Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Portuguese Podengo
Average Cost to keep/care for a Portuguese Podengo
The Portuguese Podengo is the country's national dog and 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. 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 fan base thanks to their charming looks and kind, loyal natures and as such breed numbers in the UK are rising, albeit slowly.
The Portugues Podengo is thought to be a descendant of the Pharoah Hound and that they were taken to Portugal by Phoenician traders where they quickly became highly prized hunting dogs and more particularly at chasing down rabbits. 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. 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.
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 fan bases 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 Portugues 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 Pharoah 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 in shape 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. Forechests 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 in shape 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 are as follows:
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 as long as 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 have a tendency 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.
It's really important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation has to 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 has to 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 is the alpha dog 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.
The Portuguese Podengo is an intelligent dog, but they can prove challenging to train which is why they are not the best choice for novice owners. Their training has to 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 has to 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.
The Portuguese Podengo is known to be a good family pet because these little dogs seem to 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 has to 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:
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.
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 is allowed to build 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 has to 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, Podengo 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. You can change a puppy's diet, 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.
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 £26.99 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £52.55 a month (quote as of August 2016). 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 or not they have been neutered or spayed among 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 all 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 puppy.
Click 'Like' if you love Portuguese Podengos.