More than 1200 years ago the original Magyar tribes swept into central Europe from Asia, bringing with them ‘Puli’ dogs and settling in the Danube valley, they took up an agricultural and pastoral life. From these early times Pulis have played a valuable part in the lives of the Hungarian shepherds.
Since it is recorded that the Magyars moved westward out of Asia, it comes as no surprise that dogs in the northern Himalayas closely resembling Pulis are still to be found. The Lhasa Apso and the Tibetan Terrier are said to be related to the Puli.
The Puli is a lively, medium size, exceptionally intelligent breed that fits in quite well with home life, although their brainpower can be far ahead of some other breeds and therefore they do require an understanding owner who will ensure that boredom does not take over.
Although there are records of a Puli called ‘Clive of India’ being shown in Stafford in the 1950’s. Not a great deal is known about him except that his owner a Miss Turpin, who had been an ATS Sgt serving in Germany and had bought him from a German ex-serviceman for the sum of 20 Players cigarettes. The next time a Puli was seen in Britain was in 1967, when Mr George Ingus and his wife Judith came to live in England bringing with them their 5 year old Puli called Bodri. In 1969 Mrs Pat Lanz was driving home from a dog show with her Rottweilers when she saw Bodri being exercised by Mrs Ingus. Stopping to speak to Mrs Ingus, Mrs Lanz discovered that the Ingus’s had imported a Hungarian Champion bitch in whelp to an International Champion dog. The rest as they say is history. The bitch whelped 4 puppies in Quarantine, one, Borgvaale Pusztai Marok Marcsa (Fruska) going to Mrs Lanz, and becoming the foundation bitch for the Borgvaale Pulis. A dog went to Mr and Mrs Horan, and the remaining dog and bitch were bought by Mike and Nancy Tomlin who had just imported the first Briard into Britain. The bitch Desamee Pusztai Pitykes Panni became the foundation bitch of the Desamee Pulis, also winning the first ever Bitch Challenge Certificate and going Best of Breed at Crufts 1978. Both Fruska and Panni were a great influence on the breed and many of today’s winning Pulis can be traced back to one of these bitches. In those early days two males who were to have enormous influence on the breed were also imported. Hung & Polish Ch Kajakos Csibesz Kokas brought from Hungary by Mrs Frou Stretton and later sold to Mrs Lanz and Skysyl Watch Mr Big Stuff who came to the Borgvaale kennels from the USA.
Mr & Mrs Ingus later moved to the USA taking their adult dogs with them.
In more recent times there have been quite a number of Pulis imported both from Europe and from the USA.
The breed record holder with no less than 30 Challenge Certificates to his name is Ch Weetoneon The Equalizer. ‘Turbo’ won multiple Groups and is still the only Puli to date to have won a Best In Show at a General Championship Show which he did at The City Of Birmingham Show in 1996. He also won Reserve Best In Show at Windsor Championship Show in 1998 on the day he took the record. He was a real character who loved showing off to the crowd and has done much to publicise the breed to the public.
Showing the variety of colour in the breed, Ch Borgvaale Polly Peachflowa at Loakespark a beautiful black masked Apricot bitch when mated to a White Hungarian Import Ch & Hung Ch Eszak Magyar Orszagi Dome of Borgvaale produced a litter of 4 puppies, three of which were grey. Two of this litter Ch Loakespark Polynesian Boy and his sister Ch Loakespark Polyesta did a great deal of winning, most notably winning both dog and bitch Challenge Certificates at Crufts 1988. The first, and to date, only pair of littermates to do this.
The question every one who considers owning a Puli must ask themselves is ‘Do I have the time?’ There is nothing more striking than a beautifully corded Puli in full coat, but it does not happen by magic. The fluffy puppy coat needs very little attention until it begins to cord usually between 6 to 10 months. The adult Puli coat is made up of two different textures, a harsh outer coat and a dense and woolly undercoat. It is the correct ratio of these two types of coat that causes the coat to cord. As the puppy coat develops it begins to part and eventually will start to go into little clumps. The clumps then form small mats which must be split into the desired cords. At this stage it is important to make sure that the cords stay separate from each other and also from the uncorded coat. Most developing coats will need some attention every day and this stage can last for months until all the cords are formed. Throughout this time it is also important to make sure that the coat is kept clean. Once the Puli is fully corded the work eases off a bit and it is usually enough to go through the coat every week or so to make sure the new root growth is not matting. This is also a good time to go through the coat and remove any bits picked up whilst out playing.
As previously stated, Pulis are energetic and super intelligent. They do not take well to being shut away all day while the family are at work and school. If this is your lifestyle then a Puli is NOT the dog for you, but if you have time to devote to care and training and are looking for a dog who is never happier than when accompanying their owners on various activities and outings you may have just found the right breed. Needless to say if looking for a Puli puppy the first port of call should be to the Secretary of The Hungarian Puli Club of Great Britain who will be able to put you in touch with a reputable breeder, who is a member of the Breed Club and who follows the Clubs Code of Ethics regarding testing for hereditary problems. Always go to see the puppies, with their mother at the home of the breeder. Most breeders will require you to visit twice, the first time when the pups are around 5 weeks, this is usually for the breeder to meet you and assure themselves that you will make a good Puli owner and the next time when you collect your pup at about 8 weeks. It is always a good idea for new owners to keep in touch with your breeder who can help you through the various stages of your Puli’s life.
As can be seen, the Hungarian Puli is a truly unique breed of dog, in his coat, his intelligence and his desire to understand and to please his owners. Indeed, the Hungarian shepherds have a saying ‘the Puli is not a dog, it’s a Puli’ I believe that says it all.