You may know the Polish Owczarek Nizinny Sheepdog as the Polish Lowland Sheepdog, but they’re known by other names.
It’s also called Valee Sheepdog, while others call it by its Polish name: PON or Polski Owczarek Nizinny /pol-skee ahv-cha-rek ni-gnee/.
Regardless of what name you decide to call this dog breed, this herding dog is known for being protective, hard-working, intelligent, and its shaggy coat.
But there’s more to the Nizinny than that. If you’re hoping to get one as a pet or family companion, read up first and figure out if it’s the right breed for you.
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Where did the Polish Lowland Sheepdog come from?
The PON is an ancient breed that dates back to the 16th Century. The local herding dogs from Poland mated with Asian breeds, particularly those accompanying migrating tribes and traders from Central Asia.
Rumor has it that the dogs used by the Huns to guard war camps also contributed to their ancestry.
The notorious Huns used to bring canines into battle and even train them to bite the noses of enemy horses.
As noted by the Historians, the larger Hunnic war-hounds went to battle while the smaller but by no means less ferocious dogs guarded the war camps. It is believed that the latter breed contributed to the PONs lineage.
We mentioned that the Polish Lowland Sheepdog descended from several Asian breeds. These include the Tibetan Terrier, Tibetan Mastiff, Tibetan Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, and the Hungarian herding breed, the Puli.
So, it makes sense to say that the Polish Lowland Sheepdog is a combination of the fierce Hunnic hounds and skilled lowland herding dogs.
By the 1500s, the breed established itself as an effective sheep-herder who can work for the whole day without scaring the sheep away.
In 1514, a Polish ship sailed to Scotland in search of sheep. Onboard were six Valee Sheepdogs to manage the returning flock. A Scottish shepherd was so impressed with them that he traded a ram for three dogs.
Nizinnys worked with shepherds in the Polish lowlands until the late 1800s, when sheep herding started to decline.
The breed almost perished during World War II as most dogs had to be abandoned when Germany invaded Poland in 1939.
Luckily, a Polish veterinarian took action and re-established the breed with her PON named Smok.
The Polish Kennel Club accepted the first PONS in 1957, and after a year, the first pedigree litter of Polskie Owczarki Nizinne was born.
In 1959, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) accepted the breed standard.
Much hard work and investment went into the rebirth of this breed in the following years.
Thanks to Polish and International breeders, the American Kennel Club (AKC) finally recognized the PONs under its English name, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog, in 2001 under the Herding Group.
What does a Polish Lowland Sheepdog look like?
PONs are well-balanced and compact dogs with a fit and muscular build, covered by a thick shaggy coat, making them appear even stockier than they already are.
The generous amount of fur on their deep chest and stocky hindquarters gives them a rectangular silhouette with a level topline.
Its heart-shaped ears are high set and floppy, and the thick fluff on the dog’s brow gives it the typical sheepdog fringe, hiding the penetrating gaze of its medium-sized brown eyes.
The Nizinny’s bearded muzzle contains strong jaws beneath a brown or black nose.
Meanwhile, powerful legs hide beneath its plentiful fur, which evolved to keep up with both sheep and shepherds with long, fluid strides.
Its front feet are larger than the back, and all paws come equipped with firm pads and strong, dark nails.
Its tail is short and may also be naturally bobbed or docked for working purposes.
The Nizinny Size: How big will they get?
Male Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are taller than the females, standing at 18 to 20 inches (46 to 51 cm) tall, with the latter ranging between 17 to 19 inches (43 to 48 cm) from withers.
Both female and male PONs have the same weight ranging between 30 to 50 pounds (14 to 23 kg).
Considering their size, Nizinnys are adaptable to apartment living, but only if you can provide them with daily exercise. This breed makes a wonderful companion dog for rural and city-dwellers alike.
As diverse as its many colors
Polish Lowland Sheepdogs have a dense double coat with a straight to wavy texture. The outer layer of fur is more coarse and unkempt, while the undercoat is soft and fluffy.
Interestingly, different coat colors have different textures. Black fur on Polish Lowland Sheepdog lacks a shaggy texture and has a thinner undercoat.
