Portugal is a country known for its amazing beaches, picturesque towns, and, of course, its custard tarts. It’s not a country particularly famous for its dogs (except, maybe, the Portuguese Waterdog). There are, however, some amazing Portuguese dog breeds. Everything from Hounds to Mastiffs. Because Portugal was a country that was traditionally dependent on the sea and agriculture, most Portuguese dogs are workers that are built for time outdoors.
Some of these wonderful dogs are accepted by different Kennel Clubs and others don’t yet have a breed standard. Which of these 11 Portuguese cães is going to be your favorite?
11 Amazing Portuguese Dogs
Portuguese dog breeds, in general, are herders, hunters, and sporting dogs. Most are obedient, trainable, and intelligent. Because of their working ways, many of these dogs are very active and wouldn’t be suitable for apartment living. Make sure you read our guide carefully to know which pup could be a possibility for you!
Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog is a very active pup made to be a fisherman’s best friend. As you might have guessed, these dogs love water and anything to do with it. They were bred to help Portuguese fishermen catch fish, pull carts, and be a ship companion.
These dogs can be black, brown, or white and can either have a retriever coat cut or a more stand-out lion cut, in which the coat is trimmed very short around the hindquarters. These dogs are hypoallergenic, which means they’re good for allergy sufferers, but they do need to regularly be trimmed.
Portuguese Water Dogs are very intelligent and aim to please their owners. They’re kind, affectionate, and get on really well with kids. They need to be part of an active family that can provide them with all the mental and physical stimulation they need.
Estrela Mountain Dog (Cão da Serra da Estrela)
These big dogs can grow to be 130 pounds! So it’s no light decision to adopt an Estrela Mountain Dog. As the name suggests, these pups originated in the Estrela Mountains in the North of Portugal. They’re fierce protectors of both livestock and their beloved families.
These dogs need to be socialized and trained from puppyhood. Many of them have an independent, confident streak which can become aggressive if they’re not taught how to properly behave. Luckily, though, these dogs are keen to please and trainable.
These big Portuguese guard dogs don’t need a lot of exercise. They’ll be happy working and wandering after their flock or chasing a ball around a fenced-in yard.
Their coats are coarse and can be four different colors (wolf gray is particularly beautiful)! They need weekly brushing and the occasional bath.
Portuguese Podengo (Podengo Português)
The Portuguese Podengo is a cheery, playful, and very cute dog. It’s the national dog of Portugal and a favorite hunting dog of the people there. These adorable little pups are recognized by the kennel clubs in 14 different colors.
There are two Portuguese Podengo sizes – large and medium. Large pups tend to hunt deer and medium ones hunt rabbits and smaller animals.
As well as amazing hunters, these sweet little dogs are great family pets. But they’re not always the easiest. Podengos can have an independent streak and can be difficult to train. They’re highly intelligent too, and all that together can make them mischievous! Try to keep training time short and fun for maximum engagement.
They need a good amount of daily exercise and medium-sized dogs are usually more active than larger.
Portuguese Pointer (Perdigueiro Português)
The Portuguese Pointer is the fourth of the Portuguese dog breeds accepted by the AKC. These pups are medium-sized ancient dogs. As devoted hunters, they form very strong bonds with their handlers and can be very affectionate.They’re also very athletic dogs.
As great hunters, they need lots of exercise a day. They’ll love going for long runs, hikes, or playing in a fenced-in area. Be careful letting Portuguese Pointers off the leash. They have strong hunting instincts so it’s best they’re allowed to play in a large fenced-in area.
These dogs are quite easy to train because they’re so loyal to their owners. They can be sensitive, so make sure to always use positive reinforcement and lots of rewards for good behavior.
Alentejo Mastiff (Rafeiro do Alentejo)
These Mastiffs are large, powerful, and very imposing. They’re the perfect protectors of land, property, and livestock and are great watchdogs too. These sober pups don’t mind spending time alone, patrolling their land, or keeping a watchful eye over everything.
Over the centuries, these dogs have been used to work at night time, and all those evenings seem to have made them even more active at night. Alentejo Mastiffs need early socialization and, even with it, they may be suspicious around new dogs and people they don’t know.
These pups can have medium or long coats and their hair is thick and dense to keep them warm whilst they’re on night duty. They don’t require a lot of grooming and will only need the occasional bath.
Portuguese Sheepdog (Cão da Serra de Aires)
Portuguese Sheepdogs are highly intelligent and very fluffy dogs. These wonderful pooches are covered in thickly curled coats and adorable beards and mustaches! They also have such long eyebrows that they cover their eyes!
