The Portuguese Podengo is the National breed of Portugal. This is a primitive type Sighhound best known for its excellent hunting skills. There are three varieties of Podengos – Podengo Pequeno (small), Podengo Medio (medium) and Podengo Grande (large). They do not only differentiate by their size, but temperament and working habits to some degree. In general, these are all pack-hunting dogs, but can as well hunt singly. In their native country, Podengos are primarily used to hunt rabbits. They are generally good family companions, but only if they undergo early socialization. Early socialization is particularly important for a Podengo Grande. Luckily, Portuguese Podengos are relatively easy to socialize and train, but only in the hands of a dominant and experienced owner. When working with these dogs, one has to be firm and confident, but calm and careful. Positive reinforcement techniques are recommended in this case. Now, let’s take a look at ten most interesting Portuguese Podengo facts.
01.) Podengo Português is often translated as a Portuguese Hound, but the truth is in Portuguese language there is no actual word for hound. The Podengo is in fact a shortened version of a medieval phrase Podengo de Mostra, which was a term for pack-hunting dogs. Sometimes, Podengo was often referred to as a “dog that hunt the rabbits”.
02.) There are two types of Podengo dogs depending on their coats – wire-haired (feathery, medium-length coat similar to a Fox Terrier) and smooth-haired (dense, short-length coat similar to a Greyhound). Both types are suited to warm climates and have no undercoats. Smooth-haired dogs are more resistant to cold weather. They are equally easy to groom, but the wire-haired dogs have beards, which need cleaning from time to time. There is a certain difference in temperament between these two types – the wire-haired Podengos are gentler and more affectionate, while smooth-haired Podengos are more stubborn and independent. Also, smooth-haired dogs are a lot older, dating back to the 5th century, while wire-haired dogs were developed during 1900s through the assimilation of some other dog breeds.
03.) Podengo Grande is the oldest of the three. This large dog is a direct descendant of ancient dogs brought 3.000 years ago by Phoenician traders from Egypt and North Africa. Unfortunately, Podengo Grande is now almost extinct and can only be found in the Alentejo region in southeastern Portugal. Contrary to other two Podengo varieties, who are mostly used for rabbit hunting, large one is often used for deer and wild boar hunting.
04.) In the past, Podengo Pequenos were carried aboard the ships of medieval Portuguese explorers in the purpose of vermin control. These small hounds kept their habits to this very day and are still very reliable mousers. So, if you own a small Warren Hound, you can rest assured your household will be quite safe of mice and rats.
05.) When you look at previous fact, it comes as no surprise that Pequeno (wire-haired especially) is the most common Podengo abroad. However, Medio is the most common in its native country. These two Warren Hounds were actually developed from Podengo Grande. In their native country, Medios can often be found in the Norte region, while the biggest population of Pequenos is in the Centro region. There, people often keep them in kennels and they’re primarily used as hunting dogs.
06.) Podengos are multi-sensory hounds. Thanks to their keen senses of sight, hearing and scent, these dogs possess superb tracking abilities.
07.) The first written reference about a Portuguese Podengo was dating back from 1199, during the reign of Sancho I o Povoador, King of Portugal. The breed Standard was approved in 1955. In the beginning, it was referring to all sizes and coat types, except the wire-haired Pequeno, which was approved in 1978.
08.) Podengo Medio can produce Podengo Grande puppies and vice versa. So, in case you see some oversized (or undersized) puppies in lither, depending which one Podengo you have, don’t panic, it is perfectly normal.
10.) All three sizes are excellent hunting dogs. The breed gained many admirers among hunters in their native country and around the world. Although they are mainly used for rabbit hunting, Podengos, depending on their size, can be equally efficient in the hunt on various small, medium or even big game, such as fox, deer, wild boar, badger, etc. They are typical pack-hunters, who can equally well hunt in the open or rough terrain. Medio and Pequeno are known after their flushing, digging and retrieving abilities, while Grande is a fierce fighter, who is not afraid to sacrifice himself for a greater good.
So, there you have it, those are some of the most interesting Portuguese Podengo facts. Now, there is always a lot more to a single breed, but I’m sure these guidelines will provide you with a better understanding of this wonderful hunting dog originating from Portugal.