Portuguese Podengo Breed Magazine - Showsight

Portuguese Podengo Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.


Let’s Talk Breed Education!

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Official Standard of the Portuguese Podengo General Appearance: Well-proportioned muscled, sound with moderate bone . Lean 4-sided pyramid shaped head with prick ears. Tail - sickle-shaped. Over emphasis on any one feature should be strongly avoided. The Medio and Grande come in two coat textures, smooth and wire. The Podengo is a hunting dog; scars from honorable wounds shall not be considered a fault. Size, Proportion, Substance: The proportions of the Grande and Medio are almost square. Strong in build, heavier bone present in larger size dogs. Body length from prosternum to point of buttocks is approximately 10 percent longer than the height at the withers. Grande - 22 to 28 inches at the withers, 44 to 66 pounds. Medio - 16 to 22 inches at the withers, 35 to 44 pounds. Disqualification – Over 28 inches, under 16 inches. Head: The head is lean with a flat or slightly arched skull . Shaped like a 4-sided pyramid, tapering towards a slightly protruding nose tip. Occipital bone is moderately defined. The stop is moderately defined. The planes of the skull and muzzle diverge, cheeks lean and oblique (not parallel). Muzzle – The muzzle is straight in profile; slightly shorter than the skull; broader at the base than at the tip. Lips are close fitting, thin, firm, and well pigmented. Teeth – Large strong teeth should meet in a scissors bite . Nose – The nose is tapered and prominent at the tip. It is always darker in color than the color of the coat. Eyes – Almond shaped, very expressive, moderate in size, not prominent, set obliquely, color varies according to coat color from honey to brown. Fault – Eyes of two different colors. Ears – The ears are triangular in shape with their length greater than their width at the base. They are carried erect. Highly mobile, the ear can point forward, sideways, or be folded backward, according to mood. The lowest point of the base is at level of the eye. Fault – Rounded, bent ears. Disqualification – hanging ears. Neck, Topline and Body: Neck – The neck is straight, strong and well-muscled. It transitions smoothly from head to body and is free from throatiness. Topline – The top line is typical of larger sight hound straight or slightly arched. Body – Well-proportioned body slightly longer than height at withers. Ribs moderately well sprung and well carried back. The chest reaches down to the elbow, medium width. The croup is straight or slightly sloping, broad and muscular. There is a slight tuck up. Forequarters: The shoulder is long, inclined, and strong, angulation is moderate. The forelegs are straight, lean and well-muscled, with elbows held parallel to the body. The pastern joint is not prominent and the pasterns are short and strong. Presence or absence of front dew claws immaterial. The wrists are very elastic and flexible. Hindquarters: Well-muscled and clean. Upper thigh long, of medium width, muscular. Moderately angulated. The rear pasterns are strong, short and straight and there are no dewclaws. Feet - Oval, neither cat footed nor hare footed. Toes long, slightly arched, nails strong and preferably dark. Pads firm. Tail - The tail is set moderately high, thick at the base tapering to a fine point, and at rest it falls in a slight curve between the buttocks. When the dog is in motion it rises to the horizontal and is slightly curved or it may go up to vertical in a sickle shape. The hair is fringed on the underside of the wire coat tail. Disqualification - Curled in ring touching the back. Coat: There are two types of coat: Smooth coat which is short and very dense with undercoat present. Wire coat which is rough and harsh, not as dense as the Smooth coat, and without undercoat. The Wire coat produces a distinct beard. The coat is to be shown in a natural state, the face and feet may be trimmed, but no other trimming or shaving is to be condoned. The coat does

