Believed to have descended from huge dogs found on the Tibetan highlands, these large and powerful dogs originated in Alentejo a region in south-central Portugal. “Rafeiro” means mongrel in Portuguese. This rare livestock guardian dog type also goes by other names such as Alentejo Mastiff, Portuguese Mastiff or Mutt of Alentejo. They stand at a height of 25 to 28 inches and weigh between 100 to 132 pounds. Powerful and impressive looking, it has a broad and rounded skull, short and muscular neck, and a deep, broad chest. The limbs are strong and upright and the tail is long and curving. Its ears are small to moderate in size, triangular and fold downwards. Its coat is made of thick, straight and dense hairs of medium length. Colours range from black, tawny, yellowish with white markings. It could also be either streaked or brindled.
The Alentejo Mastiff has a dignified and noble character that makes for an excellent guard and watch dog. They have a calm and steadfast temperament but they are not recommended for inexperienced owners. Like most working dog breeds they are independent and have a dominant streak. They also mature quite slowly so it is important to start extensive training and socialization at an early age. They are affectionate and devoted to their owner and family. They have a low, deep tone in their bark. Like most large dog breeds, they are prone to hip dysplasia but occurs in rare circumstances. The Alentejo Mastiff is a seasonal heavy shedder. They can live up to 12 years.