FCI standard Nº 55

Mrs C. Seidler and Mrs Elke Peper
Group 1 Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs (Except Swiss Cattle Dog)
Section 1 Sheepdogs
Without working trial
Acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI
Wednesday 11 August 1954
Publication of the official valid standard
Tuesday 29 October 2013
Last update
Friday 06 December 2013
En français, cette race se dit
Diese Norm ist in deutscher Sprache sichtbar
En español, esta raza se dice
In het Nederlands, wordt dit ras gezegd


Herding dog.

Brief historical summary

The Puli is a Hungarian herding breed of Asiatic origin. His original ancestors most probably came to the Carpathian Basin with the migrating ancient Magyars, who lived as nomads on stock-breeding.

General appearance

Dog of medium size with strong constitution, square build and fine, but not too light bones. The somewhat lean body is well muscled all over. The construction of the individual body parts is difficult to judge, as the whole body is covered by a strongly developed coat, tending to form curls and cords. It is therefore useful to touch the dog when judging. The coat on the head is so profuse that the head appears round and the eyes are covered. The profusely coated tail, curled forward over the back, gives the appearance of the topline rising slightly towards the rear.

Important proportions

The body length is equal to the height at the withers.
The depth of the brisket is slightly less than half of the height at the withers.
The length of the muzzle is one third of the total length of the head.

Behaviour / temperament

Of lively temperament, extremely able to learn. Loves children and is an excellent watchdog. His present shape has adapted him to sporting use.


Cranial region

Seen from the front, round, seen from the side appears to be elliptic.
Small and fine. Superciliary ridges strongly developed. 
Barely developed.

Facial region

Rather small, black.
Not pointed; bridge of nose straight.
Taut, with dark pigmentation.
Jaws and teeth
Complete scissor bite according to the dentition formula. 42 teeth.
Of medium size, dark brown, set in slightly oblique and medium wide apart. The expression is lively and intelligent. Rims of lids close-fitting to the eyeball and well pigmented.
Set on at medium height with broad base. The pendant leathers V-shaped with rounded tips.


Of medium length, taut, well muscled. Forms an angle of about 45 degrees to the horizontal and is covered by dense coat.


Straight. Giving the impression of rising slightly towards the rear because of the tail carriage.
Only slightly projecting from the topline.
Of medium length, straight, dry and muscular.
Very strongly muscled, short.
Short, slightly sloping.
Deep, long with well arched ribs.
Underline and belly
Gradually rising towards rear.


Set on at medium height and carried in a flat curl over the croup. Well covered by dense coat. When stretched out, it reaches to the hocks.



Shoulder blade sloping, tightly fitting to the brisket. A vertical line from the withers touches the front part of the chest at its deepest point. The angle between shoulder blade and upper arm is 100 to 110 degrees.
Upper arm
Medium long, well muscled.
Lying closely to the brisket. Angle between upperarm and forearm: 120 to 130 degrees.
Long, straight, with dry muscles.
Short, rounded, tight with well knit toes. Nails black or dark slate grey. Pads dark in colour and springy. Feet parallel, pointing forward and medium wide apart.


The legs are medium wide apart and parallel. The angle between pelvis and upper thigh is about 100 to 110 degrees. Angulation of stifle joint 100 to 110 degrees.
Upper thigh
Upper and lower thigh : Long and well muscled.
Dry, clean-cut.
Hind feet
A little flatter than front feet, otherwise similar.

Gait and movement

Very lively and spirited. Steps short. The gait is often typically mincing and jumping. The dog has a tendency to spin round himself.


Without wrinkles, tight, with strong pigment. The bare skin is black or slate grey in all coat colours.


The puppy coat is dense, wavy or curly. Later, there are tufts of hair developing to tassels and cords. The coat consists of a coarser top coat and a finer undercoat. The relation between these two types of hair determines the character of the coat. If the topcoat highly predominates the undercoat, the coat structure is untypical and the coat sticks slightly out. If the undercoat is too highly predominant – which is undesirable – this results in a matted coat of too soft texture, difficult to groom. The correct proportion between the two types of hair, which is genetically fixed, produces the aesthetical tassels or cords, which are easy to groom. The cords on the loins and the croup and at the back of the upper thighs are longest (20-30 cm). They are shortest on the head and at the limbs (10-12 cm). Coat on head is ideal when the hair forms a strong structure of cords covering the facial region. Both a combed out and a neglected, tousled coat are undesirable.
a) - Black.
- Black with few rusty coloured or grey shadings.
- Fawn (fakó) with a distinct black mask. A white patch at the forechest, not exceeding 3 cm in diameter, is permitted. White between the toes is not regarded as a fault.
b) - Pearl white without any russet gold (semmelblond).
Any colour or marking deviating from the above, is undesirable.

