The Cao de Gado Transmontano (Portuguese pronunciation: English: Transmontano Mastiff or Transmontano Cattle Dog) is a rare molosser working giant dog breed, originating in and largely limited to the region of Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro Province, Portugal. Their primary function is flock and herd protection, and their success is interlinked to the welfare of the flock and the presence of wolves, particularly. Although they are a regional breed, their wolf defense capacity has led to limited experimental importation elsewhere.
Coat and color
The breed has a short to medium coat with a dense undercoat. Generally the coat is white, with large brindled patches of black, yellow, silver and 'wolf grey.' Individual coloration varies. This landrace's appearance and temperament is quite homogeneous. Its shorter coat is well adapted to the region's warm dry climate.
This is the largest of the Portuguese breeds.
It is a powerful, muscular and large breed with a broad muzzle and large head. Males range from 73–83 cm (29–33 in), and weigh between 55–65 kg (121–143 lb). Bitches range from 65–75 cm (26–30 in), weighing in between 45–60 kg (100–132 lb). They have moderately loose-fitting jowls and a single dewlap.
They are first and foremost working livestock guardian dogs, and their development and temperament should be understood and appreciated in that context.
This breed has a calm and reserved reaction to threats, and is notably curious and intelligent. An important attribute is its ability to work as a mixed pack with intact males and females; of course, younger males have to socialize to "temper their dominance" and adapt to working within the pack. They have a natural predisposition toward digging under fences and "expanding their territory," which needs to be monitored and controlled. They are high energy — fit, active, vigorous defenders of the flock, and well adapted to fending off wild boar, foxes, and wolves, which are the prevalent predators in the area. Feral dogs are another opponent. They are an "excellent night guardian."
"This dog is an athlete of all terrain able to make many miles along rugged landscapes, protecting both day and night his herd of possible threats. The largest of these is the Iberian Wolf, an endangered species that with the help of dogs of this breed can be preserved." Representatives were selected and imported to the United States for a United States Department of Agriculture study on use of dogs to mitigate wolf predation in the western United States.
They need large spaces and by nature like to roam free. They are ill-suited to being chained or apartment living. To cope with the heat, they like to burrow and make dens.
They are a good companion dog. Females are generally more tractable and better companion dogs than males.
Like most livestock guardian dogs, they bond with the flock; they are independent thinkers; and they must be trained to respond to their master's voice.
Early training and socialization is essential.
The breed association counsels: "... like all shepherds, the Transmontano Cattle Dog is a dominant dog and a 'single owner'. And because he is quite jealous and possessive, it is important to emphasize the importance of education and socialization...." They are possessive of toys and food, and owner control is essential. They are highly trainable and responsive to positive dog training techniques. They do not respond well to punishment, and have 'a long memory.' They are high energy dogs that require a lot of space.
In the right environment they are very effective to protect an estate and flock. They are well adapted to protecting flocks (and perhaps herds) from wolves; their use is also seriously being considered for the western United States.