The Puli is an ancient sheepdog, from Hungary, introduced by the migration of the Magyars from Central Asia more than 1,000 years ago. The Puli were used for both herding and guarding livestock. The Puli would commonly work together with the much larger, white Komondor, a Hungarian breed of (solely) livestock guardian dog. The Komondor is a large, solidly built dog, around 30 inches tall. The Komondor (or several Komondorok if there was a large amount of livestock) guarded the sheep or cattle mostly at night, while the Puli herded and guarded them during the day. When wolves or bears attacked the livestock, the Puli would alert the pack and the Komondorok would come and fight the intruders. Puli can be good at fighting off wolves, because the thick coat protects their skin from being bitten. The Komondorok usually rested during daytime but at night walked around the flock, constantly moving, patrolling the area.
Nomadic shepherds of the Hungarian plains valued their herding dogs, paying as much as a year's salary for a Puli. In Asia, the breed dates back 2,000 years and anecdotal evidence suggests that a Puli-like dog existed 6,000 years ago. Although the coats may look slightly similar, the Puli has never worked in water and the Puli's coat does not grow continuously in the same fashion as a corded Poodle's once the cords are formed. The ancestry of the Puli, however, is not known with certainty, as there are some references to ancient Rome.
Possibly the Puli’s ancestors are ancient Hungarian shepherd dogs. Travelers brought the Puli with them to the Carpathian basin, to help organize the flocks, and herd the stallions of the area. Large Komondor or Kuvasz were used for guarding the flock. The Puli was also a suitable guard for flock protection, but was primarily used for herding the animals. Around the beginning of the 20th century a real turning point for the breed came when it was rediscovered but no longer used much as a sheepdog; extensive shepherding was replaced by intensive farming. The Puli’s role was reduced in the life of the flock. Although, their traditional duty was kept, they started to fulfill jobs that were convenient in the circumstances of their owner: they became house dogs. After World War II, the breed became a less popular pet; even now the breed has not been able to regain the popularity it previously enjoyed.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture imported four purebred Pulik in 1935 to Beltsville, Maryland, as part of an experiment, when trying to help American agriculturists concerned with the problem of herding dogs that sometimes killed the animals they had been entrusted to control. The Pulik were bred among themselves and crossed with the German Shepherd, the Chow Chow and perhaps with two turkish sheepdogs which were quartered there at the time. On the tests given by researchers there, Pulik scored, on the average, between 75 and 85, where other herding breeds, scored in the range of 12 to 14. Tests were inconclusive and never published. When WWII broke out, the Pulik were auctioned off to professional breeders and it is thought that it is from these four dogs and their progeny that history of the Puli in the United States begins.