Size and weight

Height at withers
Dogs 39 - 45 cm, ideal height: 41 - 43 cm.
Bitches 36 - 42 cm, ideal height: 38 - 40 cm.
Dogs 13 - 15 kg, bitches 10 - 13 kg.


• Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and its ability to perform its traditional work.
• Faults listed should be in degree of seriousness.

Disqualifying faults

 Aggressive or overly shy.
 One or more missing teeth (incisors, canines, premolars 2-4, molars 1-2.
 More than two missing PM1, the M3 are disregarded.
 Over- or undershot, wry mouth.
 Tail carried in sickle shape or horizontally.
 Short, smooth, separately growing hairs.
 Faults in colour.
 Undesired markings and patches.
 Size deviating from the limits mentioned in the standard.

NB :

• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
• The above mentioned faults when occurring to a highly marked degree or frequently are disqualifying.
• Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
• Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.




Additional information from visitors

This is a very old Hungarian breed, developed from Eastern herding dogs brought by the Magyars in the 9th century. Some sources suggest that it might have some Tibetan Terrier blood in its lineage as well. Alongside its larger relative, the Komondor, the Hungarian Puli is an ancestor of many European breeds, most notably the Poodle. This powerful sheepdog has traditionally been used as a herder and protector of livestock, as well as a hunter and farm watchdog. Existing in a variety of working types and sizes in the past, the Puli was standardized in the late 1800's and became a popular show dog and companion during the first half of the 20th century. Nearly wiped out by the WW2, the breed was successfuly revived by committed breeders and is now a common worker and family pet worldwide. The Hungarian Puli also makes a capable water retriever and police dog.
Energetic and playful, the Puli is generally friendly towards people, but can be confrontational around other dogs, needing proper socialization. The coat is long, dense and corded, requiring regular care and grooming. Only black dogs were favoured in the past, but the modern Hungarian Puli also comes in solid shades of white, gray and apricot. The average height is around 17 inches.

Detailed history

Where does Puli come from? If, thanks to its thick and original fleece, it hardly lets guess its forms, one can also say that the most widespread of the Hungarian sheepdogs does not show itself very willing to reveal its exact origins.

According to one hypothesis, set out in a Belgian publication, the Puli could have been born in the third millennium BC. In fact, Sumerian cuneiform inscriptions would have given three names of dogs, strangely resembling the names of three current Hungarian races: ku-mun-dur (today, Komondor), ku-assa (Kuvasz) and pu-ly (Puli). But perhaps this is simply a linguistic coincidence, because, besides not knowing what these Sumerian dogs could look like, there is no historical evidence to explain their arrival in Hungary.

The Great Hungarian Plain was the place of passage or settlement of many nomadic peoples from Asia. As the Puli has been known for hundreds of years, we sought to locate its arrival at the time of the various invasions of which the Danubian region was the theater. There have been the formidable Huns, in the fourth century, but they have just passed, and we hardly see these followers of the "burnt earth policy" leave many of their sheepdogs. Later, around 1240, a people of Turkish origin, the Cumans, pushed to Hungary and left some memories, but, as far as dogs are concerned, it would be more like Kuvasz, as corroborates the fact that there are still now Turkish dogs (called Akbash in the Anglo-Saxon countries) presenting great analogies with this Hungarian race.

We must therefore finally turn to the Magyars of Prince Arpàd, arrived in the puszta in 896, to find probably the first masters Puli. The word Puli (plural: Pulik) also has a Magyar root and means "sheepdog", quite simply.

It is supposed that the Puli from a thousand years ago had to be bigger than today's subjects: "At first he did a job as a drover, where he needed a large dog (50 at 60 cm), so that you can measure yourself against the imposing gray oxen with long horns, or with the black buffaloes. Even racka sheep with twisted horns could be dangerous for dogs that were not lively enough, agile and robust, "says Bela Szlamka, secretary of the French Club of the breed. He was taller, certainly, but did not really risk being confused with his imposing kinsman, the Komondor: the latter was, and still is, essentially a watchdog and protection dog, which combines strength and size , while the Puli saw itself in charge of the management of the flocks, an activity requiring much more vivacity.

The Puli and the Komondor, which, with their long hair and furnished, more or less felted or corded, have a characteristic aspect, are certainly the two oldest representatives of the type of long-haired shepherd dog. Such breeds are numerous in Europe (in France, we know the Briard and the little Pyrenean Shepherd), and especially in Eastern Europe (where there is the Polish Nizinny, the Shepherd of Southern Russia). Several authors think that this canine type comes from Asia, and that it would have been introduced at the same time as the big mountain dogs. As the presumed ancestor of these is the Tibetan Mastiff, it was thought that the original long-haired shepherd dog would be none other than the Tibetan Terrier (badly named, since its function was to lead the herds). However, the hypothesis of the Tibetan Mastiff as an ancestor of the European mastiffs is itself very fragile, so it is better not to dwell on the starting point of the Tibetan Terrier.

