Portuguese Podengo - Origin, Character and Behavior

Portuguese Podengo or Portuguese Wild Dog: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. The Portuguese Podengo, Wild Dog...

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The Portuguese Podengo, Portuguese Wild Dog or podengo português, as it is called in its country of origin, is an old dog breed that is emblematic of Portugal. Although they are not well known outside the Iberian Peninsula, they are very interesting dogs with a great morphological variety. And beyond their attractive appearance, Portuguese Podengos also attract attention with their strong personality and great versatility.

How about knowing a little more about this magnificent breed of dog? If this is the case, all you have to do is continue reading this breed sheet from PlanèteAnimal in which we tell you all about its origins, characteristics, temperament and the he alth of this breed of dog.

Happy reading!


  • Europe
  • Portugal

FCI Nomenclature

  • Group V

Origin of Portuguese Podengo

As already mentioned in the introduction, the Portuguese Podengo is a very old dog breed, which is classified by the FCI in group 5, which includes Spitz-type dogs and primitive dogs . Its earliest ancestors are believed to have been introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by the Phoenicians around 700 BC

But the appearance and behavior of today's Portuguese Podengos were influenced by crosses between these primitive dogs and some dogs brought by the Arabs during the invasions in the middle of the 8th century. After adapting optimally to the climate and soil of Portugal, the first dogs were subjected to a process of selective crosses with the aim of highlighting certain morphological characteristics and instinctive abilities favoring hunting.

Originally, they accompanied their guardians on the hunt and their main prey were rabbits, field rats and other rodents. But with the development of the Portuguese Podengo, the breed also began to be used for hunting big game. In addition, all varieties were used as guard dogs, protecting the homes of their guardians. It is estimated that the variety of Portuguese podengo dogs that we know today began to develop in the middle of the 15th century, when they accompanied Portuguese sailors on their ships to prevent the proliferation of rodents and the spread of the diseases they can transmit to humans. Despite its age, the official standard of the Portuguese Wild Dog was only published by the International Canine Federation in 2008.

Currently and for several years, this dog is considered one of the national dogs of Portugal and is the symbol of the Portuguese Kennel Club.

Characteristics of the Portuguese Podengo

This canine breed is distinguished by a great morphological variety within the individuals that compose it. This diversity is already apparent in relation to the port and body dimensions, since three sizes of Portuguese podengo are recognized: small, medium and large. The basic proportions of each size, according to the official FCI standard, are as follows:

Height at withers

  • Small Podengo: 20 to 30 cm.
  • Podenco Medium: 40 to 54 cm.
  • Large Podengo: 55 to 70 cm.

Body Weight

  • Small: 4 to 6 kg.
  • Medium: 16 to 20 kg.
  • Large: 20 to 30 kg.

It is also possible to identify several common physical characteristics between these dogs and it is precisely about them that we are going to talk to you now.But first of all, it is important to point out that the small Portuguese Garenne dog is distinguished from the others by its rectangular profile, its body being slightly longer than it is tall. In turn, medium and large Podengos are almost square, maintaining a very balanced proportion between the height and width of their body.

All Portuguese Podengos have a symmetrical body with harmonious lines and should not appear coarse, heavy or brutal. The chest is deep and narrow, their back is straight and supple, while the loins are arched and the belly is slightly raised. The tail is sickle-shaped and set high, it tapers towards the tip and appears slightly pointed, mainly in straighter coated dogs.

Among the characteristics common to all these dogs, we also find the slender head, almost pyramidal in shape and a little long compared to the size of the body. Its skull is flat, making its head appear straight from above, the muzzle is obliquely truncated and its tip is prominent, with a slightly pronounced stop, and the nose is always darker than the color of its coat.

The eyes of the Portuguese podengo are slightly protruding and very expressive, especially because of the prominent eyebrows which quickly draw our attention to the face and especially to the eye area. Generally, they have brown or honey-colored eyes, depending on the predominant shades of their coat. On the other hand, the ears of these Podengos are medium-sized, triangular and pointed with a wide base. In general, the ears are upright and, when the dog is on guard, they can be tilted vertically slightly forward.

As for the hair, there are two varieties of Portuguese Podengos: the long and coarse hair, and the short and smooth hair. In both varieties, all shades of fawn and yellow are accepted, from very light brown to deep brown, with or without white spots. The white Portuguese podengo with yellow or fawn markings is also recognized. Also, the small Portuguese podengo dog can have a brown or black coat, with or without white spots.But this type of coat is not considered the most desirable.

Portuguese podengo character

The Portuguese Podengo is an energetic dog with a strong personality and quite independent. Of course, this does not prevent them from greatly appreciating the caresses and the company of their guardians and their family, with whom they tend to create a bond of mutual trust and great loy alty. However, they will never behave like lap dogs and will need us to respect their quiet and quiet times, such as when feeding and resting.

