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Pumi Temperament: The Herding Machine behind the Cute Face

Meet the Hungarian Pumi temperament. Talk about cuteness overload! 

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. The Pumi temperament makes this breed a hard-working, highly intelligent herding dog who needs a job to feel completely fulfilled.

Photo of Active Hungarian Pumi
Pumi Dog (source)

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

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

The Pumi Temperament and Personality

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

He’s Driven

The Pumi’s origin was as a fearless sheepherder.

Farmers used these dogs to drive flocks of sheep to and from grazing pastures in Western Hungary.

Because of this, the modern Pumi has a strong desire to work. Your Pumi will be happiest if you give him a job to do.

You will need to devote plenty of time to channel his energy into more constructive outlets.

This may take the form of exercise, playtime, obedience training or agility exercises. You might even want to dabble in sheepherding trials!

He’s Anxious

When you must leave your Hungarian 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, as this dog is not one to lie around the apartment all day.

He's Clever

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.

He's Playful

The Hungarian Pumi is a breed that loves to play. Pumi dogs are always ready to join a game. They love to play fetch with a ball or Frisbee.

Photo of Pumi Dog Standing In Park
Pumi (source)

Pumi Temperament and Children

Pumik make wonderful playmates for children, as long as you properly socialize and supervise them.

One thing you do need to be aware of, though is that, like other herding dogs, this one will try to “herd” your children.

While it is harmless behavior, this may still be startling for some younger kids. Puppies especially may nip their heels and grab their pants’ bottoms to “get them in line.”

You can train him out of this by focusing his attention elsewhere, then rewarding him for listening to you.

He’s Athletic

Do not be fooled by the Hungarian Pumi’s smallish size.

Your Pumi will have no trouble keeping up with you on runs, bike rides, or jogs. In fact, daily exercise is critical for this athletic breed.

He’ll play Frisbee, race you around the yard, dance with you – whatever you want to do, so long as you keep him busy. This is a breed who does not like to feel bored.

He Loves to Chat

If you’re not a fan of the more vocal dog breeds out there, then the Pumi will not make a good match for you.

He loves to bark. Because of his inherent guard dog abilities, he’ll bark at anything that seems like a threat, whether it’s a newcomer onto your property or a stray leaf.

However, you can train him on what are the appropriate times to bark. Else, if you don’t nip it in the bud early, you’re going to be the talk of the neighborhood – and not in a good way.

Independent Pumi Temperament

One thing that remains true for most, if not all, working dogs is their level of independence. After all, they must be able to make decisions on their own in order to do a good job out hunting or while on the farm.

However, once working dogs become pets, independence can be the downfall of a dog’s relationship with his owner.

You must be able to take the reins here and show the dog that that’s just not how you do things around here. While he may be the boss on the farm, in your house he serves you – not the other way around.

Pumik are Not Picky

Have you ever brought home a pet, only for that pet to choose a family member as his favorite, and it’s not you?

That will likely never happen with the Pumi.

This breed isn’t into picking favorites. He’s just glad to spend time with and have fun with his family, no matter who is present at any given time.

Pumi Temperament and Other Dogs/Animals

The Pumi is a great choice if you have other pets at home.

As long as your pet is relaxed and doesn’t try to push your Pumi around, then the he will have no problem cohabiting with them.

This is true for both a cat or another dog.

Prey Drive

The only time you truly need to be careful, though, is if your other pet is the kind of animal the Pumi might consider to be prey.

Therefore, you probably shouldn’t get a Pumi if you have, or are planning to get, a smaller animal like a hamster or a rabbit.

The Pumi Size and Appearance

The Pumi’s inquisitive and expressive face is the first thing you’ll notice about this breed.

Photo of Pumi Dog On Picnic Table Tongue Stretched Out
Hungarian Pumi Dog (source)

The AKC breed standard describes the Pumi as having a “whimsical expression”.

Pumi Weight and Height

Pumik stand between 15 and 18 inches in height, and their weight falls between 22 and 29 lbs.

Pumi Colors

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

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, dating back to 800 A.D.

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

Hungarian Farmers prize the Pumi for its compact size, quick wit, trustworthiness, and ability to practically read its master’s mind. In fact, You can still find the Pumi on Hungarian working farms to this day.

How Do You Train a Pumi?

Training your Pumi can be a fun and rewarding process. Make sure you begin said process as soon as you bring your new dog home. The earlier you start his training, the better it will stick, and the less frustration you will have.

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. And always use positive reinforcement methods. You never need to rely on physical corrections with this sensitive breed. In fact, such a thing can backfire, and then the dog won’t listen to you at all. No one wants that!

