Polish Lowland Sheepdog

  • Overview

    In Poland, this dog's name is the Polski Owczarek Nizinny, but in America, he's known affectionately as the PON. Polish Lowland Sheepdogs generally weigh up to 40 pounds, but some males can be larger. They stand between 17 and 20 inches tall. These compact, energy-efficient dogs were bred to work all day without tiring.

    With the time and effort necessary to groom and exercise these quick-moving and quick-thinking herding dogs, they can make joyful companions for active families. Their amiable personalities and adept athletic abilities make them amusing additions to households willing to put up with a little extra mess and a lot of extra attitude.

  • Personality

    Although the PON's mop-topped, cheerful appearance makes them look like overgrown lapdogs, they're actually active, hard-working dogs with a clever, mischievous streak. They will have to be patiently and firmly trained from a young age to make sure that they do not become accustomed to always getting their own way. In fact, these dogs were bred to forage for their own food in the Polish countryside, so they will beg persistently for food unless they are remonstrated. They also have kleptomaniac tendencies. PONs are known for sniffing out their owners' belongings and extra snacks and stashing them away, so owners of these crafty dogs won't want to leave their dirty laundry lying about.

    Their natural abilities flourish in agility or herding trials, and they appreciate being given a job to do. Non-working dogs should be kept busy with frequent exercise or vigorous outdoor play. If these dogs aren't entertained, they will burn off their excess energy with some not so polite habits. PONs are smart and clever, which means they won't always want to blindly obey their master's commands. Therefore, training will have to be exciting and thoughtful to make sure that they can show off their natural intelligence. Once trained, these dogs have an incredible memory and can be taught to do an impressive variety of tricks. PONs generally get along with children and other dogs, especially if they are socialized from a young age. If not, they can be timid or shy around strangers. Still, these dogs bond most closely to their family and will always be slightly aloof around others.

  • Coat Care

    The Polish Lowland Sheepdog has a long, dense, straight overcoat. It should always appear shaggy. In fact, if you plan to show your dog, you should never trim or clip his abundant coat. The soft undercoat is fluffy and gives the dog's coat its voluminous appearance. The facial hair should hang down over the eyes and into a mustache. The coat comes in all colors and combinations, but it is most frequently seen in white, black, gray, chocolate and combinations of those colors. PONs have a genetic trait that causes their coats to lighten with age, so most darker colors will fade as they grow older.

Brushing

Despite the fact that the PON's coat can stay naturally tousled in the show ring, their shaggy coat still needs quite a bit of grooming. Brushing and combing the coat thoroughly at least twice a week is necessary to keep it free of tangles. The beard and paws need special attention, because the long hair attracts dirt, debris and water.

Bathing

Always brush the PON before a bath, and use a light detangling spray or shampoo to keep the coat free of tangles.

Hair Clipping

Clipping or trimming your dog’s coat is far easier than you would ever imagine. With the right clipper, trimmer and scissors, giving your dog a haircut is easy on your wallet and your schedule.

Dogs with drop coats generally require regular hair clipping because they do not shed, so their long hair grows continuously. It lessens the chances of matting, tangles and the infestation of fleas and other pests, thus reducing the risk of skin infections. There is no set timetable. Judgment should be made on an individual basis, depending on functionality and owner preference. There are a wide array of clippers and trimmers available that will make each snip a snap. It's a good idea to take your dog for a short walk to calm him down before you groom him. Thoroughly brush the coat to remove tangles and mats. Use clippers to trim excess fur off the dog's body, choosing the appropriate clip attachment to achieve desired length. Start with the shoulders and progress towards the tail. Always leave at least a half-inch of fur to protect the dog from the elements. Use a trimmer or a scissors to even out areas around the tail, paws, sanitary areas and chest, as needed. Groom the head and face last, being watchful for sudden movement. Clip with the flow of the fur, away from the eyes and nose.

Nails

Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Drop coated dogs have sensitive ears and long hair that tends to grow into the ear. Their ears need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. Small dogs like Shih Tzus and Havanese are prone to developing tear stains around their eyes, so clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.

Teeth

Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.