According to an article by Kip Bergstrom, during the 400 years of the Moorish occupation, the superb rabbit hunting abilities of the Medio and the Pequeno, coupled with the abundance of rabbits in Portugal (the country's predominant species), helped the Portuguese nation survive, as commemorated in a 10th century Visigoth tomb decoration of a Podengo with a rabbit in its mouth that was later accorded a position on the front facade of the 14th century cathedral of Tomar. How many nations have so honored a dog breed? One could say that the Portuguese Podengo co-evolved with the Portuguese people, who inhabit the oldest nation state in Europe, and that the nation and the dog share a markedly hardy, rustic, natural character.
Breed History in America
THE PORTUGUESE PODENGO CLUB OF AMERICA (PPCA) was incorporated as the parent club for the breed in the United States in December 2002 by Marilyn Piurek and Kip Bergstrom, who brought the first purebred Podengos from Portugal to show in America in April 2001. On July 15, 2004, it became the applicant of record to AKC for acceptance of the Portuguese Podengo into the American Kennel Club's Foundation Stock Service, at which time Podengo Medios and Podengo Pequenos, both smooth and wire coats, were on PPCA's roster.
While the Podengo had already been accepted by the United Kennel Club (UKC) and several rare breed organizations, this application was the first formal step taken towards full recognition of the Portuguese Podengo by the AKC. In April, 2005, the AKC approved PPCA's application.
PPCA represents both smooth and wire coat Podengos and may be seen at www.podengos.com. The Podengo was accepted for full recognition in the Hound Group by the AKC on January 1, 2013.
If you are interested in learning about the Podengo, consider joining the Portuguese Podengo Club of America, the first, largest and most active club for the breed in the United States. PPCA members live with their Podengos throughout America and are active in UKC, AKC and FCI organizations throughout the world. You may join PPCA and get into the best Podengo network in the USA at www.podengos.com/joinus/
How the Podengo got its Name
The word Podengo was used in Portugal at least as early as the 16th century to refer to pack-hunting dogs. The full name then was Podengo de Mostra (the Mostra part referring to a pack). Over time, this was shortened to Podengo and referred to multi-sensory, endurance-trotting, pack-hunting dogs. The Portuguese do not have a word for hound, so use the word Podengo as a specific term for the kind of primitive, prick-eared, hunting dogs like us that were distributed around the Mediterranean basin 2,000 years ago by the Phoenicians.
Podengos hunt rabbits, which in Portugal live mostly in rock crevices and thick briars, rather than in underground warrens. The Medio works in tandem with the smaller Podengo, the Pequeno, to flush rabbits from crevices and dense briars, as well as to chase, track, kill and retrieve the rabbit. Medios and Grandes also hunt deer and wild boar.
So that's what's in the name!