Complete Guide To The Puli: Health, Grooming, Exercise and More

The Puli is a perfect example of form meeting function. Smart, agile and focused, this Hungarian herder’s weatherproof coat and faithful companionship are the stuff of legends.

Puli are rather uncommon dogs and I’ve only seen a few in person over the past 20 years outside of a dog show. This isn’t a breed that will attract the eye of most prospective dog owners, but the ones who invest in a Puli will get a loyal, intelligent, and loving dog.

How Big Do Puli Get?

Pulis are compact dogs weighing just 25-35 pounds. Averaging 16 inches high, they’re smaller than the sheep they were bred to protect. Broad-shouldered but lean, they’re covered from head to toe in a chunky corded coat.

Colors include:

• Black
• White
• Silver

A white spot on the chest of two inches or less is allowed for show.

Medium-length V-shaped ears hang half the length of the head. Hair hanging limply over their deep brown eyes gives them a thoughtful, placid expression. A bushy tail carried over the back blends into their silhouette and makes it tough to tell if they’re coming or going.

Pulis’ corded coats makes them easy to distinguish from other breeds, but they’re often mistaken for the Old English Sheepdog, Poodle or Komondor, depending on how they’re groomed.

What Is The Personality Of A Puli?

Pulis are curious, playful and fiercely dedicated to family. If you’re part of his flock — you’re his focus. Known to herd toddlers, the kids are in good hands.

Bred for the outdoors, modern Pulis are content with indoor living if they get enough exercise. Highly intelligent, mental stimulation is as important to their health as physical activity. Ranking 27th on the list of most intelligent dog breeds, they excel at canine sports and enjoy games that engage their natural herding instinct.

Serene, Pulis rarely nuisance bark and make good apartment dwellers. But they tend to be wary of strangers, so early socialization is essential. Generally eager to please but headstrong, they do best with owners who don’t give them mixed signals about who’s in charge.

How Much Grooming Do Puli Need?

At nine months old, a Puli’s soft, curly puppy coat lengthens and forms cords. Like dreadlocks, they’re nearly weatherproof protection from the rain, wind and cold. As an owner, you’ll need to decide how to manage their billowy coat — Pulis can be kept corded, brushed, or clipped.

Cords are simple but time-consuming to care for — they collect debris like magnets and should be pulled apart regularly to maintain separate strands. Professionals recommend a bath every 6-8 weeks, but drying is a lengthy process.

Brushed coats require as much effort to groom, so trimming is a popular option. Shorter lengths are straightforward to care for with weekly brushing and an occasional bath.

The good news for allergy sufferers is that Pulis rarely shed. No breed is truly hypoallergenic, but dogs that produce less dander tend to provoke fewer symptoms. A well-groomed Puli is comparable to low-allergy breeds like the Poodle — Pulis with short coats even resemble Poodles.

Ear and nail care are musts for any dog with a long coat. Hair can disguise ear infections and overgrown nails. An ear cleaning with each bath helps prevent irritation — trim nails every three weeks with a clipper or grinding tool.

How Much Exercise Does A Puli Need?

Puli are a herding dog breed – they require mental and physical stimulation on a daily basis that leaves them tired. If they don’t get it, they (like every other dog) can become anxious and destructive.

Activities That I Recommend With This Breed:

  • Walking (a solid 30 minutes of vigorous walking at least per day, more is better)
  • Hiking (both walking and hiking can be done with your dog also wearing a weighted pack; the weight in the pack will help to tire your dog out faster; don’t do this if your dog has any orthopedic issues)
  • Agility Training (these guys do great at this – see below!!)
  • Dog Parks
  • Herding competitions

What Kind of Dog Food Is Good For A Puli?

Personally I believe that most foods are fine for most dogs. Some dogs may not do well on some foods. However, as a rule I don’t blanket-prohibit any dietary ingredient from any breed at this time. Pulis don’t require any special diet unless they have health issues.

Best Puppy Food For Pulis:

Best Adult Food For Pulis:

Please don’t listen to the folks at the pet store trying to convince you to buy a grain-free diet for your dog. There’s zero science behind that and vets are actually seeing diseases now related to feeding grain-free foods.

It’s very important they remain at their optimal weight throughout their life. Have your vet go over with you exactly where to feel to know when your dog is too big.

How Long Does A Puli Live?

10-15 years according to information from the AKC

What Health Problems Can The Puli Have?

Puli aren’t terribly common so the breed itself can be very healthy if gotten from the right breeder who tests for the appropriate diseases in their breeding lines. If you get one that is a bit older, the issues to watch out include:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Luxating Patella
  • Degenerative Myelopathy

Where Can I Find Out More About The Puli?

Puli Club of America

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find A Puli?

Breeder Listings from the Puli Club of America

AKC Puppy Marketplace

How about a Rescue? Start with the Puli Club of America Rescue Trust

Interesting Facts About the Puli

The AKC registers fewer than 200 Pulis annually compared to 50,000-plus Golden Retrievers. Here a few intriguing facts to endear you to this rare but wonderful dog.

• Is it Pulis or Pulik?

The plural form of Puli is Pulis or Pulik. Pulik is favored in Hungary and among breeders, but both are linguistically correct.

• They’re a Centuries-Old Breed

It’s believed that the Puli’s ancestors were brought to Europe by nomadic Magyars. Ethnic Hungarians, they relied on skilled herding dogs to maintain large flocks of sheep in the Ural Mountains. Their corded coats protected them from the area’s harsh climate, known for its brutally cold winters.

An integral part of a shepherd’s life, Pulis were popular not only for their herding skills but also for their friendship and protection. Tireless and loyal, they were ideal outdoor partners. Today, the same abilities are valued on farms and ranches.

• Their Coats Aren’t Unique

The Puli’s coat is famous but not one-of-a-kind. Though perhaps the best example of a corded coat, other breeds, including the Komondor, Havanese and Bergamasco, are also corded.

• No Shaving Required

Owners worry that the Puli’s thick coat is stifling in hot weather, but nothing could be further from the truth. Their thick locks play an important role in thermoregulation and serve to protect them from both heat and cold. They appreciate the thought, but shaving them in the summer isn’t necessary to keep them comfortable.

• Pulis Were Saved from Extinction — Twice

Working dogs, Pulis that couldn’t do their jobs were ruthlessly culled in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries — food was too scarce to feed dogs that couldn’t pull their weight. By the late 1880s, the population was on the verge of extinction. Only through the work of Puli enthusiast Dr. Emil Raitsits, a professor at the Hungarian University of Veterinary Medicine, did numbers increase.

As with many breeds, World War II later proved devastating to Hungary and the Puli population. Without food or medical resources, alert kennel owners sent their breeding stock to other countries and did their best to preserve the few remaining specimens, again rebuilding the population.

• Facebook’s Handsomest Face

With more than two million followers, Beast the Puli is as popular as his owner, Facebook creator and billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg. Born in Grants Pass, Oregon, he “likes” cuddling, loving and eating.