The breed of dogs, which had always existed in the Algarve, has been more or less abandoned since the 1970s when foreign breeds started appearing.
The Algarve Barrocal Dog Breeders Association (ACCBA), created in 2006 to recover a “threatened” breed, is seeking international recognition, genetic preservation, promotion and dissemination of the breed.
It is a “primitive dog”, which takes the name of the Algarve’s sub-region. Of “medium size”, weighing up to 25 kilograms, this working and hunting breed was “threatened” in the 1980s and 1990 until a “group of people and hunters, led by José Afonso, started collecting animals to reconstitute the breed’s bloodline”, said Luís Coelho, president of the ACCBA, to Lusa news agency.
“It is a breed of dogs that had always existed in the Algarve, which has been more or less abandoned by hunters and people since the 1970s when foreign breeds started to appear”, he explained.
From the 1990s onwards, animals started being collected for breeding purposes and to guarantee genetic diversity in areas of the barrocal and the mountains of Tavira, Loulé, São Brás de Alportel or Silves. At this time, contacts were also initiated with the National Institute of Agrarian and Veterinary Research (INIAV) and the Clube Português e Canicultura (CPC). As a result, in 2006, “there was a need to create an association” to “rescue the [Algarve barrocal] dog”, he recalls.
The work carried out by the association “demonstrated that this was a breed in itself” and, “in 2012, the Clube Português de Canicultura began to take measures that resulted in the certification of the breed in 2016”, highlighted Luís Coelho. He also stressed that the Algarve Barrocal Dog became the 11th autochthonous breed in Portugal, which currently counts around 1,000 animals and about twenty breeders.
“Right now, the breed is in dissemination and expansion, after having been threatened in the 1990s”, claims Luís Coelho, who believes it is necessary to do the work “for the breed to be better known and valued”.
It is also necessary to avoid inbreeding and crossbreeding between related animals, “widening the genetic base” and “having several bloodlines and families” to “avoid the loss of characteristics such as colour”, he insisted, as these dogs can be yellow, brown, tricolour, piebald or black.
“Our final objective is to obtain a certification that we still don’t have and are working hard to get, which is the international certification. The Algarve Barrocal Dog is the 11th nationally certified autochthonous breed, but the International Canine Federation does not yet recognise it”, outlined the ACCBA president.
Luís Coelho now hopes that the dissemination of the breed will allow more people to get to know and want to have Algarve Barrocal Dogs. They are known to be “super-resistant” and, “given their nature as working and hunting dogs, are fast, agile and easy to manage”, as well as always being “ready for any physical activity”.
“They are not pets in essence, but they are docile dogs, and some people do keep them at home”, said the ACCBA leader, who suggests that those interested in having an animal of this breed and in guaranteeing their preservation get in touch with the association.