Meet the Breed , History , Functionality , Standard

1 - Meet the Breed

The Podengo Portugues is the Portuguese national breed. It is very fast and agile and extremely durable. Podengos exists in three sizes, small, medium and large. Each  has two hair types – smooth haired and wire haired - for a total of six varieties. The Podengo Português Grande (big) height: 55-70cm; the Podengo Portugues Medio (medium);  Height: 39-56cm, weight: 16-20kg; and the Podengo Portugues Pequeno (small) height: 20-30 cm, weight: 4-5 kg .

The Podengo Pequeno (small) height at the shoulder is only 20-30cm which makes him a very handy dog, and yet he is a hardy hunter. This smaller variation of the Podengo Portugues Medio (medium) was breed for hunting. It chases the rabbits out of the tiny rock ledges, and the Podengo Medio would follows them on the flat ground.

The smaller Podengo is a variation of the medium sized Podengo but without losing any of its other characteristics. Not much attention was paid to colour or tone of coat. The Podengo may be uni-coloured with occasional white markings, and his colour can vary from a rich red to a light sandy colour or even black. His coat may be short and shiny or longer and rough.

Due to its friendly and agile disposition and its small agile size, the Pequeno is suitable for town life.
The Podengo breed has not yet been manipulated so that it is extensively free of any genetic defects. The Podengo is a happy, attentive, agile, friendly as well as fearless dog. It is easy to keep, only barks occasionally, is very attached, and friendly with children and other dogs. It requires exercise and attention and likes to play. It is a very fast learner.

Historically speaking, the two above mentioned forms of the Podengo are the smaller types of the original greyhoundlike Podengo Portugues Grande (Large) which has sadly become very rare nowadays. The breed goes back as early as the ancient times. The Pequeno was originally used for catching rats and other small animals. Later he was used in combination with the medium. Even though the Pequeno is still being used for hunting, it also has been regarded as a household pet for as long as 3 centuries.

The Portuguese Podengo to this day maintains the characteristics of its early ancestors. The selection of the breed has been made naturally thanks to the absence of human intervention.  It is a natural breed adapted to the environment and hunter functionality. The designation of Primitive Breed is recognized by the Federation Cinológique International (FCI) in the 5th group of "Dogs from Spitz type and Primitive type."
The Podengo is adapted perfectly to the climate, as well as to the form of Portuguese life. It has a lively character and a resistant and healthy body.

2 - History

Of the several theories regarding the origin of the Podengo, the most probable to defend is that it, along with other similar breeds of the Mediterranean, descends from the Pharaoh Hound of high old Egypt. It appears to be one of the first differentiated breeds made by the functionality. This type of dog dispersed from Asia Minor (original area of the Phoenicians in 700 b.C.) to the north of Africa and the Mediterranean coast. The Phoenicians introduced the breed to Portugal and all the Mediterranean region.

The existence of high numbers of rabbits on the Iberian Peninsula and the need to improve hunt techniques for popularion subsistence, encouraged the use of this type of dog, given their adaptable characteristics and skill in the hunt. Later, both the Greeks and the Romans introduced breeds with the same origins and characteristics. It is thought that the same type of dogs entered the South of Portugal with North African Arabs. Today, in the North of Africa and border countries of the Mediterranean, there are many dogs similar to the Podengo. Although some don't constitute defined breeds, their high numbers proves the origin of the breed. Later, the Portuguese spread the breed to Brazil, central Africa and India.

While today we find Podengos in the whole national territory, their number is greatest in High Alentejo, Estremadura and in the area north of the Douro River. This geographical distribution appears to be the result of incursions of merchants along the rivers Douro and Tejo.

The small Podengo (Podengo Pequeno) is more likely to be found in the center of the country along the Tejo River and in the high Alentejo. The medium Podengo (Podengo Medio) can be found in larger numbers in the north along the Douro River and in the center along the Tejo. The large Podengo (Podengo Grande) is found most often in Alentejo near the border, given its exclusive use in the thick hunt. In the north one finds more smooth-haired Podengos, and in south, more wire-haired. Contrary to what one would think, the smooth-haired dogs are more adapted to a rainy climate, because they dry quickly, while the wire-haired ones need a drier climate, so as not to accumulate water inside the hair. Hence, the smooth-haired avoids pneumonia and the wire-haired is naturally protected against excessive sun and heat.

3 - Functionality

To this day, the Podengo has retained his innate aptitude for hunting.
Historically the poorer population hunts for subsistence, which is why the Podengo is such a popular breed.  It is rustic and resistant, used to privations and linked to poor people survival since the most historically remote times. This connection might have caused some problems for the breed's acceptance. But today, the Podengo has succeeded to claim its place in Portugal and the world, thanks to hunters and breeders. Podengo now reach excellent classifications in highly competitive national and international exhibitions.

