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rec.pets.dogs: Polish Owczarek Nizinny Sheepdog Breed-FAQ

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/pons
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Last-modified: 03 Mar 1998

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This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below. 
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
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It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other
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                     Polish Owczarek Nizinny Sheepdogs

   Harold Stiffelman,
   Created January 1996.
Table of Contents

     * Introduction
     * History of the Breed
     * The Polish Owczarek Nizinny Standard
     * Additional Resources

   Pronounced "ov-cha-rik nee-shinny". The American name for the breed is
   the Polish Lowland Sheepdog or the Valee Sheepdog. Still somewhat rare
   in the United States the PONS is very well known in Europe. PONS are
   well known for their even temper, intelligence, keen memory and, of
   course, their shaggy coat. They are ideal family pets for both city
   and country dwelling and they adapt well in surroundings that vary
   from apartment life to farm living. Quite often the PONS adopts the
   family to become their "flock" and they become very good protectors.
   PONS are a medium sized dog and are easily trained.
History of the Breed

   The PONS is partly descended from the Puli, the Huns herding dog,
   which was about nineteen to twenty inches high, had a long shaggy coat
   and was used for herding and guarding. The breeding of the PONS is not
   a recent event. The breed was known in the 16th century both in Poland
   and Germany.
   In the early 1500's a Polish ship sailed from Gdansk to Scotland with
   a cargo of grain to exchange for Scottish sheep. The ship carried PONS
   that were used to move the sheep. A shepherd asked for a pair of PONS
   in exchange for a ram. A deal was made which included two females and
   one male. It is commonly believed that these three PONS were part
   ancestors of the Bearded Collie found in Scotland. This explains the
   close resemblance of the PONS to the Bearded Collie.
   The PONS is a very old breed of dog most likely descended from dogs
   originally developed in Central Asia such as the Tibetan Mastiff,
   Tibetan Spaniel, the Lhasa Apso, and the Tibetan Terrier. Exactly how
   the breed was obtained is uncertain but all these breeds have many
   characteristics in common. The dogs were used by various peoples who
   relied on animal herding. It is suggested that the Huns, who relied on
   plundering sedentary cultures were instrumental in spreading the breed
   throughout the world.
   There are two types of herding dogs. The larger more aggressive dogs
   were used to guard the flock and to protect from intruders. The
   shepherd needed a second type of dog to move and control the sheep.
   The larger dogs were too aggressive for delicate work. Dogs like the
   PONS were much more agile, intelligent and handy to care for the
   flock. PONS guided the sheep, prevented them from venturing toward
   obstacles, and kept the flock together. Young PONS lived with the
   sheep, played with the lambs and grew as one of the flock.
   Because of these conditions over an extended period of time modern day
   PONS tend to be squarely built, strong and loyal. Their herding
   instincts are very strong and they are also somewhat suspicious of
   strangers. They have a highly developed sense of territory and a
   strong sense of independence.
   All PONS today can be traced back to the dogs owned by a Polish
   veterinarian who had the foresight to save the breed. Her name was Dr.
   Danuta Hryniewics and she began her efforts around 1955. Through
   extensive inbreeding and careful planning Dr. Hryniewicz bred her
   first litter with full pedigrees in 1958. By 1969 her Kordegardy
   Kennels had produced over 140 puppies and many champions.
The Polish Owczarek Nizinny Standard