Be that as it may, there is no doubt that the very protective fleece of the Puli was well adapted to the continental climate of the Hungarian puszta, where the temperature usually drops to -30 ° C in winter and can, in on the other hand, to exceed 35 ° C in summer (that is why, it was used to mow it at the same time as that of sheep, so that the activity of the dog is not reduced). The typical pastoral occupation of the puszta (open-air breeding all year round with large herds of cattle and sheep) continued until the 19th century, so it is likely that the Puli did not undergone significant evolution since his arrival.

During the eighteenth century, however, an event had undoubtedly an impact on the Puli. At that time, merino sheep with incomparable wool qualities were imported from Western Europe. The shepherd dogs that brought these flocks to Hungary, which could be Spanish, French and German, did not fail to settle in the puszta and mix with the local Pulik. From these crossings resulted a new breed, the Pumi, obviously related to the Puli for many of its characteristics, but also showing a clearly visible Spitz pedigree (its erected ears, for example); besides, this dog had, before that of Pumi, other appellations like that of Puli with erect ears or that of Somogy Puli (Somogy being the name of a region of Hungary). In the Puli, this influx of foreign races translated into a new character: the appearance of dark, black or russet black dresses. One can also think that, becoming a specialist in the conduct of merino sheep, he saw his size decrease somewhat.

Another fact must be noted: during a fairly long period of time (between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries), the Puli was employed in a task radically different from herd management, namely swamp hunting, particularly as a specialist in duck. That may surprise: his dress, certainly protective to evolve in icy waters, did not it embarrassed to swim? It seems that no; on the contrary, it would have served as a float, and we can notice today that many Pulik have a taste for the aquatic element. In addition, this function reflects the tremendous adaptability of the breed. Thus the Puli was also called the "Hungarian water dog". In 1751, a German author named Heppe used this name with a description which corresponds perfectly to that of the Puli.

If the literature concerning Puli in its traditional activity of herdsman is practically non-existent (very few scholars were interested in the things of the countryside), the seniority of the breed is amply confirmed, for example thanks to the abundance of Hungarian proverbs relating to Puli. Mr. Szlamka gives us some, very revealing of the originality of the breed: "There is the Puli and the other dogs", or: "The Puli is a Puli and not a dog", and: "Observe Puli, you'll know who's in front of you! "

However, as the nineteenth century progressed, transhumance herds increasingly gave way to crops, and the Puli eventually deserted the Hungarian countryside, except in a few areas. He was still used as a watchdog in the villages and farms, and then, with the rural exodus, he found himself in the cities, still as a watchdog. This task of cerberus went so well that in the years 1920 - 1930, the police employed it successfully, choosing of course the largest specimens (50 cm at the withers and more). The current standard still mentions this old assignment.

This reference to the standard allows to come to the dog's race period. The first standard Puli was written in 1924 and made official the following year (it was reviewed in 1955, then in 1966). At the same time, a club of the breed was founded, whereas previously there was only one association of Hungarian sheepdog breeders. Quickly, the Puli became one of the favorite breeds in his country: statistics from 1935 tell us that he was then second in number. The Book of Hungarian Origins then counted 992 Pulis inscriptions for 1,700 inscriptions of Kuvasz (the most popular Hungarian Shepherd breed at the time), 972 of Komondors and 293 of Pumis. From then on, the breed was quickly known in the West, and primarily in the United States, because many Hungarians had expatriated themselves overseas. His corded dress having caused a sensation in 1930, it aroused enough interest to be officially recognized by the American Kennel Club since 1936.

It was also in 1936 that the first specimen of the breed was added to the Book of French Origins. In France, the Puli however remained very discreet until recently. In 1960, there were still practically no import possibilities. It was only in 1980, with the creation of a section of Hungarian sheepdogs within the Shetland Club, that the breed could grow in numbers and begin to emerge from anonymity. Recognition much needed, because most of the dog books, when they did not omit to report the existence of the Puli, gave fanciful descriptions, both in terms of its weight, indicated for example as twice as high, that his hair, that some subjects would have had "even long and corded". If, on the physical side, the Puli is certainly not an ordinary dog, its character is no less original, which, moreover, is suggested by the Hungarian proverbs mentioned above.

