Portuguese Watchdog

Owing its roots to the Tibetan highlands centuries ago, Portuguese Watchdogs, in the mastiff family, also referred as Rafeiro do Alentejo and Alentejo Mastiff, migrated toward Asia Minor over the years, following the Romans to the Atlantic shores. They were used to protect the herds of cattle from other area tribes. Most recently, in the 1960s and 70s, this breed nearly vanished; however, dedicated breeders brought the power and guarding nature of the Portuguese Watchdog back into the forefront. The name “Rafeiro Do Alentejo” means “Alentejo Mongrel” in Portuguese, and denotes the specific region of Portugal from where this dog breed traces its origin. However, in the English-speaking world, the dog is better known by a more politically correct term: Alentejo Mastiff. The ancestral homeland of this particular dog breed is Alentejo in south-central Portugal. Alentejo Mastiffs are believed to have descended from huge dogs of the molosser type that migrated from Central Asia with their human masters. A few experts theorize that the ancestor of the Alentejo dogs is the Tibetan Mastiff, although that has never been substantiated. The people of the Iberian Peninsula, part of which is in Portugal, took advantage of the dogs' size and strength by using them as livestock workers, moving sheep between the mountains of northern Portugal and the plateaus of Alentejo. As the years passed, people also began to use the Rafeiro do Alentejo for guarding vast rural estates. By then, the main characteristics of the dog had been largely established; people likened the breed's looks, personality, and function to a cross between the Spanish Mastiff and the Anatolian Shepherd Dog.

Male Portuguese Watchdogs grow to 28 inches in height and weigh up to 132 pounds, while females reach 28 inches in height and weigh up to 121 pounds. With a broad skull, dark eyes and medium-sized triangular eyes, males tend to be a bit broader and bulkier than their female counterparts. It has a short neck, robust trunk, deep chest and strong limbs, featuring a long, curvy tail that can curl up when excited. The coat is thick and coarse, with colors like yellow, black, beige and even striped. The coat is of short or medium length. The Rafeiro do Alentejo is physically described as a huge, well-built dog. The bear-like head has a set of ears that stand medium high and fold downwards. Also characteristic of this breed is the deep chest. Personality: This safe guard dog is confident and naturally suspicious of strangers. Led best by an owner who has strong leadership skills, the Portuguese Watchdog is brave and calm yet dominant and stubborn at times. If this dog is taught obedience when it's an adult, it can be difficult to correct its behavior at that time. Best trained at an early age to establish dominance, this breed loves affection and will do anything to please his master. Slowly reaching adulthood within four years, these dogs do well with other dogs if they are introduced early on. If not, there could be some territorial issues. The breed is good with children and is fiercely protective, especially after nightfall. This peaceful dog is excellent as a guard dog, as it will protect its family, characterized by its low yet deep bark and big, threatening fangs, which it rarely uses for fight. The Rafeiro do Alentejo is a dog that requires a strong and effective master; thus it is not recommended for novice dog owners. Also, it needs to be socialized at an early age to prevent the dog from being a threat to children or other animals due to its size and guard dog pedigree. Possessing a slow gait and calm expression, the Alentejo Mastiff is very territorial, eats relatively little for its size, and requires unique methods of training.

Portuguese Watchdog image
Life Span
10 - 12 years
Other Names
Rafeiro do Alentejo, Alentejo Mastiff, Portuguese Mastiff, Portuguese Watchdog

Portuguese Watchdog Build Information

Size
Large

Male Portuguese Watchdogs grow to 28 inches in height and weigh up to 132 pounds, while females reach 28 inches in height and weigh up to 121 pounds. With a broad skull, dark eyes and medium-sized triangular eyes, males tend to be a bit broader and bulkier than their female counterparts. It has a short neck, robust trunk, deep chest and strong limbs, featuring a long, curvy tail that can curl up when excited. The coat is thick and coarse, with colors like yellow, black, beige and even striped.

The coat is of short or medium length.

The Rafeiro do Alentejo is physically described as a huge, well-built dog. The bear-like head has a set of ears that stand medium high and fold downwards. Also characteristic of this breed is the deep chest.

Behaviour and Personality

Kid Friendliness
Affection Level
Activity Level

This safe guard dog is confident and naturally suspicious of strangers. Led best by an owner who has strong leadership skills, the Portuguese Watchdog is brave and calm yet dominant and stubborn at times. If this dog is taught obedience when it's an adult, it can be difficult to correct its behavior at that time. Best trained at an early age to establish dominance, this breed loves affection and will do anything to please his master. Slowly reaching adulthood within four years, these dogs do well with other dogs if they are introduced early on. If not, there could be some territorial issues.

The breed is good with children and is fiercely protective, especially after nightfall.

This peaceful dog is excellent as a guard dog, as it will protect its family, characterized by its low yet deep bark and big, threatening fangs, which it rarely uses for fight. The Rafeiro do Alentejo is a dog that requires a strong and effective master; thus it is not recommended for novice dog owners. Also, it needs to be socialized at an early age to prevent the dog from being a threat to children or other animals due to its size and guard dog pedigree. Possessing a slow gait and calm expression, the Alentejo Mastiff is very territorial, eats relatively little for its size, and requires unique methods of training.

Appearance

Shedding
Moderate
Grooming
Medium maintenance

Almost no grooming is required of this breed except a thorough coat brushing a couple of times per year during shedding season. This breed sheds heavily on a seasonal basis. Keep on top of the grooming during this time so as to avoid lots of hair on furniture and clothing.

Breed's Talents and Facts

Training
Moderately easy
  • This breed is not meant for apartment life
  • Rather, it needs to be active outside, running around within a big yard
  • Because it tends to be wary of strangers, keep it within a fenced-in area to avoid encounters
  • The Portuguese Watchdog is also called Rafeiro do Alentejo and Alentejo Mastiff
  • Common color schemes include black, yellow, light brown with white markings, or white with other colors
  • Males from the Rafeiro do Alentejo breed have a height of 27 to 28 inches (66 to 75 centimeters) and a weight range of 110 to 132 pounds (50 to 60 kilograms)
  • Females are a little shorter and smaller, with a height range of 25 to 28 inches (64 to 70 centimeters) and weight range of 100 to 121 pounds (45 to 55 kilograms)
  • Generally, the Rafeiro do Alentejo requires little grooming; however, the breed sheds heavily twice a year; so, it would require a thorough brushing-out when that happens
  • This breed does not fall victim to many health problems; however, it is prone to hip dysplasia, which is rare
  • The official standard for the breed was established in 1953
  • Although the breed is not eligible for registration with the American Kennel Club (AKC), the organization places the breed in its Foundation Stock Service (FSS) category
  • The typical lifespan of the Alentejo Mastiff is around 12 years

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Common Health Conditions in Portuguese Watchdogs

Although it is generally a healthy breed, the dog could develop hip dysplasia if bred beyond their maximum allowed weight. Also, Mastiffs with deep chests are more likely to suffer from bloat. The life expectancy for the Portuguese Watchdog is approximately 12 years.

Portuguese Watchdog Pet Insurance

When adding a dog or cat to your family you want to make sure your pet is happy, healthy and protected. During its lifetime your pet is exposed to many illnesses and diseases and some breeds are affected by a congenital disease which is a condition existing at birth. At these moments when your pet is ill or maybe needs surgery, you want to be protected for the unexpected and high veterinarian costs.

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