The Rafeiro do Alentejo!

Also known as the Portuguese Watchdog or the Alentejo Mastiff, this dog has a head with broad, rounded skull and darkly expressive eyes. Their silhouette is slightly convex and the males have bigger and bulkier heads than females. Their ears are range from small to medium-sized with rounded tips placed halfway along the skull, dangling and bending at the base. The Rafeiro do Alentejo has a short and strong neck, a robust trunk, and broad, deep chest. Both front and rear limbs are upright and strong. Their tail may curl up when in motion or when excited, but it is just usually on a line with the rump and falling underneath and between the hocks.

Some Quick Facts:

Life Expectancy:
12-14 years

Energy Level:

Living Conditions:
No apartments or cramped spaces.

Deep bark around strangers.

Exercise Needs:
20 minute walk.

Breed Group:


25-28 inches

100-130 pounds

Standard Hair Colors:
Black, wolf like, tawny or yellowish, in a fair, striped or white-spotted pattern.

National breed club:
AKC Site for Rafeiro do Alentejo

Rafeiro do Alentejo Skills

Rafeiro do Alentejos were used to guard the the big rural estates and not just the herd in the Southern prairies. This breed declined dramatically in the 60’s and 70’s, reaching its critical point in the 80’s. Fortunately, this problem has been overcome, thanks to the zeal of a determined group of breeders.

Rafeiro do Alentejo Personality

Some who have owned a Rafeiro say he is too much too handle as a dog. However, Rafeiros are excellent, safe and self-confident guard dogs particularly alert at night. Admittedly, it is not a dog for beginners. The owner of a Rafeiro do Alentejo must be someone who possesses innate leadership. This breed is brave but not aggressive. They are calm, steadfast, independent, watchful, and self-assured. They are very wary and suspicious of strangers especially at night but they are warm and affectionate towards their own family. The downside in the Rafeiro do Alentejo’s temperament is that they can be stubborn and dominant at times. It is important to maintain a determined, consistent and loving approach when training them because they are sensitive to reprimand. Rafeiros should be traines early because a fully grown one may be a little hard to correct. They are also not likely to give in to their owner’s every command because this dog has a mind of its own. On the other hand, they are very sweet and always eager to receive affection. They can get along with other pets provided they have been introduced while still very young. They only reach full adulthood when they are already four years old as this particular breed matures slowly. More of a defense dog than an attack dog, the Rafeiro do Alentejo has a low and deep barking tone. Overall though, it is a sober dog of very peaceful demeanor.

Exercise Needs

This dog only has average exercise needs. A daily 20-40 minute walk should be fine.

Living Conditions

This breed is very suspicious of strangers so it is important to provide a sturdy and secure fenced yard. When kept indoors, they are generally inactive but they will do well with free space. It is not recommended to get a Rafeiro do Alentejo when living in an apartment.

Grooming Requirements

They shed twice a year. Other than that, minimal grooming is enough.

Health Issues

Though not very common, hip dysplasia may occur.

If you liked this dog… would also like the Anatolian Shepherd dog and the Spanish Mastiff which have similar origin, looks, functions and characters as the Rafeiro do Alentejo.


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