Porto Novo Podengos

A Primitive Type

click to expand
The Primitive class in Europe includes Basenjis, pictured here, as well as Podengos.

A Primitive Type - Podengos & Basenjis

There has been much discussion on the PPPCA list about the primitive nature of the Portuguese Podengo. The Federacion Cynologique Internationale (FCI) is the World Canine Organization. It includes 83 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. FCI classifies the Podengo in its 'Primitive Type' Group. This includes the Basenji, the Podengos and many other breeds. The American Kennel Club (AKC) is the the major organization representing canines in the USA and, at the present time, has no 'Primitive' group. The Primitive type dogs in America are found dispersed through many of AKC's groups.

So in other countries, there is often a surer grasp of what is meant by 'primitive' when it comes to canines.

The following posting appeared on the PPPCA Group List on March 10, 2009 and I am including it here as it offers thought-provoking, interesting look into the Podengo.

Many thanks to PPPCA member Ray Olivier de Vezin for this information!

Since the Podengo is often described as a member of the primitive group I thought I might clarify what we mean by 'primitive'.

Scientifically,the designation of primitive may be denoted by DNA material which shows ancient origins and more kinship to the ancestral wolf. Recent DNA analysis of the different breeds indicate that seven main breeds fall into this group of ancient. Natural breeds that were not developed by design, but by a harsh natural environment, include breeds like the Dingo, New Guinea Singing Dog, Telomian, Jindo, Shiba Inu, Caanan Dog, Siberian Husky, Basenji, Carolina Dog, Indian Pariah, Cretean Dog and Podengo.

The common behavioral traits of these breeds include: cautious observation of the environment, aloofness with strangers, high hunting and chase skills, multi-sensory use of smell, sight and hearing in prey recognition and often high threshold resistance for barking or absence of barking with a range of unusual noises such as yodeling, whining, crying and howling.. While the New Guinea Singing Dog is singular, most primitive breeds are pack oriented and show definite pack order. While they may associate with man, these breeds show a marked independent attitude toward commands, a difficulty to train, and a definite penchant for chewing, tearing and destructive behavior when frustrated. They are very territorial and may defend their turf against dogs even larger than themselves. Many of these breeds show high strategy skills to manipulate their environment and are thus escape risks. Usually their play with each other is rough, with mouth over neck or mouth on rear leg ( probably hunting prey practice).

Morphologically the body type of the primitive breeds includes prick ears, triangular head shape, early body development with an adult predator design. Often tails are carried up in a crescent or curled shape. The Dingo and New Guinea Singing Dog have marked size of the carnassial teeth similar to the wolf. Annual estrus in females are common in Dingo, Basenji and New Guinea Singing Dog. The Basenji is even noted to have males produce lower reproductive hormone levels in off seasons.

The above listed traits should only be viewed as a listing of those often associated with primitive canine groups and should not be taken as representative of all breeds listed under the "primitive" designation. As with many behavioral issues (such as temperament, sociability and command training) the clustering of traits will vary with the specific breed, the individual genetics and environmental factors. Ultimately "primitive" may come be determined by factors such as DNA analysis of the breed's consistency, its position on the canine genetic historical record and the proximity of behavior and morphology to existing wild canines.

Ray Olivier de Vezin

Marilyn Piurek, Porto Novo Podengos LLC, Old Saybrook, CT & Newport, RI, USA • Phone: 860-395-0546