The Puli and Degenerative Myelopathy

What Every Puppy Parent To Be Should Know!

The only way to be sure YOUR Puli puppy is negative for this disease is to ask your breeder to provide you with the negative DNA test results of your puppy’s parents.

CAUTION: There are unscrupulous breeders that may offer a 3 to 5 Year health guarantee against Degenerative Myelopathy (DM).

What they don’t tell the unsuspecting Puppy Parent to be, is that DM is an age related painful and debilitating disease with symptoms typically beginning at 6 years of age or older.

Degenerative Myelopathy is an incurable progressive disease of the spinal cord.

In Degenerative Myelopathy it is thought that the immune system attacks the Myelin (the insulating sheath around the neurons in the spinal cord) breaking it down. This results in a loss of communication between nerves in lower body  and the brain.

Progressive muscle weakness and lack of coordination of the hind legs are typically the first signs observed in affected dogs.  Over time, the disease progresses to complete paralysis of the rear and eventually the front legs.  Bladder and Bowel incontinence are common.  Eventually cranial nerve or respiratory muscle involvement necessitates euthanasia.

Breeding risks for Degenerative Myelopathy can be calculated using the Punnett Square:

If both parents are clear (N/N) then all of the puppies will be clear

If one parent is a carrier (N/A) and one is clear (N/N) then roughly 50% of the puppies will be clear and 50% will be carriers

If both parents are carriers (N/A) then roughly 25% will be clear (N/N), 50% will be carriers (N/A), and 25% will be affected (A/A)

If one parent is clear (N/N) and one parent is affected (A/A) then all puppies will be carriers (N/A)

If one parent is a carrier (N/A) and one is affected (A/A) then roughly 50% of the puppies will be carriers (N/A) and 50% will be affected (A/A)

If both parents are affected (A/A) then all puppies will be affected (A/A)

Beware of the Backyard Breeder or Puppy Mill:  The stock of the Backyard Breeder/Puppy Miller is likely to be inferior and may carry a host of physical and/or temperamental defects not immediately visible to the untrained eye of the unsuspecting puppy parent to be.

The potential puppy parent only sees an adorable little puppy…

There is a simple, cost effective DNA test for DM that offers a breeder the knowledge to make educated breeding decisions that offer a puppy a full life, free of pain and disease from DM.

Health testing is paramount.  A good breeder will health test for breed specific conditions and provide documentation of clearance upon request.    Be aware of the health conditions that can affect the Puli.  Be sure your breeder performs the following health tests:

Health Tests for Pulik
DM – Degenerative Myelopathy
Eye Cerf
Hip Dysplasia
Patellar Luxation


Potty Training

Potty Training a Puppy/Dog

First, you have to train yourself.  You Must:


  • Immediately after it wakes up in the morning
  • After every meal and drink of water
  • After it wakes up from a nap
  • After extreme excitement (e.g., house guests) or long periods of play
  • The last thing at night before retiring to bed

You may be going out with your puppy 8 to 10 times a day the first few days after you take it home, but once the puppy settles into its routine, it should not have to go out more than 4 to 6 times a day, largely depending on its age.

STAY ALERT between these times for signs that your puppy is “looking” to relieve itself (e.g., whining, acting restless, sniffing the floor, pacing around in circles). When you see it doing any/all of these things, try to distract it, then pick it up GENTLY and rush it outside to its “toilet area.” You may be going out 8 to 10 times the first few days; however, once the puppy settles into a routine, it should not have to go out more than 4 to 6 times a day, depending upon its age.

STICK TO A STRICT SCHEDULE. The more conscientious you are NOW, the more successful the training will be and the less “troubles” you will likely face down the road. It often takes some patience to make your puppy understand what you want it to do, but it WILL ADJUST to your schedule in time. Of course, there will likely be accidents. However, that’s part of raising puppies. When your dog “makes a mistake” in the house, NEVER CORRECT IT PHYSICALLY.  Correct it HUMANELY: The words “NO” and “BAAAD DOG” are the only corrections you need.  How you SAY these words can convey your displeasure VERY effectively.

ALWAYS GO OUTSIDE WITH YOUR PUPPY during the training period. You want to see when and where it relieves itself, AND your ENTHUSIASTIC PRAISE will encourage it. Once the puppy is completely housebroken, it should not be mandatory that you accompany it outdoors. IF you live in the city AND/OR don’t have an enclosed yard, you MUST ALWAYS GO OUT WITH YOUR DOG: NEVER LET IT ROAM FREE.

Finally, when the puppy does relieve itself after breakfast, it can have another supervised free period before being confined in its crate again until the next outing, when you will repeat these same steps. The LENGTH of supervised free periods depends upon a puppies age. Once yours can handle a 30 minute free period with no accidents, give it more freedom by increasing its free time to 45 minutes, and so on. Your goal is to increase free periods GRADUALLY until your puppy needs to be confined ONLY while you are away from home. If the puppy’s (or your) training regresses, it’s back to “Square 1”: start the training program FROM THE BEGINNING once more.