Breed Type: Herding
Country of Origin: Poland
Popular Names: Polish Sheepdog, Valee Sheepdog, Polski Owczarek Nizinny, Nizzy, PON, Lowlands Herder, Berge Polonais de Vallee
Height: (At the withers) Males 45 – 50 cm, Females 42 – 47 cm
Weight: Males 14 – 16 kg, Females 14 – 16 kg
Best suited as: Companion or working dog
Lifespan: 12-15 years
This medium sized, shaggy-haired dog is thought to be the link between the long-coated and corded herding dogs from Eastern Europe.
The Nizinny is muscular and just slightly off-square. Its thick double coat may be grey, brown, or white, or any combination of those with black, brown, or grey markings. The most common colour is solid grey. The top coat is long, rough, and either wavy or straight. The undercoat is dense and soft. Its full head of hair usually covers the eyes, which are hazel or brown. The tail is naturally short. They have medium-sized, hanging heart-shape ears. These dogs have a lively expression and warm, intelligent, thoughtful eyes. Pups are born with dark coats that gradually lighten as the dog ages.
Since the 1200s, PONs have appeared in Poland as they are today. Likely bred from herding dogs and the Puli, the Polish used these dogs as herding dogs and companion animals. In the early 1500s, Polish sailors took with them to Scotland two females and a male. The Scottish traded those dogs for a ewe and a ram, and bred those three dogs to native herders. The resulting dogs likely form the basis of the Old Welsh Grey, the Old English Sheepdog, the Bearded Collie, and the Welsh Collie.
The breed almost went extinct in Poland during World War II. A vet named Dr Danuta Hryniewicz searched all over Poland and brought together two males and six bitches. From these eight dogs she saved the breed.
They are gentle, self-confident, stable, and have excellent memory for training. They are perhaps the most gentle of all the herding dogs. When herding, they use only their eyes and gentle shoulder nudges to direct the flock.
They are independent thinkers, and this can make them difficult to train. They are used to thinking in the field independently of their master, and its owner needs to establish dominance. A calm, assertive manner works best with these dogs. Advanced obedience courses and constant learning will help keep your PON’s mind sharp. A well-trained dog is reliable and trustworthy, although their independent thinking can sometimes makes them a bit disruptive. Treats and praise work best with these dogs – they usually just ignore harsh training methods.
They make great watchdogs and will announce someone’s presence at your door in a loud, booming bark. It is important to socialize them at a young age and to different situations, and to continue that exposure throughout the dog’s life. One thing to be aware of is that your Polish Lowland Sheepdog won’t view the neighbour’s children as “playing” with your children if the play appears rough, and might take actions against what it thinks is an attacker. Socialization with all different types of play and activities will help the dog understand normal routines and behaviours. Dogs that develop fearful attitudes from lack of exposure to different situations and people can become cowardly or exhibit extreme behaviours.
Puppies learn best in short training segments. They are very sensitive to spoken or signed commands and learn new ones extremely fast. They love to learn and can be fully trained in a matter of months. Don’t stop teaching your dog tricks, though, because these dogs are lifelong learners and love the challenge.
They love to run off-leash and enjoy interacting with other dogs in off-leash dog parks. Don’t allow your dog to play off-leash in an unfenced area unless it has perfect recall.
They love to travel and so make great travelling, camping, and hiking companions. A bored sheepdog tends to “herd” small children and other household pets around in an effort to keep occupied – so make sure your dog always has something to do.
Care and Grooming
This is another of the low-shedding dog breeds. They only lose hair while being brushed. Their long coats need a good brushing at least every other day to keep them free from mats and tangles, and to remove any debris. Some dogs require multiple brushings a day to keep them clean. The long hair on their face needs to be wiped after they eat, and washed, to stop them from smelling. Some also need to have their behinds washed after defecating to remove any trapped feces. Owners should consider the heavy maintenance required to own one of these dogs before acquiring one. Some people have trimmed the coats down but they lose their non-shedding feature at this point.
The ears of a Polish Sheepdog need to be cleaned and checked regularly to prevent infection. Weekly tooth brushing and monthly nail clipping make up the remainder of its grooming requirements.
These sheepdogs have loads of energy and need a lot of exercise. They love walks, runs, games of Frisbee or catch, or acting as a companion to someone jogging, cycling, or swimming. They enjoy agility training and obedience competitions.
As long as they get enough exercise, they do fine in small dwellings like city apartments. They prefer cool weather for exercise.
Overall, this breed is fairly robust and not prone to many health issues. They live an average of 12 to 15 years. The most common problems are hip dysplasia and eye abnormalities, although even those are rare. Epilepsy or congenital deafness may affect some dogs. They do well on low-protein diets. Generally, dogs obtained from respectable, conscientious breeders should be totally free from health problems.
Suitability As A Pet
Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are great with kids, get along well with other household pets, and love to be included in family activities. This makes them a great companion for families and singles alike. They adapt just as well to small-space apartments as to sprawling farmhouses with acres of space to run.
They are still used as working herding dogs in Europe but the hot climate in Australia makes them unsuitable for such work here.
Polish Lowland Sheepdog Organisations in Australia
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Polish Lowland Sheepdog Organisations in the UK
Polish Lowland Sheepdog Breed Rescue
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