Pumi Experts Speak Up

We asked the following questions to our friends in the Pumi Community. Below are their responses, which are taken from the October 2019 issue of ShowSight. Click to subscribePictured above: 4 of our respondents (clockwise from top left) Maria Arechaederra, Sandra Campaign, Chris Levy, Theresa Weber

 

QUESTIONS:

  1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs?
  2. Pumik haven’t been around shows too long but they’ve certainly gained a fan base. Currently ranked at 151, the Pumi is obviously popular with the general public, too. What’s the most important thing a prospective owner should know about the breed?
  3. What’s the biggest misconception about the breed?
  4. They’re about the cutest pups in, well, forever. How can you possibly pick the best? At what age do you choose a show prospect?
  5. How do you place your pups?
  6. What is your favorite dog show memory?
  7. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate.

 

ANSWERS:

Sandra Cumpian

After discovering the Pumi when living over seas in the Netherlands I got my first one and the more I learned about the breed the more I loved it. With my background in neonatal nursing it seemed natural to take the next step and consider breeding to help thin out the bloodlines and promote the breed when we moved back to the US. It took many years of research, learning and testing to whelp our first litter in 2017. It’s a rewarding and time consuming process but also
very rewarding.

I am a retired nurse and live on eight acres, out in the boondocks, in Central Texas. Besides “dogs” I have a number or interests. I garden and have a flock of chickens for eggs. I love to sew and quilt and just about any type of craft project. I enjoy spending time with my kids and my ten month of granddaughter. I also follow college football.

The most important thing a prospective owner should know about the breed? This is a working breed! Pumis were developed and bred to herd sheep and other farm stock. They are very intelligent and can problem solve and remember previous experiences. It’s important to understand how Hungarian shepherds lived and used their dogs so you will understand the needs and personality of the dog. Pumis require a job of some type. They need to be physically and intellectually challenged on a regular basis to be happy and healthy.

I think the biggest misconception is that a Pumi is a cute little “stuffed animal” looking dog with cute ears that would be so fun to have sit in your lap and cuddle. Pumis are nice to cuddle and they will stick close to their shepherd, maybe even in your lap, but they are much more than that. They are a dog with physical and mental requirements and because of their intelligence they require a shepherd with a firm and consistent hand. But they are also sensitive to correction and cannot be overly reprimanded. They
will remember!

At what age do I choose a show prospect? I’m a very conservative breeder. My kennel goals are not to breed champion show dogs. Although that is nice too! My kennel goals are more about furthering the Pumi breed with a focus on health, structure and temperament. That includes trying to infuse more diversity into the US bloodlines and making sure all my breeding dogs have health test clearances that are appropriate and recommended for the breed. I also look at the coat color DNA of my breeding pairs so that I’m not producing a large number of unacceptable colors and I’m a big supporter of the CHIC DNA Data Base.

I assess my pups from birth for temperament and physical characteristics. At six weeks I start really looking at structure and personality. My goal is that every puppy will meet the AKC Standard for the breed but of course that is not likely. By eight weeks you can usually get a pretty good idea of how they will look. Of course there is so much growth to still happen that it’s never
a certainty.

How do I place my pups? I go through a multi-stepped process to pick the forever homes for my pups. It’s starts when an interested person gets in touch with me, usually by email. I ask them if they have ever seen a Pumi in person and what they are looking for in a Pumi puppy. Based on their answers the next step is a phone discussion so we both have a chance to ask questions. If they have never seen a Pumi before I see if they can come and visit my dogs or if I can find a Pumi in their area and set up a meet and greet for them. I feel it’s so important to see a Pumi up close and personal. See how they move, get your hands in their hair and hear their ear-piercing bark. I talk to them about the grooming needs of a Pumi and their activity level. I ask questions about what they plan to do with their Pumi and how long the dog will be left at home alone. I find out what type of housing they have and the ages of any children in their home. After that conversation I decide if they are a suitable home for one of my pups and if they are interested I email them a copy of my puppy application to fill out and return to me. This does not guarantee them a puppy but they are a step closer. After the pups are born I review my applications and review the desires and expectations of each applicant as far as what type of pup will fit their needs. I do temperament testing and assess the structure of the pups when they are 49 days old. I use this information to decide which pup will do best in which home. My goal is to set every pup and forever home up for success by really making sure they are the best fit possible.

