The Portuguese Podengo is a breed of moderation, a rustic dog that always look natural. Historically, when hunting they went by scent first, hearing second, and sight third. Their coat may be smooth, which is short and very dense; or wire, which is long and harsh but not as dense as the smooth coat. Neither has an undercoat. The Pequeno is 20 percent longer than tall. Their movement is light and agile.
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno (pronounced peh-KEN-oo) is the smallest of three Portuguese Podengo breeds, the other two being the Medio and Grande. Their ancestors were brought by the ancient Romans and Phoenicians to the Iberian Peninsula over 2,000 years ago. Different sized dogs gradually became specialized to hunt different sized prey, with the smallest dogs hunting small game for their peasant owners.
Although the original dogs had smooth coats, ideal in Portugal’s wet north, wiry coats flourished in hot, dry southern Portugal where brambles were particularly abundant. “Podengo” has been used at least since the 16th century to mean any pack hunting dog. The dogs hunted together using first their sense of scent, then hearing, to locate and flush small animals from crevices and dense undergrowth. They are said to use their hearing to hone in by calling to each other with a single yip (called the Maticar).
Podengos were also adept at protecting from rodents and they accompanied Portuguese ships — possibly spreading them to other ports. The Podengo is one of the 10 National Dogs of Portugal. They are considered an integral part of the Portuguese people’s survival through the centuries and are still widely popular there today. The first smooth Pequeno came to the United States in 1995, and the first wire in 2001.
Pequenos are active, independent dogs that love to explore. While they are affectionate they are not lap dogs, preferring adventure to cuddling. As with most primitive breeds, they aren’t great obedience dogs, but they do aim to please. They are often friendly toward strangers, other dogs, and usually, other pets. They are often alert dogs who detect strangers or visitors and bark in response.
Podengos are active, little dogs and need a good walk or jog daily, plus a chance to run and explore weekly. Given adequate exercise they are often well-mannered members of the household, but relaxation is not their favorite thing. They tend to enjoy activities like agility. The Podengo generally has a rustic look, so trimming isn’t needed. Even the wire coat needs only weekly brushing. Long hairs around the eyes, particularly in the corners, should be gently plucked.