Let's talk Portuguese Podengos

The Portuguese Podengo breed offers something for everyone: you can choose between the small, medium and large version as well as opting for either a smooth- or a wire-haired puppy. Mix and match, but one thing they all have in common is a charming and playful personality. Portuguese Podengos have a long history and were originally bred for hunting but now make lively and easygoing pets – as long as they get plenty of physical exercise as well as mental stimulation.

Official name: Portuguese Podengo

Other names: Podengo Português, Portuguese Warren Dog, Portuguese Warren Hound

Origins: Portugal

Close-up of Portuguese Podengo in black and white
 Drooling tendencies:

Very low

Warm weather? Medium
 Shedding level: Medium
Suited to apartment living?  Medium
 Physical activity needs (high, low, medium): Moderate Kid-friendly? 
Very high
 Compatibility with other pets: Very high
Can stay alone? Very low

We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches.
Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour.
Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.
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Illustration of Portuguese Podengo
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41 - 56 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
16 - 20 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight
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41 - 56 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
16 - 20 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight

 

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 12 months
 Adult age  1 to 7 years
 Mature age  7 to 10 years
 Senior age  10 years onwards

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Get to know the Portuguese Podengo

All you need to know about the breed

With their pricked up ears and wide-eyed expressions, Portuguese Podengos seem to exude energy. And it’s more than just an impression: this is a playful breed. Whether you choose the small, medium or large version, wiry or smooth, these sparky dogs, which come in shades of white, yellow, tan or brown, make truly rewarding companions.

Portuguese Podengos thrive on human company, getting along well with adults and children alike once trained (although of course like any other breed they should not be left alone with them). They also make good – and quite vocal – watch dogs. One word of warning, however: with their prey drive still strong, they are not suitable housemates for smaller pets such as guinea pigs, hamsters or rabbits.

While the Portuguese Podengo needs plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation, they can get on perfectly well as apartment dwellers as long as they do get regular opportunities to run around outside. The smaller version in particular does not need a lot of living space, while the larger version has the reputation of a more laid-back temperament. Intelligent and eager-to-please Portuguese Podengos should be straightforward to train.

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2 facts about Portuguese Podengos

1. Grande podengo to go…

They may sound like coffee orders, but the terms pequeno, medio and grande (small, medium and large) refer to the three sizes of Portuguese Podengo. The different sizes were bred to hunt different-sized animals from rabbits to deer. Nowadays, no matter the size, Podengos thrive on more peaceful pastimes such as chasing a ball.

2. Bark alert

While you can choose the size and the hairiness of your Portuguese Podengo, the developers of the breed failed to come up with a silent version. A tendency to bark is this charming dog’s one little fault. The good news: they are intelligent and responsive to training, so with a bit of patience you should be able to help them understand which situations are bark-worthy and which not so much.

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History of the breed

As the name suggests, the Portuguese Podengo was developed in Portugal – as a hunting breed. But these plucky dogs in fact trace their origins further east – and right back to antiquity. The breed’s ancestors are thought to be dogs kept by the Romans and Phoenicians. That explains their arrival in the Iberian peninsula, where they were brought by ancient traders.

The breed subsequently evolved through crosses with dogs introduced by the Moors during their invasions in the 8th century, adapting to the Portuguese climate and terrain. From the 15th century onwards, the smallest of the three Podengo types got their sea-legs, accompanying Portugal’s famous navigators on their caravels, where their job was to keep the ships free from rodents. Meanwhile, at home, the breed grew in popularity, in particular in northern Portugal.

While the breed remains rare outside Portugal, nowadays the Portuguese Podengo is recognised as the country’s national dog. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) recognised the breed in 1967.

Portuguese Podengo in black and white

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Portuguese Podengos

1. Coat

Smooth or wire-haired coat in shades of fawn, yellow, brown and white.

2. Ears

Large triangular ears and a pointed muzzle.

3. Body

Compact but solid build with tapered tail.

Portuguese Podengo standing in grass in front of twiggy bush

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Portuguese Podengo
Portuguese Podengo sitting on grass facing camera

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Caring for your Portuguese Podengo

Grooming, training and exercise tips

While smooth-haired Portuguese Podengos just need the occasional brush, the wire-haired version needs a weekly groom to remove dead hairs. In both cases, their fur-related demands are hardly onerous (and provide a good chance to get these little livewires to sit still long enough for a cuddle). These dogs will also need frequent (daily if possible) tooth brushing and regular nail clipping. To keep your Portuguese Podengo in good shape physically, as well as mentally stimulated, you’ll need to ensure they have plenty of exercise. This can take the form of walks on the lead, games of chase or off-the-lead runs. Those will need to take place in a securely enclosed space, however: these dogs maintain a strong prey drive and if they pick up a scent that piques their interest, they’ll be gone before you know it. That applies even once they’re trained, which (aside from that unfortunate tendency to follow their noses) shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. These dogs are intelligent and eager to please. Any food rewards for training should come out of their daily rations to prevent them becoming overweight.

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All about Portuguese Podengos

One of the few downsides to this breed is their relative rarity – you may have to wait a while if you want to adopt a Portuguese Podengo.

While all Portuguese Podengos shed to some degree, the wire-haired version will tax your vacuum cleaner a little more than their smooth-haired counterpart. However, the good news is that neither version is known as an excessive shedder.

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Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/