Rafeiro do Alentejo

Alentejo Cattle Dog, Portuguese Watchdog, Alentejo Mastiff

The Rafeiro do Alentejo has many qualities. Unfortunately, he is not very well known outside his region of origin, Alentejo. It is in Portugal that you will have to go to discover him.

Height 64 to 74 cm
Weight 35 to 50 kg
Life expectancy 12 to 14 years
Home country Portugal

Quick Overview of the Rafeiro do Alentejo


  • Calm and docile
  • Affectionate and faithful
  • Active and very vigilant
  • Seeks to protect his family


  • Very hardy look
  • Strong and solid dog
  • Rather plain gait
  • Physically adapted for work


  • No particular problem
  • Rarely ill
  • Long life expectancy

Temperament of the Rafeiro do Alentejo

This large dog, calm and docile with his family, can become fearsome towards strangers, being potential predators to him.

During the day, he is calm and quietly watches over his family and sheep.

Once night falls, he becomes a formidable opponent for anyone who wants to venture into his territory.

The Rafeiro do Alentejo loves all members of his family, including children. He's not dangerous at all for the little ones but sometimes needs to be watched so that he doesn't unintentionally jostle them.

He is always gentle and docile in the family, but his large size can sometimes cause collateral damage.

This dog will become threatening to strangers. At the slightest intrusion, he will use his powerful and very impressive voice.

This is usually enough to discourage anyone who wants to venture onto his terrain, both animal and human.

Breed Appearance

alentejo riverbank

This large, strong and solid dog is endowed with a robust and well proportioned physique.

His gait is rather plain, and his general physical appearance reveals his great capacity for the long and arduous work of protecting large land estates.

The Rafeiro do Alentejo is a physically well adapted dog for this particular work.


Between 66 and 74 cm (25.98 to 29.13 inches) for the male
Between 64 and 70 cm (25.20 to 27.56 inches) for the female


Between 40 and 50 kg (88.18 to 110.23 pounds) for the male
Between 35 and 45 kg (77.16 to 99.21 pounds) for the female


The color of his coat can vary between yellow, fawn, wolf grey and black.

White can sometimes be found in some specimens in the form of stripes, bands or spots.


His large, smooth coat is very dense. It can be short or half-long.


His large head has a slightly pronounced stop. His horizontal eyes, rather dark, are in elliptical shape.

His drooping, triangular ears are short, folded and not very mobile. His rather large nose is very dark.

His large tail is curved at the tip and reaches the hocks.

According to the FCI breeds nomenclature, this breed belongs to group 6, section 1 and is #96

Tips About this breed

His well established temperament makes it necessary to have a more than adequate education. It must be firm and without concession.

Determined and on top of his dog's temperament, the master should not hesitate to get help from a professional, as his training is not always easy to carry out, especially if the master does not have a lot of experience in dog training.

The family hierarchy must be instilled in him, and he should learn early on who is in charge in the house. His socialization should also be very early.

The Rafeiro do Alentejo is an outdoor animal, and prefers the dust of the land to that of the city.

This guardian of Portuguese lands must be given ample space to live in complete freedom, protecting and guarding the premises, not allowing anyone to enter without permission.

Health of the Rafeiro do Alentejo

The breed is not affected by any particular problem. He is robust and enjoys excellent health.

This dog is rarely sick, and his life expectancy is appreciable.


His pretty, very dense coat requires brushing at least once a week to keep it clean and healthy.

However, no other special care is necessary.

History of this breed

The Alentejo is a region in Southern Portugal, on the Spanish border, where the climate in winter is harsh and icy, while dusty and torrid in summer.

These terrible climatic conditions created the need to move the flocks regularly.

Between the Alentejo hinterland and the Northern Douro region, the cattle were always on the move, accompanied by powerful mastiffs, protecting them for several centuries.

The dogs were thus fixed for sedentarization. The Rafeiro do Alentejo is said to have appeared in the region, when he was in charge of protecting herds of sheep from many predators.

Later, he became one of preferred dogs for the protection and guarding of the large Portuguese land estates.

In 1953, the official breed standard was created, thanks to two cynologists, Filipe Romeiras and Antonio Cabral. This native breed almost completely disappeared between the 1960s and 1980s.

However, a few enthusiasts decided to undertake the rescue of the breed in order to avoid the extinction of the Rafeiro do Alentejo.

Thanks to the perseverance of these passionate breeders, who were greatly supported by the municipality of Monforte, the breed is officially recognized by the FCI, and is no longer considered endangered today.

This excellent guard and protection dog for large homes and farms in the Alentejo region is greatly appreciated in his native region for driving herds, with or without the help of his master.

This great alarm dog also makes an excellent life companion. When he is not working outside to lead or protect the herd or the land, he makes his entire family happy, while protecting them at the same time.

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