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
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
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.
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)