Pumi is a dog breed known as well as the Hungarian Pumi or Hungarian Herding Terrier. Pumi (Hungarian plural pumik) is a medium-small breed of a sheepdog. Versatile and intelligent, they are excellent at the gathering, driving and controlling flocks of livestock. First used in 1815, the name Pumi is thought to have derived from “Puli”. The two names have been used interchangeably for a long time, depending on the region in Hungary the animal was in.
The word “Pumi” may also have been derived from the German word for a puppy, “pommel” or from the word “Pomeranian”, which is the origin of many German dogs used for cross-breeding. Otto Hermann suggested that the name originated from the short name of the Pomeranian Spitz, a theory that enjoys wide acceptance.
History and Origin
The Pumi is believed to have originated around 300 years ago when the closely related but longer-haired Puli was cross-bred with herding dogs from Germany and France. The Puli is thought to have been introduced during the migration of the Magyars from Central Asia and the Pumi arose from later cross-breeding with breeds such as the Spitz and Briard. Many Merino sheep were imported to Hungary during the 18th century, along with Pyreneans, which probably goes to explain the Pumi’s shorter and curlier coat when compared to the Puli.
The first known drawing of a Pumi is from 1815 and the first distinction of the Pumi from the Puli made in 1902.
The first creation of the Pumi breed standard was made by Dr. Emil Raitsits in 1921, referring to it as a “sheepdog terrier”. After World War I, when numbers fell drastically, the Pumi breed experienced a resurgence as a show and working dog.
Numbers were again reduced during World War II, but the Pumi again rose to prominence after the 1956 uprising. It was first exported to Finland in 1973, Sweden in 1985 and, in the early 1990s, to the Netherlands, Italy and the US.
In 2016, the Hungarian government named the Pumi as one of its eight indigenous dogs, creating a gene bank to preserve its characteristics.
Pumi Appearance, Colour, and Size
Pumik come in varying shades of gray, white or fawn. The most common color is grey. The pups are born black and start greying at about six weeks of age, with the shade lightening progressively. The final color is determined by the color of the parents. Other colors that occur are black, white and cream to red, with a darker mask.
The Pumi is a square, and light-bodied. It has a long, narrow head, with a longer muzzle than the Puli, taking up about 45% of the length of the head. The eyes are small, dark and slightly oblique, giving the dog a somewhat melancholy look. The ears are high-set and alert, carried semi-erect and with longer hair than the body. Movements are lively and energetic.
The Pumi’s thick coat is of medium length, approximately 4 to 5 cm (1.5 to 3 inches) long, with a harsh topcoat and soft undercoat, which enables the dog to do well in extremes of weather.
Male Pumis stand at 41 to 47 cm (16 to 19 inches) and weigh 10 to 15 kg ( 22 to 33 pounds), while females are 38 to 44 cm (15 to 17 inches) with a weight of 8 to 13 kg (18 to 29 pounds).
Pumi Dog Characteristics and Temperament
The Pumi is active, lively, expressive and bold. Somewhat vocal, they are always ready for action. Early training and socialization is recommended. They are somewhat shy of strangers, but never aggressive or shy. They are loving and very protective of their own families. Pumi dogs are intelligent and tend to bark easily, but are very easy to train. With its natural intelligence and the activity of a terrier, the Pumi needs to be kept busy with herding, agility and obedience training and vigorous play such as flyball or playing fetch.
Trained early, the Pumi is good with children and other animals. They retain their playful nature into adulthood and this, together with the tufted ears have earned it the Hungarian nickname of “the clown”.
A well-trained and socialized Pumi should not be a handful, but some natural behavior may become a problem if not managed properly including digging, barking and trying to herd people.
The Pumi is an excellent guard dog and will bark at any strange person or animal.
With an expected life expectancy of 13 to 15 years, the Pumi is generally healthy. However, the breed does experience some incidences of hip dysplasia. An eye disease called primary lens luxation is also worth looking out for. Eye tests by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist are recommended, as is an evaluation for elbow dysplasia.
Grooming and Shedding
The Pumi coat of wavy and curly hair corkscrews and curls over the entire body. There is a harsh topcoat over a soft, insulating undercoat. Weekly combing to remove dirt is usually sufficient. Wet the coat after combing and let it dry naturally. Trimming can be done every three months or so, which can be done by a professional groomer. The Pumi doesn’t need frequent bathing, but a house pet that spends time on furniture or bed may require a monthly wash.
Nails may require trimming every three to four weeks, and regular brushing of the teeth with a vet-approved paste ensures good overall health and fresh breath.
Pumi Breeders and Price
Finding a good breeder is a great way of finding the right puppy. A good breeder will have all the information and certification to reassure you of the puppy’s pedigree and progeny. Visiting the breeder personally and getting to meet the puppy before making up your mind is crucial. Unless you have no option, find a local breeder and avoid making purchases online.
Depending on the breeder, Pumi prices range between $2,000 to $3,000 or more. There are breeders all over Europe and the Pumi has also established a good presence in the US.
The Pumis is a rare breed, and finding one to adopt can be a challenge. However, an internet search for Rescue Centres is a good place to start. Talking to local breeders, kennels and dog walkers is a good strategy. Someone looking to give up their dog for adoption will usually reach out to their local networks of friends and neighbors, so letting it be known that you’re looking to adopt will probably bring in results from these groups. Talk to a vet in your area; they will probably have a good idea if there are pooches looking for good homes.