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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.
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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 1500s, 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.
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 the 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.
A. Strong, muscular, of medium length, without any dewlap, held rather horizontally.
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.
A. Innately short, rudimentary, or very shortly docked.
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 muscular.
C. Metacarp – Slightly slant in relation to the forearm.
D. Feet – Oval, toes tight, slightly arched, with hard pads, claws short, possibly dark.
A. General Appearance – Well angled, straight as seen from behind.
B. Thigh – Broad, well muscled.
C. Hock – Distinct
A. Mostly smooth walking pace or trot. The dog is often an ambler.
A. Tight, without any folds.
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.
A. Every color and piebald allowed.
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.