The Puli is a small-medium breed of Hungarian herding and livestock guarding dog known for its long, corded coat. The tight curls of the coat appear similar to dreadlocks. A similar-looking, but much larger breed – also Hungarian – is the Komondor. The term used for a group of Puli is Pulik.
The Puli is a solid-colored dog that is usually black. Other less common coat colors are white, gray, or cream (off-white or fakó in Hungarian). A variety of the cream-coated dogs have black masks. The white Pulis are not albino, nor do they have blue eyes. They commonly have dark pigment, black pads, black noses and black pigment inside the mouth. The white gene is recessive to the pure black gene. The breed standard is for females about 16.5 inches (42 cm) at the withers, and 17 inches for males. Females weigh 23-25 pounds, males slightly more. The coat of some Puli dogs can be different, thinner or thicker cords, either flat or round, depending on the texture of the coat and the balance of undercoat to outer coat.
The coat is the result of a controlled matting process. Thin, rope-like corded coats are desired, and the grooming should control the coat towards the forming of thinner ropes. The Puli’s coat needs considerable grooming to keep its cords clean, neat, and attractive. With age the coat can become quite long, even reaching the ground. Alternatively, the coat can be trimmed short regularly for easy maintenance, although the corded coat is what attracts many people to the breed. Contrary to some beliefs, the coat of a healthy puli will grow out again after trimming. This breed has little to no shedding.[
The Puli is an intelligent and active dog. It needs obedience training while still young. If a Puli gets enough exercise it can live in the city, but Pulis do best when not kept as indoor pets in a small living space. Pulis kept indoors need a lot of exercise to use up their energy, or they can become either shy or overactive. They need to get the kind of exercise they were created for. A Puli without enough exercise can become mischievous and cause trouble. The right kind of exercise includes running, biking, hiking, jogging and field work; not just a walk around the corner. Pulis are best kept in a house with a garden.Cozy and very friendly, especially towards children, but sensitive and prone to resentment.
Pulis are intelligent, agile dogs. Despite their bulky appearance and very thick coat they are very fast, agile and able to change directions instantly and are obedient enough to train for athletic competition. They are devoted and form close bonds with their owners.
The breed is intelligent and can do well in obedience training if begun early. Traditionally, the Puli dog breed was used as a herding dog and sometimes even as a livestock guarding dog as well. They make very good guard dogs, as they are very protective of their master and territory. The Puli is sensitive, fun-loving, courageous, but also at times tough and headstrong.
They are loyal to their owners and wary of strangers. They are highly active and keep a playful, puppy-like behavior their entire life. They need a lot of exercise and free space, preferably outdoors. They can be trained and housebroken, but Pulis are generally not very well suited to be city or indoor pets. When restricted to closed spaces for long times, they grow restless and might develop unwanted personality traits, such as becoming hyperactive or, instead, increasingly aloof and lazy.
As a working dog, the Puli is very obedient, focused and determined when assigned a task. Some of them are used as police dogs. As a livestock guarding dog they are fiercely protective of their territory and flock, and, despite their relatively small size, will fearlessly try to scare and drive any intruder away, however they very rarely inflict any real injuries.
As a family dog, they make good security dogs and faithful family guardians. They can be very friendly and playful, even in old age. They regard their family as their flock, and will keep their distance until they are sure a stranger is not a threat. When annoyed, they may attack without warning, so a considerable distance may be advisable for strangers. They can be extremely independent and obstinate, and only accept strong-willed individuals as master.
Pulis can compete in dog agility trials, obedience, Rally obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking, and herding events. Herding instincts and trainability can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. Pulis exhibiting basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials
Pulis are valued for their energy and determination, which is a result of their sheepdog history. Every Puli is a natural shepherd, and instinctively knows how to herd a flock of sheep or livestock, even if they have been raised as a family dog and never been trained to do it. It is advisable to start training the Puli early, especially obedience. They are very independent, strong-willed and hard to train in adulthood.