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Portuguese Cattle Dog

The Portuguese cattle dog, known by its original name Cão de Castro Laboreiro and other English names, is a breed of domestic livestock guarding dog that originated from Portugal. Its original name means “Dog from Castro Laboreiro” and refers to its city of origin, Castro Laboreiro. The history of this breed is largely unknown, although many stories exist about its development occurring in the 1800’s. It is thought that the modern breed is descended from guard dogs that existed before 3000BC and traveled with nomadic groups of people. It was once used for guarding cattle and other livestock, but modern developments have reduced the need for guard dogs, so it is now most often used as companion pet.

The breed standard of the Portuguese cattle dog calls for a wolf like body and a height of up to two feet at the withers. The standard describes the preferred color as light wolf coloring or dark wolf coloring, although the most highly prized color is known as mountain color. Dogs with this coloring hold a mixture of black, grey, red, and brown hairs. This breed is not known to have any major health issues, although crossbreeds between it and other dogs may show signs of issues from those breeds.

Because the Portuguese cattle dog was no longer being used as a livestock guarding dog, it soon became a feral breed and was almost completely removed from its city of origin. Because of this, it is a rare breed with less than 500 individuals left throughout the world. It was first given a breed standard by Manuel Marques in 1935 and recognized as a breed by the Clube Portugues de Canicultura. It is now recognized by other clubs including UKC and the FCI under varying names.

Image Caption: dog breed “Cao de Castro Laboreiro”. Credit: Schiowa/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Portuguese Cattle Dog


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