Rafeiro do Alentejo (Portuguese mastiff)

Rafeiro do Alentejo is a breed of large guard dogs from Portugal. In the Alentejo region, for centuries they have been popular among landowners, accompanied and guarded cattle, protected the owner and his property. Other breed names: Portuguese mastiff, Alentezh mastiff.

Origin history

Almost nothing is known about the origin of Rafeiro do Alentejo. It is assumed that his ancestors were large Molossians who arrived on the Iberian Peninsula from Central Asia. Perhaps they were introduced by the Romans. It is well known that dogs of this type for many centuries accompanied flocks of sheep in the Alentejo region. They participated in seasonal cattle drives, which led to their distribution in Central and Southern Portugal. The modern name Rafeiro do Alentejo appeared at the end of the 19th century.

In Portuguese, rafeiro means “mongrel”, and do Alentejo indicates the place of origin.

The breed was recognized by the Portuguese Kennel Club in 1934, the International Cynological Federation in 1967. Today it is quite popular in the homeland, but practically unknown outside of it.


Rafeiro do Alentejo is a large, powerful dog with a moderately stretched body and a massive head. Outwardly somewhat rustic. Sexual dimorphism is pronounced.

  • Male height - 66-74 cm.; weight - 45-60 kg .;
  • The height of the bitches is 64-70 cm.; weight - 35-50 kg.

The head is massive, proportional to the body, voluminous. The muzzle is straight, wide and deep, gradually tapering to the nose. The lobe itself is slightly tilted back, black. Lips of medium thickness, clearly defined. The jaws are strong, the scissor bite is straight. The eyes are small, oval, set horizontally. Ears are triangular in shape, small, with rounded tips, narrow at the base, set at medium height, hanging down on the sides of the head. The neck is short with a single longitudinal suspension.

The body is muscular, long, voluminous, very strong. The back is almost horizontal, long. The loin is wide, slightly convex. The croup is slightly sloping. The chest goes down to the elbows or a little lower, wide, does not protrude. The abdomen is slightly tightened. The tail at the base is thick, long, slightly curved at the tip. Extremities with strong bones and well-muscled muscles, widely set, vertical. The movements are heavy, slow.

Coat of medium length, straight, thick, thick to the touch, evenly covers the body. There are also dogs with short hair. Colors: wolf, black, yellow or fawn with white marks, with or without tigers. And also white with marks of the specified colors.

Nature and behavior

Rafeiro do Alentejo is a born guard, watchman and protector of livestock, the owner and his property. In the description of temperament, you can often find the word noble. This is a dominant dog with a pronounced territoriality, especially vigilant at night. By nature, calm, serious, self-confident, with no signs of timidity. It shows aggression only in cases of a clear threat. Loyal to all family members, especially patient with children. Attentive to everything that happens around. Pretty obedient in everyday life, but very difficult to learn. Refuses to teach and execute commands that will be useless in her work.

They tried to use Rafeira do Alentejo to protect sheep flocks from coyotes in the USA. However, the Portuguese mastiff seemed too hostile and independent to the Americans, so it was soon replaced by other breeds.

With all the external calm, Rafeiro do Alentejo cannot be called a phlegmatic or clumsy dog. He is quite playful and hardy, but very energy efficient. Psychologically and physiologically, it matures late, closer to 4 years. Cohabits well with other animals. Needs good socialization, early, consistent training and serious education.

Content Features

Rafeiro is not suitable for keeping in an apartment, or even within the city. This dog needs space and the ability to work. The best option is to live on a farm or in a large private courtyard.

Does not require complicated care. The hair is periodically combed to maintain a neat appearance. They bathe very rarely. They monitor the condition of the eyes, ears, teeth and claw length. There are no special nutritional requirements for Rafeiro do Alentejo. Typically, any ration designed for large dog breeds is suitable.

Health and Life Expectancy

There is little data on the health of Rafeiro do Alentejo. It is known that, like other large dogs, they are prone to hip dysplasia, problems of the musculoskeletal system, bloating and inversion of the stomach. Life expectancy is 10-12 years.

Where to buy a puppy of breed Rafeiro do Alentejo

In Portugal, 200-500 puppies of this breed are registered per year. For Rafeira do Alentejo, a good queue is usually lined up in a good nursery. Kids from private hands are more often in free sale, but no one will guarantee the temperament and health of such dogs. Those who are going to have a representative of this rare breed, it is better to start looking for a nursery in the Association of breeders Rafeiro do Alentejo (Associação dos criadores do rafeiro do alentejo) - this is the main breed club in Portugal.


On the Internet there are ads for the sale of puppies to Rafeiro do Alentejo in Portugal. Their cost ranges from 100-500 euros. Private breeders give dogs cheaper. Puppies in kennels cost 500 euros and more.

Photos and videos

In the gallery you can see more photos of dogs of the breed Rafeiro do Alentejo.

Video about the dog breed Rafeiro do Alentejo

Watch the video: Rafeiro do Alentejo - Super Protective Dogs of Portugal (April 2020).