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transition as the new coat grows in the old coat dies and comes out in large sections starting at the base of the neck, down the center of the back and then down the sides of the body. The coat is not to be penalized in this state of change. Fault - Silky or soft coat. Color: Yellow & white or fawn & white of any shade or primarily white with patches of any shade of yellow or fawn. The following colors are also acceptable, but they are not preferred: tones of black or brown, with white patches or white with patches of black or brown. Fault - Brindle and solid white. Gait: Side gait is of a typical larger sight hound balanced front and rear. Front action is straight and reaching moderately forward. Going away, the hind legs are parallel and have moderate drive. Convergence of the front and rear legs towards their center of gravity is proportional to the speed of their movement, giv ing the appearance of an active agile hound, capable of a full day’s hunting. Temperament: They are an intelligent, independent, affectionate, alert breed, however they can be wary with strangers and this should not be considered a fault in the judging process. Faults: Eyes of two different colors. Rounded, bent ears. Silky or soft coat. Brindle and solid white. Disqualifications: Size – Over 28 inches. Under 16 inches. Hanging ears. Tail – Curled in a circle touching the back .

Approved January 6, 2010 Effective date January 1, 2014


W hile you may be familiar with the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno, you may be less familiar with the Medio & Grande size, called simply, PODENGO. A primitive type dog, its probable origin lies in the ancient prick-eared dogs brought by the Phoenicians and Romans to the Iberian Peninsula in Classic Antiquity. This rustic breed adapted itself to the Portuguese geography and climate, resulting in what is nowadays the Portuguese “warren hound.” The GRANDE, the largest of the Podengos, was developed for deer and wild boar hunting. It will exhaust and hold down the prey and await the hunter’s gun. The Grande is now very rare in its home country. The MEDIO, or middle size, 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. It is important to remember that the Pequeno you may know is not bred- down from bigger sizes, and the Medio & Grande are not bred-up Pequenos. You can, however, get Medios & Grandes in the same litter, and to expand the gene pool, they have been bred together… though never to a Pequeno. (Breeding a more square, long-legged sighthound/open field runner to a rect- angular, low-to-the-ground dog that must be able to push through brush— needing a lower center of gravity—would produce animals that could fulfill neither purpose.) The photo above provides a general size difference. The Podengo is a hunter, however, and those of us who have slipped a dog typically have our hearts in our throats worrying that a rabbit, fox or deer might make an appearance and provide far more interesting chase than a plastic bag. We are always looking for hound homes so that we can preserve the breed. For more information, you can visit: www.podengo-mediogrande.com.



T he word “Podengo” was used in Portu- gal at least as early as the 16th century to refer to pack-hunting dogs. The full name then was Podengo de Mostra (the Mostra part referring to a pack). Over time, this was short- ened to Podengo and referred to multi-sensory, endurance- trotting, pack-hunting dogs. The Portuguese do not have a word for hound, so use the word Podengo as a specific term for the kind of primitive, prick-eared hunting dogs that were distributed around the Mediterranean basin 2,000 years ago by the Phoenicians. Podengos (Medio and Pequeno) hunt rabbits, which in Portugal live mostly in rock crevices and thick briars rather than in underground warrens. The Medio works in tandem with the smaller Pequeno—whose job is to flush rabbits from crevices and dense briars as well as to chase, track, kill, and retrieve the rabbit. The larger and sturdier Podengo Grande hunts boar and stag, although it will make short order of any rabbit that crosses its path as well. In England, they have taken to calling the Podengo, Warren Hounds , but we prefer the real name—Portuguese Podengo. There are three types of Podengos: Pequeno, Medio, and Grande. In the United States, the Medio and Grande size are considered one breed based on the fact that you can get both sizes in a litter and on the overlapping of the size standard. So, for our purposes in the US, the breed is split in two, known as the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno and the Portuguese Podengo (Medio & Grande). The Pequeno, or “small” Podengo, is not a “go-to- ground” dog, but rather a fearless flusher of rabbits from dense brush and crevices. Back in the 15th-18th centu- ries, this trait made its ancestors ideal ratters, and they served that purpose by sailing with the Portuguese explor- ers on their voyages of discovery. As a result, the Poden- go spread its genetic influence around the world and also picked up some influences from other breeds, which have by now largely disappeared, making the breed true to the Podengo type. So that’s what’s in the name!

