Showsight Presents The Pumi

Once A Pumi Always A Pumi...

BY LASZLO SULYOK & ILDIKO REPASI continued

covering less of the face and legs, and over- all shorter on the body fell out of favor. This despite the fact that based on practical observations of shepherds, Pumik with the latter phenotypical appearance have proven to be more agile and better suited for herd- ing than the curly haired Pumik. (Source: Mihaly Meszaros in “Current Issues of Pumi Breeding”—A Kutya (1993). The coopera- tion paid off and within two decades the result was a much more attractive dog with a relatively well preserved herding instinct. Even though, life behind the iron cur- tain has improved through political nor- malization and relative economic prosper- ity, the “feel good era” that has impacted almost every aspect of society did not reflect on dog fanciers, especially Pumi breeders in Hungary. During the democratic transition in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a new informal group whom I will call the “Nativ- ists” emerged. Utilizing the “Open Stud Book” status of the breed, they have sought out the offspring of Pumik from specific

unattractive appearance. Source: “Mi Lesz Veled Pumi?”—What Is Your Fate Pumi?— a discussion about the breed. A Kutya (1984) (Hungarian Canine Magazine). Apart from the fundamental goal of establishing a distinctly different looking dog from the Puli, the primary concern of breeders and shepherds has been the preservation of the Pumi’s herding ability. Consequently, the aesthetics of the indi- vidual dogs was mostly ignored. As late as the 1970s, many of the Pumik were scruffy looking, so to speak, and came in all sizes, hair types, shapes and colors. To increase the popularity of the breed, around the 1960s the focus turned toward a more aesthetic and more marketable dog within a defined standard. In their search for the ideal Pumi, breeders selected for uni- form height, a square body and a not cord- ing, rather curly type coats. The Puli type, longer haired and round headed Pumik, along with the taller, longer Pumik with “Shinka” type hair that is slightly wavy,

This medium size, low maintenance dog from the western part of Hungary, was agile enough to escort the legendary Hungarian Gray Cattle over 800 miles across half of Europe on foot to German slaughter houses yet gentle enough to move a flock of geese back and forth between the common pas- ture and the barn in its village. Fast forward two hundred years to the 1950s, soon after the devastation of the second world war. Just barely recovering from virtual extinction, the Pumi suddenly found itself unemployed, as small farms across Hungary were systematically elimi- nated and replaced by large modern agricul- tural cooperatives. In the following two to three decades, a small number of devoted breeders whom I will call “Progressives” cooperated to pick up the breed’s cause. The obvious solution was to compromise by choosing urban pop- ularization of the Pumi. They soon realized, however, that they were fighting an uphill battle because of the Pumi’s somewhat

280 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , O CTOBER 2019

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