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Home » Pumi FAQs

The origin of the pumi

Submitted by on Mar 30, 2010 – 10:44 AMNo Comment
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When Unkarinpaimenkoirat ry contacted me and commissioned an article about the origin of the pumi for their Breeding Programme, I took the oppotunity and together with György Németh, owner of Anghiházi pumi kennel, set out to retrace the origins of this breed based on pieces of authentic text.

by Noémi Kuzmenkó and György Németh

The pumi cannot be considered as a Hungarian dog breed of ancient origin. As we know it today, the pumi, a regional subtype of the Hungarian puli, evolved spontaneously from pulis mixing with French and German shepherd dogs and was not the result of carefully planned breeding. It was first regarded as an individual breed in 1920.

The beginning of its evolution probably dates back as far as the eighteenth century, when the dogs that accompanied sheep driven in from Germany first arrived in Hungary and started breeding with original pulis. It didn’t take long for small-sized shepherd dogs far removed from pure-blood pulis, both in their looks and character to appear alongside the shepherds of Trans-Danubia. Today, these differences manifest themselves in the medium-long coat, that is easier to groom than that of the puli, the elongated muzzle, the pendulated ears, the high-set tail that forms a broad circle above the croup, and a livelier character compared to the puli. Although “pumi”, the name of this new type of dog, can be found in written records as early as 1795, they continued to be known as “puli” by ordinary people for a long time.

Pumi bitch Ajkai RongyosIt was inevitable that, at this early stage of the separation of the two breeds, there would be uncertainty surrounding the name of the new breed and this accompanied the pre-1920s history of the breed. The fact that the name closely resembles the word “puli” may also indicate the relationship of the two breeds. Of the many theories that sprung up during the past two centuries regarding the origin of the name, the most commonly accepted theory was devised by Otto Hermann. He claimed – on the basis of their relation to each other – that the name of the pumi originated in “pommern”, the short name of the Pomeranian Spitz. This theory was also accepted by Emil Raitsits (1924), but was later challenged by Csaba Anghi. For all the theories, the origin of the name is still unclear. Only one thing is certain: it was due to Raitsits, who oversaw the first steps towards the consolidation and recognition of the breed almost a century ago, that it became widely used in its present implication.

The professional, albeit often heated, debates over the different names and characteristics of Hungarian shepherd dogs were started by Geza Buzzi, Béla Kerpely, Luchyf (a pseudo-name), Károly Monostory and István Nagy who attempted to resolve the tangled web of the “puli-pumi” and the “komondor-kuvasz” issues on the pages of the prestigious turn-of-the-century journal of animal husbandry from 1907 onwards. Raitsits, the recognized researcher and writer in the field of kynology, paid particular attention to the Hungarian dog breeds from the beginning of his career, and became involved in the long, drawn-out debate immediately prior to the First World War.

For a long time, Raitsits himself (1916) also spoke of two kinds of pulis (one with erect ears, and one with ears hanging down), and it seems that it was only later, following an article of Sándor Lovassy, that his idea of there being two separate types of shepherd dog rather than a single, heterogeneous type, took full shape. In 1919, Lovassy wrote about the pumi as a distinct subtype of the puli especially characteristic of the Somogy and Zala region. Based on research by Lovassy and himself, Raitsits first called the attention of the Hungarian Kennel Club to this small Trans-Danubian shepherd dog in 1921, and representative dogs were soon being catalogued in the Studbook of Hungarian Dog Breeds.

Pumi male Rakenlov Jeles Játszó ÁfonyaDue to this professional commendation and regular appeals to Hungarian breeders and dog owners (1920, 1921), pumis started to appear at the annual national dog shows, first as regional subtypes of the puli, then from 1923 onwards, as an individual breed. The uncertainties surrounding the breed standard, however, continued for a long time, and are clearly reflected by the August 20, 1923 show catalogue in which two “standard” pumis and a “miniature” pumi were recorded. The foundations for the professional breeding of pumis were laid down in a book by Raitsits, written in 1924, called “The Hungarian Dogs”, in which the first precise breed standard was published. There were already 81 dogs registered by the beginning of 1928, mainly from the award-winning kennels of Állatkert, Délibáb, Felvidék, Hortobágy, Pardon, Tétényi and Zsenyei. Many of them already had a three-generation pedigree.

The first references to the differences in character between pulis and pumis can be found in Raitsits’ 1924 book, but it was Anghi – colleague and intellectual heir to Raitsits – who first attached great importance to the fact that, due to the fortunate blending of breeds, there is a great deal of the terrier in the pumi. This is not only manifested in the distinctive terrier features in the pumi’s looks, but also determines the pumi’s habit and character, widening the range of its utilization. Anghi attached such great importance to this trait that for the scientific name of the pumi he recommended Canis (familiaris) ovilis villosus terrarius-Raitsitsi. This name was officially accepted in 1935. In the same year he noted down the first official breed standard.

Sources and further reading

  • Csaba Anghi: A magyar kutyafajtákról. A Természet. 1934 (About Hungarian dog breeds.)
  • Csaba Anghi: A magyar pásztorkutyák és a külföldi rokonfajták. 1936 (The Hungarian shepherd Dogs and the related foreign breeds.)
  • Csaba Anghi: A magyar pásztorkutyák. Természettudományi Közlöny. 1935 (The Hungarian shepherd dogs.)
  • Csaba Anghi: A magyar pásztorkutyák terminológiája, jellegleírása és standardja. Debreceni Szemle. 1935 (The terminology, description and standard of Hungarian shepherd dogs.)
  • Géza Buzzi: A magyar juhász- vagy pásztorebek. A Természet. 1915 (The Hungarian shepherd or herding dogs.)
  • Sándor Lovassy: A magyar pásztorkutyák. Természettudományi Közlöny. 1919 (The Hungarian shepherd dogs.)
  • Emil Raitsits: A magyar eb. Természet. 1916 (The Hungarian dog.)
  • Emil Raitsits: A magyar kutyák. 1924 (The Hungarian dogs.)
  • Emil Raitsits: Pumitenyésztésünk. A Természet. 1928 (Our pumi breeding.)
  • Show catalogues printed in “A Természet”

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