Guild of Shepherds & Collies

The Shaggy Little Sheepdog

The cute and clownish Polish Lowland Sheepdog is a medium-sized herding breed developed in — you guessed it — Poland. In their homeland, this breed is called Polski Owczarek Nizinny, though many breed fanciers both in and outside of Poland, refer to their dogs as PONs. While popular in its native land, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog is rare in North America.

The PON is a descendant of the Puli, and is mixed with other breeds. PONs are considered likely ancestors of the Bearded Collie, which was discovered in Scotland. As the story goes, a Polish ship transporting grain, which would then be exchanged for sheep, sailed to Scotland in the early 1500s, with several Polish Lowland Sheepdogs on board to help herd the sheep. A Scottish shepherd traded a ram and ewe for two female PONs and one male. These dogs might have led to the development of the Bearded Collie.

Size, Coat and Colors

One of the PON’s distinctive characteristics is its long, shaggy coat. This breed actually has a double coat — a soft, dense undercoat is overlaid by a crisp, water-resistant outer coat. The coat can be any hue, but some colors are more common, including white with patches of black, gray or tan; gray with white patches; and chocolate.

The PON’s low-shedding coat needs regular brushing to prevent matting. Different colors tend to have different textures, with varying amounts of undercoat; some colors, such as black may be easier to maintain. Although a straight coat is preferred, a slight wave is permissible.

Herding, Exercise and Training

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog was historically used to herd sheep. Today, most PONs in North America are pets first and foremost, but many retain the herding instinct and might enjoy herding tests and trials.

Although many herding dogs, such as Border Collies, have abundant and endless energy, the PON has less demanding exercise requirements than other herding breeds, so they can be a good choice for those looking for a less intense herding breed. They definitely enjoy work and play, and still need regular exercise. PONs will typically do as much as you want them to.

Early, positive training (never heavy-handed methods) will help mold the PON into a model canine companion. PONs do best with experienced owners who can set boundaries and teach the dog what is expected.

An intelligent, independent breed, Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are affectionate with and loyal to their families, but they may be wary and aloof with strangers. Early socialization will help a PON puppy mature into a confident adult. They are gentle with kids and typically get along well with other dogs when properly introduced.

Article By:
Jackie Brown


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