From the February 2019 Issue of ShowSight. Click to Subscribe.
We have all heard the term used before, “form follows function” and when planning our next generation of dogs’, it is what we all keep in mind, right? Have you asked yourself “Is the dog I am showing in the conformation ring capable of performing the function of the breed as it was intended?”
It is no different for the breeders of the Portuguese Podengo Pequenos.
The Pequeno (smallest of three sizes) is primarily used as a rabbit hunting dog in its native Portugal. It searches for rabbits in holes, dense shrubs and on/over rocks going into crevices to flush out the rabbits. They need to have stamina and endurance to be out in the field and the trainability to return to the hunter with their quarry. They are a fearless little dog with a high-pitched bark called the maticar that sounds off when they are excited. Because they are used small packs it was important in the development of the Pequeno to have a range in size from 8-12 inches without losing the type and function of the breed. The Portuguese breeders/hunters have done fabulous job in maintaining breed function from the smallest to the tallest of the Pequeno and in many cases, have shared their wealth of knowledge with the next generation of breeders in many different countries.
This is a dog bred to chase and the specific proportions are worth noting. Height is 50/50, but we cannot forget why it is important for the Pequeno to be 20% longer then tall. It is not until you have seen them in action do your really appreciate what this hunting dog would look like. Being shorter to the ground than their cousins the Medio and Grande, the Pequenos reply on a little extra body length to maneuver through the field and brush, able to make the twisting turns as fast as the rabbit. Their little hind legs, with just enough muscling are propelling themselves forward like they are flying. This structure makes them a formidable competitor in Agility.
When seen in the conformation ring, remember moderation is good. Nothing should be extreme in any way. The standard calls for a rustic appearance without excessive sculpting and clipping however, it is as important not to confuse rustic with a dirty, untidy appearance. Then on the other hand, a clean and brushed out animal should not be penalized for over grooming. This is a single coated breed and easy to maintain without hair spray and mousse. The smooth coat should be short and very dense while the wire is long and harsh. The texture of the coat is a very important part of the equation. The texture should feel course on the wire and the only way to know, is to feel it. Just a few hairs in your fingertips should do the trick. It should feel as though nothing can stick to it. This is critical to the appearance of the hunting dogs as well. The Portuguese breeders/hunters need not worrying about the dog picking up burrs while out in the field or having to be bathe a wet, muddy dog after the hunt. Once dry, the dirt will literally fall off the coat.
Many of us will never have a chance to see the Portuguese Podengo Pequeno at work hunting rabbits but we are none the less dedicated to preserving this wonderful little breed for all of its unique features. The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno is a great companion dog excelling in many dog sports, from Agility to Therapy work and everything in between.