While attending the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC earlier this month, I had the pleasure of meeting one of my favorite Reggae musicians, Ziggy Marley. He wrote a children’s book called I love You Too and was having a book signing. We talked about traveling, music and the Rasta inspired merchandise that everyone, including dogs, are inspired by.
In Western culture, the most popular ‘Rasta’ dogs are the Puli and Komondor breeds because their coats resemble dreadlocks. The Puli is actually a small-medium breed of Hungarian lineage known for its skills as a herder and for guarding livestock. An ancient sheepdog from Hungary, the Puli was introduced by the migration of the Magyars from Central Asia more than 1,000 years ago. They have a solid colored coat that is usually black, with tight curls, similar to dreadlocks, which make it virtually waterproof. The Puli was officially recognized by the AKC in 1936 and is ranked number 145 in popularity as a favorite pet companion.
The Komondor is also Hungarian and is bred to guard livestock. The difference is that the Komondor is larger and its cords are white in color and therefore is sometimes referred to as a ‘mop dog,’. The Komondor was mentioned for the first time in the year 1544 in a Hungarian codex and was declared one of Hungary’s national treasures, to be preserved and protected from modification. Both the Puli and the Komondor have little to no shedding in spite of such an exceptional coat.
Both breeds are very intelligent, very friendly, especially with children, but also can be stubborn and headstrong if they don’t get enough exercise. Even though they have a bulky appearance and a very thick coat, they are nimble and able to change directions instantly, hence their herding instinct. They make very good guard dogs, as they are very protective of their human family and territory yet keep a playful, puppy-like behavior their entire life. The best human companion for the Puli or Komondor is a confident, strong-willed individual who can assert themselves as a ‘leader of the flock’.
When a Puli or Komondor is exercised on a regular basis, they can live in a bustling city as long as they have access to dog parks for example or off leash hiking trails. It is not recommended that they be kept in a small living space while owners are at work for long periods of time or they can become either shy or overactive. An active human owner who enjoys running, biking, hiking, jogging and field work is ideal for this progressive breed; a simple walk around the block simply won’t cut it. (This is not the breed for you if you would rather veg on the couch all weekend to catch up on a full season of House of Cards). In my book ‘Christy Oldham’s Manual To A Happy & Healthy Dog’, I talk about the benefits of hiring a professional dog walker and dealing with skin and coat care. Or as Ziggy Marley would say “Jah guide”.
Photo of Christy and Ziggy by Clinton H. Wallace/Photomundo International