Castro Laboreiro Dog

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

Castro Laboreiro 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

  • Life expectancy : Between 12 and 14 years
  • Size : Large
  • Type of coat : Short
  • Price : Between £400 and £800

Physical characteristics of the Castro Laboreiro Dog

Adult size

Female dog Between 22 and 24 in
Male dog Between 23 and 25 in


Female dog Between 55 and 77 lb
Male dog Between 66 and 88 lb

Coat colour

Black, Grey, Brown/Dark red, any of which can be brindled. 

Type of coat

The Portuguese Cattle dog has a short thick coat that is smooth but coarse when touched.

Eye colour

Varying shades of brown and hazel to black.


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.



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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.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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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

Tolerates solitude

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

Easy to train / obedience

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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. 

Tendency to run away

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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. 

Greedy / Gluttony

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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.

Guard dog

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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. 

First dog

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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. 


Castro Laboreiro Dog in a flat

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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. 

Need for exercise / Sporty

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

Travelling / easy to transport

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


Castro Laboreiro Dog and cats

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

Castro Laboreiro Dog and dogs

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

Castro Laboreiro Dog and children

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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. 

Castro Laboreiro Dog and the elderly

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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

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Certainly a very strong dog, with few health issues.

Withstand heat

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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

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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

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

Common illnesses

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. 

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.


Davi, Nuno, Branca, Ana

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