Tri-color coats are also common to PONs. The most frequent coat colors being white, with black, gray, or sandy brown patches, and gray with white or chocolate brown markings.
You will also find pooches with full black or white coats and black and tan colorations on occasions. Fortunately, the AKC accepts all color combinations, including the mix of the following colors:
- Dull gray, silver
- Chocolate brown
- Beige, fawn, tan, ginger, and gold
These different colors appear in patches on its thick coat and tips.
Life with a PON: Are Polish Lowland Sheepdogs good family pets?
With early socialization and proper training, PONs are excellent family dogs. They’re affectionate and energetic, making them a great companion for families with children and other pets.
But with a playmate this energetic, always supervise interactions between your sheepdog and little ones. One of them may unintentionally get hurt.
And consider this breed’s herding background. While they do well with kids and other pets, they may show other dogs that they’re dominant, and they may try to herd and nip at the heels of anyone moving near them.
They’re also notorious for their determined nature. If you notice your pup eyeing an object, don’t be surprised if you find it missing later because they’re known to steal and hoard household and personal items.
Are Polish Lowland Sheepdogs aggressive?
Other than being pushy with other canines of the same sex, PONs aren’t aggressive. They’re loving and loyal companions that welcome anyone they see as a friend.
But they can also be protective, territorial, and naturally wary of strangers, which makes them an excellent watchdog.
Being stubborn and headstrong can be expected from smart dogs, which means this clever pooch would be difficult to train sometimes.
You can keep your pooch from developing domineering behaviors by using his intelligence and excellent memory in training and other activities.
The Polish Owczarek Nizinny Sheepdog excels in different training classes and dog shows and sports, like agility courses.
Keeping your PON busy and mentally stimulated can avoid behavioral issues at bay, too. Otherwise, your fido will start digging, chewing, or excessively barking to amuse itself.
Do PONs bark a lot?
They occasionally bark, like when they’re excited to see you. You won’t have to worry if they’ll be noisy when left alone for long periods.
This breed doesn’t suffer from separation anxiety when there’s no one around. Still, they can get destructive when they feel bored.
It’s one of those dog breeds that knows what it wants and won’t be afraid to ask for it. Just watch this video of a Nizinny being vocal and asking for its breakfast:
Caring for a Polish Lowland Sheepdog
While better suited for colder conditions, these dogs can adjust to warmer climates. If the weather is hot, make it a point to provide your pet with a place to cool down and keep his bowl filled with fresh water.
Here’s what else you need to know so your fluffy herding dog is happy and healthy.
The Polish Lowland Sheepdog is no couch potato
Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are highly active and would need 1 to 2 hours of daily exercise.
If you have a medium- to a large-sized yard that’s safely enclosed, you can let your pup release all his pent-up energy by letting him run around freely. You can also play frisbee with him or give him an interactive toy.
If going out for a walk, run, or hike isn’t possible because of the weather, there are plenty of indoor games that can help entertain your PON.
There’s hide and seek, fetch, or a few puzzles or interactive feeders that will also contribute to mental stimulation.
Do Polish Lowland Sheepdogs shed a lot?
The Nizinny is considered a hypoallergenic dog and is a low to moderate shedder. Its coat has to be brushed at least twice a week to avoid matting and keep the dog looking neat.
Brushing would also help get rid of any dirt or debris that got caught in the fur before your pooch comes inside the house, especially if your pet loves playing outside or is a working dog.
So they may be high maintenance in the grooming section, but they’re allergy-friendly.
Your PON will need a bath every 6 to 8 weeks. If your dog has matted fur, then bathing is not recommended, as this will cause the knots to shrink and become nearly impossible to remove.
A professional groomer can help you if this is the case.
Their ears need to stay dry and should be cleaned whenever they get wet. Do a weekly check on their ears for dirt buildup and redness, which can indicate an infection.
Nails need a trim about every 2 to 3 weeks. Dental hygiene is best done daily, but brushing their teeth at least three times a week would be okay.
Feeding: Are Valee Sheepdogs picky eaters?
Generally, this sheepdog breed isn’t picky with their dog food, but that will depend on the individual canine.
The type of dog food, recipe, and the amount you feed your fido should be based on his weight, age, activity level, and health.
