Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Portuguese Podengo
Average Cost to keep/care for a Portuguese Podengo
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The Podengo is Portugal’s national dog and considered a real treasure. There are three sizes of these attractive, intelligent dogs, being small, medium and large. However, only the small Podengo is recognised as a breed by The Kennel Club. Originally bred to keep vermin under control and to hunt and protect their homes, the Podengo is also a wonderful family pet being especially good around children.
They are sturdy dogs that boast being a little longer in the body than they are tall. Although rarely seen in the UK, the Portuguese Podengo is gaining a fanbase thanks to their charming looks and kind, loyal natures and as such breed numbers in the UK are rising, albeit slowly. As such, anyone wanting to share a home with a Portuguese Podengo would need to register their interest with breeders for the pleasure of doing so.
The Portugues Podengo is thought to be a descendant of the Pharaoh Hound of ancient Egypt and that they were taken to Portugal by Phoenician traders. These little dogs from Asia Minor were taken by Phoenician traders to many Mediterranean and north African countries during 700 BC. They quickly became highly prized hunting dogs and more particularly when it came to chasing and catching rabbits even when they went down a burrow. Podengo translated from Portuguese means "warren hound" or "rabbit hunter" and these fast, quick witted dogs were given their name because they proved to be skilled at the job they were asked to do.
What is known is that the small Podengo (Pequeno) has been around in Portugal since the 15th Century and that they have always been highly prized for their ability to go down burrows after their prey. Over time, three sizes emerged with each of them having two coat types. Smooth haired Podengos were used in northern Portugal where the climate is that much wetter, whereas wired-haired dogs were popular in the hotter and therefore drier regions of the land. They have also always been highly prized as companions and family pets thanks to their kind and affectionate natures being especially good around children and the fact they are very good watchdogs regardless of their small size.
The breed has existed in Portugal since the 16th century, but it's the small Podengo that has remained so highly prized and dogs are still used to hunt by sight, scent and sound. The first wired-haired Podengos were exhibited in the States in 2001 and two years later smooth coated dogs were introduced to America too. The same year, in 2003, the smallest of the three dogs was introduced to the UK.
Over recent times, the Portuguese Podengo has found fanbases in other countries of the world which includes UK and although their numbers remain quite low, they are slowly rising with more well-bred dogs being registered with The Kennel Club every year. However, anyone wishing to share their homes with a Portuguese Podengo would need to register their interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list for the pleasure of doing so.
Height at the withers: Males 20 - 30 cm, Females 20 - 30 cm
Average height: Males 4 - 5 kg, Females 4 - 5 kg
The small Portuguese Podengo is a sturdy dog that boasts being slightly longer in the body than they are tall. They are nicely proportioned and have a bit of a Pharaoh Hound look about them. They have fine, lean heads with either slightly arched or flat skulls. Their occipital bones are very slightly pronounced and stops are moderately well defined. Their muzzles are quite blunt giving the impression of being wedge-shaped and lips are thin being tight fitting and black in colour.
Their eyes are moderately large and set obliquely on a dog's face with the eye colour matches a dog's coat which means they can be a light to dark brown. Podengos always have an alert, expressive look about their eyes. Ears are triangular shaped being large and thin to the touch. They are broader at the base before tapering to the tips and set obliquely and high on a dog's head. Podengos carry their ears erect and forwards when excited or alert.
They have strong jaws with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Necks are moderately long and straight being strong and muscular. Their front legs are straight with dogs having muscular, well laid shoulders. A Podengo's body is longer than it is tall at the withers and dogs have nice level backs that rise gently over their loins. Fore-chests are moderate and chests quite deep without being too broad. Their ribs are well sprung and carried nicely back with dogs having a slight tuck up to their bellies which adds to their athletic appearance.
Their hindquarters are muscular and strong with dogs having well-muscled back legs. Feet are strong and round shaped with well arched, tight toes and strong, dark coloured nails and firm paw pads. Their tails are set quite high and moderately long being thicker at the root before tapering to a fine point at the tip. Dogs carry their tails curved over their backs when moving, but never curled over their backs.
