Castro Laboreiro Dog

The Castro Laboreiro dog is an extremely ancient breed of dog of the livestock guardian type, originating from Castro Laboreiro in the northern mountains of Portugal. It is also known by some other names such as Portuguese cattle dog, Portuguese watchdog and cão de Castro Laboreiro.

The Portuguese name, meaning ‘dog from Castro Laboreiro’, refers to a small town in the far north of Portugal, now a parish in the Melgaço urban area. It is in the same mountains as the Peneda-Gerês National Park.

The Castro Laboreiro dog is a large and impressive breed. But the breed is fairly rare outside it’s home country. It is thought to have descended from Mastiff-type dogs. It is known or it’s protective instincts and it’s endurance.

The modern breed is descended from an old molosser-type dog that worked with herders in the mountains to defend flocks against wolves, mountain lions and other predators.

Exact origins of the Castro Laboreiro dog breed are not known, and literary mentions of the breed are nonexistent prior to 1800. The dog is known today is a general livestock guarding type that went out of popularity when wolves were largely eradicated.

Today, the Castro Laboreiro breed is still exists, though it is somewhat rare and is generally kept as a companion pet and guard dog rather than a working breed.

The Castro Laboreiro breed was first shown in the year of 1914, and though it has gained some popularity, it has yet to be recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club).

Castro Laboreiro Dog Characteristics

The Castro Laboreiro dogs are large in size but not oversize and are very beautiful. The standardized appearance for which the breed has been bred is somewhat wolf-like in outline.

Coat colors are often described in wolf terms: “dark wolf color”, “light wolf color”. Most breeders prefer what is considered the most authentic, called “mountain color” (cor do monte), also described as similar to the coat of a wolf, but a mixed light and dark grey interspersed with individual hairs (not spots) that are brown (called “pine-seed”) or dark red (called “mahogany”), forming overall a brindle pattern.[1]

Average body height of the mature Castro Laboreiro dog is around 24 inches at the withers. And average live body weight of the mature dog is around 40 kg.

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The Castro Laboreiro dog is just like most other livestock guarding dogs. It forms strong bonds with it’s family and can be protective and territorial at times.

The breed is not inherently aggressive, but it tend to be aloof around strangers and they will not stand for any member of the family being mistreated.

The Castro Laboreiro dogs are highly intelligent and they can be a bit stubborn or willful at times. They are very gentle and affectionate with their family. They can even get along with children when raised from a young age.

Just be mindful of this breed’s tendency to be suspicious towards strangers and it’s strong guarding instincts. It may not be the best choice for a house with other dogs or household pets.


Average lifespan of the Castro Laboreiro dog breed is between 12 and 15 years.


How much a mature dog eats depends on it’s size, age, build, metabolism and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food.

The Castro Laboreiro dogs are large in size and are moderately active. So, their diet should be formulated for a large-sized breed with moderate exercise needs. You can consult with a vet in your area for better feeding recommendations.


Taking good care of the animals is very important for raising Castro Laboreiro dogs. It needs some type of job to to do. And the breed needs to be taken on a daily, long walk when not working.

The breed is not suited to an apartment life. And it needs at least a large yard.

These dogs are very intelligent. So, it is very easy to train them. Start socializing and training them as early as possible and continue it throughout it’s life.


The Castro Laboreiro dogs are generally healthy. But like all other dog breeds, they are also prone to certain health conditions.

Their common health problems include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, gastric torsion, entropion, ectropion, cataracts, and progressive retinal atrophy. Always try to keep good contact with a vet in your area.

Breed NameCastro Laboreiro
Other NamesAlso known as Portuguese cattle dog, Portuguese watchdog and cão de Castro Laboreiro
Breed SizeLarge
HeightBetween 20 and 24 inches at the withers
WeightAround 40 kg
Good as petsYes
Climate ToleranceAll climates
ColorChestnut, black and mahogany
LifespanBetween 12 and 15 years
Good for childrenYes
Country of OriginPortugal

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