The Small Podengo has been known since the XV century. It was used initially to hunt mice, controlling the vermin in the houses, barns and even in the caravels - which is why it has traveled the world!
The Podengo Pequeno has a special aptitude for hunting under the soil, pursuing badgers, foxes and bag-tails. It was used to enter in the burrows and frighten the quarry, or to kill them directly. That's why it is courageous, smart and lively. Characteristics that we see to this day.
But above all, the Podengo is a fearsome rabbit hunter, often used in impenetrable areas, sneaking out from among vegetation and rifts in the rocks. It is known as a "last-resource," exploring where other dogs won't go.

The Podengo Pequeno is today used as a companion dog, with excellent results, thanks to his obedient character and affectionate nature. The Podengo maintains a great resistance to diseases or genetic defects and demands very little maintenance. The hair has only one layer and presents obvious advantages during shedding. The breed has a great variety of colors and satisfies different tastes. Because of its size, health, coat and personality, the Podengo Pequeno adapts easily to apartments and to the city as well as country living. This is a distinct advantage when compared to the more traditional companion dogs.

The Medium Podengo (Podengo Medio) is an excellent hunter of rabbits; there is no equal in this activity. His physical aspect serves as reference for the breed, and the Large Podengo is his extension. The Medium Podengo is superb at following clues and is able to hunt individually and also in a group. In a group or on his own, the Medium Podengo combines a sense of smell and very select hearing. It is very strong physically and is capable of enduring high temperatures. Training is not necessary, as it has an instinctive aptitude for the hunting. When hunting, the Podengo emits a bark called "sing" or "maticar. The Medio's character is more independent and reserved than that of the Pequeno, although it is used equally as watchdog and companion. This versatility is proven through the use of medium Portuguese Podengos in television series and American films such as "Zeus and Roxanne", "Three Wishes", "Dante’s Peak", "Soccer Dog", and "Secondhand Lions".

The Large Podengo (Podengo Grande) is used to hunt big animals, like the boar. To this day it continues to hunt in this manner, although it has suffered strong decreases since the 1970s due to the agricultural and forest policies of Portugal. Currently, we are seeing a resurgence of the Podengo Grande, in the two varieties, protected by two breeders who saved the Grande from extinction. It works in packs and follows tracks, being considered an excellent dog in the thick hunt, at times sacrificing of its own life. The Podengo Grande is most often seen in Alentejo near the border, perfectly adapted to the dry and hot climate of the South.

For the record, since 1000 A. D., the Podengo has retained the characteristics that it presents today. The Podengo – Dog that hunt rabbits – had the first written reference in 1199 in the reign of King D. Sancho I. Since then, there are several references in historical records. This breed was also used in the real and nobility hunts as well as being diffused into the general popultion.
This breed was present in the first canine exhibitions held in Portugal in 1902. Since then, its presence has grown until the present time. In the first Portuguese Book of Origins, LOP, edited in 1956, there appear 29
Podengos of the several varieties. The Standard of the breed was approved in 1955. It adopted the three sizes and two varieties, except in the small ones, only with smooth-haired. In 1978 the standard was changed, to finally included the small wire-haired Podengo.
Between 1984 and 2001 the Portuguese Kennel Club registered 4,834 Podengos (see table below), but the total non registry population is much higher.

4 -  Portuguese Podengo Standard

Portuguese Warren Hound – Portuguese Podengo
(Podengo Português)

ORIGIN: Portugal

UTILIZATION: Hunting dog, watch dog and companion.

F.C.I. CLASSIFICATION:  Group 5,   Spitz and Primitive types.
                                       Section 7, Primitive type – Hunting Dogs.
                                       Without working trials.

Primitive type dog, its probable origin lies in the ancient dogs brought by the Phoenicians and Romans to the Iberian Peninsula in the Classic Antiquity. It was subsequently influenced by the introduction of canines accompanying the Moors in their invasions on the 8th century. This breed adapted itself to the Portuguese territory and climate, originating what is nowadays the Portuguese warren hound. It evolved morphologically throughout the centuries due to its functionality, with the Small variety being selected, from the 15th century on, as a ratter on the discoveries caravels.

Quadrangular pyramidal head, with prick ears, sickle tail, well proportioned body, with sound skeleton and well muscled; very lively and intelligent; sober and rustic. Exists in three sizes, in the Smooth and Wire-haired varieties.

Large and Medium-sized Podengo – Sub-mediolign, almost square, of medium or large corpulence, depending on whether it is the medium or large sized variety, with a relation – body length/height at the withers: 11/10 and depth of chest/height at the withers: 1/2.
Small Podengo – Sub-longilign, of small stature, with longer body length than height, with a relation - body length/height at the withers: 6/5 and depth of chest/height at the withers: 1/2.
In all varieties, the muzzle length is shorter than the skull length.

Large and Medium-Sized Podengo – in the Medium-sized, its natural aptitude as a rabbit hunting dog is exploited, hunting either in packs or alone, thus being also known as warren hound. The Large-sized is used in big game hunting.
Small Podengo – It is used to search for rabbits in holes and on rocks.
All varieties are also used as watch dogs and as companions.

HEAD: Lean and shaped as a quadrangular pyramid, with large base and very sharp extremity.

