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Puli

He's not a dog, he's a Puli.

Puli Breed Photo

Vital Stats

Dog Breed Group
Herding Dogs
Height
Weight
Life Span
10 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics

  • Details

    Adaptability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Trainability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Health & Grooming

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    All-around friendliness

    based on 4 ratings
  • Details

    Exercise needs

    based on 4 ratings
  • See All Characteristic Ratings


Summary

Best known for his long, corded coat resembling dreadlocks, the Puli is a hardworking herding dog and family companion. Energetic and lively, this moplike dog breed hailing from Hungary appears much larger than he is due to that distinctive coat. Thanks to his self-confidence and intelligence, the Puli will have no problem being the center of attention in your home.

Additional articles you will be interested in:

Adoption
Dog Names
Bringing Home Your Dog
Help with Training Puppies
Housetraining Puppies
Feeding a Puppy
Dog games
Teaching your dog tricks
How to take pictures of your dog

  • Overview

    The Puli, also known as the Hungarian Puli and the Hungarian Water Dog, is still used for herding sheep in his homeland. Hungarian shepherds take great pride in the Puli and his abilities; there's a saying among Hungarian shepherds: "He's not a dog, he's a Puli."

    Pulik (the plural form of Puli) are self-confident, highly intelligent, and sensitive to their owners. Many tend to act as babysitters and guardians of children and other animals in the family. They can be very sensitive to the needs of the elderly and the sick. making them great therapy dogs. Although he's affectionate and enjoys (and expects) the adoration of his family and friends, he's suspicious of strangers.

    The Puli is a strong-willed dog who will attempt to boss you around (nicely), sometimes without you even realizing it. His instinct is to protect and herd, which can sometimes extend to telling you when it's time to go to bed or where to sit, or moving the kids from one room to another.

    The distinct Puli coat, which can take about four years to grow in and cord completely, comes in solid colors of rusty black, black, all shades of gray, and white. In Hungary, a common color is fako, which is described as the color of the inside of a whole-wheat roll.

    His corded coat makes the Puli look much larger than he really is. The width of the coat across the back can be three times wider than the actual dog. Underneath all that hair, the Puli weighs about 30 pounds and stands 16 to 17 inches tall.

    This unique coat requires a great deal of grooming to keep it clean and attractive, however. It is not a coat for beginners. In fact, even many professional groomers do not know how to properly care for a corded coat — not necessarily because they're lacking skills, but because the average pet owner rarely keeps a dog in cords. If your heart is set on owning a Puli, you'll need to learn how to maintain the coat on your own. Ask advice from a Puli breeder, or find someone well-versed in grooming a corded coat.

    Some owners elect to trim off the coat to make it easier to care for, though diehard Puli enthusiasts cringe at the thought of this: the cords are a vital part of the Puli identity, they say. While trimming the coat off is perfectly acceptable for a pet, the show Puli appears only with cords in most countries. He can be shown with cords or brushed out in the United States, however.

    The Puli isn't born with his dreadlocks. Newborns are round puppies with a little crimp to their coats, which soon grows into fluff. The adult coat comes in at about one year of age, at which time the fluff is separated by hand into cords. This process of separating the cords continues for about three or four months until the cords are set.

    At maturity (about four years of age), the coat reaches the ground. Cords on the head fall over the face, veiling the eyes. Some owners tie up these cords to keep them out of the dog's face.

    Obedience training, beginning with puppy classes, is essential for the Puli to teach him proper canine manners. Keep in mind that the Puli is highly intelligent and independent — so he becomes bored with repetitive training. Keep lessons fresh, short, and fun to maintain his interest.

    Agility and herding are two activities perfectly suited to the breed's natural instincts and playful, spirited nature. In fact, if you try your hand at herding competitions with your Puli, don't be surprised to see Border Collie enthusiasts watching your dog in awe. While Border Collies were bred to handle smaller flocks of sheep, the Puli typically handles flocks of 400 or more, and he looks like a tornado as he whirls around the flock to keep it under control.

    An added benefit to participating in canine sports is that it helps you fulfill a basic Puli need: being the center of attention.

  • Highlights

    • The Puli is vocal and tends to bark.
    • The Puli loves his family but is suspicious of strangers.
    • Because he's a highly intelligent dog with a great deal of self-confidence, the Puli gets bored with repetitive tasks, such as obedience. Agility and herding are much more to his liking.
    • The Puli can be a bit stubborn, so housetraining might be a challenge at first. Crate training is recommended.
    • Pulik have a reputation for remaining puppyish well into their older years. They love to play and like to have a lot of toys.
    • Grooming the Puli is difficult, especially if the coat is corded. New owners should seek help to learn how to properly groom their dogs.
    • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
  • History

    The Puli is an ancient breed with a history that reaches back at least 2,000 years. Some believe a dog similar to the Puli existed 6,000 or more years ago; others believe the Puli derived more recently from the Tibetan Terrier.

    Around the turn of the century, crews excavating for oil in what is now known as Iraq — once home to the ancient civilization known as Sumeria — came across the grave of a man who had been buried with a medium-sized dog and a sheep. Among the artifacts in the grave, they found a long, coarse knot of hair that was almost white with age. The makeup of that hair was very much like that of today's Puli. It's believed that this man was a shepherd, buried with his favorite sheepdog and a sheep.

