When one first sees the Puli, the question is always asked "How on earth do you give this dog a bath?" The answer is, obviously, "It takes a LONG time!"
|Hungarian Puli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The Hungarian Puli develops a "corded" coat as it ages. The coat tends to naturally gather itself together in ringlets which are very tightly curls and gnarled together into long cords. A mature coat takes a good 10 to 12 years to reach its full glory for the Show Ring, as a consequence there are Pulik (the plural of Puli) who are still in the prime of their show career at an age when most dogs are being shown in Veteran's Class.
Among the other breeds which have a similar coat one finds the Komondor and years ago the Poodle. The tight cords protect the breed from weather and harsh elements. The preferred color is black, however there can be white, rust colored and various shades in between. The Puli was originally bred in Hungary as a herding dog and those with a black coat could be more easily seen by shepherds and thus be distinguished from the sheep. Pulik are nimble on their feet and smaller than they appear, usually standing less than 20 inches at the shoulder. Like most herding breeds, they are built so they can move quite nimbly, nipping at the heels of the sheep to keep them grouped together. They are even known to run upon the backs of a tightly bunched flock of sheep.
This is not a common breed. Most folks who own Pulik do keep the short coat if they are not being shown, since a corded coat is difficult to care for and develops a strong smell if not kept clean. Which brings us to the question, "How are they bathed?" Usually the entire dog is immersed in a large tub filled with room temperature water and a bit of shampoo, the individual cords are squeezed by hand and the skin is gently massaged. Care must be taken not to damage the cording or the individual cords will become tangled together and the show look requires that the long cords hang naturally and separately from each other. Once the shampoo has been squeezed through the coat, the dog is immersed in several tubs of tepid clear water as a rinse and also sprayed thoroughly and finally, toweled dry with the same squeezing process. A blow dryer can then be used, provided it is not so powerful that it "frizzes" the coat. The entire process usually takes a full day. Since the cords are long and reach to the ground, it is important to keep the dog from running in underbrush and that sort of thing.
One would question why this dog with this kind of coat can be running with sheep, but the fact is that this coat when it is in a natural state completely protects the dog from thorns and brambles. The thick wooly cords are also natural weather barriers to rain and snow, so that the body of the Puli is well protected from the elements of harsh weather. Furthermore a would-be predator can not sink its teeth into the flesh of this nimble dog and can only get a mouthful of hair. Thus the Pulik are naturally quite self sufficient out in the flock, needing little in the way of human care.
Their job requires a certain independence and they are not necessarily in need of a lot of human companionship. Pulik should not exhibit shyness or nervousness , usually are wary of strangers and should not be aggressive. They are energetic and require a job of some sort or plenty of exercise or the owner of a Puli will find that it is getting into all sorts of things, out of boredom.