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Portuguese Podengo Pequeno

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is a small ancient purebred from Portugal. There are actually three types of Portuguese Podengo. There Pequeno is the small version, the Medio is the medium sized one and the Grande is the largest. They all come in two varieties too, soft coated and wiry coated. In some countries they are seen as one breed but three sizes however in some such as the US the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is recognized as a separate breed, mainly to prevent mixed breeding between the Medio and the Pequeno. Multi-sensory means they use both scent and sight when they hunt. As well as being valued by Portuguese hunters the Pequeno is also valued as a companion and does well in numerous doggy sports.
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno at A Glance
Name Portuguese Podengo Pequeno
Other names Podengo Portugues, Portuguese Warren Hound, Small Portuguese Hound, the Small Portuguese Rabbit Dog or the Podengo Portuguesa Pequeno
Nicknames Pequenos, PPP
Origin Portugal
Average size Small
Average weight 9 to 13 pounds
Average height 8 to 12 inches
Life span 12 to 14 years
Coat type Smooth, wiry, short, dense
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black and white, yellow, fawn, brown and white
Popularity Not that popular – ranked 160th by the AKC
Intelligence Average – some intelligence but learning will be gradual
Tolerance to heat Very good – can handle most hot weather
Tolerance to cold Very good – can live in most cold climates
Shedding Moderate – some hair will be around the home and regular clean up will be needed
Drooling Low – not known to be a breed that drools or slobbers
Obesity Average – can gain weight if over fed or under exercised
Grooming/brushing Low maintenance – regular brushing and basic care
Barking Occasional to frequent – may need to train it to stop on command
Exercise needs Fairly active – needs daily walks and other opportunities for mental and physical stimulation
Trainability Easy for the experienced
Friendliness Very good with socialization
Good first dog Very good if owners are committed to learn
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very good with children with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Good but needs socialization
Good with strangers Good with socialization
Good apartment dog Moderate – while its size makes it appear to be suited to apartment living it needs a yard and lots of outside time
Handles alone time well Moderate – does not like being left alone for long periods
Health issues Healthy breed only a few issues such as patellar luxation and eye problems
Medical expenses $435 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $75 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $460 a year for license, basic training, toys, grooming and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $970 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,000
Rescue organizations Several including the Portuguese Podengo Pequenos of America
Biting Statistics None Reported

The Portuguese Podengo Pequenos’s Beginnings

The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is considered to be an ancient breed, this is one that was around before modern breeding from the 19th century on. It is believed to be descended from hounds Phoenician traders brought to the Iberian Peninsula from Asia Minor. It was developed to hunt small game like rabbit in the tough Portuguese terrain. They had excellent senses using scent, sight and sound to find their prey and flush them out, they were light footed and they had great stamina. They also accompanied Portuguese sailors to keep the ships free of rats and were kept as watch dogs and companions. Its name translates to small Portuguese pack hunting dog. Images from the 10th and 11th centuries on Roman ruins and churches show an image of a dog that appears to be this breed.

The original size Portuguese Podengo was the Grande, from that the Medio was developed and then from that the Pequeno. Today the Grande is actually quite rare and in Portugal the Medio is the most popular size. There are two version of the Pequeno, wire and soft coated and there was a time when the wire coated Pequeno was lost.

New Lease on Life

Thankfully in the 1980s breeders worked on recovering that version of the Pequeno and were successful in reviving them. In 1995 the first smooth coated Podeno Pequeno came to the US and the first wire coated dog came later in 2001. In 2003 the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno Club of America started and in 2010 they merged with another club, the American Portuguese Podengo Pequeno Club. In 2013 it was fully recognized by the AKC. It takes part in rally, agility and obedience events, still hunts rabbits and also works as a service and therapy dog. In Portugal it is the CPC’s symbol (Portuguese Kennel Club) and is one of their ten national dogs. In the US it is ranked 160th in popularity by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is a small dog weighing 9 to 13 pounds and standing 8 to 12 inches tall. It is the smallest of the three Portuguese Podengos and it is rectangular shaped, muscular and sturdy with a compact body. Some would describe it as looking like a beefed up Chihuahua! Its back is long as it is longer than it is tall, and the tail is shaped like a sickle and tapers to the tip. Its chest is pronounced and it comes in two types smooth coated and wire coated. The smooth coat is dense, short and shiny and is close fitting. The wiry coat is long, harsh, rough and is longer on the ace to create something of a beard. Common colors are yellow, white, fawn, brown and black. The smooth coats developed to better adapt to the cold and wet climate of north Portugal. The wiry coats developed to deal better with the dry and hot climate of south and central Portugal. The Pequeno has pricked erect ears that are thin and triangular shaped which they can rotate individually to catch the sound of their prey. The head of the dog is wedge shaped and it has almond shaped eyes.

