The Portuguese Podengo is one of the oldest dog breeds, dating back thousands of years. It is believed to have descended from the ancient hounds brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Phoenicians and Romans in 600 B.C. These hounds then intermingled with local dogs to produce the ancestors of the Podengo. In Portugal, the Podengo was bred in three sizes: Pequeno (small), Medio (medium), and Grande (large), and each size was used for a specific type of game hunting. The Pequeno was used for rabbit hunting, the Medio for larger games like wild boar, and the Grande for deer and wild boar. All sizes are also excellent watch dogs and will alert their owners to the presence of intruders.
The Portuguese Podengo is generally a healthy breed with few inherited diseases. Some health issues that may affect the breed, albeit rarely, include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and eye problems like progressive retinal atrophy. They may also be susceptible to food and contact allergies, hypothyroidism, and deafness.
Portuguese Podengos are intelligent, energetic, and affectionate dogs. They are friendly with their families but can be reserved with strangers. They are excellent hunters and will need a good deal of exercise to keep them healthy and happy. They also have a strong prey drive, so they need to be kept in secure areas or on a leash when outside. Podengos are quick learners and responsive to training, although they can be independent at times.
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is the smallest of the three sizes and the most common one found outside of Portugal.
Despite their small size, Podengo Pequenos have a surprisingly loud bark.
The Portuguese Podengo has excellent hearing, one of the best among dog breeds. This made them particularly useful for hunting.