The Portuguese Podengo is the national dog of Portugal and a very old breed. It is supposed that initially the breed developed there by a process of natural selection from Mediterranean dogs descended from the ancient dogs of Egypt. There are three sizes of Podengo: the Grande (large) which is very rare; the Medio (medium); the Pequeno (small). These dogs would have accompanied Portuguese explorers in the 15th and 16th centuries and are thus believed to be in the background of many of the world’s breeds. For centuries the small Podengo has been a popular household dog, vermin controller and rabbit hunter in its native land. Rabbits were an important source of food and it is probable that the Pequeno was deliberately bred down in size to enable it to enter warrens and either kill directly or flush out rabbits for the larger Medio to course and catch. This is a versatile hound which uses finely tuned senses of smell, scent and eyesight when hunting. The breed was first introduced into Britain in 2002 and was given Kennel Club recognition in 2003. It is still considered rare outside its homeland but is becoming more widely known as an endearing companion and show dog.
This lively looking dog is exactly that - lively and effervescent. From his questing nose and bright eyes to the tip of his tail he presents a picture of alertness and enthusiasm. He is a most loyal and devoted dog who will form a close bond of attachment to his family liking nothing better than to be included in anything and everything that is going on, from relaxing in your company to playing games and going on outings. A lonely life deprived of attention and companionship will cause him to feel rejected and miserable and, almost certainly, will result in behavioural problems. He is good with children and will generally get along well with dogs of all shapes and sizes. He is also very friendly towards everyone but, despite this congeniality, he is an excellent watchdog who will warn of trespassers in his territory by barking. As he is usually a quiet dog it is wise to pay attention when he gives voice. Secure fencing is necessary as he may try to get out should he be tempted by an interesting smell or the sight of potential prey. Once out he has the tendency to roam over a wide area and will face the risk of getting lost or injured. For those seeking an active, good-natured, cheerful addition to the family the Portuguese Podengo is very worthy of consideration.
With generations of hard working hunting dogs behind him the Podengo needs a good deal of regular exercise to keep him physically fit and mentally stimulated. Daily walks are essential and it is a good idea to vary the route as much as possible to present interesting new sights and smells. He will welcome the opportunity to run and play off-lead but a secure area should be found for this as his nose for rabbits and his general inquisitiveness may lead him into trouble. The canine sports of tracking, agility and flyball will provide an outlet for his energies as well as encouraging him to use his brain.
Basic obedience training should be started from an early age. Training has the benefits of ensuring that the dog grows to be a pleasant member of the household and acceptable to the general community, plus strengthening the relationship between dog and owner as they learn and work together. The Portuguese Podengo is a very trainable dog. He learns quickly, has a good memory and is very responsive once he understands what is required of him. For all his happy-go-lucky air he is a sensitive fellow and harsh disciplinary measures are unnecessary and should never be used. Positive reinforcement will achieve far more in terms of speed of learning and willingness to work for you. Success at the highest levels of competitive obedience is not at all beyond his capabilities. As with training, socialization should be commenced as soon as possible. The pup that is introduced to as many various people, animals, sights, sounds and novel situations as possible will mature into a confident, out-going and well-mannered adult.
- No known hereditary disorders
Some photographs of the Portuguese Podengo...