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PON Breed presentation

The shortening “PON” comes from words Polski Owczarek Nizinny, in English it means Polish Lowland Sheepdog.

PON is an old breed but quite new as an FCI-registered breed. After World War the breed was re-established in Poland by a couple of active breeders, with a few dogs of the same type. The kennel that worked with establishing and breeding PONs for longest during the first decades was kennel “Kordegarda".

The PON today is a shaggy, thick-coated medium-sized dog. The size at withers is for male 45-50 cm, and for bitches 42-47 cm. A male is clearly different from a female: he is larger and broader and stronger. However this does not mean that a male is allowed to be too large or give heavy impression (often because of being too fat), nor that a female is allowed to be too small or light-boned.

The PON is an easy mover. Showing good, free movement should also show good structure of the body and correct angulations. PON is well angulated in rear and in front, however he should not have extremely strong angulations in the rear - among some there seems to be a trend towards over-angulated rear (which is showy when standing in the ring) right now, but this is not typical for PONs. What is typical for the PON is giving a well-balanced general impression: there should be nothing over-exaggerated in the PON!

The correct body proportions of the PON is height 9 : length 10. This is almost a square but yet rectangular. The PON should not give an impression of having a short croup or being “airy” light high on legs. Nor is a short-legged long-loined PON correct. Again, a well-balanced dog is ideal!

One of the typical and unique features of the PON is the expression of the head. When seen from front, the head with the moderately high-set ears create the shape of a horse shoe. The hair on the forehead falls down to the nose, covering the eyes. Thanks to a good stop, the dog still is able to see. With a well-coated PON, the head expression is just that: the shape of a horse shoe, thick hair falling down covering the eyes, and a large black or chocolate coloured nose. Unfortunately today many PONs show a different expression because of a too narrow scull and a too narrow and long muzzle. The long and narrow muzzle that points out from the hair covering the face ruins the true expression of the PON.

The correct bite for the PON is a scissor bite or a level bite. Sometimes a PON might have such a narrow under jaw that the front teeth don’t quite fit in correct line. Usually this is shown when the whole muzzle is too shallow and long. It may also happen that the bite is ok in the age of 2-3 years but later the teeth move into different positions and the bite may seem a bit out-of-line. We should pay attention to this in breeding. In general there are very little wrong bites in PONs so it is not a big problem. :-)

The temperament of the PON is often somewhat reserved. This, however does not mean that a very reserved, growling, scared or aggressive PON is acceptable! Fortunately nowadays there are more and more open and friendly happy PONs, and this should play a bigger role in breeding. The general surroundings and living environment today are different from what they used to be many decades ago. Also the PON’s temperament should be developed according to this: a very reserved dog is very difficult to have in a modern city environment. A friendlier, more open-minded and obedient dog is the kind that copes and adjusts better today.

The PON is double-coated breed. The undercoat is thick and softer. The topcoat should be coarser and rather straight. Considering how hairy breed the PON is, the coat is moderately easy to manage. A good-quality coat can be kept free of matting with a proper grooming every 2-3 weeks. But a softer coat needs attention once or twice a week to remain free of matting. When shedding, changing fur, you can groome the coat even more often. PON should never be trimmed or scissored for shows.
A PON needs a shampoo bath a couple of times a year, according to how dirty he is. After a muddy run in the woods it is usually enough that you shower the dirt off the feet and stomach coat with pure water. The more often you wash your PON with shampoo, the more often you need to wash him in the future, too! This is because when you use soap or shampoo, you wash off the natural fatty layer which covers each hair and protects it against dirt and rain etc. The coat is quite dirt-resistant as it is, when it dries the dirt usually falls off by itself.
Of course you have to be rational also about the need to wash your PON: if the environment makes the dog dirty easily, then you have to wash him more often - and in a conformation show the PON must always be presented clean and unmatted! And who likes to have a dirty dog with matted fur at home, either?

All the colors are allowed for the PON. However the wish is that the pigment is as dark as possible. The pigment may be either black or chocolate brown. Usually the PON is white with some greyish spots; or complitely grey in different shades. Puppies are born with the dark colors in black, but usually soon fade into different shades of grey or brown. This can happen while puppyhood or later when changing into adult coat. Some (few) PONs remain the black color, ie. they do not have the common fading factor in their genes.

PON can be born with any length of tail. The long tail hangs down when the dog is standing calmly; and curls more or less strongly up above the topline when the dog is moving or alert. The tail can also be a natural bobtail or a short tail - 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 of the length of the fully long tail - everything is allowed.

PONs are usually rather healthy dogs - they are quite resistant towards illnesses. And why not - the breed was meant to tolerate many kinds of weather conditions.

However certain health examinations are demanded for PONs used in breeding - and of course they are recommended for all PONs. In Finland we examine hips (HD), eyes, and thyroid function, usually in the age of 1-3 years.
So far the eye examinations have revealed that we have dogs with healthy eyes.
The HD results are graded A-E (A being the best result and E the worst). Most PONs in Finland have good hips: majority A-B (normal - almost normal), several C (mild dysplasia), not so many D (severe dysplasia), and no official E results. PONs with mild dysplasia usually do well if they don't have any arthritis and are kept slim and in good muscle condition.
The thyroid function is tested because it is indicated that PONs suffer from hypothyroidism more often than dogs in general. Examination is a blood test. T4 and TSH values tell whether or not the dog has hypothyroidism at the time of testing. TgAa (thyreoglobulin autoantibodies) tell you whether or not the dog is likely to get sick of hypothyroidism in the near future.
In addition to the examinations mentioned above, you can do some additional examinations: knees (for patella luxation), and elbow joints (ED). It is recommended to do these examinations especially if your dog is a working dog.
The Finnish PON Club's demands for dogs used in breeding are healthy eyes, healthy thyroid function (T4/TSH), and HD status A-C.

Above: The BOB PON in breed specialty back in 1975!

Above: Old male with excellent body proportions and topline.

Above: Young PON bitch with excellent body proportions and topline.

Above: A male PON head with excellent expression and shape of a horse shoe.

Above: A female PON head.

Above: A young PON male with black pigment, almost complitely white in coat and with a long tail.

Above: A young PON male with black pigment, grey coat and a half-long tail.

Above: A young PON bitch with chocolate pigment, chocolate coat (with fading factor) and a long tail.

Above: A young PON male with black pigment. A dog without the fading factor remains this black in dark spots.

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