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Cape Verde Podengo and Labrador: origins.

How did Cape Verde dogs get there?

Romans and Phoenicians brought hunting dogs to Iberia 2,000 years ago, from the Middle East. Similar dogs can still be found in Sicily, Malta, Ibiza and Portugal under various names. They were used in packs, followed by hunters on foot, like beagles. They were known for their excellent sense of smell, hearing and endurance for trotting long distances.

In Portugal and Galicia they are known as Podengo, in the rest of Spain Podenco, In Sicily, they are Cirnecos and in Malta, Kelb tal-Fenek. where Fenek means rabbit. The dogs hunted rabbit and boar. They developed in different sizes according to their prey and can be found in every size from a Jack Russell to a Greyhound.

All are natural hunters. They have good vision, large, mobile ears acute sense of smell for tracking. All have developed great, speed, endurance and agility. They are able to trot for long distances and leap up and down rock faces. They stalk prey like a small lion and some even climb the lower branches of trees.

The Phoenicians and Romans developed three sizes of dogs to hunt large and small game. The Portuguese retained these: the Grande (Large), the Medio (Medium) and the Pequeno (Small).

Over centuries they adapted well to Portugal`s wooded,rocky terrain and warm climate.The rough undergrowth of the pine forests required a tough coat. Today's Smooth Coat variety is particularly well-adapted to the wetter climate of the north of the country, because its short coat dries fast. The Wire Coat fares best in the hot, arid central and south of the country, because its medium length coat, combined with absence of undercoat, provides both sun screening and evaporation, while the thick hairs of the coat protects from brambles.

Portuguese sailors took them on their great voyages to Madeira, the Azores and the Cape Verdes They were used to catch any animals that could be found and to keep down the rats, found in the bilges of sailing ships. In the Cape Verdes they lived semi-wild as they still do in Portugal and mixed freely within their limited gene pool as well as with any other dog species that arrived in the islands. This included the Labrador - whose name is the Portuguese word for farmer - which arrived in 1905. These were brought from St John`s Newfoundland by Portuguese cod fishermen, who were sailing to Sal (it means salt in Portuguese) to obtain salt for their Bacalhau (salt cod).

Both Podengo Medios and Pequenos can be seen in the Cape Verdes, often crossed with Labradors.. Colours range from fawn to black. Most have white tips to their tails, white waistcoats, a white stripe on their forehead and white socks. The classic Cape Verde dog has a Podengo long body and thin face, but with Labrador ears.

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