When it comes to their coat, the Portuguese Podengo can either have a smooth or a wire coat. Smooth coated dogs have very dense short hair, while wire coated dogs have rougher, harsh coats that are not as dense as their smooth coated counterparts and they don't have an undercoat. However, wirehaired Podengos have a very distinct beard which smooth coated dogs do not. The accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration are as follows:
It is worth noting that the acceptable colours for Kennel Club registration are not always the same as the colours set out in a Breed Standard.
When a Portuguese Podengo moves, they are fast and light on their feet covering a lot of ground when they do.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
The Portuguese Podengo is an alert, agile dog and one that thrives on being out and about doing what they were bred to do which is to hunt by scent, sight and sound. They are energetic, social and highly intelligent dogs that also thrive in a home environment providing they are given enough to do. They are best suited to people who lead active, outdoor lives and who are familiar with the particular needs of such an active, smart dog bearing in mind that their hunting instinct is deeply embedded in a dog's psyche.
They are not a good choice for first time owners because the Podengo needs to be handled and trained correctly from the word go or they can become a handful to live with. Even when they are well trained, they are known to run off and do their own thing if the mood takes them or if they hear, spot or see something more interesting in the distance, ignoring their owner’s recall commands.
It's important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation must include introducing them to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. It's also crucial for their training to start early too and it must be consistent throughout a dog's life. A Podengo is never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who the alpha dog is in a household, they may quickly take on the role of a dominant dog which can make them harder to live with and handle.
They form strong ties with their owners and love nothing more than to be included in everything that goes on around them. They can develop some unwanted and destructive behaviours if they are left alone for too long and tend to be happier when they live with another dog in a household. If they are left to their own devices, Podengos can suffer separation anxiety which sees dogs becoming neurotic and stressed out. As such they are best suited to families where at least one person stays at home when everyone else is out.
They are known to like the sound of their own voices which is something that needs to be gently nipped in the bud before it develops into a real problem. They are naturally wary of people they don't know, but rarely would a Podengo show any sort of aggression towards a stranger, preferring to keep their distance and let owners know there are people about which in short, means they are very good watchdogs.
Podengos are not the best choice for first time dog owners because they must be socialised, handled and trained by people who are familiar with the needs of such an intelligent, high-energy dog. As previously mentioned, they are also better suited to people who lead active, outdoor lives and who like to have a quick-witted canine companion at their side.
Podengos were bred to chase anything that moves and have always been highly prized for their hunting abilities. As such, they have a very high prey drive and care should always be taken as to where and when a dog can run off the lead more especially if there is livestock or wildlife close by, bearing in mind that a Podengo would happily ignore a recall command to go off chasing something they’ve spotted in the distance or to track down an interesting scent they may have picked up.
Podengos have a very playful and fun-loving side to their natures and like nothing more than to entertain and be entertained. They are known to be a little mischievous when the mood takes them and being so clever, a Podengo quickly learns what to do so they get their own way. It’s important for owners not to confuse certain playful behaviours with more dominant traits which could turn into a problem.
Podengos are highly adaptable dogs providing they are given enough daily physical exercise combined with as much mental stimulation to prevent boredom from setting in they are just as happy living in town as they would be living in the country. However, they are better suited to people who have very secure back gardens a dog can safely roam in whenever possible so they can really let off steam.
Although Podengos form strong ties with their families, they don’t typically suffer from separation anxiety providing they are never left to their own devices for too long that is. No dog no matter what breed, likes to be left alone which could result in them developing unwanted and destructive behavioural issues which includes barking incessantly to get some attention.
Podengos have a very unique voice and they sometimes sing which in Portuguese is referred to as “maticar”. With this said, some dogs like the sound of their own voices a little too much which is something that needs to be gently nipped in the bud when a dog is still young being careful not to frighten them. Others will only bark when there are strangers about or when something they don't like is going on in their surroundings, bearing in mind that Podengos are very good watchdogs.
Most Podengos love swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a Podengo off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own.
Podengos are natural watchdogs and would always be quick off the mark to let an owner know when there are strangers about. They are fearless and totally unaware of their small size. However, rarely would a Podengo show any sort of aggression towards a stranger unless they feel threatened in any way that is.
