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Polish Lowland Sheepdog

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Origin / History The Polish Lowland Sheepdog, known in its native Poland as the Polish Owczarek Nizinny (PONS), has existed as early as the 13th century. It is most likely descended from a similar looking dog called the Puli, which comes from Hungary. The Puli was bred with smaller herding dogs to create the PONS as we know it today. This lineage has given it the excellent herding instincts that made it a popular companion for Polish workers.

The breed was almost wiped out after World War II ravaged the country. It was revived by a group of Polish breeders led by Dr. Danuta Hryeniewicz, whose PONS Smok (meaning “dragon”) fathered the first ten litters. Smok became the basis for the modern breed standard and is the ancestor of all PONS in existence today.

Appearance The PONS has a long double coat similar to that of the French Griffon group. The undercoat is soft and smooth, while the top coat is wiry and somewhat rough. The cheeks, chin, and forehead are particularly hairy, such that the eyes are often hidden by the coat. The PONS has a remarkably strong frame and excellent balance, which enables it to go long distances and work for hours.

Colours The PONS can come in any coat color and combination, but the most common is white with sandy, gray, or black patches. Chocolate and gray with white patches are also acceptable. Dark coats typically fade as the dog grows older.

Temperament These dogs are very cheerful and energetic. They are very cautious with strangers; a PONS may bark loudly to let its owner know when someone is at the door. As with most herding dogs, they have an instinct to nip at people’s feet and should be trained not to do so. A young PONS should not be left alone—this is an innately curious breed and they will play with anything they get their hands on. They can also bite when scared or provoked, so owners should be careful when placing them around children.

Height and Weight Males typically stand 18 to 20 inches and females 17 to 19 inches. The ideal weight is 30 to 35 pounds.

Common Health Problems The PONS is a fairly healthy breed, having been trained for long hours of outdoor work. It is not immune to common dog diseases, however. Hip dysplasia, retinal atrophy, and congenital heart problems may result from poor breeding and should be detected at an early age. Vets recommend a low-protein diet, as too much body mass can weaken the dog’s bones.

Living Conditions PONS are often kept as apartment dogs, but they are far from idle—they are, after all, working dogs. Owners living in apartments should always keep them occupied; otherwise they’ll get restless and even destructive. They don’t need a lot of space, but when taken outdoors, they can be very energetic and hard to follow. They prefer cool climates and may be allowed to sleep outdoors.

Exercise Requirements The PONS needs exercise like any other dog, but the usual walk or jog is seldom enough. Besides the daily walk, the PONS needs a lot of play to keep its muscles strong and its senses sharp. Catch, Frisbee, and other yard games will take care of its indoor activity needs.

Training Requirements This breed is fairly trainable and responds best to firm but fair training. Obedience training is highly recommended and should be started early, as PONS can be very strong-willed and have a mind of their own. They should also be socialized as pups to avoid excessive shyness and possible aggression with strangers.

Life Expectancy A healthy PONS can live from 12 to 15 years.

Grooming The dog’s wiry coat should be brushed at least once a week to prevent matting. They shed very little hair, but dirt and dust can harden on the hair and make brushing difficult. Bathe only when necessary and pay close attention to the ears, mouth and feet.

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More Polish Lowland Sheepdog Information: Check out our Polish Lowland Sheepdog Clubs and links to more informative websites dedicated to the breed.

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