The Puli was originally bred over a thousand years ago to assist and accompany the shepherds of Hungary with the transport and upkeep of enormous flocks of sheep. It's said that more than half of these sheep likely suffered hoof rot. Because of the intense demand of this job, the Puli developed to be known for their bouncy movements, their high energy and their yelps. While the unenlightened might possibly see these as detriments, or a sign of poor training, it should be understood that the Puli, a very small dog, was entrusted with a lot of responsibility and required to have immense authority in the field. There is perhaps not one in a hundred breeds that, pound for pound, can deliver like a Puli when it comes to shepherding.
The Puli finds work in other fields, but the working Puli is never really in his or her element without a huge flock of sheep. In herding shows, the Puli are sometimes unfairly characterized as unfit for the job because the AKC standards demand a dog that is quiet and still. A Puli can be trained for this, but it's not what the breed has made a name for itself doing. Some owners theorize that a dog who acts up at a show is merely registering a complaint, that the puny field and flock are nothing less than a morbid insult to the Puli's incredible ability to stop more than a hundred sheep at once on a dime.
Besides their physical ability and intelligence, the Puli was also preferred for their companionship. In Hungary, there was an unwritten law that a shepherd should never give a Puli to anyone but another shepherd, for fear that the layman wouldn't understand the breed's unique personality. In extreme weather and without another human being for miles and miles, the Puli provided a kind of warmth, a close companionship when the shepherd was away from home. Perhaps for this reason, a shepherd was more likely to call a Puli his second man than merely his sheep dog. Perhaps this closeness also reinforced the Puli's eagerness to please, given that the shepherd was not just his boss, but his friend. The Hungarian shepherd Puli would spring into action at his master's command without a seconds delay, quickly and aptly doing exactly what needed to be done. Unless so commanded, the working Puli is never found very far from the shepherds side and for that reason the breed is still found in Hungary wherever sheep need to be directed from one part of the country to another.
The loyalty, the expertise, the instinct and the sheer ability of the Puli shepherd dog place the breed amongst the elite. While in many countries, the breed may serve as mere house pets or attractive show dogs, in Hungary, their sheer power does not go without its due respect.