The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is a small, primitive breed that resembles a stocky Chihuahua. Like its closely-related cousins the Portuguese Podengo Medio and Portuguese Podengo Grande, the Podengo Pequeno comes in wire-haired and smooth-coated varieties. Both types are strong, sturdy and well-muscled. In profile, Podengo Pequenos are longer than they are tall and have a pronounced fore chest. They have wedge-shaped heads and large, triangular, stand-up (pricked) ears, which are responsible for their remarkable hearing. Podengo Pequenos can rotate their ears separately to pick up even the slightest of sounds. This is extremely useful when hunting in the dark or in dense brush. Because bent and dropped ears are genetically dominant over erect ears, Podengos with anything other than upright ears should not be bred and are disqualified from show competition.
Size and Weight
Portuguese Podengo Pequenos are the smallest of three distinct varieties of Podengo, standing between 8 and 12 inches at the withers when full-grown. Taller Podengos are classified either as Podengo Médios or Podengo Grandes. Adult Podengo Pequenos normally weigh from 9 to 13 pounds. Size and weight are independent of coat type. In the United States, the Podengo Pequeno is considered to be a distinct breed, while the Podengo Medio and Grande remain classified as separate varieties of a single breed. The only differences among the sizes, besides the height differences and the differences in substance that accompany size, are the requirement for full dentition in the Grande (due to the rigors of boar hunting), and the requirement for a rectangular build in the Pequeno as opposed to an almost square build in the Medio and Grande (which makes it easier for Pequenos to enter small crevices and dense brush in search of rabbits).
Coat and Color
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno comes in two different coat types: wire-haired and smooth. Smooth-haired Pequenos have short, shiny, dense, close-fitting coats, while the coat of the wire-haired variety is medium in length, rough, harsh and less dense. Wire-haired Podengos typically have short, shaggy beards. Neither variety has an undercoat, and both have fairly thin skin. The smooth-coated variety is especially well-adapted to wet, cold climates typical of northern Portugal, because its short coat dries quickly. Wire-haired Podengo Pequenos do better in hot, dry climates, like those in central and southern Portugal, because their coats provide protection from the sun and keep them cool. Podengo Pequenos come in solid colors ranging from yellow, fawn and sandy-tan to red, dark brown and black, with occasional white markings on the chest and belly. Fawn and yellow, in any shade, are the most common colors and are preferred. Equally preferred, but much less common, are white dogs with fawn or yellow patching. Darker coats usually are faded or diluted and are less desirable. Brindles, all-white coats and tri-colored coats are unacceptable.
The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno doesn’t need a lot of grooming. Wire-haired coats should never be trimmed and require only occasional brushing to prevent tangles and knots in the more densely coated areas, such as under the armpits. When they are wet, wire-haired Podengos can develop a doggy smell. They are well-adapted to live in hotter climates. Smooth-haired Podengos require even less care, as their coats naturally shed dirt and dry very quickly, making them well-suited for cold rainy climates. They are almost odorless. As with most other hunting breeds, Podengo Pequenos only need to be bathed when they are dirty. They are energetic and active and generally keep their nails fairly short by digging and running, although monthly clipping may be necessary. The hair around their eyes, and also around and inside their ears, should be plucked. This requires grabbing a few hairs at a time and pulling them out abruptly. While this sounds painful (and probably is to some extent), Podengos eventually get used to it, much like terriers get used to being stripped. For ear plucking, it can help to put a bit of white pet talc inside the ears before pulling out the hairs; the powder gives a better grip. Old-fashioned rubber fingertips used for filing can also be helpful; these are available at office supply stores. If the insides of this breed’s ears are not kept free of hair, they are at increased risk of becoming infected. This is true for both the wire-haired and smooth-coated types. Tooth care is similar as that for any other breed.