Portuguese Podengo

Canis familiaris

Last updated: May 3, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
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The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is considered to be quite possibly the world’s smallest hunting dog.


Portuguese Podengo Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Canis familiaris

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Portuguese Podengo Conservation Status

Portuguese Podengo Locations

Portuguese Podengo Locations

Portuguese Podengo Facts

The Pequeno hunts rabbits and mice. The Medio hunts rabbits. The Grande hunts deer and boar.
Name Of Young
Group Behavior
  • Pack
Fun Fact
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is considered to be quite possibly the world’s smallest hunting dog.
The Podengo is an active, fun-loving dog.
Litter Size
4-6 puppies (Pequeno)
  • Pack
Common Name
Portuguese Podengo

Portuguese Podengo Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Yellow
  • Fawn
  • Red
  • Gold
  • Tan
  • Chestnut
  • White-Brown
  • Golden
  • Blonde
  • Light-Brown
Skin Type
Medium and large types, 10-12 years. Pequeno, 15 years.
Pequeno, up to 13 lbs. Medium, 35-44 lbs. Large, 45-66lbs.
Pequeno, 8-12 inches. Medium, 16-22 inches. Large, 22-28 inches.

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Portuguese Podengo Introduction

The Portuguese Podengo is a “primitive” dog. The Phoenicians bred it around 700 BC and introduced it to Portugal around 600 BC. The breed became more common in the northern part of the country and was popular as a hunting and companion dog. It is a high-energy hunting sighthound, meaning it hunts by sight and keys on motion. Most Podengos in Portugal are part of hunting packs.

The Podengo makes a good watchdog and companion for families that are willing to exert the energy to train this high-spirited dog. Also, they are good with children if they are socialized or raised with them (especially the Pequeno.) They like to work and play, though they should be enclosed in a yard with a high fence due to their food-driven nature and their ability to jump.

Portuguese Podengo Fun Fact

The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is considered to be quite possibly the world’s smallest hunting dog.

3 Pros And Cons Of Owning Portuguese Podengos

The Portuguese Podengo bonds to a family and has strong pack instincts, giving it a very protective nature. Podengos make good watchdogs.Since the Podengo is such a good hunter, it tends to be food-driven. This means it may be more obedient to its nose than its master. Once it fixates on food, it may be difficult to rein in.
This dog’s energy level, athletic ability, and intelligence make it very good at sporting activities. Obedience trials, agility courses, scent work, rally, and coursing are all good options.Its predilection for food means that it may also tend to obesity. Watching how much it is fed, monitoring what it catches and eats, and limiting treats will help avoid that pitfall. Exercise is also a key component in controlling weight.
The different types of Podengo are all excellent hunters. The Grandé was bred to hunt deer and boar. The Medio and Pequeno are excellent rabbit hunters. The dog can catch the prey and flushes it out for hunters.Its hunting instincts may also be problematic if you have other small pets. The Podengo may perceive cats, hamsters, and other smaller dogs as prey to be chased. If you have other small pets, it is important to socialize them together at a young age.

Types Of

The Podengo comes in 3 sizes: small or Pequeno, medium (Medio), and large (Grandé). Of the three sizes: the large one hunted deer and wild boar, the medium version hunted rabbits, and the Pequeno hunted mice and flushed rabbits out for hunters. Interestingly, the Pequeno is listed separately with the AKC, while the Medio and Grandé are listed as variations of the same breed. The medium-sized version is the standard for this breed which is the chosen symbol of the Portuguese Kennel Club.

The Best Dog Food For Portuguese Podengos

Give them high-quality, high-protein dog food. They are driven by food and tend to get overweight, so be careful with treats and their diet. At A-Z Animals, we say the best dog food for the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Real Meat Recipe Appalachian Valley Premium Dry Dog Food. This is a dry, high-protein food with small kibble for a small mouth. The primary ingredient is venison.

According to A-Z Animals, the best food for the Medio is Hill’s Science Diet Adult Chicken & Barley Recipe. It contains all-natural ingredients, protein for lean muscle growth, and Omega 6 and Vitamin E for healthy fur and skin.

