The Portuguese Sheepdog, also known as the Cão da Serra de Aires, is a breed that is believed to be about 100 years old, but they are relatively undocumented before the 1900s. The Portuguese Sheepdog is an all purpose herding breed that was also used as a drover and guard dog. This breed worked mostly throughout the southern plains of Portugal and are believed to be descended from Briards that were bred with local mountain dogs of the region, but their exact breeding history in unclear since a standard was not established until 1930. These dogs worked with shepherds for many years, but by the 1970s these dogs had fallen out of use and become nearly extinct. There were a few breeders that took interest in the Portuguese Sheepdog and worked to save them. This breed is still relatively known outside of Portugal, but they are becoming more popular there. Some owners called these dogs “monkey dogs” due to their unique and furry face. The Portuguese Sheepdog is not yet officially recognized by the AKC, but they are a member of the Foundation Stock Service. The purpose of this service is to keep track of information and breeding records for dogs that are rare or still being developed.
The Portuguese Sheepdog is a medium sized breed that stands at about 16 to 22 inches tall at the withers. This breed usually weighs between 26 and 40 pounds. The wide head has a long muzzle with a moderate stop. The large nose is black and the eyes are round and dark in color. These dogs have long hair on their face that gives them eyebrows and a beard. The medium sized ears hang down alongside the cheeks. They are sometimes cropped, but this practice is illegal in many parts of Europe. The pointed tail hangs down, reaching the dog’s hock. Portuguese Sheepdogs have a single layered coat that is medium in length and may be either smooth or slightly wavy. Colors include grey, fawn, wolf, black, chestnut, and yellow-red. The coat should regularly be checked for tangles, but too much brushing will ruin the natural rough look and texture of the coat. Bathing should be done only when necessary as well. Excess hair between the pads of the feet may need to be trimmed occasionally.
Portuguese Sheepdogs are known as a very clever and eager working breed. They always seem to be in a good mood, which also makes them a good companion breed. These dogs are loyal and form close bonds with their owners. They are an intelligent breed and highly trainable, but they also have a tendency to be quite stubborn so they will need a strong willed owner that can be a good pack leader for the dog to look up to. Being a strong pack leader means an ability to be naturally authoritative and command the respect and attention of the dog. These dog do have a somewhat dominant personality so they may not be the breed for everyone. Without an owner who is a strong pack leader these dogs will be stubborn and difficult to train. The Portuguese Sheepdog’s training should be firm, consistent, and well balanced. This breed should also be well socialized while they are still young. This means exposing them to new people, places, and situations. These dogs will live well with other canines, and they can also live happily with other animals as long as all of them are well socialized. These dogs have a tendency to be somewhat wary of strangers, which makes them good watch dogs. These dogs are also known to be gentle and are unlikely to be aggressive unless provoked. They are known to be patient with children.
Portuguese Sheepdogs are an active breed that is not recommended for life in an apartment or other small home. These dogs are used to living outside and may prefer it as long as they have a big enough yard. A dog that is getting enough exercise will be calm indoors. These dogs will need plenty of exercise every day which should include a long walk or run. They will also enjoy games and excel at agility trials.
The Portuguese Sheepdog does not have any known documented health issues. These dogs have a lifespan of about 12 to 13 years.
Overall the Portuguese Sheepdog is a rare breed, that is relatively unknown outside of Portugal. They are an active and dominant breed, which means that they need an owner that is not only highly active, but also has plenty of experience with obedience training and being a strong pack leader. These dogs are known to be hard workers, as well and loyal and gentle family companions.