Polish Lowland Sheepdog

Polish Lowland Sheepdog picture

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog


The Polish Lowland Sheepdog is known throughout Europe by the name PON, which derives from its Polish name - Polski Owczarek Nizinny.

The ancestor of the PON arrived in the Polish lowlands with the nomads coming from the Caspian Sea area in the 1200s. There is a reference to the Polish Lowland Sheepdog in literature as early as the 1500s, when a ship owned by K. Grabski sailed from Gdansk to Scotland with grain to exchange for sheep. With him he also took 6 lowland sheepdogs, trading 3 of them with a Scottish shepherd for a ram and ewe. The shepherd had admired the dogs for their excellent work.

At the beginning of 1900s, there was a decline in sheep-farming and a Polish princess, Princess Grocholska started collecting some of the best specimens of sheepdog she could find to breed at her Kennels on her estate in Planta (eastern Poland).

The first official show appearance of the PON took place in a farm animal exhibition in 1924, when the Princess exhibited two of her dogs. Mesdames Wanda and Rosa Zoltowskie started breeding in the 1930s, their dogs originating from Planta. These ladies laid the foundations of the breed.

Unfortunately the two kennels ceased breeding activities during the Second World War. New attempts to resurrect the breed started in Bydgoszcz with Mrs Kuionowicz (her kennels existed until 1956) and the pillar of the breed veterinarian/surgeon Dr Danuta Hryniewicz. Dr Hryniewicz managed to find dogs originating from the early famous kennels and began her own breeding line under the affix 'Kordegarda', which is still well known among PON people today. It took 15 years after the second World War to get the breed established. Her famous dog 'Smok z Kordegardy' became the true 'father of the breed'.

In the 1959 the FCI accepted the PON as a new breed, and the actual breed standard was published in the 1960s. In the 1970s they gained wider popularity in Poland and later, rest of Europe.

The PON has travelled almost all over the world since then. In the 1960s it was first imported into East Germany, and later to West Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. The number of PONs in these countries has risen to more than 4000 now. The breed was first presented in the UK in 1985 and thanks to breeder Megan Butler (Megsflocks) there are almost 1000 of these dogs in Great Britain to date.

Denmark was the first of the Northern Countries to begin breeding PONs, in the early 1980s.lt was not until 1984 when the first PONs were imported to Norway and from there to Sweden.

Today the number of PONs in Poland may well exceed 3000. Even though representatives of the breed can be found in Europe, America and Australia, the breed is still comparatively rare.


The Polish Lowland Sheepdog is a middle-sized, strong and sound dog, covered with long, dense hair. It moves freely and economically; it is a working dog, psychologically and physically. It is known to be a good companion dog in town or city conditions. It is a lively but moderate, alert, well adjusted, smart and intelligent dog and has a good memory.

The PON was originally used as a sheepdog in the Polish lowlands and being an alert and agile dog, it was very suitable for such use. Therefore it is also very suitable for obedience and agility. Several PONs have already competed in these tests very successfully. In city surroundings the PON is a good companion for children and also protects and watches them as well as his home. The breed is good natured and gentle with children.

The dense coat is one of PONs most typical characteristics. The hair should be harsh, long and thick and when groomed well, it makes the dog look attractive and interesting. The hair falling from the forehead covers the eyes in a characteristic manner,giving it the very typical expression.

All colours and colour combinations are accepted, the most common colour is white with various dark or gray patches. There are also a few chocolate-pigmented PONs and solid colours such as all black, or all cream.

The proportions for the PON are height to length 9 - 10. The height at the withers for a bitch is 40-46 cms. (16-18 ins) and for a dog is 43-52 cms. (17-20 ins.) which means that PON is somewhere in between the Tibetan Terrier and Bearded Collie in size.

The temperament of the PON is peaceful, balanced, alert, active, intelligent and lively. It has an excellent memory, and according to the breed standard it is easily trained. The PON is often somewhat reserved when it comes to strange people, but this is typical for a sheepdog. It does not mean that the dog is afraid or insecure because he will still look straight at you even if he is backing away. At the same time as being reserved, he is also interested and curious. The PON still has a strong herding instinct.

The PONs head is middle-sized and not too heavy. He has thick fur on the forehead, the cheeks and the chin, which makes the head look larger than it actually is. While standing and moving, the PON carries his head rather horizontally, almost in line with his topline. Its nose is large and as dark as possible, considering the dog's colour.

Its eyes are middle-sized, oval-shaped and hazel to brown. The expression is penetrating, lively and curious. The heart-shaped ears have a lot of movement and exhibit the dog's mood very well.

The PON's forequarters and hindquarters are parallel and very muscular. It moves freely and soundly, with long steps, covering the ground very well. This is only achieved if it is correctly angulated.

The tail is either natural bobtail (puppies born tailless) or has traditionally been docked. Undocked dogs carrying full tails carry them high and over their backs when alert or moving, hanging low at repose.

The coat requires thorough grooming to keep it mat free and the PON, as a working breed, needs regular exercise. They do not do well in situations where they are left alone for long periods of time and like nothing better than to be close to their family. They are a very greedy breed and care must be taken to ensure that the PON does not become overweight; obesity is a common problem. They are a fairly hardy breed and do not seem to suffer from a lot of illness.

The PON is a breed which is very loyal, faithful and great fun, as they love to play, but demand a firm but gentle owner; PONs can exhibit much stubbornness and often a willful streak, there are clever dogs, early training and socialisation is important.

One thing is for sure - life is never dull when PONs are around.

Polish Lowland Sheepdog breed guide written by : Terrie Cousins - Dorianblue