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The Pumi Dog is the Coolest Breed You’ve Never Heard Of

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Most people’s knowledge of dog breeds begins and ends at Golden Retrievers and Black Labs. And while those are great dogs, there are so many other interesting (and cute!) dogs out there.  The Pumi is a new addition to the official American Kennel Club breed registry and deserves a look because it’s a truly unique and incredible dog. If you want to learn more about and see pictures of the Pumi dog, then you’ve come to the right place. Just look at these cute Pumi puppies you’re about to learn about!

Pumi Puppies Playing Together
YouTube / Jacqueline Neeraas

It Was a Long and Hard Road to Get the Pumi Dog Recognized

Have you ever wondered how a breed becomes a breed?  It’s probably more complicated than you think!  The Pumi dog became the 190th official breed of the American Kennel Club (“AKC”) in July and it took decades of work. This means that the Pumi can now compete as its own breed in competitions, most notably the Westminster Dog Show in New York City, instead of being judged in the “Miscellaneous” class with other non-official breeds.

The story of how the breed got its official designation traces back to one person: Chris Levy (Levy told Bone & Yarn by email that many people helped accomplish the AKC status and she doesn’t deserve all of the credit).  Levy had been involved with show dogs since 1972 and had shown and bred four different breeds including German Shorthaired Pointers, Miniature Schnauzers, Cairn Terriers, and Shiba Inu.

Chris Levy with Pumi Dog
Chris Levy with One of her Pumi Dogs

She went to the World Dog Show in Finland in 1998 thinking she would only be watching Miniature Schnauzers compete, but fell in love with the Pumi breed when she saw one for the first time.  Pumik (that’s the plural for Pumi) were first imported to Finland from Hungary in the 1970s and had since become the most popular breed of Hungarian herding dog in that country.

Pumi Show Dog
Facebook / Zsuazsa Somos Soos

“After getting home from Europe, I couldn’t stop talking about these dogs,” Levy told the AKC and “my husband reminded me that we had been looking for the perfect herding dog for our eight Hereford cattle. The Pumi was exactly what we were looking for: the right size, non-shedding coat, not too much grooming (i.e., much less than the Schnauzers required), and it herded cattle.” A year later, the Levys had a Pumi of their own.

Pumi Dog with a Tennis Ball
Facebook / Scott Levy

There was no breed parent club in the United States for the Pumi at the time, however.  Though Levy was resistant to starting one because of all the work it would take, she was eventually convinced by other Pumi owners to do so.  She was elected president of the newly formed Hungarian Pumi Club of America when it finally did form in 2005.

But the work didn’t stop there—the AKC is a “club of clubs”, so there needs to be sufficient interest in the breed and enough of a population to support recognition.  Pumi puppies and dogs had to register with the AKC in their Foundation Stock Service program and then the club needed to go through years of paperwork and requests documenting the Pumi dog’s written history, breed standard, photographs, etc.

Pumi Dog in competition
Facebook / Jonathan Caines

Not only that, but there needed to be at least 100 member households in the breed club and a population of 300 nationally with a geographic distribution of a minimum 20 states.  Getting others interested in a non-recognized new breed is difficult stuff.

If you ask us, that’s a lot of work to go through just for the privilege of showing a dog to other people at Madison Square Garden and other AKC events, but we’re glad somebody did it because the Pumi dog and Pumi puppies have started showing up all over the place.  Just look at how cute these guys are:

Pumi Dog Standing Upright
Facebook / Aurora Lovison

The Pumi is One of Three Main Hungarian Herding Breeds

The ancestry of the Pumi can be traced all the way back to Tibetan dogs, but it probably didn’t really get to its current form until about 300 years ago when the Hungarians developed their own herding dogs incorporating herding dogs from surrounding countries.

Nobody really cared to designate breeds until the last century, at which point Hungarians identified three types of herding dogs that are now all official AKC breeds: the Pumi, the Puli, and the Mudi.  Given how similar the Puli and Pumi are in body shape and type, it comes as no surprise that they were considered the same breed of dog until the 20th Century.   The Puli usually has a much shaggier look than the Pumi, however (and is the breed of Mark Zuckerberg’s dog Beast).

Looking at these other two Hungarian breeds now, they certainly look different from each other and the Pumi (the Puli is on the left and the Mudi is on the right).  Underneath all that hair, however, the Puli actually has a very similar body type to the Pumi.

