Country of OriginPortugal
Nicknames and Other Namescão macaco
Monkey Dog
Cão da Serra de Aires
Scientific NameCanis lupus familiaris
Breed TypePurebred
GroupHerding Group
Bred ForHerding cows, sheep, goats
Recognized ByFCI, UKC, AKC
Life Span12-13 years
Ideal Weight37.5-59 pounds (male and female)
Ideal Height16.5-21.5 inches (male and female)
Fur TypeDouble coat, Wavy,
goat-like texture, thick
Common ColorsBlack, Wolfgray, Yellow, Fawn,
Brown, Gray
MarkingsTan markings
AvailabilityRarely available
Suitable for ApartmentsNo
Used in World WarNo
Most Similar ToSchapendoes

The Portuguese Sheepdog is a medium-sized dog breed belonging to the herding group. It is one of the indigenous regional dog breeds of Portugal which is an extremely rare breed of Portugal.

The Portuguese Sheepdog’s other name is Cão da Serra de Aires. It is also called the “Monkey dog” because of their monkey-like appearance. Here is everything regarding the Portuguese Sheepdog.

Origin & History

The Portuguese Sheepdog is also known as the Cão da Serra de Aires in Portugal. This breed dates back nearly a century and is believed to have developed in the southern plains of Portugal.

Many people believe that the Portuguese Sheepdog descended from the Briard and the Pyrenean Sheepdog. But there are no reliable sources to support this belief.

A Portuguese Sheepdog playing with his toy.

The Portuguese Sheepdog became a trusted companion for the common Portuguese shepherd who herded sheep, goats, cattle, horses and also pigs. This breed had to face extinction in the 1970s. However, the dedicated breeders that fell in love with this lively breed resurrected them.

The Portuguese Sheepdog was given the nickname “little monkey” because of their odd muzzle and expression. And these characteristics resembled a monkey’s quizzical look.

Though very few people know about the Portuguese Sheepdog outside Portugal. This breed has somehow managed its way into the United States in a limited amount.

The United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized the Portuguese Sheepdog as a rare breed in 2006. Whereas, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has kept this breed under Foundation Stock Service (as per March 2019).

Are the Portuguese Sheepdogs child-friendly?

Yes, the Portuguese Sheepdogs are child-friendly dogs. To add, they are incredibly good when dealing with children. They get along with kids very easily and enjoy their attention and affection. In fact, they are generally patient with children and can adapt with really quick.

A small girl with three Portuguese Sheepdogs. Image Source: Instagram@serra_dos_pastores_kennel

Behavior, Temperament & Personality

The Portuguese Sheepdog has a loyal and energetic personality. These dogs are very active and hence, are always willing to do some work. In fact, they behave very happily when engaged with work. They develop a habit of bonding closely with their family and being naturally suspicious of strangers.

Talking about the personality, the Portuguese Sheepdogs have a devoted and high-spirited personality. These dogs are intelligent and smart. But they can become dominant and stubborn if they sense that their owners are not strong-willed. To conclude, this breed is overall a great choice for a family.

The trainability of the Portuguese Sheepdog

Training the Portuguese Sheepdog is relatively easy because of its intelligent and quick learning ability. Furthermore, their obedient and smart nature play a great role in making the training look easy.

Training a Portuguese Sheepdog.

In spite of this, they are quick to learn bad habits too. Therefore, consistent and fair training with positive reinforcement should be given so that they what their owners expect from them.

Facts about the Portuguese Sheepdog

Here are some facts about the Portuguese Sheepdog:

  • The Portuguese Sheepdog is popular as the Cão da Serra de Aires in its native country Portugal.
  • It is also known as the Portuguese Shepherd Dog, Monkey Dog, Cao Macaca, and Serra de Aires Mountain Dog.
  • This breed nearly faced extinction in the 1970s.

Common Health Issues of the Portuguese Sheepdog

General HealthHealthy
Common Health IssuesHip Dysplasia, Luxating Patella, Eye Problem
Vaccination RequiredRabies, Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper,
Canine Parainfluenza, Leptospirosis,
Kennel Cough, Canine Coronavirus
SheddingModerate Shedder
DroolingLow Drooler
GroomingEasy and Minimal Gromming Required
Weight Gain PotentialAverage
Separation AnxietyHigh Chance
Diets and SupplementsProtein: 25%
Fat: 8%

The Portuguese Sheepdogs live an average life of 14-15 years. During this lifespan, they suffer from various diseases. Some of them are:

Hip Dysplasia

The hereditary disease caused by the malformation of the hip joints is known as Hip Dysplasia.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

It is a group of genetic diseases of the Portuguese Sheepdog due to the bilateral degeneration of the retina which causes loss of vision.


Cataracts refer to the clouding in the eye lens which leads to decrease in the vision of the Portuguese Sheepdog. They develop slowly and can affect one or both eyes.

Color Patterns

The Portuguese Sheepdogs have five color varieties with tan markings which are:

  • Wolf grey
  • Brown
  • Yellow
  • Fawn
  • Grey


The height of the Portuguese Sheepdogs is 42-52 cm for female and 45-55 cm for the male. Whereas, the weight of both male and female range between 17-27 kg.

Price of Portuguese Sheepdog puppy

A mother Portuguese Sheepdog is likely to give birth to 3 to 6 puppies at a time. You’ll have to pay $800 to $100 USD for a well bred Portuguese Sheepdog puppy.

A mother Portuguese Sheepdog with her puppies. Image Source: Instagram@serra_dos_pastores_kennel

Which dog breeds are they similar to?

Here are some dog breeds that are similar to the Portuguese Sheepdog:

  • Polish Lowland Sheepdog
  • Pyrenean Shepherd
  • Bergamasco Sheepdog
  • Schapendoes
  • Rafeiro do Alentejo

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