As is common in Sheepdogs, the Portuguese variety is robust and very alert. They’re great watch dogs as well as herders. They need to spend lots of time outdoors either working, or accompanying you on long walks, hikes, or time playing.
This lively Portuguese breed is a great companion and is very devoted to its family and the flock it’s caring for. They can be wary of people and other dogs, so lots of early socialization is a must for these pooches.
Saint Miguel Cattle Dog (Cão de fila de São Miguel)
This Mastiff-like dog originated on the island of Saint Miguel in the Azores region of Portugal. Thanks to their strong bodies, large heads, and dark coloring, these pups are pretty intimidating. This is why they’ve been used as guard dogs for many years. Originally, however, they were also used to hunt boar.
It’s thought that this breed has English Bulldog, Dogue de Bordeaux, and English Mastiff blood in it. The Cão de fila de São Miguel is a very loyal pup and bonds strongly with its owners. It’s intelligent and highly trainable and can be trained to do a number of different jobs including protecting property, livestock, or farm work.
This isn’t a pooch recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Barbado da Terceira
The wonderful Barbado da Terceira is joyous, loyal, fun-loving, and very intelligent. These cute herding dogs are easy to train and are very eager to please. They love being around humans and will enjoy taking part in any fun activity, whether that be a tug of war, a game of chase, a long walk, or working on the farm.
This active dog has a long, quite shaggy coat which will need some maintenance. This is especially true when the puppy coat grows out as it can easily get tangled around their feet and above their eyes. These areas should be kept trimmed to stop irritation.
Transmontano Mastiff (Cão de Gado Transmontano)
The Transmontano Mastiff is the largest Portuguese dog breed. It’s a mix of a number of different Mastiffs from across the Iberian Peninsula. These big, powerful, and beautiful dogs are usually found in the north of the country where they’re used as livestock protectors. Because they’re such a large, athletic breed, they’re capable of taking on Iberian Wolves!
These pups are another Portuguese breed not accepted by the AKC.
Because of their size, and somewhat independent nature, these dogs need a lot of space to live in. They’re not suited to living in an apartment. Like other Mastiff breeds, they don’t need huge amounts of exercise. They’ll be happy guarding their land and will get most of their exercise from this.
Cão do Barrocal Algarvio
The Cão do Barrocal Algarvio is different from the other Portuguese dog breeds and not just in appearance. These pups are descendants of the Egyptian Greyhound and have a particularly stunning look. Their orangey-red coats are beautifully feathered around their necks and tails. They often have white markings, including a white blaze.
These dogs are expert rabbit hunters. Their speed and agility mean they can cross difficult terrain in pursuit of prey. Because they’re sight hounds, care should be taken when they’re off leash as they can easily sprint after something they think could be prey.
They’re very active pups and love to play with their owners or join them on runs or long hikes.
Cão de Castro Laboreiro (Portuguese Cattle Dog)
The Portuguese Cattle Dog isn’t a breed accepted by the AKC, but it is by the United Kennel Club. These dogs are quite rare and are usually found in small villages in the north of the country.
Like other breeds here, the Portuguese Cattle Dog is a Mastiff-type pup that has a very impressive appearance. They have a range of coat colorings and markings which can be very striking.
These guardian dogs are very obedient and loyal and can easily be trained to guard property, livestock, and humans. They’re wary of strangers and can be suspicious of people and dogs they don’t know. They shouldn’t, however, be aggressive.
What’s The Most Popular Portuguese Dog Breed?
All of the Portuguese breeds on this list make wonderful pets for the right owner. The most popular breed, however, is the Portuguese Podengo. These wonderful dogs are family favorites across the country. Not only are they great hunters but they’re also wonderful companions.
What’s The Rarest Portuguese Dog Breed?
The Portuguese Cattle Dog is fairly rare due to the location in which it originated. Interestingly, in the 1980s it was a different breed that was much rarer than it is now. The Portuguese Water Dog was actually named one of the rarest dog breeds in the world. Luckily for the breed, however, President Obama adopted two of them which greatly increased their popularity!
There are some really amazing Portuguese dog breeds. Many are Mastiff-like, which means they’re not really suitable for novice owners or those without experience handling big dogs. Others are hunters that need lots of exercise. Whichever you decide to go for, you’ll be getting an amazing Cão to join your family!
I’m Charlotte, a content and copywriter from the North of England and currently living in Berlin. Animals have always been a huge part of my life, so writing about dogs is a total pleasure! I love all kinds of dogs and their cheeky personalities, but I’d have to say Weimaraners are my favourite!