We will focus first on its appearance. When the Puli lies at a distance, we can see only an indistinct mass of tangled hairs; on approaching, perhaps one will see a lingering tongue, and will one deduce that it is an animal. That the latter gets up, and we will not be much better informed: certainly, we now know by "what end to take", since a round mass emerges, which is obviously a head, with its truffle and language; ears and eyes, point. From neck, there does not seem to be any, neither tail. And, if it is a beautiful subject aged three or four years (whose dress has reached its full development), it is just if there are members to support this hairy mass, most often black or brown -Black, or even entirely red (in the latter case, it is a black that has scorched, not a real brown or bronze, because the truffle remains black and not brown). But here it comes alive, leaps, as if mounted on springs. Doubt is then no longer allowed, it is indeed a dog, extremely lively, petulant, soon testifying to his friendship for his family or vigorously repelling intruders. It is then said that a race with such a curious appearance must require very restrictive care, or that its silhouette owes much less to nature than to a particular grooming. Error! This propensity for the hair of Puli to form ropes, mats or ribbons depending on the case is quite natural, and it is only necessary that the owner gives, at the appropriate moment, a small "boost". In this case, for dresses that tend to felting, it will prevent the braids, which begin to form from the age of one year (or a little before), do get entangled, do not mix. No artifice so in this intervention, but especially a regular examination of the dress. Frequent baths are to be avoided because they would change the texture of the hair. For the lower part of the fur, which gets dirty faster, some partial washes in the year may be necessary. Otherwise, one or two full baths per year should be sufficient. Finally, it can be said that maintenance of the Puli requires, in most cases, less time than that of most other long-haired breeds.

At birth, the baby Puli has a short hair, shiny, curly and curly. Two months later, the dress has become longer (4 to 8 cm) and provided, it is still soft to the touch, but it does not loop any more than slightly. At puberty, a new "metamorphosis": the "young hair" is replaced by that of adult, where the undercoat, called "fluffy hair" in the standard, will start felting the dress. From this moment, it will be necessary to avoid the frequent interventions of the brush (of the kind of a brush in quack grass) hitherto used. If the dress tends to string, it will require almost no maintenance. If, on the contrary, it tends to fel in large plates, it will be necessary to regularly put the fingers, to remove the dead hair and especially to facilitate the formation of "ribbons". Between these two extremes, there are other types of dresses, with braids or ribbons more or less wide. These differences are related to the abundance of the undercoat compared to that of the jar hair. They are also genetic. Finally, note that the complete development of the dress is reached only from the age of two or three years.

But the originality of its hair system should not overshadow the very typical character of Puli. It is first of all a dog very alive, not at all embarrassed in his movements by his thick fleece, loving to spend in the middle of nature or in the garden, and, in addition, it is an excellent jumper. His galloping, very jerky, is quite curious, but apparently effective. This rustic dog in the soul, no inclement weather can not deter from going out, can live with a city life, provided to benefit from frequent exits.

The second trait that immediately jumps to the eye is his highly developed ability to guard. His suspicion is innate, and if necessary, he can show initiative and courage. Nothing escapes him, and he does not hesitate to point it out. If left unattended all day long, it is possible that he will become an unrepentant talker, but this defect can be corrected by means of an appropriate education, and by offering him various activities: barking dogs, whatever race they belong to, are most often dogs who deceive their boredom. In total, the Puli can be considered as a very good guard dog. It compensates for its moderate size with a confusing appearance that impresses.

These provisions for the care are supplemented by a good receptivity to the dressage: in this respect, his gifts of observation and his great memory have often and precisely been underlined. Nevertheless, one must take into account his proud, independent, exclusive temperament: therefore, no unfair or disproportionate punishments, no long and repetitive exercises. We will work in joy and complicity. These tips are obviously valid for all breeds, but it should be noted that the Puli is impervious to a "mechanical" and coercive education. On the contrary, by counting on his tendency to become attached to his master, on his taste for the game (in this area he makes an onslaught of invention and petulance with the children of the family), we can certainly obtain excellent results. Puli has been a police dog in his country, we do not forget, and in the United States, many Pulik are successfully trained in obedience and even in defense. The Puli shares his very curious dress with the huge Komondor. Its diffusion is facilitated by its moderate size: about forty centimeters at the withers for a weight between 10 and 15 kilos. In no case, however, can it be considered a "little dog", thanks to its assertive temperament. As long as his master and his family make the effort to understand him, he can adapt to the most diverse living conditions. The interest shown to him over the past ten years has nothing to do with a flash of fire, of an ephemeral fashion: the Puli is original by whatever end it takes. At first glance, her appearance is surprising, but it is throughout her life that her intelligence, her capacity for initiative and her ease of adaptation are astonishing. And, as its good health is accompanied by longevity, one can predict that the future buyers of Puli will not regret their choice.

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