My favorite memory is when I had just started showing my dogs. I’m not very good at it but look at it as a time for my dogs and I to spend some time together and work as a team. I was showing my female. She is a petite little thing and she knows how to make people like her. We were doing our down and back. When we came back up to the judge and I stopped her, she looked up at the judge with her ears perked up and tilted her head sideways at the judge. The judge couldn’t help but chuckle and smile. That made my day!

Pumis are incredible dogs but not for everyone. They get so attached to their shepherd and want to please. Because they are so athletic they make really good dog sport dogs. They also have very little prey drive. So they do well around cats and farm fowl. They learn very fast and often will get frustrated if you ask them to do the same trick over and over. They make great family dogs.

 

Chris Levy

I’ve been in dogs since 1971, mostly with Miniature Schnauzers, but also German Shorthaired Pointers, Cairn Terriers, and Shiba Inu. We only have Pumik now. I have worked on breed education for Miniature Schnauzers, Shiba Inu, and now the Pumi, and held just about every office in the clubs to which we belong. I judge the Terrier and Non-Sporting groups and about half the Sporting group.

My husband, Tom, and I live in Salem, Oregon. Most everything we do is dog-related. We’re very active in our local all-breed club (I’m President), and even more active in the Pumi parent club where I’m the Judges Education Chair, Vice President, webmaster, National Chair, etc. When I’m not doing dog activities, I
like gardening.

The most important thing a prospective owner should know about the breed? The Pumi looks like a teddy bear or koala bear, which belies its working roots. This is a herding dog through and through. They are extremely intelligent and need both mental and physical exercise. This is not one of those cuddly lap dogs (although they will do it for a minute or two) that they appear to be.

The biggest misconception about the breed? I’ve heard people say that they’re nasty which is just not true, at least from our 20 years in the breed and importing many dogs from Europe from different lines. I think any “nasty” dogs are an exception to the rule. They are extremely bright; you need to be ahead of their thought processes and not let them get away with anything. This is not a breed for a first-time dog owner.

At what age do I choose a show prospect? I’ve been in dogs for almost 50 years, and use my experience to evaluate puppies. In addition to good structure, you need to look at head (ear set, ear carriage, ear tipping, eye shape and color, width and length of skull), and body shape (square), and of course temperament. All this can be seen in an eight week old puppy which is when we make our decisions about which homes they’ll go to. We place puppies in all types of homes, both exhibition and non-exhibition. They go to herding, agility, conformation, and other types of sports homes. I don’t start evaluating until they’re about six weeks, and then it’s a mad scramble in those two weeks to make sure you’ve got the right puppy directed to the right home. We don’t like keeping them longer than eight weeks because they need one-on-one training after that time that’s too difficult to do with a whole litter (usually five to seven puppies).

How do I place my pups? Most frequently the new puppy owners come to our house to get their puppy. We have delivered puppies on occasion when we happen to be traveling in the right direction. We want to have a minimum of several hours with the new owners to indoctrinate them into the Pumi world.

My favorite dog show memory? Wow, I have a lot of them. We discovered the Pumi at the World Dog Show in Finland in 1998 and had our first Pumi a year later. In 2014 we took one of our Pumis to the World Dog Show when it was in Finland again and won Best of Breed. That Pumi was our third one to get a World Winner Title as we were going to the World Shows almost every year. Equally important was getting a Championship title on a dog that had been a multiple World Winner and the first Pumi to get most of the titles in the US. He finished his championship at the age of 14, getting two Group 2s along the way and was the first Pumi to finish when they became recognized in July 2016.

This is an awesome breed for the right people. Their connection to their people and their understanding of their family is uncanny. But they need that interaction with their people. And they do bark, but only for a reason.

