training, the Puli makes an ideal family pet.