As they have been bred for generations to be excellent guard dogs, Portuguese Podengos tend to exhibit strong protective instincts. For this reason, they can be suspiciously reserved in the presence of unfamiliar people and animals. Socialization will be essential for your podengo to learn to relate positively to the different individuals and stimuli it will encounter throughout its life.It is also fundamental to prevent behavioral problems, such as possessiveness and protection of resources.

Even today it is common to find references to the behavior of the Portuguese Podengo as being stubborn and disobedient. But in reality, these dogs are quite cunning, active, and intelligent and can be quite versatile when it comes to learning tricks, activities, and tricks. But they need to be well stimulated to fully develop their cognitive, emotional and social skills, and often respond very well to positive reinforcement.

Furthermore, their strong and stubborn personalities require more time and dedication from their guardians for their upbringing. That's why they tend to be better companions for more experienced guardians, who also have the patience and dedication to provide them with optimal education, a positive environment, and good days of physical activity.

Caring for a Portuguese Podengo

The Portuguese Podengo requires simple coat maintenance (especially those with short coats) and generally does not shed much. It will also need to be brushed once or twice a week to remove dirt and loose hair, always using the most appropriate type of brush for the coat. Baths can only be given when the dog is really dirty, or once a month, but try not to bathe him more than once a week. Excessive bathing removes the layer of fat that naturally covers and protects dogs' bodies, making them more susceptible to many diseases and skin conditions.

On the other hand, Podengos require special attention when it comes to education, socialization and mental stimulation. Being intelligent and versatile dogs, they will need to exercise their minds regularly with intelligence games, toys and activities.They will also need daily physical exercise to not get too fat, to spend their energy and to have a balanced behavior. At a minimum, we will need to walk our podengo about 3 times a day, and each walk can last 30-45 minutes. In addition, it will be beneficial to introduce him to a canine sport, such as agility, or to motivate us and start practicing canicross with our best friend.

Like all dogs, our Podengos will also need a complete and balanced diet to keep them physically and mentally he althy. There are many types of food that we can offer our faithful companions and your job will be to choose the one that suits them best. The most important thing is to always consult a veterinarian to ensure that we can provide the most appropriate food for our dog's nutritional needs.

Due to their different sizes, they are quite versatile companions that can easily adapt to different environments.Small dogs can be great pets for apartments, while medium and large Portuguese Podengos tend to adapt a little better to larger spaces where they have outdoor space, such as patios, decks, and patios. or a garden. Logically, they will all need a calm and positive environment in which to thrive, a comfortable place to rest and sleep, and an enriched environment to stimulate their minds and entertain them when family members have to be absent. They should not be left alone at home for more than 6 or 7 hours at a time.

Training the Portuguese podengo

The education of any dog must begin with the socialization of the puppy, a stage that begins from the third week and lasts approximately until the age of three months. It is therefore ideal to start training your Portuguese podengo when he is still a puppy, preferably during the first weeks of his life.

During the socialization period, we will need to ensure that our puppy interacts with all kinds of people, animals, objects, stimuli and environments, always ensuring that these interactions are safe and positive for all. The socialization of a puppy has a direct impact on its behavior as an adult. Therefore, if we want to have a well-bred and obedient companion, we cannot fail to socialize it properly from its third week of life. It is also important to point out that it is possible (and highly recommended) to socialize an adult dog with patience, affection and positive reinforcement.

During the first phase of the education of the Portuguese podengo, we will also have to teach him to relieve himself in the newspaper and to manage his bite correctly so as not to hurt other people and animals. At this point we will take the opportunity to introduce our puppy to the rules of the house, always in a progressive and positive way, without ever using punishments, scolding and negative methods that can lead to serious behavioral problems, such as 'aggressiveness.

After completing his first cycle of basic vaccines, we will begin to walk him outside and continue to socialize him with other dogs, people, stimuli and environments. This is also the perfect time to teach him how to relieve himself in the street and begin to introduce him to basic dog training commands, which will be essential in encouraging obedient behavior and positive communication with other people.

When our puppy finally becomes an adult dog, towards the end of its first year of life, we will have to continue to work regularly on the obedience commands already learned, and we can introduce new tricks, tasks and more comprehensive activities to keep your furry friend's mind stimulated. After completing his basic education, one can also consider having him undergo advanced training, using specialized circuits or professionals.

Portuguese podengo he alth

The Portuguese Podengo is characterized by great physical endurance and excellent he alth. When properly cared for and living in a positive environment, they rarely get sick and have a life expectancy of 12-14 years.

However, these dogs can suffer from some common canine diseases, such as stomach torsion and dental problems. And like most breeds of dogs, they have a genetic predisposition to develop certain hereditary and/or degenerative pathologies, such as hip dysplasia. In addition, they can easily develop skin problems and allergies, and therefore require special attention in terms of diet, environmental hygiene and grooming.

To prevent these conditions and preserve the good he alth of our best friend, it is essential to go to the veterinarian every 6 to 12 months to certify his state of he alth, to respect his vaccination schedule and to deworm periodically with good quality products appropriate to their size, weight and age.

Pictures of Portuguese Podengo or Portuguese Wild Dog

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