Castro Laboreiro Dog

Other names: Cao de Castro Laboreiro, Dog of Castro Laboreiro, Portuguese Bouvier, Portuguese Cattle Dog

Castro Laboreiro Dog

The Portuguese Cattle Dog is one of the rarest breeds in the world, with currently only between 200-500 canines documented. At times, this breed is called a herding dog, however this isn’t his first job. The Portuguese Cattle dog is more of a livestock guarding dog. In this role, he is fearless, intelligent and protects any herd or flock he is given to guard, no matter during the day or at night. 

Key facts about the Castro Laboreiro Dog

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Size :

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Origins and history

There is very little information concerning the history of this breed. It’s thought that the first representative of the breed was born in the late 1800’s, although there is no historical data to back this up.

Physical characteristics of the Castro Laboreiro Dog

  • Castro Laboreiro Dog
    Castro Laboreiro Dog

    Adult size

    Female : Between 22 and 24 in

    Male : Between 23 and 25 in


    Female : Between 55 and 77 lb

    Male : Between 66 and 88 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    This hardy breed of canine has a noble and pleasant appearance. The Portuguese Cattle dog is a mastiff type, with a short loin, a deep, oval shaped chest and a strongly built body. His hind legs and forelegs are very muscular and strong. He has a rectangular-shaped head and a long muzzle. The dog’s eyes have a very serious expression which makes him look rather fearsome and unfriendly.

    Good to know

    The Portuguese Cattle dog is still a working breed in Europe, especially in the Azores region. In recent years, the breed almost disappeared, due to modern agricultural farming methods having been introduced. Additionally, many individuals were killed off by farmers accidentally poisoning them instead of the wolves they were targeting. Today, the Portuguese Cattle dog is sometimes employed in the military forces and also as a home companion. 


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      This is a large working dog, whose temperament may vary. He is often a very loving and friendly dog who likes to be near his owner.

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      Although this breed might be quite wary of strangers, when near his family he is very tolerant and gentle. He is certainly a playful dog, and is tolerant of rough play with kids.

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      The Portuguese Cattle dog is a good natured, devoted and calm breed. 

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      When it has received training, this breed makes a brilliant family pet, as it is very docile and intelligent too.

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      This is a herding dog, not a hunter.

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      The Portuguese Cattle dog can be classified as a suspicious breed. He certainly will not allow any strangers or other animals to come close to the herd he is guarding. 

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      This dog will certainly form a very strong bond with his master or the herdsmen. While some other livestock guardian dogs will work with the shepherd to herd and guard the stock, this breed will often be left alone with the cattle. 

      Behaviour of the Castro Laboreiro Dog

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        Tolerates solitude

        The Portuguese Cattle dog is fine when left alone, especially when herding or guarding his flocks.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        Initially, as this breed is quite independent when working, they can also be quite difficult to control and train. Respectful, firm training routines are needed. 

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        This dog has quite a distinct, memorable bark, which will begin with a slow rumble, then escalate to a higher pitched howl, very similar to a wolf’s vocalisations. 

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        Tendency to run away

        This dog is quite protective, so will be attached to his territory. However, the breed also has a tendency to roam, so it’s always safer to keep him in a fenced yard or on a leash.

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        As with many other large dogs, if he is not given proper outlets to expand his energy, he may develop behaviour problems. These can include aggression, over excitability, excessive barking, hyperactivity and destructiveness. 

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        Greedy / Gluttony

        This large dog needs to be fed a high-nutrient foodstuff, suitable for his size, otherwise he will tend to be greedy when other food is around.

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        Guard dog

        For centuries, the prime purpose of the Portuguese Cattle Dog has been to protect the property and livestock of herdsmen. With his thundering, frightening bark, he makes an excellent guard dog. 

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        First dog

        With a mix between roughness, intelligence and a need to protect, this breed is better suited for an experienced handler, rather than someone looking for a quiet, amenable first dog. 

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          Castro Laboreiro Dog in a flat

          This is a dog that prefers to be working outside, rather than cooped up indoors, in a small apartment. He also needs a large outdoor space to be able to exercise. 

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          Need for exercise / Sporty

          As with lots of working dogs, the Portuguese Cattle dog needs lots of daily exercise. Simple walks around the park will not suffice.

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          Travelling / easy to transport

          This is a large dog breed, and as such isn’t suitable for travelling on public transport.


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            Castro Laboreiro Dog and cats

            The Portuguese Cattle dog is quite aggressive when it comes to small animals, especially cats. 

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            Castro Laboreiro Dog and dogs

            This breed can be quite aggressive, especially with other male dogs. 

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            Castro Laboreiro Dog and children

            Although he’s not the first choice for a companion pet, he will get along fine with any children who live in his home. He may be more suspicious of strange children that he hasn’t met before. 

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            Castro Laboreiro Dog and the elderly

            As a very strong-willed and highly intelligent breed, this dog needs an experienced, authoritative owner to provide direction and training. Not the ideal choice for an elderly owner.



            The initial purchase price to buy a Portuguese Cattle Dog puppy is between £400 and £800. The monthly budget will be around £100. 


            The coat of the Portuguese Cattle Dog needs little care, other than an occasional brushing and bathing. 


            This breed does shed quite heavily.

            Nutrition of the Castro Laboreiro Dog

            As a large working dog, the Portuguese Cattle Dog requires a food suitable for breeds of this stamina and size. 

            Health of the Castro Laboreiro Dog

            Life expectancy

            There are really no documented, recognised health issues with this breed, however hip and elbow dysplasia may be diagnosed. The average life expectancy is 12 years.

            Strong / robust

            Certainly a very strong dog, with few health issues.

            Withstand heat

            This breed is used to being outside and working in all weathers. This dog won’t have a problem during spells of warmer weather. 

            Withstand cold

            The Portuguese Cattle dog is bred to work outdoors. He is fully equipped with a dense, thick coat to withstand cooler weather. 

            Tendency to put on weight

            As a large and active dog, providing he meets his enormous daily exercise quota, he won’t gain weight easily. 

            Common illnesses

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