The Puli is a high-energy breed who thrives with an active and experienced pet parent. They do well with kids and cats if raised together from puppyhood, and they are great companions for other dogs in the home. If you or one of your family members has dog allergies, this breed might be for you—they're considered hypoallergenic.
What makes a Puli a Puli? Let's find out how they stack up.
Just like you, the Puli is one of a kind. With their unmistakable long cords (which people sometimes mistake for dreadlocks), a fun-loving but sometimes ornery attitude and eager-to-please personality, Pulik (or Pulis, both are the plural of Puli) are loyal dogs who live for fun with their favorite human (that’s you!).
The Puli breed has their roots in Hungarian sheepherding, and today, the herding instinct remains strong. That means early socialization and basic obedience training (skills like sit, stay and come) are essential to raising a confident adult Puli dog. This intelligent breed loves using their brains, so they’re happy to learn advanced skills, too.
Though strong-willed thanks to their being bred to work independently, Pulis are dedicated to their family. They are naturally protective, making them good guarding dogs, and can be wary of strangers, though they generally get along well with people (once they get to know them) and other dogs. The downside to having the long corded fur is that when it covers their eyes and disguises the tail and ears of the Puli, it can be difficult for other dogs to read their body language—the primary way dogs communicate. If only dogs could pass notes to each other. (“I like you, do you like me? Check a box: Yes or No.”)
A Puli dog can live with a cat, but it helps if they grow up together and pet parents put boundaries in place to prevent the dog from giving into their herding instincts and chasing the cat. Same with young children—your Puli may try to keep your children from straying too far away or wandering around the house, but some training can help with that.
Pulik need a good amount of both mental and physical stimulation—no couch potatoes allowed, and don’t be stingy with the walks, either! Long walks, puzzle toys in the house or an agility or herding dog class will keep your Puli satisfied, and help them put their best paw forward on a daily basis.
How to Care for a Puli
The biggest factor in caring for the Puli breed is their long, corded fur that requires daily care. Even if you decide to leave the fur shaggy, you’ll still have to brush it at least weekly. The breed also has daily exercise needs that are higher than many other breeds. Outside of grooming and exercise, however, Pulik are generally healthy dogs that can live into their teens with the proper nutrition and care.
A Puli’s life expectancy is 10 to 15 years, and they are generally healthy, but if you decide to get your puppy from a breeder, ensure they follow the Puli Club of America guidelines and screen for common health issues.
- Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition in which the hip joint isn’t formed properly. It can cause lameness and pain in your dog. There are many treatments and therapies available, including weight management, restricting activities, physical therapy and medication. Sometimes surgery may be required.
- Patellar Luxation: Patellar luxation is a common condition in small to medium-sized dogs. It occurs when a dog’s kneecap slips out of the joint, which can cause arthritis or joint problems in the hips and other legs. It can be managed by keeping your dog at a healthy weight and curtailing strenuous exercise if it’s not severe. If it becomes severe, surgery may be required.
- Degenerative Myelopathy: Degenerative myelopathy is a disease that affects the spinal cord. It slowly progresses, causing weakness and paralysis in a dog’s back legs. It is similar to Lou Gehrig’s Disease in humans and is most common in middle-aged dogs. There is no effective cure, but managing the weight of your Puli and keeping them as active as possible can help.
- Eye Problems: Pulik can develop cataracts, which cloud the eye and lead to blindness. Surgery may be an option for cataracts. They can also inherit Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), which causes the dog to go blind. There is currently no treatment for PRA, but pet parents can make accommodations to help dogs who lose their vision, such as avoiding changing the layout of their homes.
While no one knows the Pulik’s origin for sure, it’s thought the breed was brought to Europe more than a thousand years ago by a nomadic tribe called the Magyars in the region now known as Hungary. The breed herded flocks of sheep on the Hungarian plains and developed their Puli trademark corded coat to help protect them from frigid winters.
Starting in the 17th century, the number of Pulik dwindled and almost disappeared, but Dr. Emil Raitsits, professor at the Hungarian University of Veterinarian Medicine, revived the breeding of Pulik and established the breed standard between 1912-1915 so they didn’t become a lost part of canine history.
The Puli was brought to the United States in 1935 as part of a study by the US Department of Agriculture to find a breed who wouldn’t harm the animals they were supposed to be herding. They mixed Pulik with other breeds and kept some purebred, but the program never resulted in anything definitive. After World War II, the Pulik were auctioned off to breeders and became the pet we know today.
The Puli was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1936. You can find a list of reputable breeders on the AKC’s website. Working with a reputable breeder usually means you’re getting a Puli puppy who’s been screened for health problems and temperament. Depending on the breeder, the cost of a Puli can range from $1,200 to $2,000. You can also contact the Puli Club of America Rescue Trust, or keep an eye on your local animal shelters if you want to adopt a Puli of your own.
Why do Puli dogs have dreadlocks?
Puli cords, sometimes mistaken for dreadlocks, are naturally occurring in this breed due to their wooly and dense undercoat and coarse outer coat. Around 8 to 10 months, the soft undercoat starts to come in and the cords start to form, though you will have to put in some work to separate the cords throughout your Puli’s life.
Do Puli dogs shed?
No, Puli dogs don’t shed, and their fur turns into cords. They are considered hypoallergenic.
How long do Puli dogs live?
Puli dogs have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years on average.
Are Puli dogs able to see?
Puli dogs can see just fine, though their long corded hair often covers their eyes!
How big does Pulis get?
Pulik grow to about 25 to 35 pounds and can get up to 17 inches tall at the shoulder. They are considered a medium-sized breed.
This intelligent breed who loves to work is ready to be your new best pet. They love to spend time with their family, whether it’s herding, an agility class or training with their pet parent. Their corded fur requires daily grooming but also means they’re hypoallergenic. Active pet parents who are looking for a devoted dog to explore the Great Outdoors with, look no further than the eyes of the Puli—if you can see them, that is.