Source for this information: Wikipedia
The Portuguese Podengo is an ancient multi-sensory hound (sight and scent) breed of dog from Portugal. As a breed, the Podengo is divided into three size categories that are not interbred: small (Pequeno), medium (Médio) and large (Grande). Their coats are either short and ‘smooth’, or longer and ‘wired’. The smooth coated variety is traditional, dating back to the 5th century, whereas the wire coated variety is an outcome of the assimilation of various other breeds during the 20th century. In general, the breed is healthy; the Pequeno (small) variety has an average lifespan of approximately 15–17 years.
All Podengo types are hardy, intelligent and lively dogs, excelling at agility and making fine companions. Loyal and fearless, Podengos are also good house guards and are amenable to training by dog experienced people and those that enjoy primitive (unrefined, “less domesticated”) dog behavior.
Keen hunting dogs, the Podengo has an affinity for game regardless of size. Typically, the dogs hunt in a pack with their handler following. When game is found, they kill and retrieve it, or flush it towards the hunter to be shot. Each size category traditionally hunts game appropriate to their size and temperament. (Pequeno: rabbits; Medio: rabbits and wild boar; Grande: deer and wild boar).
The Portuguese Podengo in the UK is represented by The Portuguese Podengo Club of Great Britain, and the Podengo Pequeno was recognized by the Kennel Club in 2003. The Breed Standard was approved on January 1, 2006. The Podengo Pequeno was transferred from the Import Register into the Breed Register on January 1, 2008 at the Kennel Club. The Podengo Pequeno now has its own breed classes at Championship Shows and Open Shows (the other sizes are in the process of being included). The Podengo Pequeno was shown at Crufts for the first time in 2009. There are approximately 500 Podengos (primarily Pequeno) now resident in the UK.
All three sizes and varieties of the Portuguese Podengo have been registered at the United Kennel Club since 2004 and are in the Sighthound & Pariah Group. The Podengo Pequeno became AKC recognized in January 2013 and is now registered there. Incorporated in 2009, Portuguese Podengo Pequenos of America is the AKC club for the breed in the US and is mostly in a few western states and the Midwest.
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno Club of America (PPPCA), founded in 2001, is the first and largest club of Podengo Pequeno owners in the USA and is in 40 states. They are the only club dedicated to BOTH the wire coat and the smooth coat varieties of the breed. The PPPCA was incorporated in January 2003 in Newport, Rhode Island and 85% of its members own Portuguese Podengo Pequenos. Other organizations that recognize the Podengo (all sizes) in the US are the United Kennel Club, American Rare Breed Association, North American Kennel Club and The American Sighthound Field Association. The Portuguese Podengo Medio and Grande are represented in the United States by The American Portuguese Podengo Medio/Grande Club (APPMGC or ‘MGC’).
The United Kingdom registers the most Podengos, followed by Finland, the United States and Portugal.
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is characterized by a wedge shaped head, with erect ears and a curved tail. The AKC breed standards include the following points:
Height: 8 to 12 in (20 to 30 cm)
Weight: 9 to 13 lb (4.1 to 5.9 kg)
Color: yellow or fawn
Coat: wire coat (a rough, single coat — no undercoat; does shed but not very much) or smooth coat (a dense smooth coat with undercoat that is low maintenance. It naturally sheds dust and dirt and dries very quickly)
Podengo Pequeno are small, friendly, hardy, lively and intelligent companions. They are very active and usually good with children and other animals when socialized from an early age. They enjoy time with their human family.
Like their Medio relatives, they are very watchful and observant and will bark when something gets their attention. They enjoy running and sunshine and must have a secure enclosed fence. The Podengo Pequeno is trained well with positive techniques and should be kept on leash all of the time during training as they can be quite autonomous and have their own ideas about what constitutes proper behavior. They can be remarkably silly in the home. A walk with many Pequenos can be a delight and they will continually come back to the owner to make sure they are coming along.
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno accompanied Portuguese explorers on their ships for ratting purposes after the Portuguese completed the reconquest of their country from the Moors in the 13th century.
- Playful, Charming, Lively
- AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 154 of 193
- Height: 8-12 inches
- Weight: 9-13 pounds
- Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
- Group: Hound Group
The word “Podengo” depicts a type of dog having a wedge shaped head, erect mobile ears, two coat types – smooth and wire, in colors of various tones of yellow and a tail that curves slightly upward while in motion.
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno has a very rich history in their country of origin. Dogs of the Podengo type are believed to have originated in the Mediterranean basin due to Phoenician merchants navigating its coasts from Greece, Italy, the islands of Sicily and Malta, Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. The breed evolved due to the environment in which it had to perform and was developed to meet the needs of the Portuguese hunters where it became an excellent courser and earned the well deserved reputation as a keen rabbit hunter. Owned primarily by the lower classes, only the fittest Pequenos survived the rigors of the harsh Portuguese terrain. The breed has been selected through the centuries to hunt with tenacity, endurance and a willingness to go in to rock crevices and harsh thicket to find its prey.
A bas-relief, dated to the X or XI century and located at the church of Saint John the Baptist (S. Joao Baptista) in Tomar Portugal, clearly depicts a Pequeno type dog. There is also a Podengo type biting a hare as part of the Manueline Façade of the church of the Vila deo Conde built in the XVand XVI centuries with a rabbit in its mouth thus demonstrating the usefulness of this breed to hunt and provide food for its owners and the place of honor it held in that society.
It is believed that in the XV century Pequenos traveled on board ship with the Portuguese explorers to rid the ships of vermin and help prevent damage to valuable perishable cargo. The killing of vermin also enabled the explorers to reduce the risk of incurring potentially deadly diseases. Once landfall was made the Pequenos were used to hunt and provide fresh meat for the sailors. A truly valuable breed.
The wire coat Pequeno didn’t receive as much attention as the smooth coat variety, which historically were more popular with breeders and hunters. The variety was lost until the 1980’s when a few smooth coat pequeno breeders embarked upon a recovery program to once again produce the wire coat variety. The most prominent among these were Antonio Rogado, Jose Vidigal Amaro and Joao Paula Bessa. A great deal of appreciation is owed them for their initial work toward the restoration of the wire coat. Their efforts were the foundation for two breeders, Rogerio Pinheiro and Carla Molinari who were instrumental in expanding the gene pool and solidification of the wire type. Due to the dedication and hard work by these and other Pequeno enthusiasts, we are now able to enjoy the wonderful wire coat variety of Pequenos.
The hunters of past centuries and the breeders who followed them should be praised and honored for the preservation of this wonderful breed. A true Portuguese treasure which is now our privilege to know, love and cherish and our responsibility to preserve for future generations to enjoy.