7 Things You Didn’t Know About the Puli

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The Puli is best known for his distinctive coat, which looks like a mop of dreadlocks. But a Puli's great qualities extend far beyond his hairstyle. Here are some interesting facts about the Puli:

1. They've Been Herding For Over 1,000 Years

The Puli is an expert herding dog — he's had more than 1,000 years of practice. When the Magyar tribes first settled in Hungary, they brought their herding dogs with them. They had large herding dogs that resembled today's Kuvasz, and smaller dogs that resembled today's Puli. Others believe the Puli derived some 2,000 years ago from Tibetan Terrier stock. Pulik have been working as sheepherders in Hungary ever since the Magyars first settled there.

2. Their Name Means 'Hun Destroyer'

The name Puli is probably derived from the term "Puli Hou" which means "Hun Destroyer." Also, in case you didn't figure this out already, the plural of Puli is Pulik.

puli puppy
Photo courtesy of Barbara Pessina, AKC Breeder of Merit

3. A Puli's Color Determined His Job

Pulik can be black, gray, or white. Black Pulik were put to work herding the sheep, because sheep are more inclined to obey a dark-colored dog than a light-colored one. Shepherds could also more easily spot the black Pulik among the sheep. Meanwhile, the white or gray Pulik served as nighttime guards, protecting the flocks or herds against robbers and wild animals.

4. The Breed Almost Disappeared

In the 17th century, people from Western Europe moved into Hungary en masse and brought their sheepdogs with them. Interbreeding between Pulik and German and French sheepdogs resulted in the Pumi, and for a while the Pumi and the Puli were almost indistinguishable. It wasn't until 1912 that a breeder named Emil Raitsits began a program to revive the Puli breed.

5. The U.S. Government Imported Pulik for Their Herding Skills

The first Pulik that came to the United States were actually imported by the U.S. government. In the mid-1930s, government officials were on a mission to find or create better herding/guard dogs for livestock farmers. The project was abandoned when World War II started, and the Pulik that had been imported were sold to private citizens; they became the founders of the Puli breed in America.

6. The Puli's Coat Is Truly Unique

Very few other breeds have a coat like the Puli's. The Puli's coat has two layers that naturally tangle together and form into woolly cords. This coat protects the Puli from harsh weather and potential predators. Some Puli owners choose to brush their dogs so that the two coats stay separated, and the cords do not form.

jumping puli

7. Pulik Are Great at Agility

You might think all those cords make it difficult for a Puli to move around, but Pulik actually excel at agility competitions. Pulik have to be able to run fast and make sharp turns in order to herd sheep. They can easily navigate agility courses, and they are very trainable dogs because they are so eager to please their masters.

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