    There are indications that the Sumerians used Pulik or Puli-type dogs to herd sheep thousands of years ago. Clay plaques found in excavations of the town of Eridu reveal the Sumerian laws about animals. One of these has lines that refer to a Puli and a Komondor, another herding dog. Also in the same excavation site, an undamaged statuette of a Puli was found in the crypt of an eight-year-old girl.

    About 1,100 years ago, Magyar tribesmen brought Pulik to Hungary, where they became prized for their herding abilities. Many of the shepherds preferred black dogs because they were easier to see among the white flocks. It's thought that the Puli was used to herd and drive the sheep, while the larger Komondor was used to guard the flocks.

    Back then, a good Puli cost as much as a shepherd's full year of wages. As much as they valued their dogs, however, they were ruthless in culling those who weren't as intelligent or weren't able to perform their duties well. Many think that this culling is the reason why the Puli is such an intelligent and healthy breed today.

    By the 1800s, the Hungarian shepherds determined the very best characteristics of these small sheepdogs, and they tried to breed specifically to produce high-quality animals. In the late 1800s, the first description of the Puli was written — but by then the need for the sheepdog was diminishing, and so were his numbers.

    In 1912, Dr. Emil Raitsits, a professor at the Hungarian University of Veterinary Medicine, began a program to save the Puli from extinction. Adolf Lendl, the director of the Budapest Zoo, joined in the efforts. Together they remodeled part of the zoo for an experimental breeding program and exhibit. The program expanded, and they eventually named their kennel Allatkert. The foundation stock for many Hungarian kennels came from the Allatkert Kennel.

    In 1915, enthusiasts wrote the first breed standard for the Puli. In 1924, the Federation Cynologique Internationale (International Kennel Club) approved this standard. At first there were three categories of Puli: the ancestral (working) Puli with a shaggy coat; the luxury or show Puli; and the dwarf Puli.

    In 1935, four sizes of Pulik were recognized: the police Puli (19.7 inches high); the working or medium Puli (15.7 to 19.7 inches); the small Puli (11.8 to 15.7 inches); and the dwarf, miniature, or toy Puli (11 inches and under). The medium-sized Puli was the most popular.

    By this time, owning a Puli, a Komondor, or other native Hungarian breeds became a source of pride in Hungary. About the same time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture became interested in the Puli and, in 1935, imported four purebred Pulik to take part in herding dog tests conducted at the Department's facility in Beltsville, Maryland. The Puli were said to have scored high marks on these tests, though the results were never published.

    At the outbreak of World War II, the tests were stopped and the Pulik were sold to professional breeders. The original four dogs and their progeny are thought to be the first Pulik in the United States.

    World War II was devastating to Hungary and also to dog breeders, particularly those in Europe. Food was scarce and there were no medical supplies. Kennels had to give their valuable breeding stock to people in other countries, and the Pulik who were left behind were often killed by bombs or shot by German or Russian soldiers. If the breed hadn't been so popular before the war, it probably would be extinct now.

    Just as the Puli survived the harsh plains of Hungary, he beat the odds and, after the war, the number of Pulik in Hungary grew. In 1959, the Hungarian Puli Club created a Puli breed standard that eliminated the toy and police-size Pulik and included all of the remaining sizes in one category. By the 1960s, the number of Pulik in Hungary had reached prewar numbers.

    The Puli was accepted for American Kennel Club registration in 1936, and the Puli Club of America was formed in 1951.

  • Size

    Males are 17 inches tall and weigh 30 to 35 pounds. Females are 16 inches tall and weigh 25 to 30 pounds.
  • Personality

    The unusual corded coat often draws the attention of those unfamiliar with the breed. But to those who know and love the Puli, it's his personality that stands out.

    The Puli is fun-loving and affectionate, and he enjoys the company of his family. He's also smart, hardworking, and athletic. Being suspicious of strangers, he makes a good watchdog. He's also a strong-willed dog who requires a firm but kind owner. Don't be surprised when he tries to "herd" you or your children.

    Many Pulik are vocal and like to bark. A "quiet" command should be part of early training.

    Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner.

    Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who's available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you're comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.

    Like every dog, the Puli needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Puli puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

    Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.

  • Health

    Pulik are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Pulik will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.

    If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.

    In Pulik, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).

    • Hip Dysplasia: This is an inherited condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but others don't display outward signs of discomfort. (X-ray screening is the most certain way to diagnose the problem.) Either way, arthritis can develop as the dog ages. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred — so if you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.
    • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is a family of eye diseases that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. Early in the disease, affected dogs become night-blind; they lose sight during the day as the disease progresses. Many affected dogs adapt well to their limited or lost vision, as long as their surroundings remain the same.
    • Cataracts: These afflictions cause opacity on the lens of the eye, resulting in poor vision. The dog's eye(s) will have a cloudy appearance. Cataracts usually occur in old age and sometimes can be surgically removed to improve vision.
  • Care

    The Puli is a herding dog at heart, and he does best in a home with enough space for him to race off his natural energy. A large, fenced yard (make that a very tall fence) or a farm is ideal. He can adjust to smaller living spaces, but be prepared for his running laps around the dining room chairs and taking leaps over the couch.

