Cao de Castro Laboreiro

55-90 lbs
Portuguese Cattle Dog, Portuguese Watchdog, Dog of Castro Laboreiro
The Cão de Castro Laboreiro is one of the rarest breeds in the world with a worldwide population estimated somewhere between 200-500 dogs. Its history is limited in documentation and even the Portuguese Kennel Club publicly states that many written accounts of its origins are purely speculation. Theories range far and wide, but almost all agree that it is most certainly a truly ancient dog. It is believed to have been in existence for thousands of years and is likely a Lupomolossoid, a classification of dog that later developed into breeds like the Great Pyrenees and stood as an extremely early descendent of the very first herding and guarding dogs in history. Regardless of its deep and mysterious past, it has been used as a guarding dog in Portugal for hundreds of years. The shape of its face, its general build and even its coat have been described as wolf-like and its cautious approach of anyone not accepted as family confirms the point. They are known to be a dominant and protective breed but are also sensitive, being much more responsive to positive reinforcement than outright domination and fear. With family, they are actually quite affectionate and do well with those they know but are tentative with both strangers and other dogs, making them better solo pets unless they are thoroughly socialized. Because they are highly intelligent and strong-willed, they require an authoritative, experienced owner to provide them training and direction and once completed, remain relatively obedient and ultimately devoted to their family.
purpose Purpose
Guarding. Herding. Companion.
history Date of Origin
Ancient Times
ancestry Ancestry

Cao de Castro Laboreiro Health

Average Size
Male Cao de Castro Laboreiro size stats
Height: 20-24 inches Weight: 55-90 lbs
Female Cao de Castro Laboreiro size stats
Height: 20-24 inches Weight: 55-90 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Usually A Very Healthy Breed
Minor Concerns
  • Gastric Torsion
  • Hip And Elbow Dysplasia
Occasional Diagnoses
  • Cataracts
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Occasional Tests
  • X-Rays
  • Eye Examination
  • Physical Examination

Cao de Castro Laboreiro Breed History

The history of the Cão de Castro Laboreiro is easily one of the most mysterious of nearly any dog still in existence, but if there is any idea that seems to be nearly universally agreed upon it's that the breed is one of the oldest on earth. Numerous experts have tried to find a solid link in lineage, most of which seem to trace back to a Mastiff-type dog or even earlier, like that of the Lupomolossoids, which were predecessors to breeds like the Great Pyrenees. It is believed that they may have even preceded the Mastiff itself, tracing stronger connections back to that of the Molossus, the dogs of the Ancient Greek and Roman warriors. Regardless of their ancient history, these dogs were known to have guarded flocks and families in Portugal for hundreds of years from both human assailants and predators alike and many of their characteristics derive from this historical influence. There is even a belief that the Portuguese may have brought the dogs to Newfoundland and thus influenced the eventual development of the Labrador Retriever, a breed that shares a wide variety of similarities to the Cão de Castro Laboreiro. In their purebred form, the breed was rarely seen outside of their region of origin until the mid 20th century, a large reason why their numbers have always remained so limited. It further shrunk in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as farming techniques changed and the development of more advanced weapons helped to control and even kill off numerous predators, leaving many dogs without their traditional work. In turn, many farmers abandoned them and they forced to hunt to survive, eventually returning to haunt the farmers by killing their livestock to survive. Fortunately, a few dedicated breeders remained and instead of using them as guardians, bred them to be companions, thus jettisoning them into a future of family and showcasing, including 1914 when it made they first appearance at a Portuguese dog show. Today, their numbers are still limited, maxing out around 500 dogs total worldwide. Most of their breeders are still located in Portugal but a few have begun to spread to the United States and Western Europe. They are considered extremely rare.

Cao de Castro Laboreiro Breed Appearance

The Cão de Castro Laboreiro is a larger dog but not oversized by any measure. It stands just under two feet tall at the shoulder on average and usually weighs between 55 and 90 pounds. Its appearance is similar to that of a Labrador Retriever with a long, slightly tapered muzzle, a sturdy and powerful yet not quite athletic build and a similar coat structure (minus the color). They have folded ears, almond-shaped eyes that are usually dark, a relatively square stance and a long, somewhat bushy tail. Their coats are unique, being somewhat like that of a wolf - weather resistant, thick and a bit coarse. They also come in similar colors, a mix of light and dark grey with individual hairs (not actual spots) of dark brown and dark red, often aptly referred to as light wolf, dark wolf and mountain color, the latter of which is most preferred.
Eye Color Possibilities
brown Cao de Castro Laboreiro eyes
amber Cao de Castro Laboreiro eyes
Nose Color Possibilities
black Cao de Castro Laboreiro nose
Coat Color Possibilities
black Cao de Castro Laboreiro coat
gray Cao de Castro Laboreiro coat
brown Cao de Castro Laboreiro coat
red Cao de Castro Laboreiro coat
brindle Cao de Castro Laboreiro coat
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
coat density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
coat texture
Cao de Castro Laboreiro straight coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Cao de Castro Laboreiro Breed Maintenance

