What To Know About a Pumi

Medically Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on June 10, 2022
7 min read

A pumi is a type of Hungarian dog that’s classified in the herding group. The plural term for the breed is pumik. 

They’re a fantastic combination of cuddly friend and diligent worker. They have distinctive appearances and whimsical expressions. These dogs can be a fantastic addition to a wide variety of homes.  

Body size. The typical pumi size is slightly larger for males than for females. Males have an average height of 16 to 18.5 inches at the shoulder. Females are typically about an inch shorter and average anywhere from 15 to 17.5 inches at the shoulder. 

Males weigh an average of 27 to 29 pounds, and females are an average of 22 to 24 pounds. Make sure to talk to your veterinarian if you’re concerned that your dog is too far underweight or overweight

This medium size means that pumik are a reasonably portable breed. They don’t need too much space to have a happy and healthy life. 

Body shape. Pumik have square outlines. They’re about as long as they are tall, with muscular bodies. Their muscles shouldn’t be too large, though, for an overall streamlined appearance. 

The dogs have deep but narrow chests that tuck up a bit toward their strong hindquarters. The front legs are long and straight. Their paws are tight, round, and cat-like. The pads should be well-cushioned. 

Pumik have long heads with muzzles that are 40 to 50 percent the length of the head. The muzzles are strong and taper to blunt ends. The skulls are topped by medium-sized ears. The ears are held two-thirds of the way erect. 

Their tails are a distinct feature of the breed. They’re set high and arch up and over their backs to form a complete circle from base to tip. It’s a very distinct look. 

Lifespan. The pumi lifespan is typical for their size. They live an average of 12 to 13 years. This means you should be prepared to spend at least a decade with this dog before choosing to bring one home.  

Coat. A pumi either has a curly or wavy coat of medium length. This coat can form tight, corkscrew-like curls in some places and should never be smooth. 

It’s an even fifty-fifty mix of harsh hair and a softer undercoat. It can stand anywhere from a half an inch to three inches out from the body. 

Coats can come in seven different colors including: 

  • Black
  • Fawn
  • Gray
  • Silver gray
  • Born brown

Your dog could have one of two types of markings — brindle or black and tan. 

Eyes. A pumi has medium-sized eyes that are deeply set in the skull. They are oval in shape and moderately far apart from one another. They’re typically dark brown in color. 

Personality. The pumi personality is very lively and energetic. They’re bold dogs that aren’t afraid to take command under the right circumstances. They can be fearless when confronted with danger, which helps make them great herding dogs. 

They’re also very intelligent dogs that are adaptable enough to handle a number of different situations. 

The dogs are affectionate and playful as well. The American Kennel Club (AKC) rates them a five out of five for their affection for their families and a four out of five for their playfulness. 

The pumi temperament tends to be reserved around strangers. They assess most new situations very carefully. 

Grooming. Pumik have relatively simple grooming needs. You should thoroughly brush their coats once every three to six weeks. Wet them down afterward to let their coats curl back up. Let it air dry afterward because a blow dryer will ruin their curls. 

Once you’ve allowed the curl to reform, you can trim it slightly so it stays tidy. These dogs don’t typically shed, but some dead hairs should come out when you brush them. This grooming process will keep their coats at their healthiest.  

You should check their ears regularly for debris and any signs of infection. Clean them if you notice any dirt or build-up. Trim their nails regularly so they don’t become too long and make walking painful. Brush their teeth on a daily basis to prevent dental disease. 

Feeding. Make sure that your pet has access to clean water at all times. 

Your pumi should be fed high-quality dog food. Try to find a brand that your pet enjoys. Make sure that the nutritional requirements are specific to their stage of life, including puppy and senior-specific foods. 

Always consult your veterinarian before choosing to make an at-home blend for your dog. Making your own food is a complicated process. You need to make sure that you’re meeting all of your dog’s nutritional needs. 

Also, make sure that you know what human foods are safe for your dog to eat before feeding them anything from your kitchen.

