The Portuguese Podengo

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Though still considered a rare breed, the Portuguese Podengo is a sweet natured breed that is steadily gaining in popularity in the United States.


The Portuguese Podengo breed originated in Portugal in the 13th century, and was primarily bred and kept as a hunting dog, not as a family dog. Their exceptionally keen senses and excellent stalking abilities make this dog a great hunting companion. This breed comes in three sizes. The smaller (Pequeno) was thought to have accompanied Portuguese explorers on ships during the 15th and 16th centuries to help control the rats. The medium (Medio) size Podengo was generally used to hunt rabbits, while the largest (Grande) size was utilized for hunting dear and wild boar. Portuguese Podengos can track their prey and kill it quickly while keeping the hunter in their visual range so they can bring the kill back him. Some Podengos will simply kill the animal and wait for the hunter to arrive.
Existing in the United States for several decades in very small numbers in the homes of Portuguese-Americans, the Portuguese Podengo didn’t actually become known until a group of Podengo Medio owners met in the early 1990s when the internet became available. Now a recognized breed in the United States by the American Rare Breed Association and the North American Kennel Club and in the United Kingdom by the United Kennel Club, there are still relatively few of them, but the numbers are growing. This breed is classified in the Hound group.


Smooth-haired Podengos have a smooth, thick coat with an undercoat that requires very little grooming. Because the coat is so short and compact, it sheds dirt and dust naturally and dries almost instantly. The wire-haired variety has a medium length, single layer coat made of rough fur, which barely sheds. The wire-haired breed’s fir surprisingly keeps it cool in warmer temperatures, which is why this variety is found most often in the southern regions of Portugal, while the smooth-haired variety lives in the northern regions of Portugal where winters are rainy and cold.

Because this breed comes in three sizes, the height and weight averages as follows:

  • Small (Pequeno) – 8-12 inches high, weighing between 9-13 pounds
  • Medium (Medio) – 15-22 inches high, weighing between 35-44 pounds
  • Large (Grande) – 22-27 inches high, weighing between 44-66 pounds


This perky, lively and friendly breed makes a good family dog and does well with children and other household pets, even livestock if raised on a farm, when socialized at a very early age. With a fondness for running and jumping and playing in the sunshine, the Portuguese Podengo is a delight to own, especially for those that love the outdoors. Because of their high energy and natural eagerness to explore, it is a good idea to keep Podengos on a leash when not in a fenced yard, as they can sprint away from you easily until trained not to run. Indoors, you may even find that your Podengo is a bit of a gymnast, as he may often run around and jump off furniture or an even higher place if he can manage to find one.
With their naturally keen senses, the Portuguese Podengo dog is a great watchdog and will bark when they hear an unusual noise. Highly intelligent and enthusiastic, this breed is very trainable and once trained will be very reliable and make a great guardian. It is important to remember when training this breed that you be firm but friendly and clear in who is the leader, as Podengos are very smart and fiercely independent.


Known as a very healthy breed, Portuguese Podengos are not known to have any inherited genetic defects or diseases; although this may be because this breed is still relatively rare. Strong and lively, they can live for approximately 15 – 17 years with good nutrition, regular exercise and proper care. A daily walk will help to burn excess energy he may have and grooming simply requires brushing the coat thoroughly once a week to remove loose hair and dander.

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