The Inner Portuguese Podengo Pequenos


The Pequeno is an alert dog and makes a very good watchdog, one who will let you know by barking if there is someone breaking into your home. Being small though it is unlikely to scare off anyone. It barks occasionally to frequently so you should teach it to stop on command with training. It is a lively, intelligent, friendly but also sometimes stubborn and willful so needs experienced owners who can be firm and clear pack leaders. With the right owner it is affectionate, loyal and can be a great companion pet even if you are not showing it or hunting with it. As close as it can be with its family it is not as friendly with strangers straight away. It is aloof at first but can be good with socialization.

While it is small and is happy to have a snuggle now and then, it is not a lap dog. It is tireless, active, bold and brave, certainly rambunctious and versatile and loves to play. It can be funny with what it gets up to as long as you have a sense of humor, and it is a very happy and cheerful dog. It has its charming side and it loves to please those it loves, and can get very attached. However as mentioned it does have an independent side to so while it wants to please, it will think for itself and sometimes you and it will have different ideas on what it should be doing in that moment. It will be a dog that might have moments where it is charging around the house or leaping from the back of the couch and such silliness. It needs plenty of activity and stimulation as when it gets bored it can get destructive and difficult. Because it bonds so closely especially to one owner it can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods.

Living with a Portuguese Podengo Pequenos

What will training look like?

Training the Portuguese Podengo Pequenos is easy if you are handling it with knowledge and experience. It tends to listen to commands and does like to please and is intelligent. That combination means it can actually train more quickly than some breeds as less repetition is needed. When dealing with this breed you need to set rules and stick to them, be firm and consistent, do not let it charm its way out of things. If it is being trained by someone too meek or inexperienced things will not go so well and it can develop poor behavior. Use positive techniques, offer it rewards and treats and praise its successes. Avoid being harsh or physically punishing it and keep sessions fun and short so it does not have a chance to become bored and distracted. Along with basic obedience training you also need to start socialization as soon as you bring your puppy home. Introduce it to different people, places, sounds, animals and situations so it can learn appropriate responses.

How active is the Portuguese Podengo Pequenos

The Pequeno is an active dog but being small it is manageable. It can adapt to apartment living with enough exercise opportunities outside but is best in home where it has a small to medium sized yard at least. It has a lot of stamina and energy so can go for longer than many small dogs. Take it out for at least a couple of moderate walks a day, nice and brisk too. Along with that take it for off leash run time somewhere safe like a dog park. There you can play some doggy games with it too and it can socialize. Also make sure it has plenty of toys to rotate through at home, and give a spot in the yard to dig, as it will dig in it somewhere anyway. Any yard though needs to be well fenced as it can jump surprisingly high. Make sure when walking it that it is leashed as it does run fast and it will try to go after small animals that it sees as game to chase. You may find that if you are not using your Pequeno to hunt with that it needs more physical activity than those that are.

Caring for the Portuguese Podengo Pequenos

Grooming needs

This is a low maintenance dog, good for people who feel they do not have the time for a lot of grooming and such. It sheds a moderate amount though so there will be some hair around the home and regular vacuuming to do. Brush it regularly to limit the loose hair and to keep its coat shiny, matt free and debris free. It should be bathed as needed, not too often as that can dry out its skin. The wire coated types should not be trimmed and will need under the armpits checked regularly to stop a mass of knots forming. Be warned this version can have a stronger doggy smell when they get wet. Its beard will need some care too. Smooth coated do not have this problem because their coats are so much shorter and dry a lot quicker. The hairs in the ears need to be plucked and around the eyes it may need a trim.

