Portuguese Podengo
(AKC Miscellaneous Class)
Portuguese Podengo

Lean and muscular, both the Grande and Médio varieties of the Portuguese Podengo are almost square in shape. The head is lean and shaped like a four-sided pyramid. The stop is moderately defined and the cheeks are oblique (not parallel). The lips are thin and close fitting, with teeth that meet in a scissors bite. The nose is always darker than the coat. The eyes are almond shaped and expressive. The ears are triangular, pricked, and carried highly erect.

The neck is straight and strong and the top line is straight or slightly arched. The chest reaches down to the elbow and the belly has a slight tuck up. The croup is straight or slopes slightly. The forelegs are straight and strong with very elastic wrists. Dewclaws are allowed.

The hindquarters are well muscled. The rear pasterns are strong, short, and straight; there are no dewclaws. The feet are oval, with long slightly arched toes and dark nails. The tail is thick at the base and tapers to a fine point. When the dog is at rest it falls into a slight curve; when the dog is in motion, it is carried slightly curved or even in a sickle shape.

The smooth coat is short, dense, and has an undercoat. The wire coat is rough and has no undercoat. Wire-coated Podengos also have distinct beards. They are shown in a natural state; only trimming of the face and feet is allowed. The coat color is yellow and white or fawn and white of any shade, or primarily white with patches of any shade of yellow or fawn. Tones of black or brown, with white patches, or white with patches of black or brown are acceptable but not preferred.


The Podengo is a primitive Portuguese hunting breed. It is most likely the descendant of multi-purpose hunting dogs used by Phoenician traders who reached Portugal in the 700s BC. Today, the Podengo is the most popular type of dog in Portugal and comes in three sizes: Pequeno (small), Médio (medium), and Grande (large). Each size comes in two varieties: smooth and wire-coated, making six types altogether. (The six types are not inter-bred.)

Called "triple threat hunters" because they use scent, sight, and hearing to find their game, all Podengos hunt in packs. The Médio, bred to hunt rabbit and wild boar, stalks its game and then flushes and/or kills it. The Grande, bred to hunt deer and wild boar, either kills the game or runs it down to exhaust it and then waits for the handler to shoot it.

Podengo Médios are not new to the United States—Portuguese-American families have had them (though not in great numbers) since the early 1800s. Yet they arrived on the show circuit much later. Registered purebred Smooth Podengo Médios were first shown in the United States in 2004; registered purebred Wire Podengo Médios were first shown in the US in 2005.

Podengo Grandes are newer to the US. The first Podengo Grande was imported to the US in 2008. The first litter was born in 2009. That same year, four wire-coated Grandes were also imported.

The AKC split the types into the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno and the Portuguese Podengo (comprised of the Médio and Grande) in July 2009 at the request of the American Portuguese Podengo Médio & Grande Club, the parent club for the larger varieties. This was done largely to eliminate interbreeding of the Pequeno and Médio and to recognize their completely different structure. The Pequeno entered the AKC Miscellaneous Class in January 2011 and the AKC Hound Group in January 2013. The Portuguese Podengo (which includes the Médio and Grande), entered the AKC Miscellaneous Class on Jan. 1, 2014.

Hardy, intelligent, and fun-loving, these agile, playful dogs are still very rare in the United States, with fewer than 175 dogs registered as of 2014. This means that breeders are still collecting data on some characteristics of the breed, such as longevity and health issues.

Key Facts:

These smart, active, and agile dogs make fine companions. They were bred to be hunters, so they are alert enough to be good watch dogs. But they are friendly, playful, and loyal enough to be excellent family dogs. Podengos are highly trainable. As a general rule, Grandes tend to be a bit more mellow than Médios. Still, the fact that they are a primitive breed means that a more experienced dog owner is best suited to handle them (although novice owners may do well with an adult dog that is already trained). Socializing Podengos is especially important, as is maintaining a firm (but fair) style of discipline and giving them plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Highly motivated by food and fun, they tend to be easy to train. Both Médios and Grandes can be wary with strangers, but they love to play and interact with their people.