The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.
Since the beginning of the breed’s history, Rafeiros Alentejanos were used in packs as hunting dogs for big game, though this function has gradually disappeared over time. More recently, the breed is a guard dog for property and livestock, watching sheep and cattle. They also often work alone in prairies and will defend the herd against any intruders. Hailing from Portugal, the Rafeiro do Alentejo is a large-sized dog, powerful, rustic, sober, and calm. He moves with a heavy, slow roll. His coat is short or medium-length and thick, straight and dense. They can be black, wolf grey, or fawn, with or without brindling, always with white markings; or white with patches of these colors.
You are going to want to feed your Rafeiro do Alentejo a formula that will cater to his unique digestive needs throughout the various phases of his life. Many dog food companies have breed-specific formulas for small, medium, large and extra-large breeds. The Rafeiro do Alentejo is a large breed.
What you feed your dog is an individual choice, but working with your veterinarian and/or breeder will be the best way to determine frequency of meals as a puppy and the best adult diet to increase his longevity. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
Beyond regular weekly grooming, the occasional bath will keep them clean and looking their best. Grooming can be a wonderful bonding experience for you and your pet. Their strong, fast-growing nails should be trimmed regularly with a nail clipper or grinder to avoid overgrowth, splitting and cracking. Their ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris which can result in an infection. Teeth should be brushed regularly.
Options for exercise could include play time in the backyard, preferably fenced, or taken for walks several times a day. Exercise can also come in the form of indoor activities, like hide-and-seek, chasing a ball rolled along the floor, or teaching them new tricks. Certain outdoor activities like hiking or retrieving balls can provide a good outlet for expending energy. If you live in an apartment, even short walks in the hallways can give your dog some exercise, especially during inclement weather. Training for dog sports like agility, obedience and rally can also be a great way to give your dog exercise.
Some dogs may be faced with health challenges in their lives, but the majority of Rafeiros Alentejanos are healthy dogs. Working with a responsible breeder, prospective owners can gain the education they need to learn about specific health concerns within the breed.
The Rafeiro do Alentejo is believed to descend from molosser dogs from the Middle East. On account of their size and courage, they were used by tribes whose livelihood depended on livestock husbandry, thus performing a crucial role for this type of community.
With the beginning of the transhumance in Portugal, it was noticed that the migrating herds and shepherds were exposed to many dangers during their long journeys. So on their route to the mountains in the summer and back to the plains in the winter, flocks were always accompanied by large dogs, which lead to the dogs being spread along the route from region to region. As the population settled down, the dogs eventually remained in the southern prairies, the Alentejo plains, where they adapted and began to be used to guard, not only the herds, but the big rural estates as well. The official standard of the Rafeiro do Alentejo was first established in 1953 in Portugal.