The Rafeiro do Alentejo is a powerful and large sized dog breed with rustic and strong appearance. The average height is between 64-74 cm, which is 25-29 inch and weight is usually between 35-60 kg, which is 77-132 pounds. Females are naturally slightly smaller than males.
The breed has massively broad head with a rounded skull, very expressive small dark brown eyes, relatively small triangluar ears and nose, eye rims and lips in black color. The breed also has relatively short neck, wide and deep chest and long tail. Overall this is a very muscular and powerful dog breed.
The coat of Rafeiro do Alentejo is in short to medium length, but it is very dense, and it is providing the dog good protection even in harsh weather. The coat is straight and you can find it in several colors, including black, yellow, gray or fawn, either brindled or not. According to the FCI breed standard, the Rafeiro do Alentejo should always have some white markings on its body.
The Rafeiro do Alentejo is exceptionally good farm, property and livestock guardian dog breed. To be good at guarding, this breed must be very confident, independent, smart and alert and it is exactly, what this breed is like. They are capable of protecting the flock against very strong predators or any intruders. These dogs can also be used in big game hunting, but it is not their main utilization.
These dogs are known to be more vigilant during the night, when the protection job is more needed. Because of their naturally protective instinct, these dogs are suspicious and alert with strangers, but they should not be agressive without a reason. This is a defense dog, not an attack dog! But it takes time before a stranger will gain a trust of this dog breed.
Around its pack, around its family, this is very calm, gentle and friendly dog breed. They would defend its owner, when needed and even though they might not be overly affectionate like some other breeds, they definitely love its family. These dogs are also very loyal to its pack and can live with kids, but of course, you should never leave any dog breed with a very young child unsupervised.
Of course, this is not a dog breed for everyone and novice or unexperienced dog owners should not take this dog breed. It is because of their large size, big strength, independent and lets say stubborn nature and of course, because of the protective instinct. Because of all these traits, these dogs need experienced owner who will train them and socialize them from the puppyhood, firmly, but kindly, patiently and consistently.
The history and origins of this breed are surrounded by mystery and no one is really sure when these dogs originated and what are the breeds ancestors. The FCI breed standard state, that the ancestor should be large molosser dogs from the Middle East. On account of their size and courage, they were used by peoples whose livelihood depended on livestock husbandry, thus performing a crucial role for this type of community.
Dogs of this type were used for a long time in Portugal for annual transhumance of livestock to summer pastures in the mountains and than later back to the plateau of Alentejo in winter. These routes were long and thanks to that the dogs spread to different regions. As the population settled down, the dogs eventually remained in the southern prairies, the Alentejo plains, where they adapted and began to be used to guard. The breed is known as Rafeiro do Alentejo since the late nineteenth century and it was officially accepted by the FCI in 1954.
Health and grooming
The Rafeiro do Alentejo has a dense doublecoat which sheds some deal of fur all year long, more heavily during the shedding seasons. If you want to minimize the shedding, than regular brushing is recommended. No other grooming is necessary and the dog can keep the coat in very good condition byitself. Just like with any other breed, you should regularly check the dogs ears, eyes, nails and teeth and clean them or clip them if needed.
There are no scientific studies about the breeds health, but it shoud usually be a very healthy dog breed. Just like with any other large breed, there are some health problems that can occur, but they dont occur very often. Those would include hip and elbow dysplasia and some other joint problems or bloating. The lifespan of this breed is around 12 or 13 years.