The Portuguese do not have a word for hound, so use the word Podengo as a specific term for the kind of primitive, prick-eared hunting dogs that were distributed around the Mediterranean basin 2,000 years ago by the Phoenicians.

HUNTING WITH PODENGOS T he dog excitedly works a zig- zag pattern through the patch of sorghum, her snout low and snuffling. Two shotgun-

toting hunters and a guide track the dog’s progress. What sporting breed is this, you might ask? Well, it’s a Portuguese Podengo, a hunting hound. This particular dog, Xana, was found on the streets of Portugal by Jonathan Sav- age, an attorney from the US. John and his wife grew fond of Xana and brought her home where they had her trained at the Hunters Creek Club, north of Detroit. The club’s dog trainer, Steve Harden- burgh, wasn’t sure how Xana would do, but he quickly found out she was “birdy as heck.” Using both sight and scent to find its prey, you would typically find Podengos in Portugal hunting rabbits, and the Grande hunting boar. In this Hunt Club in Michigan, however, you find the Podengo hunting pheasant. In a recent article in the Maticar , a newsletter of the PPPCA, longtime Podengo owner, hunter, and breeder, John Fernandes of Massachusetts, visited fellow rabbit hunter Tony Carvalho at his dairy farm in California’s Central Valley. John had this to say about Tony and his dogs: “Tony is a semi-retired dairy farmer. He came to the US from St. Michael [São Miguel Island] in the Azores with his par- ents when he was nine, and grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts. He left home at 18 to seek his fortune in California.” Tony and his wife, Theresa, are keeping the Portuguese traditions; his grandchil- dren speak both Portuguese and English. Honoring another Portuguese tradition, Tony breeds and hunts with Podengos. Mostly he hunts with Pequenos. This is a picture of me and Tony. Tony is holding Garrotto, which means “boy.” I am holding Garratto’s daughter, Esplitta, which means “fuse” or “primer.” I brought Esplitta home with me and she will be my foundation bitch for a hunting pack of Podengo Pequenos. Tony got his first Pequenos from the famous Portuguese hunter and breeder Vasco Matias. Vasco is related to a bullfighter in California who


John Fernandes hunting in Nantucket and training the next generation of hunting Medios. John Fernandes is Proprietor, Whelden Mill Kennels, Aschusnet, Massachusetts. John.fernandes92@gmail.com

The Portuguese Podengo is the most popular hunting dog

Tony knows because Tony used to have an active bullring on his dairy farm. We went on four hunts while I was there, some with mixed packs of Medios and Pequenos. Shown above is the string of rabbits we got on our hunts. We could have taken more, but we follow the rabbit hunter’s axiom: “Take some, leave some, and always have some.” The Pequenos are terrific at finding and flushing the rabbits. The Medios are faster, so they can give chase to the rabbits that range further away. Both are triple threat hunters... hunting by scent, sight, and sound. Tony lent me his Winchester 101, which is reputed to be such a fine gun that it corrects for bad aim, but in my case, it didn’t. I missed quite a few rabbits. Tony is a phenomenal shot, as is my friend, Row- land, who was with me on the trip. Thanks to Kellie Theis, editor of the Maticar , and John Fernandes for sharing this information.

hunting function (or boar hunting, in the case of the Grande), and it is essential that it continue to be used to hunt if it is to stay healthy and true to type. The Portuguese Podengo is a natural hunter, requiring no special training oth- er than a gradual exposure to the sound of the gun. It hunts with a great deal of autonomy, often finding, flushing, catch- ing, killing, and retrieving the game with- out any involvement with the hunter. The Portuguese Poden-

in Portugal, and the rabbit is the predomi- nant game species in Portugal. So, it is understandable that the Portuguese believe that nature and history have produced in the Portuguese Podengo the finest rabbit hunter in the world, or at the very least, the finest rabbit hunter for dense woods and a mix of wet and arid climates. Virtually every element of the conformation of the Portuguese Podengo comes from its rabbit

go’s hunting style relies as much on cleverness as on pure speed, and in a pack situation, there will be a lead dog or bitch (the “quitador”) that directs the teamwork of the others and reserves for itself the honor of retrieving the kill. The Portuguese Podengo’s hunting style engages its sharp vision, keen hearing, and acute sense of smell. When hunting in dense woods, the senses of smell

