Hunting Dogs: Portuguese Podengo

The Portuguese Podengo while an ancient breed, is just starting to become known more widely outside Portugal – Portuguese hunters have brought these dogs with them for generations as they migrated, however, the breed now has enthusiasts trying gain breed recognition with the American Kennel Club so that they can show the dog in North America.

Coming in three sizes and two coat types, the Podnego is one of the breeds that probably was introduced to a range of areas by sailors; in this case it is said that Phonecian sailors kept the dogs on board to kill vermin when they were at sea and hunt when they were on land. The Podnego then was further developed in Portugal where they were primarily used as hunters.

Coat types are smooth and wire, while the Podengo sizes are Grande (44 – 66 pds/ 20 – 30 kg), Medio (35-45pds/16 – 20 kg.), and Pequeno 10 – 13 pds/4.5 -6 kg). Additionally, the Grande is taller than the Medio, however, the two can be born in the same litter. The Grande is the least common while the Pequeno is gaining popularity as a house dog. This is a breed that is valued for function and health, being a long lived breed in all sizes.

The Podengo can be hunted in packs or as individuals. The Grande has been used for wild boar hunting, while the Medio and Pequeno are more often used for smaller game, particularly rabbit. There are several characteristics that make the Podengo unique when they hunt. First, they use both sight and scent to hunt. Second, when they find their prey they tend to leap straight up, which makes them easier for humans to spot in the field – this athleticism makes them hard to contain in a fence.

While the Podengo is popular as a family companion as well as a hunting dog, they do have a high prey drive and are not necessarily good with cats. They are also a very energetic dog which will require a brisk walk or jog every day. They do, however, have great potential as agility dogs.To contain a Podengo, fences need to be tall and buried below the ground or digging under, climbing out, or jumping out are all possibilities.

The Podengo probably shares some ancestors with the Ibizan and Pharaoh hounds, which I personally think of with some of the Podengo Medio I have seen. As the breed becomes more popular for bench shows, I’m sure the looks will become more unified; I hope that the hardiness of the breed does not suffer. As long as the Podengo is still hunted though, some bloodlines will remain valued for their robustness and athleticism rather than being bred with undue emphasis on their confirmation.

If one wants an uncommon dog that is hardy and good for agility and lure coursing, a Podengo is a breed worth considering. They will require persistent training from a young age, and should be well socialized. They will reward their person with healthy, energetic, long lived devotion – and they’re said to have a sense of humor, something I personally enjoy in a dog.

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