 

Ildiko Repasi

I live in the Catskills in Upstate New York. Outside of dogs, I’m involved in farming, farm products, fiber arts and felting. I was born in Nagyvarad, Transylvania Romania. I have a BFA, porcelain major from Ion Andreescu Arts College, Cluj Napoca, Romania, MFA, School of the Art institute of Chicago, ceramics and multi media. I have exhibited in the US, Canada, Mexico, and in Europe. My works included in Kohler Factory private collection, Wisconsin. Exterior Mural St Elizabeth Church, Chicago, Illinois. I’m currently the owner of “GoatSheepShop” fiber farm shetland, merino, mohair fibers, goat’s milk products, fiber clothings accessories. “Catskill Pumi Kennel” Pumi breeder, advocate and enthusiast. Involved in herding, agility, barn hunt, lure coursing and conformation.

The most important thing a prospective owner should know about the breed? Their high energy temperament, need of physical and mental stimulation

The biggest misconception about the breed? Their supposed “love bug” and couch potato temperament. They can ignore anyone at any place and perform their task perfectly. With the good enough drive they also work for strangers.

When can I determine a Pumi’s show potential? Often by six to eight months.

How do I place my pups? Active homes, sport homes, last choice is conformation homes.

Do I have a waiting list? Yes. It is not chronological (first come first serve) merit based references age limit

My favorite dog show memory? Winning the first BOB in Orlando in 2016 after the Pumi was accepted in the Herding group and the first BOB, BOS and Select at Westminster in 2017.

Pumis need intense socialization during the first year of their life. They are late bloomers mentally and physically. I do not breed my bitches before three years of age.

 

Heather Stimson

I have been involved in Pumi since 2014 and have never looked back! This is a really fun breed and I adore them! I am more than happy to answer any questions any one may have. We live in Lillington, North Carolina. In addition to the dogs, I dabble in making show dog leads.

The most important thing a prospective owner should know about the breed? The Pumi is a wonderful breed! They are very smart and want nothing more than to be with you and please you. However, they are talkative and need a job to do. They need a gentle hand; they don’t respond well to harsh corrections.

The biggest misconception about the breed? That they are appropriate for any home. This is a vocal breed that
needs training.

When can I determine a Pumi’s show potential? Show prospects start to show themselves at six weeks old. Litter evaluations are completed when puppies are eight weeks old.

How do I place my pups? We have an application to screen homes, if someone appears to be a good fit, we then set up an interview. We place based on the temper of the dog first, then the structure. We often have a waiting list as we do not breed often, but they are worth the wait!

My favorite dog show memory? I have so many! My entry into this breed was very different from my other breed. The Pumi community is warm, friendly and inviting. The passion and dedication this community has to the breed is contagious and I love everything about showing them.

This breed does best in a home that is willing to train. They are social so they need homes that want to interact with them. Grooming takes a little practice but it’s not hard. Please check the Hungarian Pumi Club of America’s website for quality breeders and mentors.

 

Debra Thornton

I live in Rincon, Georgia. This is a totally new environment for me, but am enjoying it. What do I do outside of dogs? Is there anything? Just kidding, my family is now nearby and I am enjoying them. However, my dogs are the essence of my existence.

The Pumi is not for everyone. I think it must be a family who has owned other dogs. They are wonderful dogs but they can be difficult for a new puppy owner. People think they are cute. Yes, they are cute but they are also a hard working dog. They are incredibly smart and need a job. They were bred to herd cattle and sheep. They will try to herd you as well and that includes nipping at your legs and tearing your pants. They aren’t biting, but trying to do their job—you must get a hand on it.

The biggest misconception may be their appearance. We keep going back to cute and they are, but they can hold their own when it comes to protecting their livestock. I don’t worry about my safety, but wonder if they would protect me if needed. They are definitely my dogs and doubt that they would allow anything to hurt me.

At seven weeks old, I really look at their proportions. This is a square dog and they must be square. The loin must be short and the legs beginning to grow. It is just like any breed. Look at the entire dog. Layback of shoulder, movement, level top line can be seen at this age. The pups will sometimes roach as they go through the uglies. It will come back down as the dog matures.

I place my pups according to how devoted I believe the people to be. Some families just want a pet, but they must be committed to socializing these dogs. Without the socialization, you will have a great dog at home, but you will not be able to take him/her off your property. It is imperative, that puppies are socialized from a young age. Show pups, same thing. There is nothing
more important!

