Rafeiro do Alentejo
|Rafeiro do Alentejo
Rafeiro do Alentejo male
|Country of origin
|Classification and breed standards
|Not recognized by any major kennel club
|This breed of dog is
The Rafeiro do Alentejo, known also as Portuguese Sheepdog or
Portuguese Mastiff, is a
The Rafeiro is a large dog, with males weighing around 110 pounds (50 kg) and
females, 90 pounds (41 kg).
The following is the summary taken from standard of the Continental Kennel
Description: Head: Bear like, short muzzle. Eyes: Dark. Ears: Hanging.
tapered. Nose: Black and self-colored according to coat. Bite: Scissor or level.
Neck: Short. Top-line: Level. Chest: Thick. Body: Rectangular, well muscled,
strong bone. Legs: Forelegs are long, strong, muscular. Hind legs are strong,
hocks are moderately bent. Feet: Oval. Tail: Long, curved at end. Movement:
Swift and very agile, with flowing gait. Temperament: High-spirited, yet very
They are not the dogs for beginners. They mature slowly, are very
independent, and often do not respond to traditional concepts of dog
obedience. On the other hand, they are extremely territorial and will
protect the sheep, households, and families they feel were placed under their
protection. Rafeiro do Alentejo are guard dogs without herding qualities. They
are not aggressive but protective; they get along quite well with children.
The dogs are descendents of
Tibetan Mastiffs, believed to be the oldest breed of dogs. They are closely
related to Anatolian Mastiffs, known also as
Anatolian Shepherd Dogs. Rafeiro do Alentejo have been used, for centuaries,
to move sheep, during winter, from mountains in northern Portugal to the plateau
of Alentejo and back to the mountain. Gradually they adjusted to living in
Alentejo province. The breed was threatened with extinction but survived largely
due to an organized effort by a few dedicated people.
At present there are very few registered and recognized breeders but the
number of dogs is steadily increasing. The breed is recognized by the
Continental Kennel Club and, recently, the Rafeiro do Alentejo were admitted
Foundation Stock Service of the
American Kennel Club.
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