The Portuguese Podengo is a highly intelligent little dog, but they can prove challenging to train which is why they are not the best choice for novice owners. Their training must start early with puppies being taught the basics and boundaries as soon as they arrive in their new homes. Their training can then start in earnest when they have been fully vaccinated and a good way of doing this is enrol dogs into puppy classes where they can meet lots of people and other dogs in a safe and controlled environment while at the same time being put through their paces.
Their training must be consistent and always fair throughout a dog’s life so they understand what their owner expects of them. Podengos are never happier than when they are given something to do which is why they are so amenable to learning new things. The key to successfully training them is to make their training as interesting as possible and to avoid too much repetition. It's also a good idea to keep training sessions that much shorter which helps dogs stay more focussed on what it’s being asked of them, bearing in mind that the more intelligent a dog is, the faster they get bored.
They do not answer well to harsh correction or any sort of heavy handed training methods, but they do respond extremely well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these intelligent and quick-witted dogs, especially when there are high value rewards involved.
Like all puppies, Podengo puppies are incredibly cute, but they are also very smart which means they are fast learners of both the good and the bad. It is all too easy to spoil a cute puppy when they first arrive in a new home, but once a puppy is settled owners must start out as they mean to go on. This means laying down boundaries and rules so that a puppy understands what is expected of them and what is acceptable behaviour. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
The Portuguese Podengo is known to be a good family pet because these little dogs genuinely enjoy being around children. However, any interaction between a dog and younger kids needs to be well supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not get too boisterous which could end up with a toddler being frightened or knocked over, albeit by accident.
When dogs have been well socialised from a young enough age, they generally get on well with other dogs they meet and if they have grown up with a family cat in a household, they usually get on well together. However, a Podengo would think nothing of chasing off any other cats they encounter because they would see them as fair game. Care must be taken when they are around any smaller animals and pets because of their high prey drive as such any contact is best avoided.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Portuguese Podengo is between 10 and 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Podengo is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these handsome, active dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
It is worth noting that Podengo puppies often suffer from retained baby canine teeth and that they can sometimes show lameness in their hind legs for no apparent reason.
Podengo puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
As with other breeds, Podengos can gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight, it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Podengos are prone to suffering from allergies and it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Podengo breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are healthy and free of any conditions associated with the breed. The Portuguese Breed Club recommends that all breeders register their dogs with the Kennel Club and that any health issues be submitted to their database so that more information can be gathered concerning the Portuguese Podengo.
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions in place for all Kennel Club registered breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the Portuguese Podengo.
There are not DNA tests of veterinary screening schemes under the Kennel Club health scheme.
As with any other breed, Podengos need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Podengo puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Podengo puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out making them withdrawn, timid and shy.
As previously mentioned, Podengo puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older Podengos need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Living with a Portuguese Podengo in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include looking at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older Podengos need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Podengos don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
Smooth coated Podengos are low maintenance on the grooming front. All it takes is a weekly brush and wipe over with a chamois leather to keep their coats shiny and in good condition. Wire-haired Podengos need to be brushed 2 to 3 times a week to prevent any knots from forming in their coats and their beards need to be cleaned every day to remove any food that may have got caught in the longer hair around their muzzles.
Both short and wired haired dogs shed steadily throughout the year only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to stay on top of things and to remove dead and shed hair from a dog's coat. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax builds up, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections.
The Portuguese Podengo is a high energy, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need anything from 40 to 60 minutes a day with as much off the lead time as possible, but only in safe and secure environments. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Podengo would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and not necessarily because they are being naughty.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must with as much off the lead time as possible. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing must be extremely secure to keep these active, high-energy dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape and could get into all sorts of trouble, bearing in mind that a Podengo can jump great heights with ease when they want to.
With this said, puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Podengo puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. A puppy's diet can be changed, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Podengo puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 11 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Podengo should be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Portuguese Podengo can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Portuguese Podengo, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy.
The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Portuguese Podengo in northern England would be £28.49 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £54.34 a month (quote as of March 2018). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed amongst other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £20 - £30 a month. On top of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Podengo and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £900 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Portuguese Podengo would be between £60 to £90 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred, healthy Kennel Club registered Portuguese Podengo puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Portuguese Podengos are still quite rare in the UK, which means that well-bred puppies can often command a lot of money. As such, with Podengos there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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