Portugal has gone to the dogs… Well, actually almost a dozen dog breeds hail from Portugal. Some, like the Portuguese Podengo and the Cão de Água are becoming very well known in the US, and others like the Barbado da Terceira are still undiscovered. Others are emerging on the dog show scene. Here is your guide to the Dogs of Portugal!
The Cão da Serra de Aires is a herding dog from the Serra de Aires, a mountain range near Monforte in the Alentejo. The breed is nicknamed the "cão macaco" (monkey dog) for its furry face and spunky attitude.
The Cão de Castro Laboreiro, is a livestock watchdog type, hailing from Castro Laboreiro in the northern central mountains of Portugal. In fact, the rocky town of Castro Laboreiro is near the Peneda-Gerês National Park. The modern dog is descended from an ancient Molosser breed, which worked with livestock herders in the mountains, defending animals against wolves and other predators.
The Cão de Gado Transmontano or Transmontano Cattle Dog is a rare breed, bred and mostly found in the Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro regions. The Cão de Gado works to flock and heard sheep, and protect them from wild Iberian wolves.
The Cão Fila de São Miguel is a Molosser breed from São Miguel Island in the Azores, The breed is used for working with cattle that are so common on the island.
The Portuguese Podengo is an ancient hound breed that comes in free sizes: small- Pequeno, medium- Medio and large- Grande. Their coats are either short or long. The breed dates back to the 5th century and has an average lifespan of 15 to17 years. Bred as hunting dogs, the Podengo hunt in a pack.
The Perdigueiro Português is a hunting dog, used for partridge hunting. A pointer, this breed comes from ancient Iberian hunters. For a thousand years, this dog has had a square head, a marked stop, and triangular ears.
The Cão de Água became famous when Bo joined the first family under President Obama. Called the Portuguese Water Dog outside its home of the Algarve, the breed helped to herd fish into nets, find lost tackle and broken nets, and swam like couriers from boat to boat. The dog was the faithful companion of Portuguese cod fisherman on the waters of the North Atlantic.
The Rafeiro do Alentejo is sometimes called a Portuguese Mastiff. This large breed watches livestock on the plains of the Alentejo. The Rafeiro is related to Molossers from Central Asia. The dog’s ancestors may have come to Portugal with the Romans and may be related to the Tibetan Mastiff.
The Cão de Fila da Terceira is a Mastiff is a sturdy dog that hails from Terceira Island, in the Azores. It bloodlines include the Cão Fila de São Miguel, Spanish and English mastiffs as well as bulldogs. Locals say the breed gained popularity with the pirates of the region. In the 19th century the breed, nicknamed rabo torto, hit is peak.