Rafeiro of Alentejo
Other names: Portuguese Mastiff, Alentejo Mastiff
Looking for a gentle giant dog? The Rafeiro of Alentejo is the one for you! This dog is huge; yet, despite his intimidating size, he is kind and gentle towards his family, especially children. Surprisingly, this otherwise calm dog will step up to the mark and protect its family against any danger - he is a truly fantastic watchdog!
It should be understood, that the Rafeiro do Alentejo was bred as a working dog and therefore, has a definite stubborn and willful streak to its temperament. However, with an experienced owner who understands dominant breeds, this big but lovable dog can make a wonderful companion.
Key facts about the Rafeiro of Alentejo
Life expectancy :
Origins and history
The Rafeiro of Alentejo is believed to be a descendant of the Tibetan Mastiff and was originally used to move and herd livestock in Portugal. The breed suffered in the mid-late 90s and almost became extinct, but thankfully, a dedicated group of breeders managed to revive the population. Nowadays though, the breed is still incredibly rare, even in its native Portugal.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 2 - Pinscher and Schnauzer - Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs
Section 2 : Molossian type
Physical characteristics of the Rafeiro of Alentejo
Female : Between 25 and 28 in
Male : Between 26 and 29 in
Female : Between 77 and 110 lb
Male : Between 77 and 132 lb
Black, fawn, yellow, grey or white, often with markings of a contrasting colour.
Type of coat
The length of the coat is short or mid-length. The type of coat is thick, straight and dense.
The Rafeiro of Alentejo is a large dog with a characteristic wide, round head. The eyes are dark and expressive, while the ears are medium-sized, triangular ears which hang down to eye level. The neck is short with visible dewlap. The body is robust and muscular, with bulky shoulders and strong, thick legs.
Good to know
The Rafeiro of Alentejo is often described as bear-like in terms of appearance.
He is affectionate and always willing to receive cuddles and affection, though only acts this way towards his family.
This dog prefers to remain on guard, and play sessions could distract him from his mission.
Despite its somewhat intimidating appearance, the Rafeiro of Alentejo is calm, gentle and considerate within the home if well-trained and exercised.
Of average intelligence, he has a strong sense of observation and analysis, which allows him to fulfill his mission of guarding with great efficiency.
The Rafeiro of Alentejo used to be part of huge packs of dogs to hunt large wildlife. Though his prey drive seems to have lessened over time, this breed may still be tempted to chase livestock and wildlife.
Fearful / wary of strangers
He is extremely protective and therefore suspicious of strangers. Early and consistent socialisation is essential to avoid extreme shyness, and maybe even aggression, towards new people.
Overall, they are quite independent dogs, but still very close to members of their social group.
Behaviour of the Rafeiro of Alentejo
The Rafeiro of Alentejo is not afraid of spending extended periods alone as part of his guarding duties, as long as he has been educated for this from a young age.
Easy to train / obedience
This breed of dog can be quite slow to pick up new tricks and learn new commands. His dominant streak may mean he acts stubbornly towards training sessions. Being consistent and extensive in the Rafeiro of Alentejo’s training is essential because without it, he could become overly dominant and hard to control. Positive reinforcement is the best method.
The Rafeiro of Alentejo has an extremely loud bark, but if well-trained, only uses to alert its owners of strangers. However, this breed is noisy in other ways though - expect snores, snorts and grunts galore!
Tendency to run away
Due to this breed’s territorial instinct and fairly high prey drive, he should be kept in a securely fenced area if outdoors and on a lead in public areas until he is perfectly trained.