The 7 characteristics that make the Hungarian Puli special

Do you want a dog that’s both cute, funny-looking, loving, affectionate, playful, energetic, smart, and intelligent, as well as relatively rare and unique? Is there a breed that ticks all these boxes at once? How about the Hungarian Puli? These dogs are as fun to play with as they are to look at. Let’s check some of their specifics below.

The 7 characteristics that make the Hungarian Puli special

What are the key characteristics that make Hungarian Puli dogs special?

The Hungarian Puli or the Hungarian Water Dog is one of the more unique dog breeds in the world. Smart but complicated train, large and hairy but deceptively athletic and energetic, strong-willed but also very gentle and affectionate, this is a special breed for special people.

These smart, loving, and playful dogs are great for lots of things – herding, water hunting, guard duty, and last but not least – family pets. Are they right for your family, however?

The 7 pros and cons you should know before getting a Puli


1. The Hungarian Puli is an intelligent and confident dog

They may look silly but the Hungarian Puli dogs are exceptionally intelligent. As a great working dog breed that’s been used for herding, water hunting, and guard duty, the Puli is an excellent choice if you want a clever doggo for you to play and interact with.

This level of cleverness has its drawbacks, however, namely that you need to make sure your Puli gets to use its brain often enough. A mentally neglected Puli can easily get bored and lethargic which is not fun neither for you, nor for the dog.

What does this mean for you?

It’s simple – if you want to get a Puli, make sure that you’ll want to play and interact with your Puli pal for years to come. This means teaching your Puli tricks and interesting, complex games, buying your Puli new puzzle dog toys, and so on.

And, if you work outside of home, make sure that you do any of the following to keep your dog engaged throughout the day:

  • Spend extra time with your Puli before you leave for work and after you return. Essentially, your Puli should be completely exhausted when you’re away and not mind napping through our absence.
  • Make sure that your Puli has company when you’re not home. This could mean always having a family member at home, hiring a dog sitter or a dog walker, or arranging playdates with other dog owners.
  • Get your Puli more and new interactive dog toys for when you’re away. Smart dogs like the Puli love to play with puzzle toys, to do “easter egg hunts” for hidden dog treats, or other such fun games.
  • Get a second dog or pet to keep your Puli company. Puli dogs are great with other dogs and cats, as long as they get the proper socialization and a careful introduction.
    Note: While Pulis aren’t aggressive toward other pets, their herding instincts and headstrong nature make them want to boss the other pets in the household. So, when you’re introducing your Puli to other pets, make sure that the power dynamic between them is clear – the Puli will usually have to be the alpha.

One, more, or all of these tips are necessary for keeping your Puli mentally engaged and happy. Separation anxiety and depression are no fun for smart dogs like the Puli. This may sound a bit much at first but that’s part of having an awesome and intelligent dog for a pet.

2. Pulis are surprisingly athletic and energetic under their furry coats

They may look like giant mops but Puli dogs are actually quite nimble under all that fur. This isn’t to say that they aren’t muscular and strong but they are much more energetic than most people realize.

This is fantastic for outdoor-type people who love to walk their dogs, play in the park, and go on hikes on the weekends – that’s exactly what a Puli wants too! If you are a more indoor-type person, however, you may want to go with another breed.

If your Puli doesn’t get at least two long walks and several hours of physical activity per day, there’s a risk of the dog getting overweight, developing some health issues, or growing restless and disobedient. People being unprepared for the physical demands of breeds like the Puli is one of the main reasons why dog shelters are full of such dogs.

If you are an outdoorsy and energetic person yourself, however, a Puli can be the absolutely perfect companion for you.

3. These dogs are very gentle and affectionate, and are also fantastic child guardians and therapy dogs

These fantastic herding dogs love looking after their herds and do so gently and affectionately. And, yes, that technically makes us “their herd” but so what if the end result is unlimited love from these big fur-balls?

In fact, this caring nature of the Puli breed also makes them great therapy dogs for the elderly as well as very good with children. Again, some socialization and a proper introduction of the dog with the child, but once that’s out of the way, the rest should go swimmingly.

4. The Puli breed is quite healthy, especially when it’s well taken care of

The Puli breed is very healthy, thanks to responsible breeding over the centuries. This means that, with the proper care, you can expect your Puli to live a healthy and happy life for as much as 15 years!

Of course, these dogs are not invulnerable and even with care, there are some risks. Stuff such as hip dysplasia is as common for Puli dogs as it is for other breeds, for example. Eye issues are even more common for Pulis so watch out for cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy.

If you’ve taken your Puli from a reputable dog breeder or from a good shelter that has performed the necessary vet check-ups, however, your Puli should be healthier than most breeds. Wherever you get your Puli from, make sure to ask for health certificates, especially from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF).


1. Those dreadlocks need care!

Beauty takes effort and that’s true for Puli dogs too. These gorgeous dreadlocks will need brushing several times per week as well as the occasional bath. This is made even more complicated by the Puli’s outdoor nature. It is important to do this grooming, however, to keep your Puli’s coat and skin healthy.

On the plus side, Puli dogs are relatively hypoallergenic – while there isn’t a 100% guarantee that they won’t trigger someone’s allergies, they are much safer than most other breeds.

And, while we’re on the subject of care, make sure to frequently inspect the cleanliness and health of your dog’s ears and eyes to avoid any infections!

2. As a herding and guard dog, the Puli can be distrustful of strangers

The Puli’s very job is to protect its herd from strangers and the breed has the strong instinct to do so. If you want a Puli for a family pet, however, this can present a danger.

Granted, Puli dogs are not overly aggressive so they’re unlikely to get into a fight immediately like some other guard breeds. However, they will make their distrust toward strangers evident.

To avoid this, proper socialization from an early age is a must. This will teach the dog that strangers are welcomed and to be trusted.

3. Your Puli will try to boss you around if you don’t train him properly

Puli dogs are intelligent but that doesn’t really make them easy to train – on the contrary. As they are bred to be herders, Puli dogs have the instinct to boss us around. They are quite headstrong and self-minded so you’ll need to emphasize on the obedience training while your pup is still young.

If you don’t train your Puli properly early on, chances are that the dog will grow to be nearly untrainable, at least not for non-professionals.

Who are Puli dogs “right” for?

There are several points you’d want to tick if you and a Puli are to get along well together:

  • You’d love spending time outside with a dog.
  • You’d have a large but also a well-fenced yard for the Puli to play in.
  • You’d love to interact with a smart dog, teach him tricks, and spend lots of time with him.
  • You are ready for the challenge of training a willful and headstrong canine.

If the answer to all of those is a solid “Yes!” then you’re the perfect person for a Puli dog.

How to prepare for getting a Hungarian Puli?

Aside from investing in a better dog hairbrush and reinforcing your yard’s fencing, there isn’t much Puli-specific preparation you’d need to do. The only other big thing is to make sure you know how to train and socialize such a dog properly. Dog owners that are unprepared for that responsibility are why dog rescues and shelters are constantly working overtime all across the world.

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