Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Hungarian Puli
Average Cost to keep/care for a Hungarian Puli
The Hungarian Puli are very distinctive looking dogs and as their name suggests they were first bred in Hungary as herding dogs. They boast having a dense, thick corded coat that offers a tremendous amount of protection from the elements and harsh Hungarian winters, something the Puli needed when herding and guarding flocks with their shepherds in remote, mountainous terrains.
Today, the Puli has gained popularity in many other parts of the world including here in the UK and for good reason because not only are they extraordinary looking dogs, but they boast lively, energetic and kind natures. These dogs tend to form a very strong bond with one member of a household although always showing affection towards other people in the household. Interestingly, the plural for Puli is Pulik and not Pulis.
Although, the actual origins of the Puli are a bit of a mystery, it is thought these dogs were taken to Europe by The Magyars during the 9th century. As such, there is a theory that the breed first originated in Asia well before they appeared in other parts of the world. In Hungary, the Puli was used to help shepherds herd and guard large flocks in some of the most challenging terrains. Their ultra-thick corded coats not only offered these dogs a tremendous amount of protection against the harsh winters and elements, but they also protected them when they were attacked by wolves and other predators that preyed on the flocks Pulik were guarding.
These lovely dogs were virtually unheard of right up until more recent times thanks to the fact that Hungarian shepherds protected their dogs which they referred to a "Hungarian Legends" from any influence from the outside world. The Puli was so highly prized just a few decades ago for their skills and abilities, that Hungarian Shepherds were willing to pay a year's wages just to own one of these charming and loyal dogs.
Today, these lovely dogs with their corded coats have found their way into the hearts and homes of many people throughout the world, including here in the UK where they enjoy success in the show ring. With this said, it is still hard to find puppies and anyone wanting to share a home with a Puli might have real trouble finding a puppy. In short, if you want to share your home with a Hungarian Puli, you might have to go on an extremely long waiting list.
Height at the withers: Males 40 - 44 cm, Females 37 - 41 cm
Average weight: Males 13 - 15 kg, Females 10 - 13 kg
Under their thick, corded coat, the Hungarian Puli is a well-muscled, sturdy yet wiry dog. The hair around their eyes acts like an umbrella, completely covering a dog’s eyes from view. Pulik actually have quite small heads which are slightly domed with a well-defined stop and nicely proportioned muzzle, it is just very hard to see. Their eyes always boast a lively expression, medium in size and a nice dark brown colour. Noses are large and black adding to a dog's charming appearance.
Ears are V-shaped and set quite low being pendulous, medium in size and well covered in hair. However, a Pulik's ears are well hidden by their coat even when these dogs are alert. The roof of a dog's mouth is either dark in colour or it can be pigmented with dark spots. Lips are black and tight, but a Puli's tongue is red. These dogs have a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones all set on a nice, square jaw.
A Puli's neck is set at a very distinct 45-degree angle and is well-muscled and moderately long. However, it is hard to distinguish it under a dog’s full coat. Their shoulders are well laid back and their front legs are well muscled and straight.
A Puli's withers are slightly higher than the level of their back which is moderately long. Loins are broad and short and their belly is a nicely tucked up. Their ribs are deep and well sprung with dogs boasting a short rump that slopes slightly although the trait is hardly noticeable due to the way a dog's tail is so tightly curled.
Hindquarters are well-muscled and strong with a dog's pelvis creating a 90-degree angle from their thigh bone. Back legs are strong and muscular. Their feet are round, short and tight with back feet being slightly longer than a dog's front ones. Their nails are black or grey in colour and extremely strong. Paw pads are dark grey and springy to the touch. A Puli's tail is moderately long and dogs carry them tightly curled over their loins although because of the density and texture of a Puli's coat, it is hardly distinguishable.
When it comes to their coat, the Hungarian Puli boasts an extremely thick and dense corded one that’s free from any felting or matting. Their cords tend to be longer over their hindquarters and shorter on a dog's head and their feet. Some Pulik boast having coats that grow right down to the ground. Acceptable colours include the following:
Pulik with fawn or grey coloured coats can have black or white hairs throughout their coats and may have grey tips to their ears and tails which is acceptable as a breed standard.
The Hungarian Puli is an extremely intelligent dog, they are loyal and lively characters that tend to form a very strong bond with one person in a household. In short, the Puli is known to be a "one-man dog". They can be a little wary of strangers, but unless they feel threatened in any way, they rarely show any aggression toward people they don't know. However, if a Puli feels anxious or threatened in any way they will growl and may even snap if a person gets too close to them.
Puppies need to be well socialised from a young age for them to be more confident, outgoing characters and a Puli's training has to start as early as possible to curb any of their strong desires to herd everything they come across. They also boast a very strong desire to guard things which can become a problem if a Puli is allowed to get too protective of their toys or food.
However, a Hungarian Puli is a good choice for first time owners because they are quite easy to train. With this said, anyone sharing a home with a Puli has to be ready for some serious coat maintenance, especially in puppies and adolescent dogs which is a time when their cords are just forming.
Pulik are highly intelligent and they are always eager and willing to please which means in the right hands and with the right sort of guidance, these dogs are quite easy to train. The key to successfully training a Puli is to make sure their education is always consistent and fair. When these dogs are well trained and socialised correctly from a young age, they excel at many canine sports which includes obedience and agility.
Pulik are generally pretty good around children, but they are lively and energetic characters which means they could quite accidentally knock a smaller child over. As such, any interaction between the kids and a dog should be supervised by an adult to make sure play time does not get too boisterous.
Care has to be taken when a Puli is around smaller pets, but in general they get on well with other dogs and are tolerant of cats if they have grown up together. However, a Puli might well chase a neighbour’s cat if they wander into a dog's back garden.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Hungarian Puli is between 9 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Pulik are known to be robust dogs that don't suffer from too many of the health issues that plague other pure breeds. The health concerns that seem to most affect the breed and which are worth knowing about if you are hoping to share your home with one of these extraordinary looking dogs include the following:
As with any other breed, these dogs need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
The Hungarian Puli is high maintenance on the grooming front especially when their cords are still developing during the first 6 to 9 months of their lives. However, their long cords tend to pick up lots of bits and debris which need to be removed to avoid any matting. Their cords also tend to clump together, especially around a dog's abdomen, their feet and on their back ends. These larger clumps need to be gently pulled apart to form smaller ones as soon as possible to avoid any matting becoming too difficult to sort out.
Very thick cords need to be teased out so they form thinner ones and a Puli's coat should never be shaved or clipped. It's also essential to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and if there are too many hairs on the inside of them, these need to be gently and carefully plucked out so air can circulate in a dog's ear canal. If there is too much moisture or a large build-up of wax in a dog's ear canal, it provides the perfect environment for a yeast or other type of infection to take hold. Ear infections can be very hard to clear up which in short means prevention is a lot easier than cure.
The Puli is a lively, energetic dog and there is nothing they enjoy more than to be out and about on a walk whether on or off the lead as long as it is in a safe environment. These dogs need a minimum of 40 minutes exercise a day and ideally this should be a good hour. It's a good idea to give a dog a shorter walk in the morning, but a longer and more interesting one in the afternoon.
Pulik also love to cavort around a garden as often as they can, but the area has to be secure, boasting good fencing so a dog can't get out. These charming dogs like nothing more than to run freely whenever they can and a secure back garden offers the ideal place for them to do just this.
If you get a Puli puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a Hungarian Puli, you would need to pay anything from £300 to well over £700 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Puli in northern England would be £19.20 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.22 a month (quote as of April 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Puli and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Hungarian Puli would be between £60 to £100 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree Puli puppy.
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