The Rafeiro do Alentejo Dog Breed

2 Rafeiro de Alentejos

The Rafeiro do Alentejo is an excellent farm and estate watchdog which originated from Portuguese. Breeders named it for its area of origin, the Alentejo region of southern Portugal.

Farmers consider this dog to be a very useful livestock protector. The are more vigilant at night and very serious when guarding territory or any other property entrusted to him.

It has a calm and confident expression. The Rafeiro do Alentejo is also perfect for a family dog because they love children. They are gentle and protective. They also love to play. This is a giant dog and can weight about as much as 132 pounds! For how large they are they are generally healthy dogs can live a long life.

The Rafeiro de Alentejo History

The official standard of the Rafeiro do Alentejo was first established in 1953 in Portugal. It is recognized by the Clube Português de Canicultura, and was definitively accepted by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 1954.

Where did the Rafeiro de Alentejo Come From?


It’s a Portuguese breed of livestock guardian dog. Dog lovers named it for its area of origin, the Alentejo region of southern Portugal. Historians believe this dog originated in the mountains of Tibet. Herders used this dog to protect herds of sheep and cattle while moving cattle back and forth from summer to winter pastures in the mountains.

This dogs ancestors trace back to the Molosser-type dog (Molossers). These dogs were first recorded around the Trojan War which was approxamatly 2800 B.C. Greeks would bring these dogs along with them when sailing the ancient seas. As the Greeks spread their culture they also spread this dog breed around. Other descendants of these dogs include the St. Bernard, the Boxer.

Breeders have called this dog the Rafeiro do Alentejo since the late nineteenth century.

What Were They Bred For?

Breeders created this dog to be a livestock guard dog. They naturally protect herds of sheep and cattle. They are more vigilant at night!

Are They a Pure Breed?


Rafeiro de Alentejos at a Glance

Good For Families
Tolerates Other Pets
Prey Drive
Health Score
Energy Level
Space Needs
Good for New Owners

Physical Traits

Rafeiro de Alentejo Standing

These are large dogs! They have a broad chest and large head. They have small ears that hang down. The tail is long with long fur that is usually tipped. This coat of this dog is on the shorter side but still thick and straight. They always have a white marking on their chest and underbelly with color variations of black, fawn, wolf grey or yellow.

Breed Standard

Rafeiro de Alentejo Size

These dogs are as tall as 25 – 29 inches! They certainly fit into the category of one of the largest dog breeds.

Height measurements are always from the ground to the highest point of a dog’s shoulder blades called the withers.


77 – 132 pounds


Owners can give these dogs a weekly brushing to remove loose hair and dead skin. Give this dog the occasional bath when needed. Make sure to inspect nails and clip if needed. Make sure to check ears for debris.

Do They Drool?

Yes – They do tend to have the cheeks that form drool. It’s not always a problem with these types of dogs but just when they get hot or are hungry.

Best Climate for the Rafeiro de Alentejo

Rafeiro do Alentejo can stand a warm or cold climate. They are very versatile.


Rafeiro do Alentejo is a large-sized dog. They are very relaxed and do not require a large amount of exercise. It’s temperament isn’t for everybody but for some owners he’s great. If you are looking for a really energetic dog, this dog may not be for you, however if your looking for a friendly dog that serves well as a guard dog and doesn’t mind laying around every once and a while this could be the dog for you! Even if it is a massive guard dog, it loves it’s family. They can be stubborn.

How Easy are They to Train?

They can be difficult to train. You need to establish leadership first. They don’t really get the association between commands and actions. Rafeiro do Alentejo need to be train with confidence, patience, and consistency. They naturally guard and are friendly with kids. The only training really to be a family dog is potty training and to correct any behavior issues. This dog can certainly learn those!

Do They Tolerate Other Pets?

These dogs are not the most dog or cat friendly.

Are They Good for Families?

These dogs get along great with children. They are loving and gentle towards them. They love to play and are very protective. However, they are not best suited for small children because of their large-sized body. They might unknowingly knock on small kids and injure them. Therefore, their interaction with children should be supervised and children should be taught to approach dogs. Rafeiro do Alentejo is not a pet-friendly dog but they can get along well if raised together ot slowly introduced.

Do They Have a Strong Prey Drive?

Rafeiro do Alentejos was created to be a guard dog. This breed has an higher instinct of chasing and catching something than other dog breeds. Cats and Squirrel or any other small animals might be in danger. Its their natural character that doesn’t necessarily mean that Rafeiro do Alentejos are aggressive and harmful.

Are They Social With Other People?

Rafeiro do Alentejos are not as friendly with strangers they don’t know but warm up quickly when the know they are not a threat to the owner or family. This breed needs a lot of social contact. They always want to be with someone or love being surrounded by people. They are large and prefer a lot of space. These dogs are definitely not good for apartment living.

Is The Rafeiro de Alentejo Good for New Owners?

This breed can be good for new owners if you have a lot of space and you won’t be leaving the dog alone for too long. They do not required a lot of training but can be difficult so be patient.


These dogs do not have any known health issues related to the breed. As long as they are kept healthy with a good diet and exercise they can live a long life, especially for a healthy dog!

The Rafeiro de Alentejo Lifespan

12 – 14 years

Health Issues

These are healthy dogs but they can also have health issues. Regular vet checkup is recommended. With any large dogs make sure to watch out for any growths or hip dysplasia.


Rafeiro de Alentejos in Water

Exercises needs for the Rafeiro do Alentejos is minimal. Their exercise can be play time in the backyard, preferably fenced, or being taken for walks several times a day. It can also come in the form of indoor activities, like hide-and-seek, chasing a ball rolled along the floor, or learning new tricks.

Certain outdoor activities such as hiking or retrieving balls can provide a good outlet for expending energy. If you live in an apartment, short walks in the hallways can give your dog some exercise, especially during inclement weather.

Rafeiro de Alentejo Rescues

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