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prounced: POO-lee

What is a Puli?

The Puli is an ancient breed of Hungarian sheep dog, is mid-size and has dreadlocked coat. An untrimmed and unbrushed adult will have dreads to floor length, a brushed Puli if untrimmed will eventually look like Cousin Itt. The Puli has almond shaped eyes that are dark brown and has medium not so floppy ears.

Temperament

The Puli is a lively, spry dog. Dating back to the ancestory they were raised around the herd and shepards and hence have been known to make good family dogs, expect around young children unless raised from puppyhood with the children. The dogs are said to be intelligent, but even according to owner Oolong they have a mind of their own. Similiar to many others dogs such as the German short haired pointer they do well in obedience and agility field trials. This non-agressive dog thou still wary of strangers will 'notify' it's masters vocally instead of ripping a leg, or two off.

Sizes (according to owners, since I am not an owner I'm not directly sure of the statistics but these are what others had to say

Height: male dogs are 16 to 17½ inches. And females 14½ to 16 inches. Weight: for the males 25-35 pounds Bitches 20-30 pounds - seems like you would have a much heavier dog thou by it's appearance from the outside with all the dreadlocks.

If you have one of these friendly dreaded four legged friends - they are averaged at living 12 or more years.

*More to be added later regarding the orgin, my grandmother owned a Puli and she used to tell us stories of how the ancestors took them across the Karpathian mts. - so I'll write that once I get a response from her*

A medium-sized dog of unrivalled comedy value, the Hungarian puli is also renowned for its abilities as a sheep dog; it is said that one puli is able to herd thousands of sheep or cows. Pulis are also reputed to be exceptionally intelligent dogs, but I have to confess that my own puli shows few signs of this.

The puli's single most notable feature though, and the one from which it derives most of its comedy potential, is its hair; unless they are combed almost daily, pulis develop dreadlocks. They look sort of like a Rasta version of Dougal out of The Magic Roundabout. Some owners comb their hair regularly, which makes them fluffy rather than corded and even more Dougalesque - although it is uncommon for a puli to be such light brown; they are most often black, sometimes dark brown or grey. Left uncombed, the hair will matt into cords if you are lucky - but there is usually some work to be done making the cords stay separate rather than balling up into a dreaded mass. The locks result from the entangling of their outer coat with a soft undercoat.

Their thick coat of dreads can make it hard to tell which end is which, especially when they're not moving - a source of never-ending merriment. With their strangely comical hair, boundlessly enthusiastic grins and unusual bunny-hop style canter, it is not hard to see why walking a puli always brings smiles, laughter and sounds of incredulity from passers by. Quite often someone will stop you with intrigued enquiries, chant Buffalo Soldier at the dog as it bounces past, or cry out

'Mummy, that dog's got no eyes!'

Another notable characteristic of the puli, which stems directly from its hair, is its odour. Dogs are not the cleanest of animals even at the best of times, and for this reason dog-dreadlocks, appealing as they are to look at, are not so pleasant to smell. Washing a puli is a trial, but being around them while they're drying is probably worse; the locks can hold a staggering quantity of water (which however much you wash them will always be at least a little grimy), and distribute it over an impressively wide area.

Dogs which seem to have dreadlocks appear in illustrations dating back to around 4000BC, although historical references to them only go back a few hundred years, and the puli as we know it is thought to have come about after their ancestors entered Hungary with the Magyars, about a thousand years ago. Their kinship with the komondor, another Hungarian herding dog, is obvious in their corded coats - but komondors are always white, and usually bigger, and their necks and heads don't dread. Another dreaded dog, said to be slightly more mellow than the puli, is the Alpine Italian Bergamasco - presumably another relative, although it is hard to be sure. Meanwhile the Hungarian pumi and mudi are probably cross-breeds of the puli with terriers and spitzes respectively; neither breed has a corded coat.

Pulis are loyal and relatively smart dogs, as well as being endlessly entertaining. They are energetic enough to need regular walking, but not so much so that it seems like a crime to keep them in a city. All in all, they make fine family pets - as long as you are not too put off by the smell.


My pictures of the family puli are on the web at http://fergusmurray.members.beeb.net/pets.htm (scroll down to 'Bilbo').

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