As its name, which means "leader" in Hungarian, implies, the Puli, with its distinctive corded coat, is a very brave sheepdog.

The Puli traces its ancestry to the sheepdogs that the Magyars brought with them when they invaded Hungary over a millennium ago.


The Puli is one of several herding breeds native to Hungary, including the much larger Komondor. Its most obvious breed characteristic is its long, corded coat. As far back as the mid-1750s a German author named Heppe wrote of a dog believed to be a Puli, which he termed the “Hungarian Water Dog,” and which was said to hunt rabbit and duck. The breed seems to have been developed, however, as a specialized herding dog, tending and guarding flocks. The Puli was actually trained to run along the backs of sheep when they were massed together. Gradually, the breed found its way into more urban environments and became a much desired pet as its intelligence and character proved popular virtues in a companion dog.

The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1936, but the breed did not qualify for Challenge Certificate status in Great Britain until 1978. One of the pioneer breeders, Pat Lanz, established the highly successful Borgvaale Kennel using European and subsequently American imports. For a time American fanciers showed Pulik (the Hungarian plural form) with their naturally corded coats brushed out, but today most specimens are seen in corded splendor. Due to the length of time it takes for a dog to acquire its mature cords, many Pulik continue winning in the show ring until they are ten or more years old. Many of the breed are approaching their best at an age when dogs of other breeds are retiring from competition.


The Puli is a naturally busy and lively little dog that was bred to work. It should never be nervous, but neither should it display any signs of aggression. It can, however, be a little wary with strangers until they are accepted.


The Puli should have a virtually square appearance.

A medium-sized dog, the Puli has a domed skull, V-shaped drop ears, a nose with a straight bridge, and large dark brown eyes. The tail usually curls upward at the end. The long corded weather-resistant double coat unique to this breed usually touches the ground. The coat is usually a rusty black.

The Puli’s movement is quite individual, not exhibiting great reach. It is naturally short stepping, but quick and nimble. The British Standard asks that the Puli stands up to 17 inches/43 cm at the withers for males, bitches up to 16 inches/40.5 cm. The American height limits are 19 inches/48 cm and 18 inches/46 cm respectively.


Generally the Puli is a hardy and healthy breed. From time to time cases of retinal dysplasia have been found, but breeders can now screen puppies for the condition from as early as six weeks of age. Fortunately puppies can be cleared at this stage. Most caring breeders also screen breeding stock for hip dysplasia, but this condition is no more of a problem in Pulik than in any other working breed.

Special Care and Training

Apart from the fact that its teeth should be kept clean and nails shortened weekly, the obvious aspect of the Puli which requires specialist care is its coat. This is naturally double, with a soft and dense undercoat and a longer topcoat. From an early age, the coat is trained to develop in the traditionally corded pattern. As the cords are not brushed out, regular bathing is advisable, without which the breed can develop a strong odor. The Puli responds well to basic obedience training and has retained its natural tendency to herd.


Extremely energetic, this breed needs lots of extended, vigorous daily exercise.


Puli puppies, four to seven to a litter, have a tufted coat at birth; as it grows, the undercoat becomes intertwined with the outercoat as in the adult form. Maturity is reached in about fifteen to eighteen months. Highly intelligent, the puppies are quick to learn.

Gallery of Puli