   The PONS is a medium sized dog, muscular and strong, with a thick
   dense coat. They are a little longer than they are tall and remain a
   medium sized breed (approx. 17 to 20 inches). It is not desirable to
   reduce the size of the PONS as they are a working dog and this would
   not be preferable. They are easily trained and can make a wonderful
   companion, family pet, and watchdog. The following is a copy of the
   FCI standard as accepted in 1973:
  FCI Registered Number 251a, 1973
   1. General Appearance and Character
     A. The Polish Owczarek Nizinny is a medium sized dog. It is cobby,
     strong and muscular with a long, thick coat, and an easy smooth
     gait. It is resistant against unfavorable conditions. It is lively
     but self-controlled, watchful, bright, clever, and perceptive with
     an excellent memory.
     B. Height at shoulders - Dog, 17-20 inches (43-50 cm.) Bitch, 16-18
     inches (40-46 cm.).
     C. Proportions - Height 9 / Length 10
     D. Type - Its is not desirable to diminish the size below the
     standard and make the breed delicate, as it should keep the
     character of a working breed.
     E. Utility - It is easy to train. It works as a shepherd and a
     watchdog. Transferred to town, it is a very good companion dog.
     It's coat, when well groomed, makes it look smart and attractive.
   2. Head
     A. General Appearance - Proportioned, medium sized, not too heavy,
     with profuse hair on the forehead, cheeks and chin, which makes it
     look bigger than it actually is. The ratio between its' mouth and
     skull is 1:1 or the muzzle may be a little shorter.
     B. Skull - Moderately broad, slightly domed. The forehead furrow
     and occiput palpable.
     C. Stop - Distinctly marked.
     D. Mouth - The top line of the muzzle is straight, jaws strong.
     E. Nose - A big, blunt nose with wide nostrils, as dark as possible
     within the particular color.
     F. Lips - Tightly closed, with edges of the same color as the nose.
     G. Teeth - Strong, level or scissor.
     H. Eyes - Medium size, of lively penetrating gaze, oval, not
     protruding. Color, hazel, or brown. The edges of the lids must be
     as dark as possible.
     I. Ears - Medium sized, lively, heart-shaped, large at the base,
     set moderately high, drooping, their foredge tightly set against
     the cheek.
   3. Neck
     A. Strong, muscular, of medium length, without any dewlap, held
     rather horizontally.
   4. Body
     A. General Appearance - Silhouette rectangular rather than square.
     B. Withers - Distinctively marked.
     C. Back - Even, muscular, loins broad, well bound.
     D. Croup - Short, tightly cut.
     E. Chest - Deep, ribs moderately cut, neither flat nor barrel-like.
     F. Belly - Slightly drawn up.
   5. Tail
     A. Innately short, rudimentary, or very shortly docked.
   6. Forequarters
     A. General Appearance - As seen from the front and side, straight.
     A well balanced stance due to a strong skeleton.
     B. Shoulders - Broad of medium length, slant, well-bound, and
     C. Metacarp - Slightly slant in relation to the forearm.
     D. Feet - Oval, toes tight, slightly arched, with hard pads, claws
     short, possibly dark.
   7. Hindquarters
     A. General Appearance - Well angled, straight as seen from behind.
     B. Thigh - Broad, well muscled.
     C. Hock - Distinct
   8. Gait
     A. Mostly smooth walking pace or trot. The dog is often an ambler.
   9. Skin
     A. Tight, without any folds.
   10. Coat
     A. The whole body is covered with a long, dense, shaggy, thick
     coat, with a soft, dense undercoat. The long, hanging hair covers
     the eyes characteristically. Slightly wavy coat admissible.
   11. Color
     A. Every color and piebald allowed.
   12. Faults
     A. Head - Round, apple-shaped.
     B. Profile - The top-line of the muzzle convex or concave.
     C. Nose and lips - Lack of pigment.
     D. Teeth - All faulty dentition.
     E. Eyes - Light yellow or jackdaw eye.
     F. Ears - Set too high.
     G. Back - Weak or roach back.
     H. Chest - Greyhound or barrel-shaped.
     I. Neck - Held too high.
     J. Loins - Feeble.
     K. Tail - If not cut it should not be curled over the back.
     L. Legs - Incorrect stance, too-long.
     M. Coat - Curly or short, without undercoat.
     N. Character - Nervous, coward, phlegmatic.
Additional Resources

   The FCI standard describes an imaginary dog that only exists in the
   mind of the dog fancier. However, there are many excellent examples of
   the breed today. The best (and only source that I know of) book on the
   PONS is "The Official Book of the Polish Lowland Sheepdog" available
   through TFH Publications, Inc. The book is available through the
   publisher's normal outlets or by APONC (American Polish Owczarek
   Nizinny Club) at 1115 Delmont Road, Severn Maryland 21144. The cost is
   $35 including shipping. If I may put in a personal note - this book is
   probably the slickest and most beautiful breed book I have ever seen.
   There are a lot of pictures of wonderful breed examples that are
   beautifully printed. There is also a lot of information on the breed
   including foundation pedigrees that go all the way back to Dr.
   Hryniewics original dogs. I highly recommend it. (the price is merely
   to cover the cost of printing and shipping - the book is worth well
   more than $35)
   For more information on the breed you can write to Harold Stiffelman,
   18 South Kingshighway -3T, St. Louis, MO 63108. You will receive
   information on the breed and a list of breeders and contacts in your
   area. There are not a lot of breeders in the United States but they
   are spread from the tip of Florida to Washington D.C., to the coast of
   California and many points in between. THERE IS NO FEE AND ALL
    Polish Owczarek Nizinny Sheepdog FAQ
    Harold Stiffelman,
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