Nuno Fero in Portugal, keeping the hunt alive.

and hearing will dominate over the sense of sight. The typical hunt is not made up of short bursts of speed across open ground, but rather a long, zigzagging hunt through the brush that requires a combination of speed, endurance, agility, persistence, and great tracking ability. Speed, endurance, agility, persistence; these traits that are important in a hunter are beginning to be seen in performance events in the US, like lure coursing, agil- ity, and fly ball. Because they have been bred for many years to fill this function as a hunter of small and large game, they are formidable in strength and character in performance venues.


T he Portuguese Podengo Pequeno and Podengo are primitive-type dogs. Their ancestors were most likely prick-eared dogs brought by the Phoeni- cians and Romans to the Iberian Peninsula dur- ing classic antiquity. The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno and Podengo number among the “warren hounds,” which is the name for that group of Mediterranean rabbit-hunting hounds that also includes the Ibizan Hound, Pharaoh Hound, Cirneco dell’Etna, and others. PORTUGUESE PODENGO PEQUENO. The smallest- sized dog is the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno. Many people are familiar with the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno. It is short- legged and low to the ground. The low center of gravity allows it to push through brush. It is not an open field runner. Many people are less familiar with the medium (Medio) and large (Grande) sizes. These are long-legged, open field running hounds. Grouped together, the Medio and Grande are called, simply, PODENGO. The MEDIO, or middle size, was developed for rabbit chas- ing, flushing, hunting, and retrieval. Its hunting style includes cat-like 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 neces- sary, to flush prey. The GRANDE is the largest of the Podengos. It was devel- oped for deer and wild boar hunting. It will exhaust and hold down the prey and await the hunter’s gun. The Grande is now very rare in its home country.

This photo provides the general size differences and is from a hunting seminar in Portugal that the author attended in April. Nuno Ferro (far right) was the seminar leader. Included in the photo are all three sizes (Pequeno, Medio, Grande) and both coat types (smooth and wire). Photo used with permission of Nuno Ferro.

LURE COURSING Podengos love to lure course. It is a wonderful opportunity for the dogs. However, those of us who have slipped Medios or Grandes are pretty sure that the plastic bunny would be aban- doned by our hounds if a rabbit, fox, or deer were to appear during the course. We are always looking for hound homes so that we can pre- serve the breed. For more information, please visit: www.podengo- mediogrande.com .

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Diana McCarty has been a Podengo breeder since 2009. She established the American Portuguese Podengo Medio Grande Club (APPMGC) in 2008 and was instrumental in the separation of the Podengo from the Podengo Pequeno, which

was approved by AKC in 2009. Ms. McCarty is involved in showing, importing animals from the country of origin, expanding the gene pool, and expanding the number of registered Podengos in this country. She is an AKC conformation judge (Basenji, Whippet, Bloodhound, Basset Hound) and is a sought-after seminar presenter on the Podengo. She also chairs the Wright County Kennel Club’s annual all-breed dog shows. Ms. McCarty is President of the APPMGC, and is Secretary of the Podengo Club of America, the UKC club. She recently returned from participating as a presenter at the Portuguese Podengo International Breeder Seminar in Verios, Portugal.

Note: The Pequeno was not bred down from bigger sizes, and the Medio and Grande were not bred up from Pequenos. You can, however, get Medios and Grandes in the same litter. Medios and Grandes have been bred together to expand the gene pool. However, Medios and Grandes are NEVER bred to Pequenos. HUNTING STYLE When the differing-sized Podengos hunt rabbit together, typically the Pequeno and Medio will hunt together. While the hunting styles of the Pequeno and Medio are different, their styles are complementary. Grandes will also hunt rabbit, but primarily they hunt in packs for larger game.



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