The Portuguese Sheepdog, or Cão da Serra de Aires, is a breed that originated in Portugal. The history of this breed dates back to the early 20th century, and it is believed to have descended from Briards brought to Portugal by French monks around the 12th century. The first Conde de Castro Guimaraes, Manuel Inácio de Castro Guimarães is thought to have crossed these dogs with various other breeds, including the Catalan Sheepdog, Pyrenean Sheepdog, and possibly some native Portuguese breeds. They were bred for herding and protecting livestock in the mountainous Serra de Aires region, hence its name in Portuguese. This breed almost disappeared after the Industrial Revolution when machines replaced farming tasks. Fortunately, enthusiasts revived the breed in the mid-20th century, and it has since grown in popularity, both in Portugal and internationally. However, they still remain a relatively rare breed outside of Portugal.
Portuguese Sheepdogs are generally healthy dogs. Currently, there are no known genetic conditions tightly associated with the breed. As for all breeds, genetic screening is recommended to assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.
Portuguese Sheepdogs are intelligent, lively, and extremely loyal. They are known for their quick learning ability and agility. These dogs are often described as having a "monkey-like" expression, which matches their playful, mischievous nature. They are also very protective and can be wary of strangers, making them excellent watchdogs. However, they are generally friendly with familiar people and are known to be very good with children. Their herding instinct can sometimes result in a tendency to try to "herd" their human family, especially children. Early socialization from a young age is important to prevent timidity or aggression.
Their long, goat-like hair requires regular brushing to prevent matting and tangling. Portuguese Sheepdogs require plenty of physical and mental stimulation, due to their high energy and intelligence. They can excel in various canine sports like agility, obedience, and herding trials.
Portuguese Sheepdogs are sometimes mistaken for a long-haired mutt due to their tousled appearance. They are often called "Monkey Dogs" in Portugal because of their facial expression.
Despite their somewhat wild appearance, they are known to be extremely clean dogs and have no doggy odor.
Portuguese Sheepdogs are very vocal and have a unique, high-pitched bark. They often use this to control their flocks, but in a home setting, it can turn into a habit of barking at anything unusual.