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History

Puli was first considered a separate breed in Hungary 1924 when the the first detailed standard, written by Dr. Emil Raitsits, was accepted by FCI. Dr. Raitsits was a professor in veterinary medicine and started a programme in order to preserve the Hungarian dogs' distinctive characters. He feared that these would be lost as a consequece of the urbanization.

Along with Adolf Lendl, the director of Budapest Zoo, he created room for the dogs at the zoo, not only to exhibit but also as a start for a more controlled breeding programme of the Hungarian breeds. The name of the kennel was Allartkert and several of the Hungarian breeders got their dogs from Budapest Zoo. Swedish breeders eventually visited the kennel and a pair of puli was exported to Sweden.

Dr. Raitsits reconstruction and description of the breeds was very important because puli and pumi was often mixed. For a long time both puli and pumi was called “Juhász Kutya”, a direct translation is “sheep dog”. Later research shows that the Puli was used to herd and guard not only sheep but also other types of livestock. Threre is also a theory that the name “sheep dog” was used to describe something valuabley.

So the puli was not only used to herd the sheep, old documents and photos shows the puli performing several different tasks. The good ability to learn, fast moving, tough character, the energy and intelligence made this dog a very important working dog.

Descriptions of the puli did however exist before the first accpeted standard by the FCI. There are documents and theories about dogs similar to what we today call Puli far back in history. The name Puli appears for the first time in Hungarian litterature in 1751. The first written descriptions of the Hungarian sheep dogs dates back to 1767 (Sárkany & Ocsag 1977).

To understand the orgin pf puli we have to consider that the population in current Hungary is a mix with nomad roots. The Magyars lived for quite a while in the Don and Dnieper River basins where they adapted to hunting, fishing and trading. They gradually spread into Transylvania, over the Carpathian mountaitns. The Magyars were described as wild, hardy and pretty fierce people and scared the old inhabitans when settled with their dogs in Danube Valley (Arch 2001). Hard living conditions made the puli brave and hard working, and its flexibility and adaptability were important mental properties. The unique coat was very functional for the tough climate on the Hungarian puszta.The inland climate meant shifts between very cold to hot summer days.

The Puli appeared earlier in shifting sizes depending on what it was used for. The large pulis were for example used by the police and the smaller pulis as circus dogs. Today, the ideal size for the puli is 38-42 cm although there has been trends both of smaller and larger Puli. The Puli's popularity has declined in recent years in Hungary, a trend that has affected all the domestic breeds. Instead foreign breeds have grown popular. But the active breeders that are left are very committed and work hard for their hungarian treasures. In Hungary there is still an aura around the Puli as something ”more than a dog” because of their intelligence. The expression” it is not a dog, it is it puli” is still very much alive.

 

Litterature:

Arch, A Hungarian Puli, Interpret Publishing (2001).
Benis, L This is the Puli, TFH Publications (1976)
Klosterberg, C Rasspecifik avelsstrategi för Puli, SvkFUR (2007)
Sárkány, P. Dogs of Hungary, Corvina Press, (1977)