If it does not wear its nails down naturally with its activity it will need them to be trimmed when they get too long. Owners can do this themselves as long as you get proper dog nail clippers and you do some homework or have the vet show you where it is okay to cut. There is a section of the nail that has blood vessels and nerves in it, if you cut this it will hurt and cause bleeding. Its teeth should be brushed two to three times a week and its ears need to be checked weekly for ear infection signs such as redness, irritation, wax build up and discharge. Once a week you can wipe the ears clean using either dog ear cleanser with a cotton ball or a warm damp cloth. Only wipe where you can reach and never insert anything into the ears.

Feeding Time

The Pequeno will eat between ½ to 1 cup of a good quality or better dry dog food, and that should be split into at least two meals. If you are not sure about whether to feed it dry dog food or not talk with your vet about what they recommend. How much each dog needs can vary depending on the dog’s size, health, metabolism, level of activity and age. Make sure your dog has access to water all the time and that it is regularly changed for fresh.

How is the Portuguese Podengo Pequenos with children and other animals?

With good socialization and when raised with them the Pequeno can be very good with children. It loves to play and they are actually good for each other, helping to burn off energy when you are too busy or too tired! The dog is affectionate and loving too though it may be better with older children who know not to pull at it or try to sit on it being as it is small. Make sure children are taught how to approach dogs and how to play and touch them in a kind and safe way.

It is important with this dog to set clear rules about what prey is, as they have strong chasing instincts and will see most small pets and animals as something to chase. Make sure they are on a leash when walking or they will chase after something and be warned if you are an owner and lover of pet rabbits this may not be the best dog to have. It can learn to leave pets alone if raised with them and trained to. Around other dogs it us usually good with them, it is often used to hunt in packs.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The life span of this breed is 12 to 14 years and it is considered to be a very healthy breed with as yet no identified genetic issues. Things that can come up include Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation and eye problems. They can also suffer from hunting injuries like broken toes if used to hunt rabbits with.

Biting Statistics

When looking at North American reports of dog attacks against people that caused bodily harm over the last 35 years, there is no mention of the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno. It is not a dog known to be people aggressive but that does not mean it would never attack someone. Any dog if mistreated, scared or having an off day even has that potential. However there are things good owners can do to limit those chances. Good socialization, good training, making sure you can give your dog the attention it needs and the mental and physical activity it need.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno puppy will cost you around $1000 from a decent breeder, possibly even more than that from a top breeder of show quality dogs. As tempting as it can be to speed up the proces of getting your dog when waiting lists are involved, it is important to stick with breeders who have a good reputation, are happy to show you parental health clearances and have you visit the puppy, and ones who have clear knowledge about what they are doing. Places like puppy mills sourced sellers like pet stores, and back yard breeders should be avoided, most do not have any experience or real knowledge, and puppy mills mistreat their animals too. If you are not just looking for a purebred to show, there is no reason why you cannot consider getting a dog from a rescue or shelter. For an adoption fee of $50 to $400 you can find a new best friend and give a dog a new forever home.

After deciding on your puppy or dog you are going to need to get it some things for the home. A dog of this size will need things like a crate, carrier, collar and leash or harness, bowls and such and this will cost about $120. When the puppy is home it needs to be taken as soon as possible to a vet for some tests, procedures and a physical exam. Things like blood tests, deworming, shots, spaying or neutering and chipping are going to cost about $260.

There are also ongoing costs when you are a pet owner. Feeding your Pequeno will cost about $75 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats. Basic health care like check ups, shots, flea and tick prevention along with pet insurance will cost about $435 a year. Other costs like grooming, miscellaneous items, license, basic training and toys will come to about $460 a year. This means you can expect an annual cost that starts at $970.


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The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is a great small dog but not one for inactive homes, it is not your typical lap dog. It has a lot of energy, it is spunky and playful and it has a strong prey drive especially around rabbits. It needs owners who will be able to give it the activity and stimulation it needs and ones who will see to its socialization and training. It makes a great companion and will become very attached, usually to one owner in particular if there are more than one of you it will still be affectionate, just not as devoted. It is easy to groom but it does not like being left alone so is best in homes where people are not out all day working, then out in the evenings socializing. In the US you will find the more common type is the wire haired.

Featured Credit: Sally Wallis, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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