The history of Puli

A chronological overview of the history of Puli

The first findings

Geschichte des Puli auf einer Tontafel des Puli
A clay tablet shows a Puli

Clay tablets, whose age is estimated at about 3500 years, already show a Puli, similar to the one we know today. Old clay tablets proved to be particularly informative. The words to be deciphered included Koj Ly (sheep), Aba Ly (cattle), Ku Mun Dor (Komondor), Kuas Sa (Kuvasz) and PU Li (Puli). The name Puli was first mentioned in Hungarian literature in 1751. Emil Raitsits (Professor of Veterinary Sciences) described the Puli 1920 very precisely and he contributed significantly to the control of the breeding of Hungarian shepherd dogs, especially the Pulis. The history of Puli is very eventful.

The biggest part in the preservation of the breed at that time were the shepherds, who spent up to a year's income for a really good Puli.   Greatest importance was attached to docility and good herding qualities.

A Puli, which did not meet the high standards of the shepherds, was degraded to a "dog" and given away. So the saying was coined early on: "A Puli is not a dog - he's a Puli!"
This hard selection contributed to the fact that the Puli is still considered one of the best herding dogs today.


The history of the breed

The organized breeding of the breed began at the beginning of the 20th century, but it took a very long time to convince the shepherds of its usefulness. Only when interesting prizes such as boots, clothes and other useful things were offered to them as winning prizes, they visited the breeding shows with their dogs.

Before World War I, Dr. Emil Raitsaits of the Veterinary University Hospital of Hungary was very active in promoting the breed by organizing trips all over the country to find good Pulis for the newly established stud book. His helper Adolf Lendl set up a separate department for Hungarian Shepherd Dogs at the Budapest Zoo and carried out a breeding programme under the kennel name "Allatkerti" (Zoo). Dr. Raitsaits founded a Club for the breeding of Hungarian Shepherd Dogs.

Due to the Hungarian territorial losses after World War I to the CSSR, Romania, Russia and Yugoslavia, many Pulis including their herds were lost to Hungary. In 1924 Dr. Raitsaits again founded a club to promote the breeding of ung. to re-organize sheepdogs. With the support of public authorities he succeeded in making Puli better known. More and more the herding dog found its way into city apartments.

The role of Puli in history

In order to make the docility of the Pulis useful for the police, dogs were bred that were about 50 cm tall. In 1933 an ung. Puli took first place at an international police dog competition and relegated German shepherd dogs, boxers and Dobermans to the ranks.
In 1935 a new standard was issued to take account of the difference in size of the breed, which had grown in the meantime. Inside were the size designations: Large or police Puli (over 50 cm), medium Puli (40-49 cm), small Puli (30-39 cm) and Toy Puli (under 30 cm).

However, since this regulation did not bring any improvement to the breed, it was soon reversed.

Setbacks in the history of Puli

The 2nd world war was the hardest time for Puli breeding in Hungary. The German and later also the Russian soldiers shot down hundreds of watchful Pulis who wanted to defend house and yard. Famine and lack of medicine did the rest, the Puli-breeding was at an end.

Mrs. Ilona Orlay, the former assistant of Dr. Raitsaits, at that time travelled with a handcart through the burning Budapest to bring the documents from the office of the Hungarian Breeding Association to safety. Later they should later prove to be very valuable for the further breeding of Ung. Shepherd dogs show.

It was not until March 1948 that the first tentative attempt was made to get an overview of the remaining breeding dogs with a small dog show.

The Puli breed is recovering

From 1950 onwards, the general dog breeding in Hungary started to rise again in the history of the Puli, but it was still limited until the revolution in 1956. After that, dogs could be exported to other countries, which gave the breeding a not always positive impetus, because some profiteers also smelled the big money. In 1960 the long overdue reformulation of the standard was finally carried out.

Now the Puli in Hungary regained the distribution it had before the 2nd World War.
That shepherds today get their Pulis from controlled breeding is a great praise for their breeding work. After all, it was and still is the shepherds who pay attention to quality.

In Germany the Puli is not very common. The breeders in the German Puli Club have to accept long journeys to find a suitable partner for their bitches. Through this commitment of our breeders we can look forward to a good and healthy breeding.

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