Pumi Dog

Anna Cherry
Dr Anna Cherry (BSc Hons, BVSc, MRCVS, University of Liverpool)
Photo of adult Pumi Dog
Taru T Torpström / Wikipedia.org

The Pumi Dog, also known as the Hungarian Herding Dog, is a relatively new and rare breed on the block. It was only recently recognised by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2016 and the UK Kennel Club in 2015. It was developed for herding and is still used in Hungary to herd livestock today, although, more recently, it has become an increasingly popular companion dog too.

They are medium-sized and have a cute and fluffy teddy bear-like appearance, which belies the energetic and at times, introverted and aloof dog within. This breed is not backward in coming forwards and are rarely short of things to say, making them prone to barking regularly – so probably not an ideal companion if you live in a terraced cottage and want to stay on good terms with your neighbours!

This spirited breed needs to stay busy to be happy and love nothing more than to work. As a companion, they require regular exercise and opportunities to run-free. This breed knows how to keep you on your toes. So, if you are looking for a cuddly companion to curl up on your lap and watch TV with – think again, as this dog is no couch potato, preferring to run around and being active at every given opportunity.

About & History

The Pumi originates from Hungary and is believed to have been an accidental breed formed by the mixing of the Hungarian Puli with other German and French herding dogs, whilst tending to livestock. For a long time, this breed was mistakenly identified as Pulis and it was not until the 1920s that a professor at the Hungarian University, Dr. Emil Raitsits, is believed to have separated the Pumi from the Puli and encouraged breeding to further define its traits.

Traditionally, this breed was used for herding and was developed to bring out its best herding characteristics. This resulted in a breed of dog that was fast, agile and able to make quick decisions, making them excellent at both driving and herding livestock without injuring them. They are still used in Hungary to herd livestock today but are growing in popularity as a companion dog outside of Hungary.


Pumi Dog Large Photo
Caronna / Wikipedia.org

The Pumi is a medium-sized breed, renowned for its whimsical facial expression and teddy bear-like appearance. They have a medium-long wavy and curly coat that can be a variety of colours and shades including: grey, black, white (this colour is fairly rare), as well as shades of fawn. Facially, they have an elongated muzzle and semi-erect tipped ears, which are set high on their head and are a distinctive feature of this breed. They also have a medium length tail that they hold curled over their lower back.

Character & Temperament

The Pumi can make a wonderful family pet and will keep you entertained with their cheeky antics and general joie de vivre. Just ensure you give them plenty of opportunities to expend their limitless energy and keep that smart brain of theirs mentally stimulated. Failure to do so can lead to them to becoming frustrated and their less appealing mischievous side being displayed.

They will be affectionate to all members of the family and are good with children. The Pumi quickly forms a strong bond, wanting to be part of every single family activity. However, they have a tendency to single out one member of their family as their ‘leader’, which can be troublesome when training them.

The Pumi is a very alert dog that is always ready for action. Due to their finely tuned protective instincts, they react quickly to even the smallest sound. This makes them excellent watch dogs, as they readily bark and are very protective of their family and home.

Don’t be surprised if you find your Pumi perched up high somewhere, as this breed love to climb and are the ultimate nosey neighbour – desperate not to miss out on any of the action! They also like to hide under things, so always check under your cushions before sitting down. With this breed in your life, there will never be a dull moment.


The Pumi loves to learn and is quick to pick up basic as well as more complex commands, making them easy to train and very obedient. Pumik (this is the plural of Pumi), are renowned for their excellent work ethics and will readily take on any challenges that they are faced with, so don’t be afraid to reach for the stars in terms of training – this clever little dog is definitely top of its class!

However, because this breed has a tendency to be aloof and introverted, it is vital that they are socialised from a young age and introduced to as many new situations as possible early on. Otherwise, they can be wary of strangers and visitors to your house and new situations.


Pumik have a lifespan of around 12-13 years and are a fairly healthy and hardy breed. However, they can be predisposed to certain health problems, including:

Patella Luxation

This is a congenital condition, where the patella groove (this holds the knee-cap (patella) in place, allowing it to move up and down as the knee joint is flexed and extended), is too shallow. This allows the knee-cap to slip in and out of the patella groove on the thigh bone, causing those affected to hold their leg up episodically. This is a progressive condition that over time can lead to the knee-cap being permanently displaced hindering their movement. Those affected are also more predisposed to developing early arthritis.

Hip Dysplasia

This occurs when the hip joint is abnormal in shape, resulting in the head of the femur (thigh bone) being unable to fit into the hip socket properly. This results in the thigh bone being prone to popping in and out of the hip-joint. Over time, this causes damage to the hip joint and surrounding bony structures, causing lameness and places those affected at risk of developing early-onset arthritis.

Primary Lens Luxation

This is an inherent condition that causes the fibres that secure the lens in place in the eye to degenerate. This results in the lens slipping out of place and depending on where it is displaced to, it can lead to glaucoma and rapid onset blindness in those affected.

Degenerative Myelopathy

This leads to the degeneration of the spinal cord, causing a progressive paralysis to the hind limbs. Although it can affect any age of dogs, it is most commonly seen in older dogs. The severity of this condition increases with time and it can eventually spread up to the upper parts of the spinal cord and is ultimately fatal.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Pumi is a sporty breed and needs to be given plenty of opportunities to expend their seemingly boundless energy. Therefore, it is vital that they are exercised and given the chance to run-free daily, making them the perfect companion for an active family. Thanks to their natural athleticism and sure-footedness, this breed is perfectly suited for most sports, including, agility and flyball, which they will whole-heartedly embrace and excel at.

They are also big fans of chase and will happily fly through the air after Frisbees and tennis balls. Also, if you’re a keen runner, then Pumik make great jogging companions and won’t say no to a hike or long walk. Keeping them physically and mentally occupied is the key to keeping this breed content, so get ready for the race of your life, if you decide to take on this lively breed.


The Pumi does not shed their coat, which is not dissimilar to that of a Poodle. However, they are prone to becoming easily matted and need to be brushed every two weeks and groomed every 3 months.

Famous Pumik

Although this breed is yet to become famous, thanks to their sporting nature, Pumik (and in particular Petey the Pumi) are setting the agility circuit on fire and have even made the USA World Team!


Currently, this breed is not commonly used in crossbreeding.

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