The Podengo Português is a national dog of Portugal. The breed traces its origins to the ancient Egyptian hounds brought to the Iberian Peninsula by traders and conquerors. The first historical record of pack hunters similar to Podengo Português appeared in 1199. This hunting dog comes in three varieties: the now rare Large Podengo (Podengo Grande) used for hunting big game; the Medium Podengo, also known as Warren Hound, used for rabbit hunting either in a pack or alone; and the Small Podengo (Podengo Pequeno) used for searching rabbits in holes and rocks. All varieties are also used as watchdogs and as companion dogs.
All three size varieties come in two types of coat: short and smooth and long and wire with no undercoat, the short coat being more dense than the wire coat. In the wire variety the hair on the muzzle is longer. The colors are yellow and fawn in all shades from light to dark, with or without white markings, or white with patches. In the Small Podengo, black and brown, with or without white markings or white with patches are accepted but not preferred.
Fearless and bold, the Podengo Grande is an accomplished big game hunter. Perfectly adapted to the strenuous work in dry and hot climate, he usually works in packs.
Photo courtesy of Clube do Podengo Português
The Podengo Pequeno was originally used as a rat killer and for hunting rabbits. He was so good keeping the mice and rat population under control in homes and barns that he was also carried along by caravan travelers to keep the virmin away from food supplies, hence his expansion throughout the world. The smooth variety of Podengo Pequeno is also used for hunting badgers, foxes, and other burrowing animals. Bold and fearless, he works by entering the burrows and flushing the animal, or killing it. As a rabbit hunter, he has practically no rivals because of his ability to work in areas where no other dogs can, such as rocky crevices and harsh vegetation. Although he is still used for hunting, it is now primarily a guard and companion dog, ideal for indoor living. Lively, alert, agile, friendly, intelligent and fearless, he is easy to maintain, and only barks occasionally. He becomes very attached to his owners, loves children and lives peacefully with other pets. This breed is very healthy.
The Medium Podengo is one of the best rabit hunters in the world. His hunting instincts are so strong that he does not need any training. His ability to scent and hear are unsurpassed. When excited, he does not bark but gives a "singing" sound. Being more independent and reserved than the Podengo Pequeno, he makes a good guard dog. (Adapted from FCI Standard #99)