Agility is fun in Portugal but winning is better

Bernardo, one of the first agility dogs in PortugalLuís Silvério is very keen on Agility and has done a lot to get it going so well in Portugal. He doesn’t know exactly when the sport began in Portugal, but he remembers how much fun it was in those first days. At that time they used a lot of different and 'unofficial' obstacles. No one really knew about the FCI. Be safe and have fun - those were the rules. To do a jump or the slalom without the dog running off was a victory!

The Beginning
I began doing agility six years ago with my Golden Retriever Bernardo, one of the first dogs in agility. Sebastião

'Now it's my turn.' How often I heard those words, meaning that my wife Mónica wanted to run the dog. With both of us training the same dog, you imagine how hard the competition was! So we decided to get a second dog, my Briard Sebastião (right).

The first official contest in Portugal (April '94)Agility gets serious
The first official contest of agility in Portugal was in 17 April 94, during a beauty show in Peniche, a small fishing village. There were ten dogs competing. Most of them were German Shepherds from the Civil Police, who have supported agility from the beginning.

Since then agility has never stopped growing in popularity. Today there are more than 70 dogs competing, withTurra, the team champion, handled by Mário Duarte. new ones appearing at each trial.

Agility today
Now the rules in Portugal are the same as in any other FCI country.

We have around 30 trials per year. At the end of the season, the dog with more points is declared Portuguese Champion. The first four dogs qualify for the World Championship Team.Jorge Pires' Azores Cattle Dog, Kendo00....

We have two levels of classes (Level 1 and Level 2) and two height classes:- Mini for dogs under 40 centimeters and Standard for dogs over 40 centimeters  Progress to Level 2 is possible with three runs with five or less penalty points.

A competition usually has five courses including Mini Levels 1 and 2, Standard Levels 1 and 2, and a Jumping which is open to all dogs.

Unlike some countries Crossbreeds are allowed to compete, and there are all breeds of dog running. The most common among Standard dogs are Boxers, Germans Shepherds andKendo, an Azores cattle dog, handled
by Jorge Pires Belgians Shepherds. Border Collies are becoming more and more popular. As in other countries, Portuguese agility is becoming a Border Collie/Belgian Shepherd sport.

The Portuguese BreedsMonica Abreu's Chico, a Portuguese Water Dog
Eight different breeds are recognised by the Portuguese Kennel Club (CPC) and the FCI as Portuguese breeds. Unfortunately these breeds are not very popular in agility despite the fact that a few of them would seem to be created for this kind of activity, namely the Serra D'Aires Sheepdog, Azores Cattle Dog and the Portuguese Water Dog.

If you would like to know more about Portuguese breeds, see the Portuguese Kennel Club site at, the Portuguese Water Dog
handler by Monica Abreu

The Future
In the space of six years since agility has made is appearance only seventy dogs are competing regularly. Agility still is essentiality a Lisbon sport, and the Portuguese Kennel Club seems not be very interested in support and publicised this dog activity.

A few qualities like tolerance, good manners at show and sportsmanlike, need to be encouraged within our country.

The organisation of the 2001 World Championship in Portugal will be a great opportunity for the agility grow and become a national sport. The goods news are that the majority of us still do agility only for fun, and the trials are really great moments of friendship.

Dieter Andrews & RickyAgility a sport for everyone from 8 - 80
Like my friend Dieter Andrews usually says, 'Agility is fun and winning is only a little bit more fun!

About the author...
Luís Silvério
(35) lives in Sintra,  one of the most beautiful villages in Portugal (ask Ruth Hobday) about 20kms from Lisbon. He is married, no kids (yet) only dogs.

Luís has lived with dogs since the day he was born. His first one was a Portuguese pointer/whippet cross. Now he has three dogs including a seven year old Golden Retriever (Bernardo), a six year old Briard (Sebastião) and a three year old Border Collie (Rex).

He began working with dogs six years ago and has been involve in a lot of different dog-related activities such as teaching Obedience and Agility, organising seminars and competition, and learning, learning. Agility is his favourite sport, and the only one a do (with dogs!)

About a year and a half ago, he began competing regularly with his BC. His wife competes with his GR and they got third place in 1998 national championship. He had to quit training with his Briard due to hip problems. At the moment he and Rex are at Level 2 . They are in the middle of the ranking (35 place in a total of 80 dogs), but recently have been missing a lot of competitions. His goal is to be in the Top Ten places. Rex is still growing (he is a very sensitive dog), but not quite fast enough to be first place. Maybe the next one!

Luís belongs to a club call Educacão/Eukanuba. In Portuguese, the word 'teach' is 'EDUCAÇÃO' and dog is 'CÃO', so the name of the team is EDUCACÃO. They are the biggest team in Portugal with around 25 dogs competing.

Luís works in a real state company in Cascais (another beautiful village around Lisbon) as General Manager. He is a graduate in Financial Management. At the moment, they are developing a Tourist Resource with a Horse Centre (300 jumping horses), a golf course and a 5-stars hotel as well as residential plots. The club training field is on the property where he works and the club is run by Fernando Silva.

Postscript from Ruth Hobday - I first visited Portugal in July 1998 when I took a week long seminar arranged by Luís Silvério. Although it was hard work, I thoroughly enjoyed it and was very impressed with Portuguese hospitality and keenness to learn all they could about Agility. The Portuguese may not have been in the sport for many years but they are catching up fast.

This was also apparent last October when I was invited to return to Portugal and judge one of their competitions. The keenness of both dog and handler and the interest shown in each others runs was very apparent and great to see - how often in this country do we have a presentation of prizes with all the handlers in attendance. Well there was in Portugal.


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