Also known as the Portuguese Mastiff or Alentejo Mastiff, the Rafeiro do Alentejo is a large-sized dog, having its roots in Portugal. Bred with the purpose of guarding livestock, these dogs are characterized by a round bear-like head, medium-sized muzzle, black, oval-shaped nose, , medium or highly set triangular ears, short, strong, neck and a long tail, slightly curved at the base. Sober and calm, yet fierce and protective….this versatile personality makes it qualify as a remarkable guard dog.
|Other names||Alentejo Mastiff, Mutt of Alentejo, Portuguese Mastiff|
|Coat||Short to medium length, straight, dense and thick|
|Color||Black, gray, fawn, yellow, brindle|
|Group||Livestock Guardians, Molossers, Mountain dogs, Rare dogs|
|Lifespan/ Life Expectancy||12 to 14 years|
|Height||Male: 27 to 28 inch
Female: 25 to 28 inch
|Weight||Male: 100 to 132 pounds
Female: 100 to 120 pounds
|Litter size||9 to 13 puppies|
|Temperament||Alert, calm, sober, loyal, affectionate|
|Good with children||Yes|
|Climate Compatibility||Adapts to all kinds of climate well|
|Barking||Deep, low set|
|Shedding (Does it shed)||Average|
|Competitive Registration Qualification/Information||UKC, FCI, AKC|
The Rafeiro do Alentejo are believed to be descendants of molossers which migrated to Central Asia along with their human family about 1000 years ago. Because of their huge size and immense courage, they were made to protect the livestock. They were even assigned the task of taking the sheep from the mountains in the northern part of Portugal to the Alentejo plateau and bringing them back again. However, with changes being brought in the agricultural as well as livestock raising patterns, their importance began to lessen, causing their numbers to decline rapidly. The initiatives taken by a few fanciers of this breed helped in retaining their numbers, though they are still regarded as “vulnerable” in Portugal. They are confined to the plains of Alentejo, mostly used as guard and companion dogs. Its breed standards were officially established in 1953 in Portugal.
They are sober and calm, with a slow rolling gait, but may attain streaks of independence and show stubbornness especially while at their task or protecting and guarding. “Gentle giants,” as they may be called because of their courteous and lovable demeanor, they are complete family dogs, devoted towards their masters.
However, they display alertness and suspicion when dealing with a stranger that may get more intense if they spot someone entering into their territory post evening. Having a deep, loud bark which can be audible from a long distance, they warn their masters, the moment they sense any unusual intrusion. Though alert, but do not attack, they could at times get aggressive if the situation arises, in pursuit of safeguarding their kith and kin.
They are friendly and playful with children, though parental supervision is needed while smaller kids are interacting with them as these big-sized dogs could knock them down in the course of play. The Rafeiro de Alentejo would get along with other dogs and even non-canine pets when brought up with them.
Though calm and gentle, they seem to have a will of their own, thus not a good choice for first-timers. Rather an owner who can handle them in a firm way would be suited for them.
Socialization: Socialize your Alentejo Mastiff, at an early age so that it may understand when to get suspicious on sighting an unknown person in their territory and when not to. You should acquaint it with people of varying heights short or tall, with or without a mustache, dark or bright complexioned… so that they do not judge people just by their appearance but even develop the knack of analyzing a situation before concluding.
Obedience: Being a herding dog, they might develop a tendency to nip. So training them in obedience, particularly following commands is essential so that they refrain from doing something destructive the moment you say, “stop” or “no.”
High-Quality dry dog food is essential to keep them in good health. However, do not overfeed as this might result in obesity and bloating.