Portuguese Cattledog - Cao de Castro Laboreiro
This old Iberian breed is still very rare outside Portugal, but its popularity is slowly growing. Developed in the 1500's from local dogs crossed with numerous Eastern breeds brought to the region by traders and invaders, the Portuguese Cattle Dog is closely associated with an ancient small town nestled between the Suajo and Peneda mountains of Portugal, called Castro Laboreiro, which was isolated from the rest of the country for centuries. It is unclear which breeds were specifically used for its creation, but a great number of them has been suspected over the years, including the Rafeiro do Alentejo and even some hunting dogs. When barking, some representatives have been known to produce musical howls, like chromatic scales and melodies, leading some researchers to link this breed to primitive singing dogs. There is also a theory suggesting that the Portuguese Cattledog is an ancestor of the Labrador and other retrievers, but even though it may have played a role in the development of other breeds, its contribution was most certainly minimal, if in fact it wasn't a case of periodical mutual influence.
This rugged, hard-working Molosser is an excellent protector of livestock, a capable wolf-killer and a dependable watchdog. The Cao de Castro Laboreiro is a good natured, calm and devoted breed, slowly gaining popularity in cities as a family companion. Quick to react to any sign of danger, this is at times an overly protective dog, needing early socialization and training. Well-boned, muscular and powerful, the Cao de Castro Laboreiro makes a great all-around farm dog. The body is strong, with sturdy legs and a fairly small, but nicely balanced head.
The coat is short, thick and harsh, most common as brown and black brindles, but fawn, red and grey dogs exist, too. Average height is around 23 inches, although taller dogs were reportedly more common in the past.