Portuguese Sheepdog: Dog Breed Profile


The Portuguese Sheepdog is a medium-sized sheepdog, slightly longer than tall, rustic, sober, and robust. Its agility, its speed, its physiognomy, and its way of moving are somewhat reminiscent of those of the monkey.

This is also why It’s nicknamed “The dog-monkey” in Its region of origin. The Portuguese Shepherd is also recognizable by its generous coat, made up of hair whose texture evokes that of goat hair.

Other name: Dog of the Serra de Aires

History of the breed

The  Portuguese Sheepdog finds its origin in the Alentejo region (southern half of Portugal), where Its ancestors already illustrated with local shepherds, including the Serra Aires to which it owes its name. The climate of this place, harsh, freezing, and windy during winter, dusty in summer, gives the Portuguese Shepherd an incredible resistance to temperature changes.

It has always been used for the management and guarding all kinds of herds: sheep, but also cattle, horses, and pigs. It’s appreciated for Its intelligence and resistance. The breed was definitively recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale on November 16, 1954.

Physical features

  • Its hair: long, dense, evenly distributed over the whole body, smooth to slightly wavy, rough in texture, longer on the head, trunk, and limbs, forming a beard, mustaches, and eyebrows. No undercoat.
    Its color: gray, fawn, charred fawn, brown, yellow, in various light to dark shades, up to black.
    Its head: strong and broad without being massive, of medium size. The skull, slightly less in width than in length, has an almost square shape. The frontal groove is pronounced, the stop is well marked.
    Its ears: triangular in shape, of medium size, as long as they are wide, set high, hanging down, not very thick and smooth.
    Its eyes: medium, rounded, nutty, or amber to dark in color, displaying an expression of intelligence and docility.
    Its body: slightly longer than the height at the withers (about 10%). The topline is flat or slightly sloping, the withers strong, the back straight or slightly sloping, the kidney is short and arched, the croup sloping gently, the chest well let down, and the belly of medium volume.
    Its tail: strong at its attachment, its thickness decreasing towards its end. Set high, of good length (reaching the hock), with a dense and long coat. Falling between the thighs at rest, carried a little above the back when the dog is in action.

Behavior With Others

The Portuguese Sheepdog is an extremely loyal dog towards Its master, very protective of Its flock and naturally suspicious of strangers, whether they are people or possible predators. Very intelligent, attentive, and skilled, It shows great enthusiasm at work.

The Portuguese Shepherd is nonetheless a pleasant companion and a great athlete, who particularly appreciates agility and obedience tests.



Education must be firm. This kind of active and energetic dog needs training from a young age. Its aptitude for work and play is an excellent vector for Its education. Indeed, the Portuguese Shepherd has an intelligence and a thirst for learning which makes It attentive, understanding, and docile. It likes to please Its master. It should be socialized as soon as possible.

Living Conditions

The Portuguese Sheepdog prefers to roam freely over large areas than to live in an apartment. The ideal would be for it to have a large enclosed garden. It’s aimed at active people who can be available and offer enough activities.

Its ability to withstand harsh climates, heat and cold, its sporty side, and its thirst for large spaces are incompatible with living in an apartment.  The daily outings must be many to allow the canine to run and feel good.

Health & Maintenance

The Portuguese Shepherd is a rustic and robust dog. It has good resistance to the harsh climate that characterizes its region of origin. It does not present any particular health problems.

The life expectancy of a Portuguese Shepherd is, on average, between 11 years and 13 years.

The Portuguese Sheepdog being a rustic dog, it only requires a simple regular maintenance, in particular at the level of its coat, to always look beautiful and without dead hair.

It is recommended to brush the dog once a week. Grooming is not necessary except in subjects intended for display.

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About Amanda

Passionate about animals, Amanda draws her expertise from her training as an educator, pet behaviorist as well as her extensive experience with animal owners. A specialist in dog and cat behavior, Amanda continues to learn about our four-legged companions by studying veterinary reference books but also university research sites (UCD, Utrecht, Cambridge, Cornell, etc..)

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