Gosh, my favorite show memory—not sure. I loved judging the Pumik at Westminster, but the enthusiasm that I see as these dogs run around the agility ring give me goose bumps. If you have ever watched the drive, the happiness as the dog runs the course barking with joy, who couldn’t smile and know this is special!

These dogs are my heart. I love my previous breed and will always consider myself a Newf person, but my dogs sleep with me, run to me and make me feel special in every way. When I pack to go to an assignment, they jump into the suitcase and I feel horrible pushing them out. I have never had more devoted dogs. The breed is amazing. Smart, devoted, loving and demanding all describe a Pumi. If you don’t have the time, it is not a breed for you. They demand your attention, a job and your unconditional love.

 

Theresa Weber

My history in dogs really begins as a little girl. I trained my first dog, a Vizsla, when I was just ten years old. Shortly there after I rescued my first dog, his name was “Peanuts”. My love of dogs, all critters big and small, already in my soul, only grew as time and school went on. After college I trained as a Veterinary Technician as secondary training and had hands on experience under wonderful veterinarians at a large and small animal hospital in a suburb of St Paul, Minnesota.

My first large breed dog was a Great Pyrenees. After he passed I was ready for another dog and fell in love with the Newfoundland. With great mentors I was fortunate to train, and show many great dogs as well as start my breeding program. I learned so much and gained a keen eye for structure and movement.

With Newfoundlands as my specialty I began handling. I have met many great people and dogs thru handling and forward to most recent I found my love of the Pumi! I started in the breed while they were still in Miscellaneous. I began my breeding program with a wonderful foundation. I adore the breed and I love being owned by my crew of them. I am a proud breeder.

I live in California in a suburb just north of LA. My life is dedicated to the dogs. I manage my client’s Kuvasz and their breeding program as well as my own love of the Pumi breed. I proudly breed Pumik for soundness, structure and temperament.

I will be founding an animal charity run for dogs and their person(s). It will really be just a fun day for the dogs of all shapes and sizes to spend time with their owners for a great cause.

I am also starting a program to assist people to plan for their beloved pet’s care when they are no longer able to. This I think is much needed as hard as it is to prepare and address, it will help guide persons through the planning.

Another part of my life I am a flight nanny (escorting beloved pets and all animals to their destination so they are never alone). Along with that I am an international pet transportation facilitator. My life is really all about the dogs and I love it.

The most important thing a prospective owner should know about the breed? The Pumi is cute and whimsical in looks and those ears, how can you not smile. However, behind that cute expression is a very serious working dog with extremely high intelligence. Because of this they need and require a job or Pumi and owner will be unhappy. That job can be being an integral part of the family, herding, conformation, agility, obedience, jogging, dock diving, lure coursing, fly ball etc…so many activities (jobs). The need the mental and physical stimulation. The more they get the happier they are. There are always willing to learn and eagerly aim to please.

Pumi’s do not shed, but do need to be combed out periodically and trimmed as necessary to keep the coat in shape.

The biggest misconception about the breed? Their cute whimsical expression is misleading as to their serious work ethic. They are fabulous family dogs but need mental and physical stimulation. They are not just cute teddy bears who are content to sit on the couch! Do they chill, cuddle and have an off button? Oh yes and are great snugglers but they need a job so they can be happy and content.

They need to be a very involved part of the family—in fact they demand it. Without that they will not be happy.

At what age do I choose a show prospect? Picking a show pup, well that is quite a challenge right? Yes it certainly is but not always. We as breeders are always learning from our past experiences. We acquire a keen eye. Some of the special ones can simply stand out! Does it take much dedication and knowledge? Absolutely! But also so very much interacting, providing much stimulation and lots
of watching.

At about four weeks, as mobility really starts allowing them to start wrestling, playing and exploring. You watch for the explorers, the followers and the content or shy ones. That can change over the next few weeks but I watch and interact. They start going outside. I add new items for stimulation. I start taking them on safe “field trips”. I watch and watch and watch. Who demands attention? Who says meeee, meee, meee!

I watch them play….hmmm who is that one that keeps setting him/herself up naturally? Who is that nice mover? Do I keep seeing the same one? I watch more. I put them on the table. Do I feel what I see? It’s incredible how they start differentiating themselves.

