Small town Hungary
The Puli (pronounced Poo-lee) is an ancient breed of Hungarian sheepdog, bred for centuries to herd sheep and guard livestock. When the Magyars, a tribe originally from the central steppes of Asia, journeyed across Europe and settled in Hungary in the 9 th century A.D., they took with them their herds of semi-wild cattle, spirited horses, flocks of sheep, and shaggy Puli dogs. Even today dogs can be found in the Himalayas that closely resemble the Puli, the Lhasa Apso and the Tibetan Terrier being notable examples.
For centuries the Puli was noted for its herding instinct and was to be found in great numbers in the rural areas of Hungary, but it was not until the end of the 19 th century that the breed drew any attention as a companion or show dog, and attempts were made to research the breed's history, maintain accurate breeding records, and establish the ideal type.
The Puli was introduced into the U.S.A. by the Maryland Department of Agriculture in 1936, the purpose being to test the herding ability and intelligence of several herding breeds. Unfortunately their findings were not conclusive since the outbreak of World War II terminated the experiment before its completion, and the dogs were dispersed to private owners. However, the Puli did have a foothold on this continent, and more imports followed. Canada saw its first Puli in 1948, and the breed still ranks as one of the rarer dog breeds here.
Traditionally, the Puli is best at working sheep. His outstanding qualities led to the Hungarian shepherds' assertion that "It's not a dog, it's a Puli." So great was the value of the Puli that all others were merely "dogs." At one time it was not an uncommon occurrence for a shepherd to save a year's pay to buy a good Puli, and the most precious gift he could give was a Puli puppy.
Those who have seen a Puli working are amazed by his dazzling footwork and flying coat. He can get from one side of the flock to the other by running across the backs of the sheep, and can stop a runaway by jumping on the errant sheep's back, clinging on and riding it until it slows down from exhaustion, and can be herded back to the flock. The Puli has also been used for hunting wildfowl and small game, and will also retrieve from land and water.