A Puli and Mudi together

The Pumi Dog Has an Awesome Personality

The Pumi has traditionally been used for herding and is officially designated as a herding dog.  Herding dogs are incredibly intelligent and the Pumi is certainly no exception.  They also have some Terrier characteristics.

Facebook / Petra Radvanyi
Facebook / Petra Radvanyi

Their energy and intelligence means that if you want one, you better be prepared to play with it….a lot.  The Pumi dog loves to play and is extremely quick on its feet. You’re going to have to tire your Pumi dog out every day if you want him to relax at your feet.  So if you’re thinking about bringing a Pumi back to your small apartment, it might not be the best choice unless you are looking to play with him/her all day.


Group of Pumik outside
Facebook / Kathie Ogden

Chris Levy had this to say about Pumi dogs: “A Pumi is an intelligent, active dog that needs a job to do. It must be with an active family that enjoys activities with its dog. The Pumi is very centered around its person or family, which it considers its flock. It is concerned when its flock is separated from each other or they from their flock. A family needs to understand this perspective before deciding to own a Pumi.”

YouTube / greystone54

One of the coolest stories we heard about the Pumi was from one owner who noted how the Pumi’s shepherding nature made them obsessed with order.  The Pumi owner normally put on her bathrobe and went to the kitchen to make coffee every morning.  The one time she left her bathrobe behind, her Pumi came to the kitchen carrying her bathrobe behind her.

Pumi in a cart
Instagram / @miss_dolly_parton

The Pumi dog is so smart and eager to please, that training them is a breeze. They have amazing agility and do great in competition

Pumi dog in agility competition
YouTube / American Kennel Club

They’re also experts at human sports like Frisbee and catch

Pumi playing frisbee
YouTube / Bori Pumi

The Pumi is a Beautiful Dog with Unique Physical Features

The Pumi has features a lot of people might recognize from other dogs such as poodles, terriers, and schnauzers, but it has its own unique style. The Pumi’s most distinctive feature is its long muzzle (45% the length of its head) that gives it a long and expressive face. The Pumi dog’s upright, tucked-forward ears and beady eyes make it especially adorable

Pumi dog face
Flickr / Marcus Hansson

The Pumi dog’s compact hind legs are set back from the body and it has strong feet with elastic pads and hard nails

Pumi show dog winner
Facebook / Nancy and Meir Ben-Dror

Its medium-length curled coat is especially beautiful and doesn’t matt as easily as other dogs.  Its coat grows constantly, similar to a poodle.  The Pumi can come in black, grey, fawn, and white, but always in one color.  Grey is by far the most common color for a Pumi

Facebook / Demelza
Facebook / Demelza

Gray Pumi puppies are born black and start to change colors at 6 to 8 weeks

Pumi Puppies in a litter
Facebook / Aurora Lovison

Pumi Dogs are Already Winning Competitions

Despite only being an official breed since June, Pumik have started winning competitions. Chris and Tom Levy’s dog Gumby was the first Pumi to win an AKC championship.  He was imported from Hungary at 2 years old and has won a host of championships internationally.

Gumby winning 2010 Pumifest
Facebook / Chris and Tom Levy

The biggest problem is that many people just want to get a Pumi because they are cute and aren’t willing to commit the time and effort it takes to raise such an active and intelligent breed of dog. Since the AKC issued its press release about the Pumi’s official designation on June 22nd, breeders have been inundated with requests for puppies and can’t possibly meet the demand, even after carefully screening requests to assure that the Pumi would be a good fit for that home.

Two Other Breeds Cool Breeds Attained AKC Recognition This Year

The Pumi dog was the most recent dog to gain official recognition from the AKC this year, but it wasn’t the only one.  Two other breeds, the Sloughi and the American Hairless Terrier both gained official recognition.

The Sloughi is an ancient North African sighthound that was used to hunt game such as hares, fox, and other small animals mainly in and around Morocco.  Here’s one in his native habitat

Sloughi running in the desert sand
Facebook / Furqan Qureshi

The American Hairless Terrier is a small- to medium-sized smooth terrier that is derived from the rat terrier

American Hairless Terrier on couch
Instagram / Juniper_berriee

These breeds have some awesome characteristics, but the Pumi is the dog that’s really got our number.

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