Meet the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno, a small hunting dog native to southern Europe with a slim build, pointed ears, and either short and smooth or long, wiry fur. This breed is quick, sweet, and energetic, and it's the smallest of Portugals’ three Podengo breeds.
Podengos are one of Portugal’s most popular types of purebreds, and they can be found in three sizes—small, medium, and large—which are not interbred with each other. Portuguese Podengo Pequenos are little dogs with a long name. The breed looks similar in appearance to American dogs like the Jack Russell Terrier and Rat Terrier, though interestingly, the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno isn’t a terrier at all. Other names for the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno include the Portuguese Warren Hound and the Portuguese Rabbit Dog.
Height: 8 to 12 inches
Weight: 9 to 13 pounds
Coat: Either short and smooth or long and wiry
Coat Color: Black, yellow, fawn, gray, and chestnut
Life Span: 12 to 15 years
Temperament: Active, intelligent, friendly, energetic, companionable
Origin: Southern Europe
Characteristics of the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno has an active personality. Bred as rabbit hunters, these small dogs are known for their friendly temperament in households with multiple pets thanks to their pack-minded nature. They typically get along well with children and enjoy exercising, whether it be joining their owners on hikes or playing outside with kids. However, it's important to be mindful of the Podengo's tendency to follow its nose: This breed is likely to chase after small animals or dig, so it's best to keep them on a leash or safely inside a secure fence.
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History of the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is an ancient breed, thought to be brought to the coastal country of Portugal—a neighbor of Spain—by traders (and invaders) who came to the area from places like Rome. And in fact, the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno’s lineage can be traced as far back as 600 B.C., when they lived amongst the Romans and Phoenicians.
While they might not be native to Portugal, the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno earned their name by becoming a fast favorite among the people there. As you might expect from a dog that is also referred to as the Portuguese Rabbit Dog, the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno has a special knack for capturing and killing rabbits, and it was thus instantly valuable to the local population. Their impressive hunting skills were also put to use aboard many of the 15-century ships that sailed from the Portuguese coast to the Americas, since the same features that make them excellent rabbit hunters also make the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno a successful rodent hunter in general.
Despite their early travels across the Atlantic Ocean, it doesn’t appear that the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno made much of a mark in the Americas to start. It wasn’t until 2011 that the breed was formally recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), where they were first placed into the Miscellaneous Class before being re-designated into the Hound Group in 2013.
Portuguese Podengo Pequeno Care
When caring for this breed, the most important elements to remember are to provide them with plenty of opportunities for exercise, positive reinforcement-based training, and basic grooming. Grooming typically includes routine steps, but will also require regular brushing when it comes to the long-haired dogs of this breed.
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is an active dog. As a family pet, they’re probably not going to do any rabbit hunting, but they'll still need to have somewhere to channel all that energy. Long daily walks are key, and having a spacious fenced-in backyard is also ideal for this breed (though not a requirement, so long as they’re getting plenty of other activity every day). Speaking of that fence, it’s important: Portuguese Podengo Pequenos are quick to follow their noses, and if they get on the hunt, they’re hard to stop.
Grooming a Portuguese Podengo Pequeno doesn’t require a lot of work. Follow a standard bathing schedule (about once a month should suffice) and be sure to comb out their coat after the bath if it’s wiry. Otherwise, your dog's fur might become tangled. Other good grooming practices to follow include monthly nail trims, weekly ear cleanings, and teeth brushing at least five days a week. If your Portuguese Podengo Pequeno has long and/or wiry hair, add a regular brushing to the mix, too.
As for training, the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is intelligent and driven. This breed tends to excel as a training subject. Use positive reinforcement-based training only, encouraging positive behaviors and ignoring negative behaviors. A well-trained, well-socialized Portuguese Podengo Pequeno will be friendly toward strangers and other dogs, and will also make an excellent family member.
Common Health Problems
Portuguese Podengo Pequenos are typically healthy dogs. However, all purebred dogs are prone to certain health conditions, and it’s important to know what to look out for. Here are a few specific conditions to keep in mind for this breed:
- Hip dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a condition that occurs when a dog's hip joints grow with malformations as they age, which can usually be treated with physical therapy or surgery.
- Glaucoma: This breed should be screened by your vet annually for Glaucoma. This condition can cause pain and blindness, so early detection and treatment are key.
- Cataracts: Cataracts look like a cloudy film over your dog's eyes. While cataracts progress over time and can eventually cause blindness, they can typically be removed through surgery to restore sight.
- Luxating patellas (also known as trick knees): Signs of luxating patellas often begin to present in young puppies. This condition affects your dog's knees where they connect via joint to the leg bones, and it can require surgery in severe cases.
If adopting your Portuguese Podengo Pequeno from a breeder, ask if any of these issues have been witnessed in the breed line. The health problems associated with Portuguese Podengo Pequenos are treatable and/or manageable, but it’s important to be proactive to reduce the severity of these conditions.
Diet and Nutrition
The nutritional needs of Portuguese Podengo Pequenos are the same as they are for most dogs, with the breed doing best on a high-quality diet with plenty of protein. Accommodate certain dietary needs if necessary, such as if your Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is a puppy or senior. This breed should be fed twice per day until it reaches maturity, then—after consulting your veterinarian—can sometimes be fed once per day as adults.
Feel free to give your Portuguese Podengo Pequeno plenty of healthy treats, but keep them small if you notice any weight gain. Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions or notice that your dog is gaining too much weight.
Where to Adopt or Buy a Portuguese Podengo Pequeno
Portuguese Podengo Pequenos typically cost between $1,000 and $2,000 when purchasing a puppy from a breeder, but some breeders may charge more depending on location and the puppies' family history.
We always recommend looking at adoption first, so consider dogs in need of a forever home via online resources like Petfinder or Adopt-a-Pet. If you do choose to purchase your dog through a breeder, research responsible breeders first to find one who is reputable and takes excellent care of their dogs. You can start your search with the breed's official organization in the U.S. to learn about credible breeders:
Good apartment breed
Eager to please owners
Loves to be around their family
Barks loudly if someone is at the door
Needs substantial exercise
High prey drive
More Dog Breeds and Further Research
Continue researching our breed profiles to learn about other popular dogs and how to care for them, or visit your local shelter and see who you connect with. If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:
There is a perfect dog breed out there for every person and lifestyle. With a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!
Are Portuguese Podengo Pequenos Good Dogs?
This breed is known for being great with its owners, children, and other pets in the household. With positive reinforcement training and a suitable amount of exercise, your Portuguese Podengo Pequeno should be a well-behaved, happy dog.
Is the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno Rare?
While Portuguese Podengo Pequenos aren't rare in all countries, they can be harder to find in the United States. If you're interested in adopting this breed, start by checking online adoption resources or the national organization, Portuguese Podengo Pequenos of America, Inc.
Are Portuguese Podengo Pequenos Aggressive?
This breed is not known for being aggressive. They can be standoffish toward new people outside of their family at first, so it's important to socialize Portuguese Podengo Pequenos when you first bring them home.
What Were Portuguese Podengo Pequenos Bred For?
Portuguese Podengo Pequenos were originally bred for hunting rabbits, but they quickly became a popular dog breed for hunting various types of small rodents.