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The Puli (Plural Pulik), or Drover, has been an integral part of the lives of Hungarian shepherds for more than 1,000 years. When the Magyars came into Hungary they brought their sheepdogs with them. There were larger kinds similar to the Komondor and the Kuvasz, and a smaller kind which resembled the Puli. Except in color, the Puli was quite similar to the Tibetan Terrier, which may well have been its foundation stock.

Invaders decimated Hungary during the 16th century. People from Western Europe, along with their merino sheep and sheepdogs, began to repopulate Hungary in the 17th century. The Puli intermingled with the sheepdogs of France and Germany and the Pumi was the result. The names Puli and Pumi were used interchangeably for many years, and the Puli breed was nearly lost.

In 1912, Emil Raitsits began a program to reconstitute the Puli. Two types of coats were noted: shaggy and curly. The first standard for the Puli was written in 1915 and, in 1924, the standard was approved by FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale).

The newly reconstituted Puli was shown at the Budapest dog show in August, 1923. The breed was divided into three classes: ancestral or working Pulik with shaggy coats, luxury or show Pulik, and dwarf Pulik. The 1934 standard divided the Puli according to height: large (19.7 inches or larger); medium (15.7 to 17.7 inches); and dwarf (13.8 inches or smaller). In the Hungarian Stud Book dated January 9, 1935, the Puli is recorded in four size classifications: large police Puli, medium or working Puli, small Puli, and dwarf Puli. The medium size appeared to be the most popular.

Color and size both played a part in the development of Hungary's sheepdogs, each for its particular type of work. The more easily seen, lighter-colored kinds guarded herds and flocks from robbers and wild animals at night, while the smaller, darker-colored Puli was used to drive and herd the sheep during the day. There was ample reason for this, since sheep take direction more certainly from dark dogs than from light-colored ones. Moreover the dark dog was more distinctive to the shepherd's eye, as it worked among the flocks rounding them up and even, so it is claimed, jumping on them or running over their backs to cut off or turn back a runaway. The dark color has always been recognized as truly characteristic of the Puli. There are, in addition, Pulik both gray and white. Any shade of gray is allowed so long as it is solid gray. The Puli is first and last a solid-colored dog. There may be some intermixture of hair of different colors usually present in the grays, and this is acceptable if the general appearance of solid color is maintained.

The Puli coat is unique. There is nothing exactly like it in all dogdom. The undercoat is soft, woolly, very dense; the outer coat long and profuse. The puppy coat is tufted, but with growth the undercoat tangles with the top coat in such a manner as to form long cords. This matting and cording is the natural protector of the working Puli, with the overall effect, as in other Hungarian sheepdogs, best described as unkempt.

The Puli was accepted for AKC registration in 1936, with the first AKC standard for the breed being based on the 1936 Hungarian standard. The Puli Club of America was formed in 1951.

Of course in this country more dogs are kept as guards, watchdogs, and companions than as sheepherder, hence we may find the groomed coat preferred to the uniquely corded coat which is the Puli's rightful heritage. But whatever the style of his hair, the Puli's vigor, versatility, and intelligence fit him as well for the home as for the hills.

He is a medium-sized dog averaging 17 inches height and 30 pounds or so weight, and so striking in appearance that it would be impossible to confuse him with any other kind of dog. His shaggy hair covers his head like an umbrella, and falls all over his body to the very tip of his uncurled tail in such profusion that he seems larger than he actually is. He is keen and quick, and he moves with a gait almost as springy as a bouncing ball, a trait that is perhaps a hand-me-down from those dogs of long ago whose dazzling footwork won the admiration of the shepherd boy with his sheep.

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