Finally, for the Grande, A-Z Animals recommends Hill’s Science Diet Adult, Large Breed Dog Dry Food Perfect Digestion Chicken. It contains probiotics to promote gut health and comes in large bite-size kibble.

Size And Weight

The Podengo Pequeno is about 8-12 inches tall and weighs up to 13 pounds. The medium-sized Medio is about 16 to 22 inches tall and weighs 35 to 44 pounds, while the large (Grandé) is about 22 to 28 inches in height and weighs about 44 to 66 pounds.

Height (Male)8-12 inches16-22 inches22-28 inches
Height (Female)8-12 inches16-22 inches22-28 inches
Weight (Male)Up to 13 lbs.35-44 lbs.44-66 lbs.
Weight (Female)Up to 13 lbs.35-44 lbs.44-66 lbs.

Common Health Issues

Not so many Podengos are imported into the United States from Portugal, and Portugal doesn’t perform health screening for the dog. As a result, we don’t know much about the dog’s health, though they may be screened for allergies, deafness, and thyroid problems in the United States. Most of this screening is done just to gather information.

Some health conditions arise due to the breed’s behavior and temperament. Since they are active dogs, constantly playing and competing in dog sports, injuries are possible. Also, their food-driven nature predisposes them to weight issues.


The Portuguese Podengo has an independent, energetic, and fun-loving personality. It requires a great deal of mental stimulation and likes to play. It loves its family, yet it views strangers warily. Its traits of protectiveness and alertness make it a good watchdog.

This dog is an agile hunter which hunts on its own or in packs. Usually, it will kill the game or else flush it towards the hunter. Although it can be good with other dogs, it might look at small animals as prey, so it’s not necessarily very good around smaller dogs or cats.

Podengos really like tasks, challenges, and tests. They tend to enjoy agility courses, nose work, and chasing (they like to chase toys and one another.)

How To Take Care Of Portuguese Podengo

Portuguese Podengo dog

Given its protective and hunting backgrounds, exposing it to many experiences as a puppy moving forward is best.

©Liliya Kulianionak/Shutterstock.com

Maintenance And Grooming

The Podengo has one of two coat types: either a wiry coat or a smooth one. The wiry coat sheds in sections and should be brushed weekly with a pin-type brush. If the dog has a smooth coat, occasional brushing with a rubber brush or a grooming mitt should do. The smooth coat is prone to less shedding than the wiry; overall shedding is moderate. Do not shave or trim the coat.

Bathing is rarely necessary, so once every 3 to 6 months is fine. Wipe down the smooth-coated Podengo with a damp cloth occasionally.

Brush their teeth, trim their nails with trimmers or a nail grinder, and regularly check the ears for wax and debris. Be mindful that the feet of the Podengo are sensitive and that you should be careful not to cut into the quick.


Nina Ottosson dog puzzles

Interactive puzzle games help channel your Portuguese Podengo dog’s energy in a constructive way.

©Sandor Gora/Shutterstock.com

The Portuguese Podengo is a smart, athletic, and energetic dog. This combination of intelligence and energy makes it easily distractible. It can learn quite a bit but needs firm training or follows its own initiative. Short bursts of training with large amounts of positive reinforcement work best. Reward it with praise, play, or treats.

If it does not receive much work or interaction, the Podengo can become bored. This dog is always looking for a good time; if it’s not engaged, it can find a good time in barking or destruction.

Another aspect of its training is socialization with strangers, children, smaller animals, and other dogs. Given its protective and hunting backgrounds, exposing it to many experiences as a puppy moving forward is best. Invite many people to your home to decrease the dog’s wariness of strangers. Train it to avoid its hunter/prey drive with small animals and children.


With all that energy, one must spend time exercising the Portuguese Podengo. 20 To 30 minutes of leash exercise daily plus free play in a well-fenced yard will go a long way toward expending some of that energy. Hunting, obedience training, agility drills, and scent work are also useful.


