Wirehaired Portuguese Podengo Medio
|Other names||Podengo Portugues
Portuguese Warren Hound
|Country of origin||Portugal|
The Portuguese Podengo is an ancient multi-sensory hound (sight and scent) breed of dog from Portugal. The Podengo comes in three sizes that are not interbred - small (Pequeno), medium (Médio) and large (Grande), each size with two hair coats (smooth and wire coat) and its own unique temperament. All three sizes love to hunt, its tradition in their native country. Typically, the dogs hunt in a pack with their human companion following them on large tracts of land with lots of game. Their hunting style is of an independent nature, with the dog(s) forging ahead with the hunter within their site range (which can be many acres). When game is found, they will kill it and bring it back to the hunter or wait for the hunter to catch up and shoot it. Each is capable of hunting game that is appropriate to their size and temperament. (Pequeno-rabbits, Medio-rabbits and wild boar, Grande-deer and wild boar).
The Portuguese Podengo is featured as the Portuguese Kennel Club's logo. It is a healthy breed and the Pequenos have been known to live twenty years, with the average lifespan of the breed approximately 15–17 years. The Médios can live to be approximately 12–15 years.
There are three sizes of Podengos: Podengo Grande, Podengo Medio and Podengo Pequeno.
Within each size type are two varieties: smooth (also referred to as smooth coat) and wire (also referred to as wire coat, wirehaired, longhaired or rough coat). All of these types are called 'Portuguese Podengo' as a 'breed,' although none of these six types are interbred.
In its home country, the Podengo is referred to as Small, Medium or Large Podengo. It is acceptable for the hair description to come before or after the 'type' name.
In the United States, the American Kennel Club split the Podengo Pequeno from the other two sizes as a separate breed. This was done primarily to prevent the (registerable) interbreeding of the Pequeno with the Medio.
The Portuguese Podengo's probable origin, like all other Mediterranean prick-eared breeds, is from unspecialized, primitive dogs used for various game (all once called 'kelb tal-fenek' or 'rabbit dogs' ) obtained and distributed by Phoenician traders during their navigations of Africa in 600 BC. They reached the Iberian Peninsula and the land that later became Portugal in the 8th Century BC (evidence of 8th Century BC Phoenician presence in Portugal has been found under Lisbon Cathedral, which was built in 1147). They traded and traveled extensively in this land, which was between their famous city of Gadir (Cádiz) in Iberia and Cornwall, England (where they obtained the valuable tin needed to make bronze). They also moved goods via river transport from their Iberian trading cities as well as storing goods safely on the island of Ibiza. It is entirely possible that the Phoenicians brought dogs with them to these areas at that time as it is very likely that hunting dogs were a valuable commodity for them. When the Moorish (North African) invaded and occupied the Iberian Peninsula (from the early 8th Century to the late 15th Century*) they probably brought their own version of these primitive dogs with them, which would have further influenced and refined Iberian breeds such as the Podengo in Portugal, Podengo Galego in Spain and the Charnigue Hound (or Charnègre Hound) in France.
The Portuguese Podengo was developed with 6 varieties, each suited to different climates, terrain, type of prey and hunting style. Each is a very versatile hunter and companion that uses all of its senses combined with agility, speed and endurance, running singly or in packs. The Wire Coat variety is better suited for hotter climates with its more open coat texture which provides better cooling and the Smooth variety is better suited for cooler climates with its tighter, denser coat which provides better insulation.
The Medio (medium) was developed for rabbit chasing, flushing, hunting and retrieval. Its hunting style includes catlike stalking and, similar to the Ibizan Hound, it often jumps above the prey before landing on or near it to flush it out of dense brush, rock crevices or burrows. It will dig if necessary to flush prey.
The Pequeno (small) was also developed for flushing rabbits from cover. It is also a good vermin exterminator and was probably kept on board explorer ships when the Portuguese initiated the European worldwide explorations in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Sources: 1) Phoenicians: Lebanon's Epic Heritage by Sanford Holst, leading expert on the Phoenician people 2) Golden Age of the Moor by Ivan Van Sertima 3) Nature Knows No Color-Line by J. A. Rogers 4) Encyclopedia Phoeniciana by Salim George Khalaf
The WPP is a small-sized type with a rough coat. The single coat (without undercoat) does shed but not very much.
The SPP is a small-sized type with a dense smooth single layer coat that is extremely low maintenance. It naturally sheds dust and dirt and dries very quickly. The single coat (without undercoat) does shed but not very much.
Both kinds of Podengo Pequeno are small, friendly, hardy, lively and intelligent companions. They are very active and usually good with children and other animals when socialized from an early age. They enjoy time with their human family.
Like their Medio relatives, they are very watchful and observant and will bark when something gets their attention. They enjoy digging and sunshine and must have a secure enclosed fence. The Podengo Pequeno is trained well with positive techniques and should be kept on leash all of the time during training as they can be quite autonomous and have their own ideas about what constitutes proper behavior. They can be remarkably silly in the home, running around and jumping off furniture with abandon, therefore care must be taken to not allow them free roam of the house or hurting themselves by jumping from too high a perch. A walk with many Pequenos can be a delight and they will continually come back to the owner to make sure they are coming along.
