Rafeiro do Alentejo - Portuguese Mastiff

The Rafeiro do Alentejo is a Mastiff type dog that hails from Portugal. Like other Mastiff breeds, this breed is also large with bear like massive head. This breed is one of the 8 national breed of Portugal and is also called Portuguese Mastiff or Portuguese watchdog.

The dog makes excellent estate and farm watch dog. It is immensely territorial in nature and will protect family as well as estate from danger. The dog is powerful with an air of confidence in its expression. It is definitely not recommended breed for novice or timid owner.


Being a Mastiff breed it is unsafe to keep inside home if it has been not properly guided or provided with constant socialization lesson. The breed is stable minded with family kids who knows how to interact with dogs. Any rough play or poking can make the dog defensive and it may even attack them.

This dog is less interested in pleasing owner. It has its own mind and is not likely to obey you always. It is not a popular dog breed and is very uncommon family pet. Owning this breed also increases your legal liability as you will be held liable for your dog’s deed.

Rafeiro do Alentejo


Rafeiro do Alentejo Origin

Definite statement about this breed’s history cannot be drawn. There are many speculations made for its origin. Few believe that it is a descendant of Tibetan Mastiff.

Another theory is that the dog belongs to Iberian Peninsula and was brought to Portugal by the nomadic people. The Rafeiro do Alentejo is listed among the rare breed of dog and is not so popular even in its native place.

Rafeiro do Alentejo Characteristics

  • The dog belongs to Portuguese and is a guard dog.
  • It is calm, serious, protective, confident and territorial breed.
  • The life expectancy of this breed is 10-12 years.
  • It stands at a height of 66-75 cm.
  • The weight of the dog is 50-60 kg.
  • The dog comes in black, fawn, brindle, yellow and grey color.
  • The average price of this breed is $800 - $1000 USD.
  • This breed is not recommended for apartment living. It needs space to thrive and wander freely.
  • It doesn’t bark unnecessary.
  • It tends to be aggressive towards other animals including dogs and cats.
  • The dog is not suitable for toddlers. It is level headed with kids who know how to respect private space.
  • This breed is not hypoallergenic.
  • It sheds low to average.
  • The dog is easy and simple to maintain.
  • This breed has a primary instinct of walking. It is not a hyper energetic dog and exercise requirement is moderate.
  • The dog is difficult to train. Patience and perseverance is required to train them.


The Rafeiro do Alentejo is a giant dog with rustic appearance. The head of the dog is wide and round just like bear. The muzzle of the dog is blunt with oval shaped nose. The jaw is strong along with teeth which meet in scissor bite.


The eyes of the dog are small and set at correct level to the face. The ears are set at moderate height on the head and are small and triangular in shape. The tail of the dog is carried low and forms a gentle curve. The dog has a grim expression on face.

  • Size and Weight

The male breed stands at a height of 66-75 cm and weighs around 50-60 kg. The female breed stands at a height of 64-70 cm and weighs around 45-55 kg.

  • Coat and Color

The dog has a thick, dense and medium length coat. Its coat should be coarse to touch. It comes in many colors like black, fawn, brindle, yellow and grey color.


  1. Personality - The Mastiff type of dogs has the potential to be dangerous if not trained and socialized properly. The Rafeiro do Alentejo is an impressive looking dog that needs space to thrive. The dog has incredible protective instincts and is an excellent guard dog. It will react stubbornly to harsh behavior so treat the dog respectfully. It is friendly with children who understand that animals too have feeling and should be treated gently. The dog is wary and aloof of strangers and will come to action within second if it suspects threat from any stranger.
  2. Behavior - The dog is lover of peaceful environment. It will be calm and reserved inside unless it is provoked or property or family is being threatened. The dog is dominant with other animals and protective towards its family animals. It matures slowly both mentally and physically and takes minimum 4 years to grow into an adult dog. You should always supervise the dog when it is playing with children. It is advisable to never bend the rules for the dog as it will take it for granted. They do not bark excessively but will bark to let you know about approaching stranger.
  3. Trainability - It is not the dog that takes interest in learning tricks so that it can impress its owner. The dog is meant for guarding and is naturally trained in that. They are stubborn and strong headed and the master should focus on establishing leadership in dog’s mind. The dog should know its place or position in the house from starting.
  4. Activities Requirement - The dog is powerful and is not meant for high intensive exercise. Take the dog for walk for half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening. Fenced outdoor is the best place for this breed where they can wander freely.


Feed it natural vegetables like carrots, beetroots, and other ground vegetables. Boil the green leafy vegetables and chicken. Mix both the ingredients well and give the dog to eat.

Make sure to remove the bones from meat before boiling because that can make the bones hard and indigestible. Curd is also good for dogs. Occasionally you can feed cottage cheese and fruits.


The dog can live up to 10 to 12 years.

Health Issues

Rafeiro do Alentejo is not a hypoallergenic breed. The dog is generally healthy with no major health issues. It may suffer from hip dysplasia because of its large size.

Rafeiro do Alentejo


Rafeiro do Alentejo shed lightly and blow their coat once or twice annually depending upon the place and its weather. They should be brushed twice a week to keep its coat debris and mats free.

Bath the dog after every 4 to 6 weeks. Brush its teeth weekly to avoid dental problems and bad breath. Trim its nails and clean its ears as needed.


The dog is suitable to live in farm or house accompanied with yards. They thrive in any type of climate.

Pet Names

  1. Bear
  2. Max
  3. Buster
  4. Leo
  5. Ginger

Things To Consider Before Buying


  1. It is the most reliable guard dog.
  2. It sheds lightly and has easy care coat.
  3. The dog remains calm inside home.


  1. The dog can be threat to young children and small animals.
  2. It tends to be bossy and stubborn minded. Training the dog is not easy.
  3. Not suitable for apartment living because of its giant size.