Skull: Flat; almost straight in profile; prominent supraciliary arches; scarcely perceptible frontal groove; horizontal inter-auricular area with prominent occipital protuberance.
Stop: Barely defined; divergent longitudinal superior cranium-facial axes.

Nose: Tapered and obliquely truncated, prominent at the tip; nostrils darker coloured than the coat.
Muzzle: Curved, with a straight profile; shorter than the skull; broader at the base than at the tip.
Lips: Close fitting, thin; firm, opening horizontally and well pigmented.
Jaws/Teeth: Normal with scissors bite, with white solid teeth; normal occlusion of both jaws and full dentition in the Large variety.
Cheeks: Lean and obliquely set.
Eyes: Very lively expression; slightly prominent from the orbits; colour ranging from honey to brown, in accordance with the coat; set on obliquely and small; eyelids darker than the coat colour.
Ears: Set on obliquely and of medium height; straight, with high mobility; vertical or slightly tilting to the front, when attentive; pointed, broader at the base, triangular; thin, with considerable height, longer than the width at the base.

NECK: With an harmonious transition from head to body; straight; long; proportioned, strong and well muscled; no dewlap.

Top line: Straight, level.
Withers: Tenuous regarding the neck and back.
Back: Straight and long.
Loin: Straight; broad and muscled.
Croup: Straight or slightly sloping; medium sized; broad and muscled.
Chest: Down to the elbows; of medium width; long, with the sternum sloping back and up; ribs slightly arched and slant; pectoral not too outstanding and muscled, not very broad.
Bottom line and belly: Slightly uprising; lean belly and flanks, slightly tucked up.
Tail: Set on rather high than low; strong, thick and thin edged; of medium length; at rest falls slightly arched, between the buttocks down to the hocks, in action it raises, horizontally slightly arched, or vertically in sickle shape, but never curled; fringed in its under side.

FOREQUARTERS: Upright when seen from front and side; well muscled and lean.
Shoulder: Long; oblique; strong and well muscled; open shoulder angle, approximately 110º.
Elbow: Parallel to the axial body plane.
Forearm: Vertical; long and muscled.
Carpus (Pastern joint): Lean and inconspicuous.
Metacarpus (Pastern): Short; strong; slightly slanting.
Forefeet: Rounded; long toes, strong, tight and slightly arched; short and strong nails, preferably dark, tough and firm pads.
HINDQUARTERS: Upright when seen from back and side; well muscled and lean; parallel to the axial body plane.
Thigh: Long; of medium width; muscled.
Stifle joint: femur-tibial angle approximately 135º.
Leg: Slant; long; lean, strong, muscled.
Hock: Of medium height; lean; strong; open hock angle, approximately 135º.
Metatarsus: Strong; short; slant; without dewclaws.
Hind feet: Rounded; long toes, strong, tight and slightly arched; short and strong nails, preferably dark, tough and firm pads.

GAIT/MOVEMENT: Swift trot, easy and agile movements.

SKIN: Mucous membranes preferably dark pigmented or always darker than the coat; thin and tight skin.

HAIR: Short or long coat; medium thickness; smooth hair when short or wire hair when long; the short coat is denser than the long one; in the long and wire variety, the hair in the muzzle is long (bearded); without undercoat.
COLOUR: accepted – yellow, fawn, sable, in the light, common and dark varieties; solid, white-patched or white with patches of these colours.
In the Small Podengo, the following colours are accepted but not preferred: black, brown, in their tones; solid, white-patched or white with patches of these colours.


- Height at the withers
20 to 30 cm in Small ( Pequeno )
40 to 55 cm in the Medium-sized ( Medio )
55 to 70 cm in the Large ( Grande )

- Weight
4 to 6 Kg in the Small ( Pequeno )
16 to 20 Kg in the Medium-sized ( Medio )
20 to 30 Kg in the Large ( Grande )

FAULTS: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.

BEHAVIOUR – Signs of shyness.
CRANIUM/MUZZLE – Parallel longitudinal superior cranium-facial axes.
JAWS – Incorrect occlusion or badly implanted teeth; level bite; incomplete dentition in the Large variety.
NOSE – Partial lack of pigment.
NECK – Arched.
BODY – Arched top line.
CROUP – Too sloping.
DEWCLAWS – Their existence is depreciative.
COAT – Silky and/or with undercoat.

CRANIUM/MUZZLE – Convergent longitudinal superior cranium-facial axes.
NOSE – Total lack of pigment.
EARS – Rounded.
BELLY – Too tucked up.
TAIL – Curled.

BEHAVIOUR – Aggressive or too shy.
GENERAL APPEARANCE – Signs of outcrosses with sighthounds, pointer breeds or any other cross-breeding.
JAWS - Undershot or overshot.
EYES – Of different colour.
EARS – Bent or lop.
COAT COLOUR – Brindle; black and tan; tricolour and totally white.

N.B.: Males should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
Any animal presenting any signs of physical or behavioural abnormality should be disqualified.

 Portuguese Kennel Club - Clube Português de Cnicultura