The overall recommendation for adult Polish Lowland Sheepdogs is around 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality dry kibbles divided into two meals. Puppies would need to eat more often, so divide their food into three to four meals.
If your canine friend is being a good boy during work or training, don’t overdo it with the treats. Limit it to 10% of their daily consumption because having too much can make your doggo obese.
How long do Polish Lowland Sheepdogs live?
PON dogs have an average life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. They’re generally fit and healthy, but a few health problems can affect their lifespan.
One example is how common it is for older dogs to develop Glomerulonephropathy, an inherited disease that causes the kidneys to fail.
Like many active dogs, this purebred is predisposed to Canine Hip Dysplasia, a genetic disease that causes pain and lameness in their rear legs.
Polish Lowland Sheepdog owners should also watch out for eye illnesses, such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) that can cause blindness.
And other than obesity, diabetes can be an issue when food intake isn’t regulated.
If you’re buying a pet from a breeder, go for the one that performs screening tests. This is to see if their lineage is vulnerable to genetic disorders related to the eyes and hips.
You can check out this health statement from the American Polish Lowland Sheepdog Club.
Besides going to the vet regularly for checkups, having routine screenings throughout your pet’s life to monitor any underlying health issues is an excellent way to get ahead of them.
The recommended health screenings for Polish Lowland Sheepdogs include hip evaluations and occasional X-rays, blood and urine testing, and possible eye examinations from an ophthalmologist.
How much do Polish Lowland Sheepdog puppies cost?
A Polish Lowland Sheepdog puppy has a price range of $1,000 to $2,500. Some can be more expensive depending on the breeder or kennel’s location and popularity, the gender and color of the pup, and many more factors.
PONs have a litter size of up to 6 puppies, so the availability would affect the cost, too.
Think that’s too pricey? Keep in mind that that’s just for purchasing a puppy.
Dog owners would also have to think of other expenses like medical emergency and vet bills, food, accessories, food bowls, dog beds and mats, as well as grooming fees.
Ready to browse PON puppies for sale online?
Polish Lowland Sheepdog Breeders
Before you decide to make a deal with a particular seller, take the necessary steps to ensure that it’s a reputable breeder that cares for its dogs and pups.
They recognize the importance of genetics and should provide health certificates and a traceable lineage of the pup to prove that it’s in top health.
You should also expect to answer a questionnaire since they only want to make sure that the pup is the right match for you.
It would also be best if you check their website and reviews from previous clients.
And if you can meet the pup, its littermates, and parents, that would be an excellent way to see what that puppy would be like in terms of looks and behavior.
Polish Lowland Sheepdog for adoption
Unfortunately, many people buy PONs from breeders without fully understanding the breed’s quirks and needs, so you’ll often find them available for adoption.
If you cannot find a PON shelter in your area, contact the local and national breed clubs who can direct you to the nearest breed-specific rescue.
The Polish Lowland Sheepdog Rescue is another place to visit if you want access to PON rescue organizations located across the United States.
Polish Lowland Sheepdog Poodle mix
If you’re looking for a Polish Lowland Sheepdog mix, this one won’t disappoint. Poodle mixes or Doodles are all the rage in the world of designer dogs, so the PON & Poodle cross should be added to your list.
This hybrid shares the same traits as the PON’s loyalty, aloofness, and lovability, but also the Poodle’s three sizes.
PON-Poodle crossbreeds are highly intelligent and lively, but they’re quite rare.
Should I get a Polish Lowland Sheepdog?
While the Nizinnys make excellent companions for families and individuals, they are not the best dogs for first-time dog owners.
Their need for daily exercise and coat maintenance requires dedication and commitment, and so does their need for training and entertainment.
PONs will be great additions to large, active families or as working dogs. If you’ve owned breeds that are similarly smart, active, and fluffy, then you’ll be able to adapt well to this purebred.
They are more gentle than most herding dogs and get along well with children and other pets. Taking care of a Valee Sheepdog can be demanding, but if you’re up for the challenge, then go for it!
They’re affectionate, naturally protective, and fiercely loyal, which makes it all worth it!
Familiar with the Polish Lowland Sheepdog? Leave a comment to tell us about your experience with PONs.