At eight weeks I do my final evaluation of movement and structure. That along with knowledge and many years of experience help form the dreams for each pup to be happy and thrive in there new life as a show or companion dog. Happy with whatever adventures they take on with their forever family!

How do I place my pups? I talk to the potential owner(s). I ask many questions about their lifestyle, their home and yard, what are they looking for in a dog, what activities do the want to do with the dog? I do a home visit If I’m close enough or they can come to me. They can meet my adults and young ones. If they are close I arrange puppy visits and I watch their reactions. We talk and I listen and answer questions, I talk about the Pumi’s needs. I stress how they need to be part of the family and the fact that they will be their 24/7 shadow. They will bark to alert. They will bark at play or excitement to tell you what they are thinking and happy about. But then they will be quite happy to snuggle watch tv with you and sleep next to your head.

As good homes are determined it then becomes my job to match the right puppy with each home. I make sure the temperament and activity level of each pup matches that of their new family and I always match puppy to family, they do not get to choose. The reasoning for that is: I know these pups inside and out. I have watched and evaluated from the moment they were born. I know their personalities and in order to ensure they have a happy full life and each family is happy It is my responsibility to place the right pup in
each home.

My favorite dog show memory? Every time I watch the judges smile because of course that whimsical expression and those ears—you simply can’t help but smile. They brighten up
any room!

Pumi’s are the most happy, loving, loyal, intelligent, hard working, whimsical dog with the expression that talks to you and ears that are well—just the cutest!

To live with a Pumi is much like a potato chip, if you have one you will end up having more. I literally laugh every day! They are silly, smart, serious, loving, loyal, boisterous, snuggly, demanding, sweet dogs all wrapped up in a whimsical package. To be owned by a Pumi or two is a wonderful ride of a lifetime!

 

Maria Arechaederra

We live in Silverado, California. My original breed is another Hungarian breed, the Kuvasz and that is how I was first introduced to the Pumi breed. I met my first Pumi around 1992 through my Hungarian friend and fellow Kuvasz breeder Paul Yuhasz who’s wife brought a pair back from one of their trips to Hungary. I thought they were a darling and unusual breed. Outside of dogs we enjoy hiking, travel and spending time with family. My husband David and I are attorneys and have recently become “empty nesters.”

What’s the most important thing a prospective owner should know about the breed? The most important thing a prospective owner should know about this wonderful breed is that they are an active and busy breed. They are not couch potatoes and need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. I believe the three most important things a prospective Pumi owner can do is (1) Meet a Pumi, preferably several, before you buy (2) Spend actual time with one before buying and as with all breeds (3) Make sure you are dealing with a reputable breeder.

The biggest misconception about the breed? Their “whimsical” expression belies their hard-wired toughness and work ethic. They may look like a Build-a-Bear but they are a tough, smart, stubborn, high energy working animal.

At what age do I choose a show prospect? Evaluating a Pumi litter is no different than evaluating any other breed. One needs a keen understanding of the breed standard and look for those features in the pups. Different breeds/breeders have different ages which are optimal for evaluating but I’ve had good luck with evaluating at around 8 weeks. However the majority of my evaluation is done observing a litter at play. It is far more important to me to see how a puppy moves and uses its body in a natural setting than trying to get a table stack analysis.

How do I place my pups? The good and bad news about this wonderful breed is that they “sell themselves”. They are the right size, cute, and do not shed. Those are attractive features but they also attract people who are looking for something the Pumi is not. A Pumi breeder needs to be very diligent in their placement. I’ve placed most of my pups in show homes and agility/performance homes. I have two who are in companion homes but those owners understand the unique needs of the Pumi.

My favorite dog show memory? Owner handling my Pumi “Boglarka” to a Group 4 at The Beverly Hills Kennel Club under the late Steve Gladstone was a really special moment. Attending Pumifest is always a treat. A non-show favorite memory was representing the Pumi breed with David Frei on the ‘Today Show’ in New York.

We ask that the future breeders, exhibitors and professional handlers respect the rustic heritage and presentation of this breed. They should NEVER be blown dry and overly sculpted. 

   

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