Breed Group: Herding

Temperament and Behavior

With their corded coat, a happy, playful Puli (POO-lee, plural Pulik) bounding through the house with their insatiable curiosity and light-footed agility can perhaps best be described as a mop on springs. But a Puli has herding instincts that give them many other traits, some of which are inappropriate for a normal household. They are superb athletes with quick reflexes who can clear a six-foot fence from a standstill. They love chasing, nipping, poking, and barking; all used for controlling livestock. This same drive compels them to pursue any small running animal. Keeping a puppy’s playfulness nearly their entire lives, a Puli is fairly active indoors. He needs exercise to replace that lost by not herding. But, his needs can be met with a good walk, a lively game, and training. Pulik also require a daily mental challenge. Highly intelligent, they are known for the pranks they play on both their four- and two-legged friends. They bond closely with their owners but do not tolerate teasing so do best with older, well-behaved children. They are usually aggressive with same sex dogs. Socialization will help counter some of their wariness of strangers which, when combined with their keen eyes and acute hearing, make them great watchdogs. But sometimes they are too quick to bark. They may need obedience training to help control this tendency.

Physical Characteristics

They average between 14½ and 17½ inches tall and weigh between 20 and 35 pounds. Coats are rusty black, black, any gray, and white. A Puli’s coat requires great care. Their hair intertwines at about six months old to form cords that look like dreadlocks. To maintain them, you must separate the cords every few weeks. If not done regularly, their hair will mat. Bathing can take an hour or more. Pay special attention to rinsing. Drying takes about 24 hours in a crate using blow dryers and fans. It is imperative the dog is completely dry. Alternately, the cords can be brushed out to create a “shaggy dog” look, or the coat can be clipped. Pulik shed, but most hair is trapped in their coat. In spite of this, a Puli is still a very messy dog. When drinking, their beard absorbs water that goes wherever they do. When outside their coat traps everything imaginable. As a result, they are not for neat housekeepers. They can adapt to a variety of climates, but with their heavy coat, they prefer cool temperatures rather than hot, humid weather.

Trainer's Notes

The suspicious nature of the Puli is best countered with moderate socialization. One of the smartest of all dogs, they are self-confident, self-possessed, and manipulative with a huge propensity for causing mischief. Highly trainable, obedience classes are recommended. But before starting, they will make you prove your worth as a teacher. Used to making their own decisions, they will continue to do so unless you display firm leadership and consistent rules. But, use only positive motivation; they won’t tolerate teasing or harshness. Excessive correction will frustrate them and undermine their self-confidence.

Photo © by Anita Ritenour available under the CC 3.0



Pulik are a realatively healthy breed. One in ten dogs shows some sign of Hip Dysplasia. Of lesser concern is Patellar Luxation and Deafness. A Puli can be expected to live 14 to 16 years.


The AKC ranked the Puli 140th in popularity with 112 dogs registered.

Breed History

Anecdotal evidence suggests that a Puli-like dog existed 6,000 years ago. Pulik crossed the plains into Hungary with the Magyars several thousand years ago. The 'modern' dog was originally used primarily for herding livestock, sometimes working with the larger Komondor which served as a guardian. The breed was prized for their light, agile movement and ability to turn sheep by jumping on their back. During World War II, the breed was reduced less than one hundred dogs. But dedicated breeders around the world worked to ensure their survival. It is believed the original Puli breeding stock in the United States can be traced back to four dogs imported by the Department of Agriculture in 1935. These four dogs were used in an attempt to create a superior herding dog that would not attack the livestock they were responsible for overseeing. This stock was then sold to breedes at the beginning of WWII.

Additional Information

Pulik are not suitable for novice dog owners and not for people who want a dog only some of the time. They make a great dog for the owner willing to provide outlets for their high energy level and are dedicated to caring for their coat. In addition to the issues of care, with fewer than 150 Puli puppies registered in a typical year, finding one can be a challenge, as can paying for one. Many breeders charge $800 or more for a pup. If you are interested in the corded coat but would like a larger dog, you may prefer the Komondor. The US National Breed Association is the Puli Club of America.

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