While they’re not humans, you can treat dogs like children when it comes to training. No dog is born knowing what to do. This is why it is such nonsense that some breeds get a bad rap. It is up to you to shape and mold him into the kind of dog you want to be, and some breeds require more effort than others.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

How Do You Groom a Pumi?

Pumi owners describe the breed’s coat as having “corkscrew curls.” This distinctive coat requires periodic combing and clipping.

You must also moisten the coat periodically to let the curls tighten back up naturally. Do not blow-dry it, as this will alter the aesthetic of the curls.

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

Photo of Pumi Dog Backside

Is the Pumi Hypoallergenic?

No. Even though they barely shed, the Pumi is not what you would call hypoallergenic.

This breed is not the right choice for people who suffer from an allergy to dog saliva or dander.

We compiled a mega list of more than 30 Hypoallergenic dog breeds just for you. Check them out here.

Staying Healthy: Pumi Health Issues

Regular veterinary care is very important for your Pumi. Take your new dog to a vet right away for a full checkup as soon as you bring him home.

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

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

Helpful Dog Health Resource:

Note: Our Health is #1 Priority. It should be no different for your dog. But you need to help him. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is the answer. This handy guide will help you recognize the symptoms of the health problems above. Get the knowledge to stay ahead of these terrible issues that can rob your lovely dog from vigor and life. Help your friend make it to 14 yrs+ without pain and suffering.


You always want to be sure that you are feeding your Pumi a food approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This is the organization that determines exactly what you should feed your dog and how much to keep him as happy and healthy for as long as possible.

You should never feed your puppy the same thing you’d feed an adult dog. Puppy food is specially formulated with extra protein to help those little muscles grow big and strong. Feeding a puppy adult food can have negative and permanent effects on them.

You should always opt for a higher quality dog food that contains primarily meat. You can always tell what you’re feeding your dog by reading the first few ingredients on the label, as that is what mostly makes up the food.

And speaking of food and being healthy, don’t overdo it with the treats. No one wants to deal with the added (and preventable) health problems that come from a dog’s obesity.

Pumi Dog Rescue and Adoption

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 people surrendered due to personal crises such as financial difficulty, medical problems or divorce.

These adult dogs usually have some prior training, which is a bonus.

Although Pumik 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 become available from a reputable breeder.

Pumi Cost

If you’re wondering, “how much is a Pumi?”, the answer is, pretty expensive.

Since this is such a rare breed, once you find a Hungarian Pumi for sale, be prepared to pay between $2,000 and $2,500.

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

Dealing with Breeders

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 leave their litter before the age of eight weeks. Good breeders will also provide veterinary records and a detailed contract of sale.

Checkout our Complete Guide to Breeders:

We wrote the definitive guide on finding, selecting, and dealing with dog breeders. This will give you the smarts and confidence to save you money, time and heartache. Read On…

Pumi vs. Puli vs. Mudi

If you’re in the market for a small Hungarian Sheepdog, but you’re not sure which one to pick, there are minimal differences among the Pumi, the Puli, and the Mudi.

The thing you should look at more than anything else, however, is temperament.

Pumi vs. Puli

For instance, for first-time dog owners, you’re better off with the Pumi, rather than the Puli. The Puli is, however, friendlier with children than the Pumi is. And if you’re not into grooming, you’re better off with the Pumi, as the Puli’s grooming needs are more intense.

Both the Puli and the Pumi are also fans of barking, so you’ll need to put in more effort to train them on the appropriate times to bark.

Pumi vs. Mudi

As for the differences between the Pumi and the Mudi, the Mudi wins in the category of “better for first-time dog owners.” The Pumi is better with children than the Mudi, though the Mudi has less grooming requirements. And as for barking, the same applies – whichever breed you go with, you’ll need to curb their desire to bark at everything that moves.

Conclusion: Why the Pumi?

The Pumi temperament is that of a serious working dog with the delightful appearance of a Muppet.

The Hungarian Pumi dog breed is renowned in its native land for its intelligence and work ethic. However, it is gaining popularity in America due to its compact size and cute physical characteristics.

It is important to do diligent research before bringing a Pumi home. Visit dog shows to talk with Pumi owners and breeders in person.

Most importantly, make sure that the Pumi temperament will fit your lifestyle before falling too deeply in love with that precious face!

Two things to consider are that the Pumi is good with children (save for the occasional “herding” instinct) and he loves to bark, so he requires more training. Otherwise, the Pumi would make a fine addition to any family home.