Polish Lowland Sheepdog

By PetMD Editorial on Sep. 24, 2009

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog is lively, clever, and self-controlled. It has an intense desire to please, which makes it an excellent herder. It also has excellent memory.

Physical Characteristics

As this breed is muscular and strong, it can effectively control livestock. Its fluid movement, with long strides, allows it to trot easily for hours. The medium-sized and cobby Polish Lowland Sheepdog (or PON, as it is sometimes referred to) has a slightly long body that provides good agility. Its energy-efficient gait is also enhanced by its inclination to amble.

Its dense, shaggy, and long double coat is purposely not trimmed to provide the dog a good deal of protection from harsh weather. In-toeing (where the toes point inward) are regarded to be natural in this breed.

Personality and Temperament

The loyal and lively PON has spent centuries perfecting the art of being an efficient shepherd. Being a true territorial breed, it is often suspicious of strangers, but is also very affectionate to those with who it is familiar.

The Polish Lowland Shepherd loves to bark and show off as well. It is a quick learner but does not blindly follow commands. It has a willful and independent side, too.

Although the Polish Lowland Shepherd has a shaggy look, it can be very serious. PONs are generally good with thoughtful children, other pets, and dogs, but if a dog challenges them, they are sure to fight back.


This dog requires mental and physical exercise every day. It especially does well when it is allowed to live indoors and play outdoors, learning agility exercises or herding. To maintain the dog's coat, it should be brushed every two or three days.


The Polish Lowland Shepherd, which has an average lifespan of 10 to 14 years, does not not generally suffer from any major or minor ailments. However, a veterinarian may recommend hip and eye exams for this breed of dog.

History and Background

In many parts of the world, Polski Owczarek Nizinny is the common name for the Polish Lowland Sheepdog. In the U.S., its popular nickname is "PON." The origins of the breed probably go back to Central Asia, to a Tibetan breed like the Tibetan Terrier that traders introduced to Eastern Europe. Tibetan dogs with long coats were said to be interbred with Hungarian sheepdogs that had corded coats and were said to have been introduced in the 4th century by the Huns.

The big, flock-guarding dogs kept away large predators; the small PONs, meanwhile, moved and controlled sheep along with shepherds, and they even acted as vigils against intruders. They did not scare the sheep like the larger dogs and could work throughout the day. For centuries, they continued to work on the Polish lowlands until there was an interest by Europeans in purebred dogs late 19th and early 20th centuries.

This, as well as Polish national pride after the First World War, created interest in selectively breeding and promoting the Polish Lowland Sheepdog. Many dogs of this breed left the plains to work and stay on large estates.

PONs were displayed at a Warsaw dog and poultry show in 1924. And just as breeders were about to start a registry for the PON, in 1939, Poland was invaded by Germany. After the war about 150 PONs remained, but many dog lovers sought to revive the breed.

The Polish Kennel Club registered the first PONs in 1957. A particular PON named Smok is often attributed with setting the breed standard, which was sanctioned in 1959. The 1965 World Dog Show further drew spotlight on the breed, causing dog fanciers worldwide to want them even more.

The American Kennel Club admitted the PON in 2001 under its English name, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog.

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?

Get Instant Vet Help Via Chat or Video. Connect with a Vet. Chewy Health