    Exercise and playtime aside, bring the Puli indoors to live with you. He's a loyal companion who enjoys being with people, and he shouldn't be permanently relegated to the backyard.

    The agile Puli is a good candidate for many canine sports, especially herding tests, agility, and obedience competition (though obedience work can seem repetitive to the fun-loving Puli). If he's not a working dog, he needs the mental and physical challenges available in dog sports. Otherwise he can become bored, which can lead to destructive behaviors such as barking, digging, and chewing.

    The Puli's agility can get him in trouble, however. It's been reported that Pulik can jump six-foot fences, so be sure your yard has a secure, high fence to keep him from escaping and injuring himself.

    Proper training and socialization are essential for the strong-willed Puli. He must learn good canine manners, and you must learn not to be bossed around by him. This dog is a leader, and he will lead you if you allow him to.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 1 to 2 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

    Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.

    Keep your Puli in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.

    First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.

    For more on feeding your Puli, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

  • Coat, Color and Grooming

    The Puli coat is considered to be nonshedding and hypoallergenic. Most Pulik are black, though white and gray are also found in the United States. In Hungary, the most common color after black is the brownish fako (described as the color of a whole-wheat roll).

    Black coats are described as a "weathered" black, because some white hairs begin to grow in when the dog is about a year old. In addition, because the cords don't shed, they lose some of their color intensity over time due to exposure to the sun and air.

    Some Puli coats are self-cording, though most are helped along by humans who separate the cords by hand when the adult coat comes in (at about one year of age). As the coat texture changes from puppy fluff to adult coat, the undercoat is packed into the interior of the outer coat tendril to form a felt-like structure. It takes about four years for the coat to become fully mature.

    Keep the fluffy, uncorded Puli coat in good condition through regular brushing and combing to remove tangles and dirt and to distribute natural skin oils.

    The corded coat is never brushed but managed by hand: first it's dampened with water, then the cords are separated and twirled. The length of the corded coat is sometimes trimmed to keep it from collecting dust and dirt.

    Bathing a fluffy Puli coat is like bathing any other breed. Put the dog in the tub, add water and soap, and scrub.

    Dunking your corded-coat Puli in the tub, however, is a time-consuming task that takes a lot of hard work.

    First, the cords must be thoroughly soaked with water (this takes a while), and then you can work in some diluted shampoo. Rinsing can take up to 30 minutes. Following that, the cords are squeezed dry, first by hand and then with a towel. After a bath, some owners put a heavy sweatshirt on the Puli to continue soaking up the water.

    Air-drying the coat can take up to two days. Heat drying is not recommended because of the length of time it takes to dry the cords; the Puli can become overheated and, more commonly, irritated with the lengthy drying process.

    For obvious reasons, it's not advisable to bathe the corded Puli frequently. However, there are times it's necessary: the corded coat collects food (around the face), eye matter, urine, feces, and burrs.

    Brush your Puli's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

    Trim his nails
    once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.

    His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.

    Begin accustoming your Puli to being examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.

    As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

  • Children and other pets

    The well-socialized and well-trained Puli is a good companion for children. He's playful — probably even more playful than the kids. He's protective of the children in his family and shuttle them around the house, tugging gently at them to move them away from perceived (or real) danger.

    As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

    The Puli gets along with other dogs and pets, as long as he taught to do so from a young age. Early, positive introductions to other animals make it easy for the adult Puli to accept other pets into his home.

  • Rescue Groups

    Puli are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Puli in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Puli rescue.

  • All Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability

    Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments

  • Trainability

    Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed

  • Health & Grooming

    Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home

  • All-around friendliness

    Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans

  • Exercise needs

    Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity

  • Sometimes

    Adapt well to apartment living

    Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.

  • Extremely

    Affectionate with family

    Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

  • Minimal

    Amount of shedding

    If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.

  • Not usually

    Dog friendly

    Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

  • Moderate

    Drooling potential

    Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.

  • Not at all

    Easy to groom

    Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

  • Not usually

    Easy to train

    Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.

  • High

    Energy level

    High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

  • High

    Exercise needs

    Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

  • Sometimes

    Friendly toward strangers

    Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.

  • Fairly good

    General health

    Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.

  • Sometimes

    Good for novice owners

    Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

  • High

    Intelligence

    Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

  • High

    Intensity

    A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

  • Sometimes

    Kid friendly

    Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.

    **All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

  • High

    Potential for mouthiness

    Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

  • High

    Potential for playfulness

    Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

  • Moderate

    Potential for weight gain

    Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

  • Moderate

    Prey drive

    Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

  • High

    Sensitivity level

    Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

  • Medium

    Size

    Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.

  • High

    Tendency to bark or howl

    Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?

  • Not particularly well

    Tolerates being alone

    Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

  • Quite well

    Tolerates cold weather

    Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.

  • Quite well

    Tolerates hot weather

    Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

  • Low

    Wanderlust potential

    Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.

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