Let's talk Portuguese Sheepdogs

One of Portugal’s native breeds, the Portuguese Sheepdog has a long list of winning attributes that have made the breed a celebrated one. Their super high vitality has served the breed well in their traditional role as a herding dog, while their upbeat demeanour has carried them through to first-rate companion status. As a dog with very few health concerns and one who is devoted to their work and family, the Portuguese Sheepdog will easily find themselves at home, wherever that may be.

Official name: Portuguese Sheepdog

Other names: Cão de Serra de Aires

Origins: Portugal

Side view of Portuguese Sheepdog in black and white
 Drooling tendencies:

Very low

Warm weather? Medium
 Shedding level:
Suited to apartment living? 
 Physical activity needs (high, low, medium): Moderate Kid-friendly? 

 Compatibility with other pets:
Can stay alone?

We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches.
Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour.
Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.
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Illustration of Portuguese Sheepdog
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46 - 56 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
17 - 27 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight
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43 - 53 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
17 - 27 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight

 

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 12 months
 Adult age  1 to 7 years
 Mature age  7 to 10 years
 Senior age  10 years onwards

Portuguese Sheepdog running across grass towards camera

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Get to know the Portuguese Sheepdog

All you need to know about the breed

The spirited and rugged Portuguese Sheepdog is one of the best-kept secrets of their native Portugal, with a buoyant approach to life and a high level of smarts. This traditional herding dog exudes pure enjoyment in their assigned task, something they are still used widely for.

As a longtime companion of shepherding peoples, the Portuguese Sheepdog will fit into family life superbly. They’re excellent with children, once trained, and find fellow canines and felines equally good company.

This trusted sidekick is also a top watchdog who can have a certain level of wariness with newcomers. Make sure to conduct proper introductions with all guests. That said, the Portuguese Sheepdog thrives on any activity where everyone is involved, and one that will channel their fairly non-stop energy.

The Portuguese Sheepdog is a rarity outside of their native Portugal and not often spotted in other countries, despite being recognised by other national kennel clubs.

As a brainy breed, the Portuguese Sheepdog can be headstrong at times and even want to take the lead. It’s merely because they’ve been bred to take charge herding many types of animals large and small. Welcome them into the human herd and they’ll quickly recognise you as leader of the pack.

Portuguese Sheepdog lying down on grass

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2 facts about Portuguese Sheepdogs

1. Making a face

The endearing and perpetually upbeat Portuguese Sheepdog is known to form funny expressions similar to the way a monkey might move, thus their nickname “monkey face.” It’s just one facet of this perpetually upbeat and charming breed.

2. Gather round

Herding is instinctive for the Portuguese Sheepdog but it may be something they don’t just undertake while out in the field. Nudging family members with their nose too may happen, but it’ll always be gentle and come from a place of caring. It’s simply because this natural-born watchdog always wants to keep watch!

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History of the breed

A fairly recent and rare breed, the Portuguese Sheepdog emerged only at the turn of the 20th century when they were developed on the plains of Portugal as a herder and drover of many animals, including goats, sheep, horses, and cattle. It’s thought they were originally bred with the French Briard, brought into the Iberian Peninsula by Count de Castro de Guimaraes in the early 1900s. The possible crossing is evident in the Portuguese Sheepdog breed‘s shaggy fur, a very similar characteristic to the Briard’s.

The Portuguese Sheepdog stood by the side of shepherds in southern Portugal as a trusty flock guardian but by the 1970s had come close to extinction. Thanks to those who are devoted to the breed, their numbers have been on the uptick for some time now. The Portuguese Sheepdog breed was accepted for registration into the Portuguese Kennel Club in 1932 and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 1996.

Portuguese Sheepdog lying down facing camera in black and white

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Portuguese Sheepdogs

1. Ears

Medium-length ears, hanging down, fairly fine in texture.

2. Body

Robust, medium-build body, long back, straight, strong legs.

3. Coat

Fairly thick, coarse, dense single coat, forming moustache and beard on the face.

Side view of Portuguese Sheepdog standing on gravel

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Portuguese Sheepdog
Close-up of Portuguese Sheepdog

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Caring for your Portuguese Sheepdog

Grooming, training and exercise tips

The Portuguese Sheepdog sports a weatherproof coat that stands up to harsh conditions but is a bit easy-care where grooming is concerned. Give them a weekly brushing and a bath only as needed. Clean those ears and eyes on a regular basis as well as nail pads since the breed will spend a lot of time outside where they’ll pick up debris. Brush your dog’s teeth as often as possible to keep periodontal disease under control. Exercise for a herding breed like the Portuguese Sheepdog is a necessity, and can come in many forms, including their daily gamboling in the yard as well as hikes and a round of play. This is a dog who requires a good dose of mental as well as physical stimulation. Your Portuguese Sheepdog responds well to training, with their lively attitude, but they can be stubborn, their smarts kicking in at times. Establish yourself as head of household when they are young and your Portuguese Sheepdog is likely to follow the lead.

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All about Portuguese Sheepdogs

Yes, an excellent one! Traditionally used for herding and thus accompanying shepherds, the Portuguese Sheepdog. thrives when with people. Loyalty and bonding are key for this breed who enjoys tremendously their time with humankind.

Although it might appear otherwise, the wonderfully shaggy coat of the Portuguese Sheepdog will not shed a huge amount and requires minimal upkeep. Its weatherproof texture is a plus for dog owners who know that shedding, as well as grooming, are a big part of dog ownership.

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Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/