Let's talk Rafeiro of Alentejos

The sturdy Rafeiro of Alentejo is a Portuguese breed with a hunting heritage. They are powerful but with a sweet temperament. Their preferred pace? Slow but steady. With an independent streak, the Rafeiro of Alentejo is not recommended for first-time owners, but with the right training they are a protective and loyal family dog. Nowadays they are most likely to be found as a watchdog on farms or estates, keeping an eye on the herd. Apartments are sure to cramp their style.

Official name: Rafeiro of Alentejo

Other names: Alentejo Mastiff, Portuguese Mastiff, Mutt of Alentejo

Origins: Portugal

Side view of Rafeiro De Alentejo in black and white

Drooling tendencies Medium Warm weather? Very low
Shedding level Medium Suited to apartment living? Very low
Energy level (high, low, moderate)*: Moderate Family Pet?* Medium
Compatibility with other pets Low *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.
Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed’s specifics should be taken as an indication.
For a happy, healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socialising your pet as well as covering their basic welfare, social and behavioural needs.
Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.
Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.

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Illustration of Rafeiro De Alentejo
66 - 74 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
45 - 60 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight
64 - 70 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
35 - 50 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight


 Baby age:  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age:  2 to 8 months
 Junior age:  8 months to 2 years
 Adult age:  2 to 5 years
 Mature age:  5 to 8 years
 Senior age:  From 8 years

Rafeiro De Alentejo standing in long grass


Get to know the Rafeiro of Alentejo

All you need to know about the breed

There’s no delicate way to say this: The Rafeiro of Alentejo is an awful lot of dog! Their hefty size and working dog heritage means they suit a particular owner with a particularly outdoorsy lifestyle. With a family that can give them all they need, the Rafeiro of Alentejo will make for an affable and affectionate companion.

The breed has an excellent work ethic, having previously been used as a pack dog for hunting large game, but nowadays you’re most likely to find the confident Rafeiro of Alentejo embracing their watchdog skills, preferably on a farm with some herd to keep watch over. And yes, this talent makes them a little wary of strangers.

Their impressive stature may lead some to think that Rafeiro of Alentejos are aggressive, but that would be a mistake. Independent, definitely, and some may even say stubborn. They require a confident human who will dedicate time to training and help them integrate into the household. Young children and your Rafeiro of Alentejo alike will require training to best understand how to behave around each other—and like with all other breeds, supervision is always necessary. The Rafeiro of Alentejo is definitely not the dog for everyone, but a calm and confident canine companion for those who can offer them enough space and daily tasks.

Rafeiro De Alentejo walking towards camera through long dry grass


2 facts about Rafeiro of Alentejos

1. Size matters

According to the American Kennel Club, the Rafeiro of Alentejo is the biggest Portuguese dog breed currently in existence. That surely deserves a medal.

2. Enjoys nightlife

The Rafeiro of Alentejo has natural watchdog instincts, and can be trusted to keep a protective eye on the household at night. This is one of their most active moments of the day, in fact.


History of the breed

The Rafeiro of Alentejo is a mysterious canine, with relaxed record-keeping making the facts a little hazy. They are believed to descend from hardy, large-sized dogs. The modern-day Rafeiro of Alentejo is a fearless guardian dog, trusted by farmers to protect sheep or cattle from thieves or animal predators. They have always been appreciated in their homeland for adapting well to warmer climates and herding from pasture to pasture.

The breed’s bravery and certain physical traits have led experts to believe that they count the Spanish Mastiff and the Anatolian Shepherd as their ancestors. Rafeiro Do Alentejos are rare but they have been brought back from near extinction in the 1980s, thanks to a dedicated group of Portuguese breeders. They have been introduced to the US but are yet to be recognised by the American Kennel Club. In 2006, the breed was recognised by the United Kennel Club.

Close-up of Rafeiro De Alentejo in black and white


From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Rafeiro of Alentejos

1. Body

A large, muscular body with a broad chest.

2. Coat

A dense coat that can be short or medium-length.

3. Colouring

Coat colour can be black, wolf grey, fawn or yellow and always features white markings.

Close-up of Rafeiro De Alentejo looking behind


Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Rafeiro of Alentejo
Rafeiro De Alentejo running over grass and yellow flowers


Caring for your Rafeiro of Alentejo

Grooming, training and exercise tips

Grooming your Rafeiro of Alentejo is a nice bonding moment. Their thick, dense coat requires one weekly brush with either a metal comb or de-shedder: During shedding season, up the routine to daily brushing. Ensure good dental health with regular brushing of the teeth (daily if possible) as well as frequent nail clipping. Check their ears regularly for wax or dirt build-up, cleaning them when necessary. Rafeiro of Alentejos are moderately active dogs, who require a minimum of one hour of daily exercise. This could be a long and leisurely stroll, or a shorter walk combined with a good game of fetch. Outside space should be fenced to prevent your Rafeiro Do Alentejo from ambling after an exciting scent. Their independent streak will make training your Rafeiro of Alentejo somewhat challenging. Start early and adopt a firm but positive approach. Food rewards will come in handy—just be sure to count them as part of their daily food rations.


All about Rafeiro of Alentejos

It depends—if they grow up together then they may be able to cohabit peacefully. But the Rafeiro of Alentejo is a lot of dog, with a hunting heritage, so smaller household pets may fall victim to their prey instinct.

Once trained, Rafeiro of Alentejo dogs are good with children. Their powerful stature means they may unintentionally knock over smaller children, so like with all dog breeds, supervision is always necessary.


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/