Breed History: How the Podengo Dog Got Its Name

Portuguese Podengo Pequeno dog and puppy playing in the grass

 

The Portuguese do not have a word for hound, so use the NAME 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.

 

The word “Podengo” was used in Portugal 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 shortened to Podengo and referred to multi-sensory, endurance-trotting, pack-hunting dogs. The Portuguese do not have a word for hound, so use the name 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.

Portuguese Podengos hunting

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 centuries, this trait made its ancestors ideal ratters, and they served that purpose by sailing with the Portuguese explorers on their voyages of discovery. As a result, the Podengo 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!

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  • PPPA is the official AKC Parent Club of the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno. We are dedicated to the preservation of this national breed of Portugal in the United States

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