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno accompanied Portuguese explorers on their ships for ratting purposes after the Portuguese completed the reconquest of their country from the Moors in the 13th century.
Wire Coat Pequenos were first shown in the United States in 2001. Smooth Pequenos were first shown in the United States in 2003.
Wire Coat Pequenos were first imported to the UK in 2002. The smooth coated Pequeno followed in 2004.
Most (80%)of the purebred Portuguese Podengos in the United States consist of the Pequeno size, and most of these (75%) are of the wire coat variety.
The WPM is a medium-sized type with a rough coat that functions as an air conditioner in the hot weather. This coat was preferred in the South of their native Portugal, which is very warm. The single coat (without undercoat) does shed but not very much.
The SPM is a medium-sized type with a dense smooth single layer coat that is extremely low maintenance. It naturally sheds dust and dirt and dries very quickly. For that reason the Smooth Coat variety is preferred in the North of their native Portugal, which has rainy winters. The single coat (without undercoat) does shed but not very much.
Both kinds of Podengo Medio are friendly, hardy and intelligent companions. They are very active and usually good with children and other animals, including livestock, especially when socialized from an early age.
They are watchful and observant and will bark when something gets their attention. Most enjoy digging and need a secure fence, optimally enclosing their own yard. As they are very agile, regular fencing might not be enough, as they are excellent jumpers and climbers. The best way to address this is with a high enough fence to prevent jumping and a "fence" below the ground, preferably of hardware cloth.
When trained, Podengo Medios can have good recall when not on leash. While hiking with them, they generally stay in visual distance and "check" on their owners frequently, always being aware of their position (although that can mean a few acres away). Of course, they must be trained with a reliable recall first.
They are an enthusiastic, trainable dog. This trainability led them to star in a number of movies in the 1990s, including Three Wishes, Zeus and Roxanne and Soccer Dog.
The Portuguese Podengo Medio, both smooth coat and wirehaired, has existed, unregistered, in the United States for decades in small numbers with Portuguese-Americans in private home settings, where they have been used for traditional rabbit hunting. They were never really popularized outside of their immigrant homesteads. They are attractive, nice family dogs, with a touch of mischief. The first group of Podengo Medio fanciers met in the US in the early 90's via the early internet Gopher (protocol) system and rec.pets.dogs.breeds.
Smooth Podengo Medios began being shown in America in 2004 and Wirehaired Podengo Medios began being shown in America in 2005.
They are still rare. Breeders in Portugal primarily breed for rabbit hunting, not pets. They are hunting dogs, often kept in kennels, not in homes. The idea of Wirehaired Podengo Medios being kept more as house pets began with breeders in Europe. Similarly, American-born Medios are socialized and tempered to household life.
The WPG is a large-sized type with a tough but even temperament and a rough coat that primarily functions as a briar-protectant when hunting wild boar. The single coat (without undercoat) does shed but not very much. Registered WPGs are very rare, even in its home country and is not yet available to export.
The SPG is a large-sized type with a dense smooth single layer coat that also functions as a briar-protectant when hunting wild boar. The registered SPG is still rare in its home country, with very few individuals available for export.
Both kinds of Podengo Grande are known to be tough, hardy and intelligently observant animals. They must be socialized very well and carefully by a primitive breed-experienced handler. They are used primarily for hunting wild boar in large packs, where they are released from kennel trucks and sent to chase the boar to its den. They then continue to harass it until it emerges in its attack mode. The dogs then jump in and attach to the boar from all angles and dispatch it swiftly. The waiting hunter can then retrieve the prey.
They will be good guardians and require a securely fenced yard (at least 6 ft tall). They enjoy digging dens, also, like their other Podengo relations. It is most closely related to the Podengo Medio, in fact, Podengo Medios which grow too tall for the Medio standard may be classified as Podengo Grandes. This arrangement does not exist in any other way within the Podengo group.
Training will be firm but fair with the Podengo Grande as it must have respect for its handler and be amenable to training.
The Portuguese Podengo Grande may have existed, unregistered, in North America with Portuguese-Americans in private home settings, where they have been used for deer and wild pig hunting.
The first Podengo Grande was imported to the US in 2008.
Breeders in Portugal continue to breed primarily for hunting and the PG is kept and raised in kennels.
There is a unique system currently in place in Portugal where unregistered dogs (denoted by the kennel club of Portugal as R.I. or 'Registration Incomplete') may be evaluated by breed experts and used in a breeding program. Succeeding generations, also evaluated by said experts, may eventually result in a 3 generation pedigree of known, evaluated, 'R.I.' dogs which would thus create a full pedigree for certain formerly "RI" Podengos. This process is carried forth under rules established by the CPC and is not exportable to other countries as it relies on the presence of indigenous wild specimens of the breed.