Despite their size, Cão de Castro Laboreiros require relatively minimal maintenance. They need to be brushed several times a week during high shedding seasons to help reduce their coat weight and distribute their natural oils but otherwise need only a weekly brushing. Because of their considerable food intake, teeth should be checked and brushed regularly. Nails and ears should be monitored and addressed at the owner's discretion.
Brushes for Cao de Castro Laboreiro
Pin Brush
Pin Brush
Nail Clipper
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
fur daily fur weekly fur monthly
Cao de Castro Laboreiro requires weekly brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Cao de Castro Laboreiro Temperament

With their owners and families, Cão de Castro Laboreiros are affectionate, loyal, docile and endlessly devoted but do tend to take their guardian status seriously, meaning they can be protective of their family from strangers and other animals and will show it with a stiff posture and loud warning barks. While it may seem intimidating, they are far and wide mostly non-aggressive and prefer to bark over anything else. While they are inherently intelligent, brave and strong-willed, they can also be sensitive and stubborn and need an experienced owner to assert their authority with positive reinforcement. If given thorough training and proper socialization, they are excellent companion and family dogs, showing considerable awareness with their surprisingly gentle nature if raised with small children.

Cao de Castro Laboreiro Activity Requirements

C√£o de Castro Laboreiros were long-raised to be herding and guardian dogs which means they have excellent stamina and a relatively high need for regular exercise. At least 60 minutes a day should be a good average to aim for to keep them happy and healthy. Unlike other high-intelligence breeds, they do not need constant mental stimulation and will do relatively well if left on their own, as they will take to patrolling the premises and keeping a watchful eye by default, but still appreciate a balance between attention and independence.
Activity Level
low activity medium activity high activity
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
14 miles
walk mileage
Minutes of Activity Per Day
60 minutes
activity minutes

Cao de Castro Laboreiro Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
4 cups
cup per day cost cup per day cost cup per day cost cup per day cost
Daily Cost
$2.00 - $3.00
food bowls daily cost
Monthly Cost
$60.00 - $90.00
food bag monthly cost

Cao de Castro Laboreiro Height & Weight

6 Months
Male Cao de Castro Laboreiro size stats at six months
Height: 15.5 inches Weight: 52.0 lbs
Female Cao de Castro Laboreiro size stats at six months
Height: 15.5 inches Weight: 52.0 lbs
12 Months
Male Cao de Castro Laboreiro size stats at 12 months
Height: 18.5 inches Weight: 62.0 lbs
Female Cao de Castro Laboreiro size stats at 12 months
Height: 18.5 inches Weight: 62.0 lbs
18 Months
Male Cao de Castro Laboreiro size stats at 18 months
Height: 22.0 inches Weight: 72.5 lbs
Female Cao de Castro Laboreiro size stats at 18 months
Height: 22.0 inches Weight: 72.5 lbs

Cao de Castro Laboreiro Owner Experiences

4 Months
6 People
He is a very good dog
2 years, 8 months ago
3 Years
6 People
House & Yard
He understands some gestures I make to him
2 years, 10 months ago
14 Months
2 People
House & Yard
Very loving, active intelligent dog, strong willed, fun, playful. An absolute delight.
6 years ago
Harley (girl)
8 Months
3 People
House & Yard
We love our puppy! We stumbled upon her in a rescue like facility in Crescent City, FL. The owner of the facility‚Äôs friend has a Portuguese Cattle Dog who got pregnant. She had 9 puppies and when we found her all that was left were her and her 2 brothers. It was love at first sight. She immediately came to me and my 4-year-old daughter. As my toddler ran around the yard chasing another dog we were interested in Harley happily took a seat next to me and watched our daughter. As our daughter approached me, Harley calmly laid down and was extremely chill. I was sold! We did have a rough go the first couple of months. At 4 months she escaped under a fence when she got spooked. At 7 months she ate 4 toddler socks that required stomach surgery to remove! (ugh - poor girl!). She ate a corner of a blanket (that thankfully passed on its own), half of a vinyl chew bone, and the other day I found an open safety pin in her mouth! (WHAT!). She needs to be constantly watched for what she puts in her mouth. But I think we have it under control as best we can. If anything it is teaching our daughter to pick up her toys ;o) She is highly intelligent, sensitive, loving, sweet and overall a wonderful dog! She makes the perfect family dog. She prefers other dogs and children over adults. I am not concerned about her at all around my daughter or her friends. She‚Äôs a pup still, so we need to work on her mouthing, but I‚Äôm sure she will grow out of that. We did training with her at 6 months ‚Äď 8 months and that was a game changer! She took to it very quickly and is extremely trainable. She is a little stubborn at times during the reinforcement of training, but we like to say she's thinking! We prefer a dog that can think on their own instead of just taking orders, and Harley is a thinker. Oh, and she loves to go on runs with me, swimming and playing with our daughter. She is the perfect addition to our family. If you can find a Portuguese Cattle Dog I highly recommend you welcome it into your home!
5 years, 7 months ago
7 Years
5 People
House & Yard
He is a big dog. He is very protective and somewhat aggressive but hasn't actually bitten anyone. He will bark and growl. He is nervous around children and strangers but very committed to family. He doesn't play with toys but enjoys walking. He likes to relax, nap, and eat. He is independent and somewhat stubborn. He loves to be rubbed and mine sounds larger than a pure breed would be. I've never seen another dog like him until now.
4 years, 9 months ago
Book me a walkiee?
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