The Breed History
The Polski Owczarek Nizinny or PON was accepted into the AKC registry in 2001. The breed may have derived from the Hungarian group of herding dogs; some perhaps of the corded coat type. In Poland, first records of the breed trace to about the year 1500. During the Second World War, the breed came close to extinction. After the war, one breeder had six bitches and two dogs which were used to recover the breed. This is still a rare breed.
Breeding for Function
Though a sheepdog primarily developed for herding, this dog was originally used for hunting, and also was widely valued for companionship.
Height at Withers: 16-20" (40.5-51 cm).
Weight: 30-35 lb (13.5-16 kg).
Coat: The double coat is accepted in any color. The coarse profuse outer coat is shaggy and long, and the inner coat short, dense and wooly. Colors may include white with black, or gray or sandy patches, gray and white, or chocolate. A fading factor (dominant inheritance) results in puppy coats fading as they mature; this does not affect white puppies.
Longevity: 13-15 years
Points of Conformation: In general appearance, they are often considered to be a small version of the Bearded Collie, a breed that the PON may have acted as an ancestor for. Their overall conformation is slightly longer than tall, cobby and heavily boned. The skull is heavy and broad and slightly domed. The hair normally covers the brown or hazel oval shaped eyes. The head appears to be larger than it really is because of profuse hair, especially in the brows, moustache and beard. The muzzle is long. The nose is large and dark brown or black. Ears are moderate in size, hanging down and well covered in hair. The neck is short and strong. These dogs possess a broad level topline, and the legs are well haired. The thorax is deep with moderately sprung ribs and the abdomen is moderately tucked up. Limbs are straight boned and the feet are oval, compact, and the forefeet are larger than the rear feet. Puppies may be born tailless; if a tail is present, it is usually docked to 2 vertebrae in length. The tail is low set. The gait is long and low striding with an ambling appearance. These dogs may tend to toe in somewhat.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Moderate grooming needs, friendly, high intelligence and trainability, likes to please, adaptable to city or country living. Aloof with strangers, he makes a good watchdog. The PON needs human companionship and regular exercise. He is considered to have an excellent memory. Early obedience training is strongly recommended as some of these dogs tend to be dominant in personality.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 15.8% affected.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. Too few Polish Lowland Sheepdogs have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. Too few Polish Lowland Sheepdogs have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 28.4% positive for thyroid autoantibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Identified in 6.50% of Polish Lowland Sheepdogs CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Corneal Dystrophy: Epithelial/stromal form causes a bilateral non-inflammatory corneal opacity (white to gray). Identified in 3.11% of Polish Lowland Sheepdogs CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Cataracts: Anterior cortex punctate cataracts predominate in the breed. Identified in 2.26% of Polish Lowland Sheepdogs CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any Polish Lowland Sheepdog with a cataract.
Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (NCL, CL): A slowly progressive disorder, beginning with retinal degeneration and nyctalopia from 6 months to 4-5 years of age. Affected dogs then progress to cerebellar ataxia and dementia. Stored material in nerve and retinal cells consisting of sphingolipid activation proteins. Suspected autosomal recessive mode of inheritance.
Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy (CPRA): A progressive photoreceptor degeneration secondary to an underlying abnormal metabolism of Vitamin E. Progression is slow and some animals may never lose vision. Undetermined mode of inheritance. CERF does not recommend breeding any Polish Lowland Sheepdog with CPRA.
Entropion and Patent Ductus Arteriosus are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Intracranial Medulloblastoma: A caudal fossa, cerebellar medullobastoma was identified in a Polish Lowland Sheepdog by MRI. The tumor arose laterally and extended to the surface of the cerebellar hemisphere.
Tests of Genotype: None
Tests of Phenotype: Recommend hip and elbow radiographs, CERF eye examination, patella evaluation, thyroid profile including autoantibodies, and cardiac examination.
- Breed name synonyms: Polski Owczarek Nizinny, Valee Sheepdog, Nizinny, PON.
- Registries: AKC, UKC (as Polski Owczarek Nizinny), KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club).
- AKC rank (year 2008): 145 (78 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: The American Polish Lowland Sheepdog Club: www.aponc.org
Canadian Polish Lowland Sheepdog Club: www.cponc.com
Polish Lowland Sheepdog Club (UK): www.plsc.org.uk
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