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Portuguese Cattle Dog Temperament: A Dual Personality

The Portuguese Cattle Dog temperament is fascinating. This breed (also called

Cão de Castro Laboreiro) is a Molossian-type mountain dog with a dual personality.

When he is on duty, he is a sometimes-ferocious guardian livestock dog (GLD) who takes his job of protecting his flock from wolves very seriously.

But off duty, he is a docile family companion who loves children.

Portuguese Cattle Dog Temperament

1. Intelligent

Like most working dogs, the Portuguese Cattle Dog is smart. He learns quickly, but he will only listen to one master. This makes him a training challenge.

2. Independent

The shepherd depends on the Portuguese Cattle Dog to do his job independently. He is used to making his own decisions.

3. Loyal

This dog will not take orders from other people. But he is completely obedient to his master.

4. Docile with Family

The Portuguese Cattle Dog temperament is gentle with family. This dog enjoys playing with children. He considers them his herd and is very affectionate with them.

5. Protective

The Portuguese Cattle Dog temperament is protective of his family as well as his flock.

6. Courageous

The Portuguese Cattle Dog is fearless when doing his job. He has no problem facing up to wolves.

7. Vigilant

Alertness is the defining trait of the Portuguese Cattle Dog. He is on constant patrol looking for threats. He lives with his flock night and day and watches over them from a higher spot.

Needless to say, he is an excellent watchdog as well as guard dog.

8. Ferocious

The Portuguese Cattle Dog temperament can be aggressive if he feels his charges are in danger.

9. Suspicious

He is very suspicious of strangers. He will never allow one to approach his flock.

10. Dominant

The Portuguese Cattle Dog does not do well with other dogs. He is used to being in charge and can be dog-aggressive as well.

11. Vocal

He has a unique “thunderous” voice that he uses when he senses a threat. It starts with a growl and works up to a high-pitched howling.

12. Hardy

This breed is used to living outdoors. As above, he is used to living with his flock. This is no apartment dog.

13. Adaptable

These dogs lived a nomadic lifestyle for centuries. The Portuguese Cattle Dog temperament has evolved to respond well to changing environments.

This may explain why they’re able to transition to life as family dogs so well.

Portuguese Cattle Dog History

Early History

The Cão de Castro Laboreiro (“Dog from Castro Laboreiro”) originated on the Iberian Peninsula in Portugal.

No one seems to know exactly how long this breed has been in existence. The earliest record dates back to 1882, but it’s almost certain that it has been much longer than that.

It appears to have been around for centuries, guarding farmers’ livestock and property.

In fact, it may be one of the oldest guardian livestock breeds. One theory is that the Portuguese Cattle Dog is descended from Molossers, ancient Roman war dogs.

In Decline

Today, the Cão de Castro Laboreiro is considered by some to be endangered. One estimate is that there are only 500 left in the world.

There have been many reasons for this. As foreign breeds were brought in from other countries, property owners started replacing their guard dogs with them.

These breeds included German Shepherds, Boxers, Dobermans, and Rottweilers. A rising crime rate in Portugal increased the need for these guard dogs.

Some people simply abandoned their Portuguese Cattle Dogs