Google “Puli” these days, and you’ll find the results dominated by a series of Indian action-adventure films named Puli. And you’ll be disappointed that they have nothing to do with the dog breed — even though every Puli around would insist the dogs really should be action-adventure stars!
More interesting things about the Puli
- The Puli comes only in solid black, gray, or white, with black most commonly seen.
- Cording is basically controlled matting. As the hair grows, it’s allowed to mat with some adjacent hair, but the mats are separated enough so that they form long cords rather than wide mats. The end result is a dog covered with mop-like cords. The cords differ from dreadlocks, as dreadlocks are weaved and the cords are natural. Washing and drying the cords is a long process. Other breeds that are always or sometimes fully or partially corded are the Komondor, Poodle, Havanese, Bergamasco, and Pyrenean Shepherd.
- Some Pulik are brushed out, so their coat is somewhat frizzy rather than corded.
- The plural of “Puli” is “Pulik.” Because that’s how Hungarians do it.
- The breed has been around for more than 3,000 years, some say even longer. The Magyars introduced its ancestors to Hungary more than a thousand years ago. They herded the sheep, while the Komondor protected the sheep from the wolf. Black Pulik were preferred so they could be spotted amongst the sheep. Noted for their agility, they could turn a sheep by jumping on its back. The dogs were so valued that some shepherds would pay as much as a year’s salary for a good one.
- During World Wars I and II, the Pulik became decimated by German invaders, who shot the dogs as they attempted to protect their family and flock.
- In 1935, the U.S. Department of Agriculture imported Pulik to improve herding dogs in America, but World War II brought an end to the effort.
- The AKC recognized the breed in 1936. It became a member of the Working group. When the Working group was later split, the Puli became a member of the new Herding group.
- No Puli won the Westminster Working group when it competed as a Working dog, but the breed has won the Herding group three times, most recently in 2010. None has yet won Best in Show at Westminster.
- The Puli is the 145th most popular AKC breed, up slightly from 149th five years ago.
- A white Puli named Beast (owned by Mark and Cilla Zuckerberg) has a Facebook page with more than two million Likes. Beast walked Cilla down the aisle in her wedding to Mark Zuckerberg. And Beast was the model for one of Facebook’s sticker packs. He’s also the most prominent star of Zuckerberg’s Instagram account:
- A dog called The Auditor, presumed to be a mongrel but looking suspiciously like a Puli, became the mascot of Butte, Montana, after roaming the virtually uninhabitable landscape there for 17 years. Several memorials exist in the area.
- A Puli called Cinko Duda Csebi won the World Show (one of the world’s largest and most prestigious dog shows) in 1978.
- Gavin Rossdale of the rock band Bush owns a Puli named Winston, who was featured in the artwork for the band’s debut album Sixteen Stone.
- Science-fiction writer Harlan Ellison owned a Puli named Ahbhu in the 1960s. The dog was mentioned in his novelette The Deathbird and his short story A Boy and His Dog.
- T.C. Boyle has owned several Pulik; his Puli Kutya is featured in his novel The Harder They Come.
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About the author: Caroline Coile is the author of 34 dog books, including the top-selling Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. She has written for various publications and is currently a columnist for AKC Family Dog. She shares her home with three naughty Salukis and one Jack Russell Terrier.