There are many theories about the Origin of the Portuguese Podengo. It probably descended from the Pharaoh Hound of Ancient Egypt, spreading into Asia Minor in about 700B.C. It is thought that the Podengo then migrated to Northern Africa and the Mediterranean coast.
The Phoenicians introduced the breed to Portugal and the Mediterranean region.
Rabbits were a menace in Spain & Portugal, in need of control. This prompted the introduction of The Podengo, to help in Rabbit hunting, to control what had become a menace to society. The Podengo adapted well to its new environment, and together with its natural hunting instinct, the Portuguese developed the breed.
Podengos can now be found throughout Portugal, but mainly in the Alentejo, Estremadura regions, and north of the Douro River.
The Podengo Pequeno (meaning small, since there are 3 sizes in Portugal) is more prevalent in the centre of the country along the Tejo River and in the high Alentejo.
The Medium (Podengo Medio) can be found in larger numbers in the North along the Douro and Tejo Rivers.
The large Podengo (Podengo Grande) is usually found in Alentejo.
Smooth coated Podengos, are more common in the North of Portugal, while the wire haired variety are to be found in greater numbers in the South. The reason for this geographical difference is that the smooth coated Podengo withstands better the colder, rainy climate of the North, because they dry more quickly than wires, whose coat becomes saturated much more quickly. So, the smooth-haired avoids pneumonia and the wire-haired is protected against excessive sun and heat.
Today the Podengo retains its keen hunting instinct. In Portugal the poorer population hunts for existence. That is why the Podengo is such a popular breed. The small Podengo has been known since the 15th Century.
It was used to hunt mice, controlling vermin in farm houses, outbuildings and even on ships, which is why the breed has travelled throughout the world.
The Podengo is a fearless hunter of Rabbits, often used in thick bush, but also in open countryside, often accessing terrain that other breeds would find impossible to hunt. Today’s Podengo also doubles as a very loyal companion dog, thanks to its obedient character and affectionate nature.
The Portuguese Podengo is the National Breed of Portugal.
The Podengo is classified, in Europe, by the F.C.I. as a Primitive Breed and shown in Group 5 (Spitz and Primitive types). Podengos are classified in the Hound Group in the U.K.
The Small Podengo was first Imported to the U.K in 2002, and gained recognition, by the Kennel Club in October 2003. The Interim Breed Standard was approved from January 2006 (and revised in 2009), which then allowed Podengos to be shown in the Import Register classes.
There are now in excess of 300 Podengos (Pequeno), in the U.K.
Both coat types are to be found, in the U.K; but the majority are the wire-haired variety.
There are only a very few Medio Podengos resident in the U.K. so far.
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is the smallest of the three sizes. ‘Podengo’ translates as Warren Hound. ‘Pequeno’ translates as Small. Both coat types require very little grooming. The coat continues to grow and regenerate itself, when any moulted hair can be easily combed out, the Podengo is shown untrimmed. The tail is never docked.
The Small Podengo hunts by using sight, sound and smell, and their hunting instincts remain very strong. The Podengo is used extensively in Portugal for hunting, and are either used singly or in a small pack. Whilst they may be short in stature, they make up for this by having wonderful characters. A small dog with a very big heart, the Podengo makes an excellent companion dog, due to its obedient and amicable nature. They are very alert, agile and lively characters and due to their small size they are equally at home in town situations as well as in the country. Podengos are happy, loyal, attentive and fearless, little dogs - easy to keep, good with children so long as children respect the fact that they are dogs. Podengos are generally receptive to other dogs. They love attention and are very playful. Podengos portray extreme intelligence and they are very quick to learn.
Height is 8 to 12 inches or 20 to 30 cms.
Weight 8 ¾ to 11 lbs or 4 to 5 kgs.
Colour. Any colour, except totally white. Fawn and yellow in all shades with or without white markings being predominant.
The Podengo appears to have maintained good resistance to disease and genetic anomalies and requires minimal maintenance. Rumours persist that a few problems, including Epilepsy, are found in the breed. However, thus far, no scientific evidence has been brought forward to support any of these problems. However, investigations, via questionnaires, are now in train, and any findings will be brought to public attention, as they become known.
The life expectancy of a small Podengo is around 12 to 16 years.