The uninitiated could be forgiven for confusing the Polish Lowland Sheepdog with the Old English Sheepdog, to which it bears quite a resemblance. However, the breed is more closely related to the Puli.
The Polish Lowland Sheepdog is a medium-sized dog with a distinctively shaggy coat, and has become increasingly popular in recent years. This popularity marks a turnaround in the dog’s history, as in the years following WWII the breed was almost wiped out entirely. The breed, though popular in Europe, is relatively rare in Australia, with only a hundred or so dogs registered in the country.
Soft and shaggy
Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are a mid-sized dog roughly similar in size to herding dogs such as Kelpies and Cattle Dogs. They typically stand at around 52cm at the shoulder, and have a short and stocky body with a broad back and large head. They’re best identified by their thick and shaggy coat. This coat is usually long and wavy, and falls over the eyes. The breed is also known for its unusual tail. While many dogs are born without a tail at all, others are born with tails of various lengths, shapes, and sizes. It has been common practice to have the tail docked, but this habit may be going out of vogue.
Suited to cool weather
The breed’s thick, shaggy fur acts as an insulating force against cool climates and frigid winds. This makes them well-suited to extremely cold climates. This is a consideration for those looking at purchasing a Polish Lowland Sheepdog for warmer Australian climates.
Grooming a Polish Lowland Sheepdog
Unsurprisingly, Polish Sheepdogs require a good deal of care, with their distinctive coats requiring regular grooming, brushing, and clipping. The breed’s coat has a tendency to mat, and requires an intensive bathing and grooming regiment. Some owners use a ‘collie comb’ to help thin out the coat, particularly during the winter months.
Owners need to ensure that the face in particular is looked after, as the hair around the eyes and ears can mat easily and may cause distress to the dog, as well as health issues.
Another area to pay particular attention to is the pads on the feet, which can easily become matted. Clipping these areas, as well as the coat around the belly area is often recommended.
Care and environment
As they’re bred as working dogs, the breed is known for being very active. They need to be exercised on a daily basis, with younger dogs in particular needing regular, vigorous exercise. The breed not only loves to play on land, but they also enjoy playing in water. However the breed is prone to obesity, as Polish Sheepdogs eat ravenously.
Personality and temperament
Perhaps due to its herding background, the breed is prone to being very territorial, and can be highly protective of its home and its owners. Polish Sheepdogs are highly alert, and make excellent guard dogs. They are not fond of strangers, and may become aggressive around them. Rigorous training is recommended for this reason.
Other factors to consider before buying this breed
Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are very rare in Australia, and finding a puppy can be a challenge. They are high maintenance dogs that require regular grooming and exercise, and also need plenty of space to play. As such, they are not a dog for a new pet owner, or for someone who lacks the time or resources to care for them. They may also be too boisterous for families with young children. They are the quintessential companion dog, and require plenty of attention. However, they can become needy if doted on to too large a degree. Similarly, they need to be trained thoroughly, as they can tend towards aggression if not trained. For these reasons, the breed is often re-homed after being handed in by inexperienced owners.