They Came Home with a Wife and the Ancestors of This Dog

Fox Paulistinha. Its common name translates to, “little fox terrier from Soa Paulo,” but it’s also known in English speaking countries as the Brazilian Terrier.

One of a small handful of native Brazilian breeds, it’s the only small one. While theories abound as to its origins, one commonly held belief is that Portuguese and Dutch ships arriving in Brazil in the 16th century carried small terrier dogs to deal with ship rats. Some sources believe these were ancestors of the Fox Terrier and Jack Russell Terrier, and that over time, they were bred with the Pinscher, the Chihuahua, and dogs found in Brazil.

It should be said that another theory “on the table,” is that in the 1800’s, many Brazilian landowners sent their sons to be educated in Europe. The friendship these young men established with their British upper classmates exposed them to fox hunting, and thus, to fox hunting terriers. When the boys came home, they brought with them a wife and a dog, and it was usually one of these fox hunting terriers (the dog, not the wife).  The dogs bred with existing small Brazilian dogs, and over time, produced a distinctive variety of terrier that eventually became the immensely popular dog it now is in Brazil.

The breed standard (published in 1964) describes these dogs as, “Restless, alert, active and keen; friendly and gentle to friends, suspicious of strangers.”  That said, while the Brazilian Terrier remained popular as a working dog on farms and ranches, the breed’s popularity as a pet declined over time, so much so that in 1973, registrations were suspended.  Dedicated breeders kept the stud books active by continuing to breed for type, and between these breeders and Marina Vicari Lerario, president of the Clube de Fox Paulistinha in Brazil, the Brazilian Kennel Club reopened its registration books in 1994. Happily, the breed has been making a strong comeback ever since.  More on this breed can be found here.

Image: “Jack” by Hood alias Ludzska is available as home decor, lifestyle items, and wall art here

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