The history of Portuguese Sheepdog is surrounded by mystery and there are several theories how these dogs originated. What we know for sure is, that these dogs come from Portugal from the region of Alentejo and Serra de Aires. The most popular theory suggest, that the main ancestor of Portuguese Sheepdog is Briard, brought to Portugal in the beginning of the 20th century by Count de Castro Guimaraes to herd his flock. He later crossbred his Briards with local herding dogs, so they can better withstand the Portuguese weather and that is how the first Portuguese Sheepdogs originated. Another popular theory suggest, that the Portuguese Sheepdog was developed from other herding breeds used in its home region, such as Pyrenean Shepherd or Catalan Sheepdog
The main purpose of Portuguese Sheepdog always was herding and they have great qualities for this purpose, because these dogs are alert, very intelligent, but also independent problem solvers, they are very lively, agile and quick, devoted and loyal to its shepherd, but also to its livestock. Throughout the history, these dogs were and still are sucesfully used for herding all kinds of animals, such as sheep, goats, horses, pigs or cows.
The Portuguese Sheepdog is extremely rare breed and it is very hard to find them outside Portugal. In the past, in 1970s, the breed become extremely rare and some believe that the breed was on the verge of extinction. In the end of 1970s group of breeders and owners banded together to bring back the breed and luckily the breed was saved from extinction, but it remained rare to these days.
Today, the Portuguese Sheepdog is not only used as herding dog, but also as a great family companion. These dogs make good fit for outdoor lovers, because they are always ready for any outdoor adventure. It can be long walks, hikes or jogs, it does not matter for them. These dogs are known for their always happy nature, lively and playful temperament and great loyalty. On the other hand, they are naturally suspicious towards strangers, but they should never be agressive without a reason. These dogs need quite a lot of exercise to stay healthy and happy and without enough exercise, they can develop some unwanted behaviour such as excessive barking.
5) Dog sports
Speaking of the exercise, it does not always need to be done by walking or jogging, because the Portuguese Sheepdog is a great adept for various dog sports. Of course, they can compete in herding trials, but also in agility, flyball, obedience, tracking or showmanship.
The Portuguese Sheepdog has a very descriptive name, it is a sheepdog from Portugal. Their spanish name cão da Serra de Aires literally means dog of Serra de Aires, which is a mountain near Montforte in the Alentejo region. The Portuguese Sheepdog also has one cute nickname, which is cão macaco, or Monkey dog, due to its physical appearance, but also thanks to its playful and inquisitive monkeyish nature.
This is medium sized and athletic dog with average height between 40-55 cm, which is 15-21 inch and weight is usually between 17-27 kg, which is 37-60 pounds. Females are naturally slightly smaller than males.
The first thing you will definitely notice about this breed is its long coat. It is a single coat with no undercoat and it has goat like texture. The coat can be either slightly wavy or straight. The coat is very distinctive on the dogs face, where it creates long beard, mustaches and eyebrows. Typical coat colours include yellow, chestnut, grey, fawn, wolf grey and black with tan marks. White hairs may be mixed in with the coat, but there should be no large white patches.
Speaking of the coat, it is important to mention the grooming and maintenance as well. It is important to regularly check the coat for tangles and either work through them with your fingers or use a comb. You should regularly brush their coat, but do not overbrush it, because it can damage the coat texture and the dog would loose its unique look. Just like with any other breed, you should regularly check the dogs ears, eyes, nails and teeth and clip them or clean them if needed.
There is not enough scientific studies about the breeds health, but it should usually be a healthy breed with average lifespan around 13 years. Just like any other breed in the world, even the Portuguese Sheepdog may suffer from some health issues, such as hip dysplasia, patellar luxation and it is said, that the breed is prone to ehrlichiosis transmitted by ticks.