Polish Lowland Sheepdog Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em
Polish Lowland Sheepdog Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
The Polish Lowland Sheepdog (nicknamed PON from his Polish name "Polish Owczark Nizinny") is a lively working dog. Strong and durable, athletic and agile, he requires daily exercise and does best with active outdoorsy owners.
Mental stimulation in the form of advanced obedience classes, agility classes, or herding livestock, is even more important to this intelligent breed.
When these needs are met, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog is calm and stable and settles down happily indoors.
Somewhat aloof and suspicious of strangers, the PON makes a vigilant watchdog. In fact, socialization must be early and thorough so that his watchfulness does not sharpen into suspiciousness or shyness.
Most Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are dominant toward other dogs, especially of the same sex. Those with a high prey drive are not reliable around little creatures that run or flutter.
These confident dogs were bred to think independently and make their own decisions, and they will do exactly that unless you take charge and establish the rules. They are persistent problem-solvers ("If I can't get what I want this way, maybe I can get it this way.") and can be dominant and manipulative. Not a good breed for a novice owner.
Nor is this rustic (shaggy) breed a good choice for the immaculate household. Mud, snow, and leaves cling to his tousled coat, and his beard collects water and food remnants and can become matted and smelly.
If you want a dog who...
- Is medium-sized and natural-looking
- Is an enthusiastic working dog who thrives on vigorous exercise and challenging activities
- Is calm indoors (with enough exercise)
- Makes a vigilant watchdog
A Polish Lowland Sheepdog may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Vigorous exercise requirements
- Destructiveness when bored or not exercised enough
- Suspiciousness toward strangers when not socialized enough
- Potential aggression toward other animals
- Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
- Lots of brushing and combing (or clipping the coat short)
- "Shaggy dog syndrome," i.e. debris clinging to the coat, water soaking into the beard and dripping on your floors
- Waiting lists (hard to find) and a high price tag
A Polish Lowland Sheepdog may not be right for you.
Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
- You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Polish Lowland Sheepdogs have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
- If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Polish Lowland Sheepdog to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.
More traits and characteristics of the Polish Lowland Sheepdog
If I was considering a Polish Lowland Sheepdog, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. This breed is so intelligent that it's a waste, and unfair to the dog, to keep one when all you want is a casual pet. The Polish Lowland Sheepdog is for experienced owners who want to get involved in herding, or agility (obstacle course), or advanced obedience, or a similar canine activity.
- Providing enough socialization. Standoffish by nature, Polish Lowland Sheepdogs need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become suspiciousness, which is a nuisance to live with.
- Potential animal aggression. Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are often pushy toward other dogs of the same sex. Some individuals have strong chasing instincts.
- Stubbornness. Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are smart and versatile, capable of learning a great deal. But they can be stubborn and manipulative. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. To teach your dog to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. Read more about Polish Lowland Sheepdog Training.
- Grooming. Without frequent brushing and combing, Polish Lowland Sheepdogs become a matted mess. You also need to use scissors to cut the hair away from the dog's eyes so he can see, and trim the genital areas for sanitary purposes. The alternative to brushing and combing is to regularly clip the coat short. This is my preferred option, as it keeps the dog cleaner and more comfortable. And it looks great!
If you leave the coat long, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog manifests "shaggy dog syndrome." This is where leaves, mud, snow, fecal matter, and other debris cling to the coat and ends up in your house. When the dog drinks, his beard absorbs water, which drips on your floors when he walks away. When he eats, his beard absorbs food so that when he sniffs your face or presses his head against your leg, YOU end up dirty, too. Shaggy dogs are not suited to fastidious housekeepers!
- Shedding. Shedding is about average. But if you leave the coat long, the shed hairs that are coming out get tangled in the long hair and mostly stay there until you brush them out. Whereas if you clip the coat short, your brushing chores become minimal to none.... but the shed hair has freer access to fall out onto your floor and furnishings. So it's a trade-off.
To help you train and care for your dog
Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.
The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.