Pumi Temperament: The Herding Machine behind the Cute Face

Meet the Hungarian Pumi. Cuteness overload. Let’s take an in-depth look at the Pumi temperament before you consider adding one to your life.

This darling little ragamuffin looks like a plush toy, but do not let that adorable face deceive you.

This is not a snuggly stuffed animal. This is a hard-working, highly-intelligent herding dog that needs a job.

Fun fact: The plural form of Pumi is Pumik, not Pumis!

Pumi Temperament

Here are a few important traits that every prospective owner should know about the Pumi temperament:


The Pumi was bred to be a fearless sheepherder. Farmers used these dogs to drive flocks of sheep to and from grazing pastures in Western Hungary. The modern Pumi has a strong desire to work. Your Pumi will be happiest with a job to do. You will need to devote plenty of time to channel that energy into constructive outlets. This may take the form of exercise, playtime, obedience training or agility. You might even dabble in sheepherding trials! When you have to leave your Pumi unattended, keep him busy with lots of interactive toys. You might need to invest in doggie daycare if you are away from the house for long periods. This dog is not going to lie around the apartment all day.


The Pumi is a highly intelligent breed. This dog is a quick learner. With the right motivation, obedience training will be a piece of cake. You can train your Pumi to do just about anything. Obedience training is an excellent outlet for his desire to work and please his master.


The Pumi is a breed that loves to play. Pumik are always ready to join a game. They love to play fetch with a ball or Frisbee. Pumik make wonderful playmates for children as long as they are properly socialized and supervised.


Do not be fooled by their smallish size. Your Pumi will have no trouble keeping up with you on runs, bike rides or jogs. Daily exercise is critical for this athletic breed.

A Brief History of the Pumi

The American Kennel Club recognizes three varieties of Hungarian sheep dogs: the Pumi, the Puli, and the Mudi.

The Puli is the oldest of the three. It dates back to 800 A.D.

Over time, the Puli interbred with other herding dogs and terriers. The result was the ancestor of the modern Pumi dog.

Hungarian Farmers prize the Pumi for its compact size, quick wit, trustworthiness, and its ability to practically read its master’s mind.

The Pumi can still be found on working farms in Hungary to this day.

Pumi Size and Appearance

The Pumi’s inquisitive and expressive face is the first thing that you notice about this breed. The AKC breed standard describes the Pumi as having a “whimsical expression.”

Pumik stand between 15 and 18 inches tall and weigh between 22 and 29 lbs.

They have curly coats and curly tails. And they come in a variety of colors including black, white, gray, fawn, cream or red.

Pumi Grooming

The Pumi’s coat is often described as having “corkscrew curls.”

This distinctive coat requires periodic combing and clipping.

The coat also needs to be moistened periodically to let the curls tighten back up naturally. It should not be blow dried because this will alter the aesthetic of the curls.

Pumi shedding is minimal, but some hair will come out during the grooming process.

Even though they barely shed, the Pumi is not considered hypoallergenic. So this breed is not the right choice for people who suffer from allergies to dog dander.

Staying Healthy

Regular veterinary care is very important for your Pumi. Take your new dog to a vet right away for a full checkup.

Pumi are prone to the following conditions, so be sure to talk with your vet and do some research about these health conditions before bringing a Pumi home:

With good nutrition and veterinary care, the average lifespan for the Pumi is between 12 and 13 years.

Training you Pumi

Training your Pumi can be a fun and rewarding process.

The first step is to find a positive reinforcement puppy class. It is critical for your Pumi to receive early socialization.

You can locate a local trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.

Keep training sessions exciting and interesting. Pumik get bored with repetitive commands.

Always use positive reinforcement methods.

Physical corrections are never warranted with this sensitive breed.

Pumi Dog Rescue

The Hungarian Pumi Club of America runs a rescue program for homeless and abandoned Pumik. Visit their website to see a listing of Pumi dogs available for rescue.

Thankfully, there are not usually too many Pumik needing rescue at any given time. Most of the dogs in the rescue program are adults that are surrendered due to personal crises such as financial difficulty, medical problem or divorce. These adult dogs usually have some prior training, which is a bonus.

Although they are rare in American animal shelters, it is still a good idea to visit your local animal shelter or humane society just in case. Let the staff know that you are looking for a Pumi or Pumi mix.

You can also search for this breed on adoption websites such as Petfinder.com.

Buying a Pumi from a Breeder

The Pumi is a rare breed in the United States, so you may have to be patient while you wait for Pumi puppies to be available from a reputable breeder. Since this is such a rare breed, Pumi puppies are also expensive. Once you find a Hungarian Pumi for sale, be prepared for the Pumi dog price to be between $2,000 and $2,500.

Although, if you adopt a Pumi from a rescue group, the price will be significantly less.

The Hungarian Pumi Club of America has a list of Pumi breeders on their website. Start by contacting these breeders to see if they have Pumi puppies for sale.

Once you find a potential Pumi breeder, be sure to visit the property in person. Responsible breeders will welcome your visit. They will want to meet you and ask you questions as well. Responsible breeders want to make sure that they are placing their puppies in good homes.

If a breeder does not allow you to visit and/or does not ask you any questions, this is a worrisome sign. Keep looking for a different breeder.

It might seem convenient, but never purchase a puppy sight-unseen over the internet. Always visit your potential breeder in person.

It is worth the extra effort to make sure that your puppy comes from safe and healthy living conditions.

Good breeders raise their puppies with plenty of human interaction. They will not allow puppies to be taken from the litter before the age of eight weeks. They will also provide veterinary records and a detailed contract of sale.

Conclusion: Why the Pumi?

The Pumi is a serious working dog with the delightful appearance of a Muppet. The Pumi dog breed is renowned in its native land for its intelligence and work ethic. It is gaining popularity in America due to its compact size and cute physical characteristics. However, it is important to do diligent research before brining one home. Visit dog shows to talk with Pumi owners and breeders. Make sure that the Pumi temperament will fit your lifestyle before falling in love with that precious face!