The name of this dog is probably a local variant of Puli, a better-known breed with which it used to he confused. It is sometimes given the longer title of Hungarian Pumi, hut this is superfluous as there are no Pumis in other countries. Its original task was to herd sheep. It is not over-specialized and will also undertake the control of cattle or pigs with equal zest, and in recent times has, in fact, been used more for cattle than for sheep. It has also been employed to act as a property guard and to control vermin.


This breed emerged in the 17th or 18th century, when its ancestors were the Hungarian Puli, the German Spitz, the French Briard and some kind of terrier. The terrier blood was important because it gave this breed its distinctive personality. In fact, it was at one time called "the Sheep Dog Terrier".

The first accurate description of this breed dates from the beginning of the 19th century, when an early illustration reveals its very odd appearance. Its strangest feature is its shaggy but erect ears that curl over only at the tips. They appear to be unique in the canine world and give the breed a strangely "electrocuted" appearance, as if it were being subjected to an electric shock.

For many years the Pumi was not regarded as distinct from the Puli, but this was due to ignorance and a muddled use of their two names. It was the Hungarian dog expert Emil Raitsitz who, back in the early decades of the 20th century, first decided to make a marked distinction between the two breeds. In 1921 he compiled a separate breed standard for the Pumi, and from then on it was no longer classed as "a regional variation of the Puli".

As soon as Raitsitz started to organize separate breeding programmes, the differences between the Puli and the Pumi became even more obvious. The coat of the Puli was completely different from that of the Pumi. In place of the heavily corded Puli hair, the Pumi had a shorter, wirier coat. The dramatic appearance of the Puli meant that it became the darling of the show-ring, while the shaggier-looking Pumi strengthened its position as the working dog of the countryside. The modern standard for the Pumi was drawn up in I960, by which time the breeding programmes had fully stabilized the breed. Included in the standard was the requirement that only solid coat colours should be allowed.

The primary function of this breed requires a comment. Some recent English and American authors have labelled it as a cattle drover, one going so far as to say that "the Pumi was created for the defined purpose of droving cattle... and remains a favourite cattle dog of the Hungarian people". However, Hungarian canine authorities firmly classify its primary role as that of a sheepdog, placing it with the Puli and the Mudi, and stating: "The name Pumi is first mentioned in 1815, describing a kind of sheep dog." As this is one of the nine indigenous Hungarian breeds, all of which the Hungarian experts have studied in great detail, they must be respected in this decision. The reason for the disagreement is probably due to the fact that the Pumi began as a sheepdog but was later increasingly co-opted for cattle work. Even the Hungarian authors comment that "now Pumis are mainly bred by herdsmen", but this does not alter the original function for which the breed was developed.


A square-chested and square-loined, medium-sized breed, the Pumi has a well-balanced head with a high-set muzzle; half-erect ears bending at the tip; coffee-colored eyes; and a black pointed nose. The tail must be docked to two thirds its original length from the joint. Its thick, tough, medium-length coat may be slate, silver, dark gray, white, or reddish brown, and it should be curly, not tending to felting.


This all-around dog is ever alert, strong, and agile and readily fawns on its master and family, which makes it a good family pet or companion. A restrained barker, it is adaptable, but not very friendly with strangers. With its keen sense of hearing it makes an ideal farm, home, or factory watchdog.

Care and Exercise

The Pumi's dense undercoat requires strong, regular brushing. This very active dog loves plenty of vigorous exercise.

Puppies and Training

Some three to six puppies are born per litter. The extremely loving mother takes excellent care of the puppies.

Gallery of Pumi