Begin training as soon as the puppy comes home, as early as 8 weeks, because it is intelligent enough to handle the training, and without it, it can become headstrong and hard to train later on. The Podengo should attend puppy kindergarten at ten to twelve weeks. Extensive socialization as a puppy is key to the dog’s adjustment and temperament later on.

Portuguese Podengo And Children

Overall, the Portuguese Podengo is good with children. Given the dog’s rambunctious nature, socialize the dog with children from a young age. The smallest type of Podengo (the Pequeno) is best with children, rating highly on the AKC’s scale.

Dogs Similar To Portuguese Podengo

Ibizan Hound: Ibizan hounds are similar in temperament, energy level, and purpose to the Portuguese Podengo. The Phoenicians also brought them to the Iberian peninsula (Spain) to hunt rabbits.

Italian Greyhound: Another “primitive” dog, the Italian Greyhound has many of the physical characteristics of a sighthound. Although it is classified as part of the “toy” group, it is a solitary, motion-oriented hunter.

Famous Portuguese Podengo

  • Portuguese Podengos (Tito, Rosa, and Nikki) were in several movies, including Zeuss & Roxanne, Cheaper by the Dozen, Dante’s Peak, Homeward Bound 2, and others.

Popular Names For Portuguese Podengos


  • Carlito
  • Alexandre
  • Chico
  • Alfonso
  • Glaucio
  • Silvio
  • Rico
  • Gaspar
  • Gil
  • Reinaldo
  • Roberto
  • Narciso


  • Raquel
  • Herminia
  • Mira
  • Guia
  • Catrina
  • Antia
  • Aline
  • Renata
View all 192 animals that start with P

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About the Author

Melissa Bauernfeind was born in NYC and got her degree in Journalism from Boston University. She lived in San Diego for 10 years and is now back in NYC. She loves adventure and traveling the world with her husband but always misses her favorite little man, "P", half Chihuahua/half Jack Russell, all trouble. She got dive-certified so she could dive with the Great White Sharks someday and is hoping to swim with the Orcas as well.

Portuguese Podengo FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Portuguese Podengos good dogs?

Portuguese Podengos are fun-loving dogs that are devoted to their families. The smaller Podengo Pequeno is especially loving and great with children.

Are Portuguese Podengos rare?

The Portuguese Podengo is somewhat rare. An effort has been made to restore the breed’s numbers in Portugal. They only began appearing in the United States in the 1990s.

Do Portuguese Podengos shed?

Portuguese Podengos are about average regarding shedding, though the smooth coated variety shed less. Weekly brushing can reduce shedding.

How do I identify a Portuguese Podengo?

The 3 types of Portuguese Podengo vary in size from 8 to twenty-eight inches in height and thirteen to sixty-six pounds. They have a wiry, muscular body and a wedge-shaped head. The ears are triangular and tend to stick up. Their coloring tends to be earth tone (brown, tan, red, rust, yellow, gold) with white markings. Their coat can be either wiry or smooth.

Is a Portuguese Podengo hypoallergenic?

The Portuguese Podengo is not hypoallergenic.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.


  1. American Kennel Club, Available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/portuguese-podengo/
  2. American Kennel Club, Available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/portuguese-podengo-pequeno/
  3. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_Podengo
  4. Vet Street, Available here: http://www.vetstreet.com/dogs/portuguese-podengo
  5. Pet Finder, Available here: https://www.petfinder.com/dog-breeds/portuguese-podengo-pequeno/
  6. The Kennel Club, Available here: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/search/breeds-a-to-z/breeds/hound/portuguese-podengo/
  7. Wag!, Available here: https://wagwalking.com/name/portuguese-podengo-dog-names
  8. Dog Names, Available here: https://dognamesinfo.com/portuguese-podengo-dog-names/
  9. Wag!, Available here: https://wagwalking.com/breed/portuguese-podengo
  10. AdoptAPet.com, Available here: https://www.adoptapet.com/s/adopt-a-podengo-portugueso
  11. WolfBarkGrowl, Available here: https://woofbarkgrowl.co.uk/portuguese-podengo

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