Canine leishmaniasis was studied in 1,823 dogs from the Lisbon metropolitan region. The breeds most affected were doberman and German shepherd, independent of sex and use. Young adult (12.2%) and older dogs (14.7%) had higher prevalences of infection. Parasitological confirmation of serological diagnosis was higher in dogs with indirect fluorescent antibody test titer greater than or equal to 1:512, indicating that parasitological patency is a late event. Exposure of Leishmania in lymph nodes is more efficient for parasitological confirmation (75.4% of cases). Frequent signs of disease were enlarged lymph nodes and onychogriphosis. However, 53.8% of the dogs with significant antibody titers (greater than or equal to 1:128) showed no symptom, suggesting that canine leishmaniasis has a prolonged asymptomatic period. This study confirmed the importance of the dog as the reservoir of visceral leishmaniasis.