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Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography
Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography
This Portuguese sighthound is lively, active, funny, and smart. He comes in three sizes and two coat types (smooth and wire). He likes to hunt rabbits and other furry critters and can jump straight up, very high. Invest in a tall fence if you get one of these dogs. The Podengo is alert and should make a good watchdog.
The Podengo is a multitasker who hunts by sight and scent. The dogs can be hunted in a pack or separately, and when they sight their prey they jump straight up.
The Portuguese Podengo is a sighthound that comes in three sizes: Grande, Medio, and Pequeno. He resembles the Pharaoh Hound, Ibizan Hound, and Cirneco dell Etna, and it is likely that all of these breeds share the same ancestry. Podengos are primarily a pack breed, used to hunt rabbits in their homeland of Portugal.
The energetic and friendly Podengo comes in a wire or smooth coat. The Grande, who is little seen in North America, weighs 44 to 66 pounds; the Medio 35 to 45 pounds; and the Pequeno 10 to 13 pounds. A Medio can produce Grande pups, and vice versa.
Whatever their size, their athleticism makes Podengos naturals at agility and lure coursing, and they can also do well in obedience, rally and tracking. They will enjoy regular exercise of 20 to 30 minutes daily, on leash, plus free play in a well-fenced yard. The Podengo’s alert nature can make him an excellent watchdog.
Confine the Podengo to your yard with a tall fence. One of his hunting traits is the ability to jump incredibly high.
Sighthounds are attracted by movement, and the Portuguese Podengo will happily chase cats and other small furry animals. If he is brought up with them from an early age, though, he is more likely to live amicably with cats or small dogs.
The Podengo’s coat is easy to groom. Give the smooth or wire coat a weekly brushing to remove dead hairs, and trim nails, brush teeth and clean the ears regularly. A bath is rarely necessary.
The Portuguese Podengo should live indoors, with his family. It’s an unhappy Podengo that is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.
Like his cousins the Cirneco dell Etna, Ibizan, and Pharaoh Hounds, the Podengo is known as a rabbit hunter in his homeland of Portugal. The breeds probably share a common ancestor back through the sands of time.
The dogs were first imported into the United States in the 1990s, so their history in the U. S. is young. They are recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale in Europe, as well as the United Kennel Club and the American Rare Breed Association in the U. S. They are also part of the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service, a first step toward AKC recognition. The Podengo Pequeno is now a member of AKC’s Miscellaneous Class, the last step before AKC recognition.
The lively Podengo is an alert and intelligent dog whose watchful nature helps ensure that you will always know what’s going on around your home, both inside and out. He is close to his family, including children if he is raised with them, but can be aloof toward strangers. He may view other pets such as cats or hamsters as prey unless he is brought up with them and taught to leave them alone. Outdoor cats, squirrels, and other furry critters should fear him.
The Podengo likes a good time as much as the next dog and will appreciate a lengthy walk as well as plenty of opportunities to run off leash in a safely enclosed park or other area away from traffic. He takes well to training for a sighthound and enjoys dog sports such as agility and lure coursing.
To train a Podengo, use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play, and food rewards, and keep training sessions fun and short. Like most dogs, Podengos can become bored when left to their own devices. They can become noisy or destructive if they don’t have other dogs to keep them company or don’t receive much attention from their people. Other drawbacks? They often like to bark and dig.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at 8 weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Never wait until he is six months old to begin training, or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with.
If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed. Invite people to your home as well so he becomes accustomed to visitors. That’s especially important to help prevent this breed from being excessively wary of strangers.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from an Podengo, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
Because there are so few of them, little is known about the health of the Podengo or any potential genetic conditions that occur in the breed. Sporting injuries are possible, such as muscle or toe injuries sustained while running. A reputable breeder will discuss potential health problems with you, including any problems she has seen in her own lines.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Portuguese Podengo at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The smooth Podengo has a short, dense coat. The wirecoated variety has a medium-length coat with a harsh texture. On his face he has a distinctive beard. Neither type has an undercoat, so the dogs don’t shed much.
Whether he has a smooth or wire coat, the Podengo is easy to groom. Both varieties can be brushed weekly. The smooth will probably enjoy being groomed with a rubber curry brush or hound mitt, while the wire is probably best cared for with a pin brush. The wirecoated Podengo should not be trimmed; his coat is supposed to have a rustic look, as if he just came in from a field in Portugal. Baths are rarely necessary for either type. Every three to six months is plenty.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every few weeks. Remember that sighthounds are sensitive about having their feet handled. Be careful not to cut into the quick—the blood vessel that feeds the nail. This is painful and your Podengo will put up a fuss the next time you try to trim the nails. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is a great way to find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks. Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or who promote the dogs as being “good with kids.”
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
Look for more information about the Podengo and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the Podengo Club of the U.S.A. (for the Medio) or the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno Club of America. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the PPPCA’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores and calls for the breeder to obtain recommended health clearances on dogs before breeding them.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected.Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Podengo puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Podengo might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy.
With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
The Podengo is a rare breed, with no more than a few hundred in the United States. It’s unlikely you will find a Podengo in a shelter or through a rescue group. If you are interested in acquiring an adult Podengo, start by contacting the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno Club of America or breeders to see if they know of any dogs that are in need of homes, either because they are retired from the show ring or because they didn’t work out in their original home. It’s also not impossible for a Podengo to be found in a shelter after becoming lost or losing his home to an owner’s death, divorce or changed economic situation, but don’t count on it. You can try searching Petfinder for an adoptable Podengo in your area.
Here are some tips to help you find and adopt the right dog from a rescue group or shelter:
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Podengo in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Podengos available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Podengo. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who love Podengos love all Podengos. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno Club of America can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Podego rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Podengo home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a dog. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors, and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Podengo, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, take your Podengo to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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