Exercise and mental stimulation. Pumik need extremely high levels of physical and mental stimulation. The AKC rates them a five out of five for both of these needs. 

This means that you should exercise your pet regularly in creative ways. They enjoy going under and over obstacles and will sit on high perches to keep an eye on things. 

They thoroughly enjoy playing fetch with tennis balls and flying discs. They’re also fantastic at dog sports like agility and obedience. 

Engage them every day, preferably in a spacious outdoor environment. 

Veterinary visits, medications, and immunizations. Your veterinarian is the best person to determine all of the vaccinations that your pet needs, but all dogs should get a core set. 

This includes vaccinations for:

These can begin as early as six weeks of age. There are also other non-core vaccinations that you can discuss with your veterinarian. 

Dosages for flea and tick medications are based on your dog's weight and used as needed depending on geographical location. Oral and skin-based applications are available from your veterinarian or other distributors.

Many of these medications can be effective against a variety of pests and parasites, so talk to your veterinarian to figure out the best one for you. These days, heartworm medication is also recommended year-round in all parts of the U.S.

Pumi can be very healthy dogs. You should make sure to consult your breeder about a puppy's lineage before choosing one to adopt. Lines from Finland and Sweden tend to have some of the best-kept health records. 

Pumi health issues can include: 

  • Orthopedic issues. Examples include hip and elbow dysplasia. Dysplasia occurs when the ball and socket of your dog's hip do not fit or develop properly as they grow. Instead of sliding smoothly, their bones grind against each other, wearing down and eventually making it difficult for your dog to move. Your veterinarian can evaluate your dog's joints and see how likely they are to cause problems throughout your dog's life. 
  • Patellar luxation. This is a common cause of lameness in dogs that’s due to problems with your pet’s knee joint. They could be born with it or develop the problem from an injury. The treatment will depend on how severe your dog’s condition is but could include surgery.
  • Primary lens luxation (PLL). This eye condition can cause your dog’s lenses to loosen. This can create secondary complications. You should have your dog’s eyes examined regularly to detect any signs of eye problems.
  • Other eye problems. These can include conditions like entropion and ectropion. Entropion is a painful condition where your dog’s eyelashes rub against their cornea. It can lead to blindness if not treated promptly. Ectropion causes your dog’s eyelids to droop and leaves their eyes vulnerable to infection. Both conditions should be treated with surgery to prevent severe complications.  
  • Degenerative myelopathy. This is a neurological condition that makes your dog’s back legs weak. It eventually leads to complete paralysis and incontinence. There isn’t a cure, but there are ways to manage your dog’s symptoms. 

There are a few things that you should keep in mind before making a pumi a member of your family. They’re only moderately good with young children, other dogs, and strangers. The AKC rates them a three out of five for all three traits. 

Individual dogs can become better with others with early training and socialization. They like to think about new situations as they encounter them, so it’s best to start exposing them to new things at as young of an age as possible. 

In terms of physical characteristics, they rarely shed or drool. They bark a moderate amount and can enjoy the activity a little too much if it’s not trained out of them when they’re young. Don’t encourage excessive barking when they’re little or they’re likely to bark too much for the rest of their lives. 

Pumik are one of three sheepdogs to come from Hungary. The other two are called mudi and puli. The puli is the oldest Hungarian sheepdog and likely originated around 800 AD. Pumi were developed from the puli lineage about 300 or 400 years ago. The puli were likely crossed to a number of western European herding dogs and terriers. 

The name pumi was first mentioned in 1815. At first, it was considered just a regional variant of the puli. It gained recognition as a distinct breed in the 20th century, though, when both breeds became standardized. 

The dogs were specifically bred to herd livestock — including sheep, cattle, and swine — across the narrow paths that connected the small pastures of western Hungary. They’re fantastic at their job and are capable of gathering, driving, and keeping their flocks together at their human’s command.  

The dogs were first introduced to Finland in 1972 and are the most popular type of Hungarian herding dog in Finland today. They’ve been able to compete in the AKC’s herding group since 2016.