Portuguese Podengo Pequeno: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Wiry haired Portuguese Podengo Pequeno sitting in a field in the sunshine.

Holly Hildreth / Getty Images

Meet the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno, a quick, sweet, and energetic dog, and the smallest of Portugals’ three Podengo breeds. Podengos are one of Portugal’s most popular types of pure breds, and 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, and are similar in appearance to American breeds 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. 

Breed Overview

Group: Hound

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 Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Characteristics of the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno 

Affection Level Medium-High
Friendliness Medium-High
Kid-Friendly Medium-High
Pet-Friendly Medium-High
Exercise Needs Medium-High
Playfulness Medium
Energy Level High
Trainability Medium-High
Intelligence Medium-High
Tendency to Bark Medium-High
Amount of Shedding Medium

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 the Moors. 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 was thus instantly valuable to the local population. Their impressive hunting skills were also put to use aboard many of the 15th 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, where they were first placed into the Miscellaneous Class before being re-designated into the Hound Group in 2013.

Portuguese Podengo Pequeno Care

The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is an active dog. As a family pet, they’re probably not going to be doing any rabbit hunting, but they are going to need to have somewhere else to channel all that energy. Long daily walks are key, and having a spacious fenced-in backyard is also ideal for the 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 going to be hard to stop.

As for training, the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is intelligent and driven, and tends to excel as a training subject. Use positive reinforcement 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.

Grooming a Portuguese Podengo Pequeno doesn’t require a lot of work. Follow a standard bathing schedule (about once a month should suffice), being sure to comb out their coat after the bath if it’s wiry, since otherwise they might get tangles. Other good grooming practices to follow include monthly nail trims, as well as 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.

Short haired Portuguese Podengo Pequeno in front of white background.
HottShott / Getty Images
Wiry haired Portuguese Podengo Pequeno in front of white background.
ErikLam / Getty Images
Short haired Portuguese Podengo Pequeno standing on an agility course.
Herreid / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

Portuguese Podengo Pequenos are quite healthy dogs, with no known propensity for certain genetic illnesses. However, all pure-bred dogs are prone to certain health conditions, and it’s important to know what to look out for. Some specific conditions to keep in mind when it comes to the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno include hip dysplasia, eye disorders, and luxating patellas (also known as trick knees).

If buying a 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 good to know what you might be able to expect.

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. Do accommodate certain dietary needs if necessary, such as if your Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is a puppy or senior. 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.

Pros
  • Good apartment dogs

  • Eager to please their humans

  • Love to be around their people

Cons
  • Will usually let you know—loudly—if there’s someone at the door

  • Need substantial exercise

  • Have a high prey drive

Where to Adopt or Buy a Portuguese Podengo Pequeno

We always recommend looking at adoption first, so start your search via sites like Petfinder, Adopt-a-Pet, and Overstock Pet Adoptions. If you do choose to purchase through a breeder, be sure to do your research and only work with someone who is reputable and takes excellent care of their dogs. Take a look at Portuguese Podengo Pequenos of America, Inc., which is a good resource for what you should be looking for in a breeder.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

There is a perfect dog out there for everybody. Continue researching our dog profiles to learn about other popular breeds and how to care for them, or just go to a shelter and see who you connect with.

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Otherwise, check out all of our other dog breed profiles.