Dogs

5 Things to Know About Polish Lowland Sheepdogs


These agile and fluffy dogs are actually great for apartment dwellers. By: Vojtěch Ohera

1. Key Characteristics

  • AKC Group: Herding
  • Height: 16–20 inches
  • Weight: 30–50 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12–15 years

Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are also called PONs (Polski Owczarek Nizinny). These medium-sized, muscular working dogs have high-set ears and  eyes that come in colors of hazel, brown or blue. They have naturally short or docked tails and cute oval feet with arched toes.

The double coat is long, thick and wiry, and the undercoat is soft. The American Kennel Club’s standard colors for this breed include beige, black, black and white, brown, chocolate and white, gray, gray and white, tri-colored and white.

2. Where They Came From

Before the 1500s, the Puli and another dog — possibly a herding dog for the Huns — were crossed. The Polish Lowland Sheepdog appeared in Poland and Pomerania in records from the same time period, providing evidence of the breed’s origin.

PONs appeared in Scotland after a ship from Poland docked to trade grain for sheep. A Scottish shepherd wanted to keep the ship’s dogs to herd the sheep. Three PONs (1 male and 2 females) were traded for 1 ram and 1 ewe, and the remaining dogs returned to Poland with the flock.

The first breed standard was written in 1959, the same year the European kennel clubs recognized the breed. The AKC added the breed in 2001.

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Trim between the paws and in the ears to protect your Polish Lowland Sheepdog against matting. By: Pleple2000

3. How Friendly Are They?

Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are happy, alert, clever and fearless. They have a good memory and are intelligent, making them easy to train. That said, they need firm and consistent training that begins in puppyhood. Careful — they have a stubborn streak that could become a lifelong habit.

Socializing your PON is a must because these dogs can be wary around strangers. Properly trained and socialized Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are great with children, other dogs and non-canine pets, although they may assert dominance over other dogs.

Be warned: They may display herding behavior, such as nipping at the heels of family members.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs

High

HIGH: These active and agile herding dogs have a lot of energy and appreciate having a job to do. Walk yours daily and exercise them — both mentally and physically — whenever possible. The small size makes Polish Lowland Sheepdogs ideal for apartments, but keep in mind they must expel energy; otherwise, negative behaviors may develop.

Grooming Needs

Low

MEDIUM: Although this breed sheds little, the dogs can “blow their coats” seasonally, usually twice a year. Brush your dog thoroughly at least once a week to prevent matting. Bathe occasionally.

During the grooming routine, trim the hair between the paw pads, remove hair from inside the ears and remove excess moisture from the ears.

Health Problems

Low

HIGH: Although many websites — including the AKC’s — list these dogs as generally very healthy, this is hardly the case. It’s hard to find any Polish Lowland Sheepdog who has not had diabetes in recent years. The problem is so prevalent that the breed is being studied. Other potential problems include:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Blindness (often a result of diabetes)
  • Cancer

Check out this smart pooch’s guessing skills:

5. Where to Adopt One

You probably won’t find a Polish Lowland Sheepdog to adopt anytime soon — they’re pretty rare.

An explanation for the shortage may be linked to the health problems. The breeding stock is small in number, and many — if not most — of the dogs have diabetes.

If you contact a breeder, insist on getting a copy of the health testing, as well as copies of tests done on the parents.

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