AKC Herding Group
Like the Puli, the Pumi’s early history begins in Western Hungary, where French or German terrier-type dogs were mixed with the Puli in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The resulting dogs were small, with a weatherproof curly coat, semi-erect ears and an adorably whimsical expression. But don’t let the cuteness fool you. These dogs were renowned for their quick minds, strong work ethic, and remarkable ability to gather, drive, and control cattle, sheep, and pigs.
Used as drovers’ and shepherds’ assistants, the Pumi was officially segregated from the Puli in 1935, when its breed standard was defined. The first Pumik (the plural of Pumi) were imported into America in the 1980s, but the majority came after 1998. The AKC accepted the Pumi into its Foundation Stock Service program in 2001, and moved the breed into the Herding Group in 2016.
The Pumi today is a medium-sized dog with a curly coat and a lively, intelligent expression. The eyes are dark brown and oval. The semi-erect ears (with tips pointing somewhat to the side) are covered with the dog’s trademark curly hair, which adds to his whimsical look. The nose leather is always black. The body is compact, lean, and hard, and the back is short and straight. The tail arches over the back, creating a full circle from base to tip, although when the dog is relaxed, the tail may hang down. The legs are long and straight, with small, compact cat feet.
The Pumi’s coat has corkscrews and curls that stand out between 1-1/2 and 3 in. all over the body. The curls are formed from a combination of harsh and soft fibers that create waterproof curls. The coat comes in a wide variety of colors, including black, white, gray, pale cream, and red. Some shading is desirable and a mixture of gray, black, or white hairs is accepted as long as the coat looks like it’s one color over all.
The Pumi’s gait is “light and spirited,” according to the AKC breed standard.
- Height: 16 to 18 1/2 in. (male); 15 to 17 1/2 inches (female)
- Size: Small
- Weight: 27 to 29 lbs. (male); 22 to 24 lbs. (female)
- Availability: Difficult to find
- Talents: Herding, agility, tricks, obedience
For show purposes, the Pumi’s wiry/curly coat must dry naturally, so it doesn’t appear to be fluffed or blown, which would obscure the curls. Some trimming and stripping are needed. The coat needs to be combed out about once a week to avoid matting. Pumik are prone to patellar luxation and hip dysplasia.
Pumik are active, happy dogs—always on the alert and ready to go get something done. Their herding dog roots assure an intelligent, loyal, hardworking partner who requires mental stimulation as well as physical activity. Their terrier lineage makes them alert watchdogs, as well as lively household pets. That same terrier lineage means, however, that you need to be firm with this breed, as the Pumi looks to its owner for training about the rules of the household, and the job it is expected to do.
That same need for a job means that these dogs should work every day—whether it’s herding, jogging, playing, or completing obedience or agility tasks. They can be reserved with strangers, although they generally take their cues from their owner. Pumik can get along well with other dogs and pets when properly trained. If not properly socialized, they can be skittish around people. Like many herding dogs, they need to be trained not to nip at the heels of people, especially children. Known for expressing his opinion with a sharp bark, the Pumi is not for people who want a calm, quiet dog.
- Children: Best with older, considerate children
- Friendliness: Reserved with strangers
- Trainability: Very easy to train
- Independence: Moderately dependent on people
- Dominance: Moderate
- Other Pets: Generally good with other pets
- Combativeness: Can be a bit dog-aggressive
- Noise: Likes to bark
- Grooming: Regular grooming needed
- Trimming and Stripping: Some trimming or stripping of the coat needed
- Coat: Curly coat
- Shedding: Average shedder
- Docking/Cropping: Neither
- Exercise: Needs lots of exercise
- Jogging: A fairly good jogging companion
- Indoors: Fairly active indoors
- Apartments: Will be okay in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
- Outdoor Space: Best with at least an average-size yard
- Climate: Does well in most climates
- Owner: Not suitable for novice owners
- Longevity: 12 to 15 years