The Amazing “Rastafarian” dog Now and Then: Puli Dog Breed History

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Last Updated: September 24th, 2023

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Explore the interesting story of the Puli dog breed history, the reason behind their signature dreadlocks, and some famous figures who’ve loved them

Pic credit: Adobe Stock

The Puli, a breed that catches the eye with its distinct, dreadlock-like coat and sharp intelligence, boasts an extensive and intriguing history. This guide on Puli dog breed history will take you back in time, giving you an insight into breeds beginnings, the specific reasons why were Puli dogs bred, the unique specifics of their coat, and the journey that shaped them into the one of a kind breed they are today.

Puli Dog Breed History: A Fascinating Journey

The Hungarian Puli Chronicles

The Puli is a dog breed that tells a fascinating tale. Originating over a thousand years ago, these robust dogs were brought to the Carpathian Basin by the Magyars, who were a group of nomadic people. They were primarily bred as herding dogs, valued immensely for their keen intelligence, agility, and alertness. Pulis were the stalwarts of livestock management, and this characteristic trait is still noticeable in the Pulis today, demonstrating their deep connection to their past.

The Puli’s medium-sized but robust build, coupled with their quick reflexes, made them excellent sheepdogs. Their nimbleness allowed them to move quickly and maintain control over the flock, while their alertness kept the livestock safe from predators.

The “Rastafarian” Dog

The discussion on the history of the Hungarian Puli is incomplete without touching upon their most prominent feature-their dreadlock-like fur. You are probably wondering, why do Puli dogs have dreadlocks ?

This coat, which forms natural cords or ‘dreads’, was a key functional trait for these dogs. The densely packed fur served as a protective shield against severe weather and predators during their herding days. In addition, the heavy coat gave Pulis an inflated appearance, making them seem larger and more intimidating to potential threats.

Despite its appearance, the dreadlocked coat is surprisingly lightweight. The woolly undercoat is temperature regulating, keeping the dog cool in summer and warm in winter. So to also answer a frequently asked question, do Puli dogs naturally have dreads? Indeed, they do, and these dreads serve a vital, protective purpose.

Puli dog breed history
Pic credit: Adobe Stock

The Rarity of the Puli Dog: Now and Then

In contrast to their bustling past, Pulis are nowadays considered a rare breed. Yes, Puli dogs were indeed quite common in the past, especially in their native Hungary. They were a crucial part of agricultural life, effectively managing and protecting livestock. At one point, it is believed that every Hungarian shepherd owned at least one Puli. So, in rural and agricultural areas where their herding skills were in demand, Pulis were very common.

According to the American Kennel Club, the Puli is ranked 160th in popularity out of 197 breeds. This decreased popularity may be attributed to their high maintenance coat and the consistent need for active physical and mental stimulation, making them less suitable for a sedentary urban lifestyle.

However, this rarity also makes the Puli a treasure in the dog world. Their rarity, coupled with their unique appearance and history, makes them a symbol of prestige and individuality for their owners.

Celebrity Puli Dogs Owners

Despite their rarity, Pulis have found their way into some famous households. The most notable among them is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who owned a Puli named Beast. Beast had his own Facebook page, which garnered a significant following. Their relationship showcased the loving and loyal nature of Pulis, helping to boost their popularity despite their rare status.

The late singer-songwriter, Lou Reed, was another proud Puli parent. These instances of celebrity ownership have undoubtedly played a role in raising awareness about this unique breed, reminding people of their unique charm and companionship.

Puli Dog Breed: Unique and Rare

With their rich history and distinguished, unforgettable appearance, the Puli continues being a one-of-a-kind dog. Throughout history, we’ve bred dogs for specific roles, but few breeds encapsulate their original purpose as vividly as the Puli.

In the modern world, they may be a rare sight, but those lucky enough to share their lives with a Puli can testify to their intelligent, energetic, and loyal nature. Their dreadlocked appearance might turn heads, but it’s their temperament and companionship that win hearts.



Maja Sebenik is a proud owner of a Dachshund named Bimba. With three years of experience working as a researcher for a pet magazine, Maja's love for animals runs deep. Through her heartfelt writing, Maja shares practical tips, advice, and heartwarming anecdotes to inspire fellow pet lovers. Join her on a journey to explore the wonders of the animal kingdom, one paw at a time.

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