Portuguese Sheepdog

Other names: Cão da Serra de Aires, Cão Macaco, Monkey Dog, Macaque Dog

Portuguese Sheepdog

A rare dog is the Portuguese Sheepdog. It is native to the Serra de Aires Mountains of Portugal where it has been bred for decades to guard and herd livestock. It is unlikely to be spotted in great numbers elsewhere in the world. The breed is nicknamed the monkey dog because of its facial appearance, and lively and agile demeanour. 

Key facts about the Portuguese Sheepdog

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Playful Intelligent

Size :

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Origins and history

The Portuguese Sheepdog was first bred in the 1910s. It may have descended from the French Briard. The dog was prized by farmers throughout the first part of the 20th Century, but by 1970 the breed was almost extinct. Since the 70s breeders have been able to reassert the breed as a pet, and it is now a popular choice of companion for Portuguese families. 

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)


Section 1 : Sheepdogs

Physical characteristics of the Portuguese Sheepdog

Adult size

Female : Between 24 and 27 in

Male : Between 26 and 29 in


Female : Between 77 and 99 lb

Male : Between 99 and 132 lb

Coat colour

Type of coat

Eye colour



A robust dog with a rustic appearance; the Portuguese Sheepdog is compact, stocky and well-proportioned. The head is slightly square, longer than it is broad. The ears are set high and hang against the cheeks of the dog. 

Good to know

This dog is renowned for its ability to herd flocks of sheep and to defend livestock against predators. It is clever and stubborn and will try to dominate a household if given the opportunity to do so. The owner of the Portuguese must exhibit confidence and be consistent of their treatment of the dog. 


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    The Portuguese is loyal and affectionate. It is an even-tempered and well-mannered dog. 

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    This dog likes to entertain but its playful nature is at times interspersed with its need to assert its dominance.  

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    This is a lively and excitable dog. It does not enjoy sudden loud noises or sudden movements and can, as a result of these things, become timid and agitated. 

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    The Portuguese is known to be a quick learner. It is however just as likely to pick up bad habits, and it requires command reinforcement from time to time. It is a smart dog that can make decisions by itself and will obey orders from its handler. 

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    Portuguese Sheepdogs are not hunters; they are herding dogs. As such they do not have a high prey drive. 

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    Fearful / wary of strangers

    The Portuguese tends to be reserved and timid around strangers. It takes these dogs quite a while to trust people who aren’t already in their ‘circle’. Patience and time are needed of an owner when introducing this dog to new people. 

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    This is a wilful dog. In order that it stays good-natured and obedient the dog requires firm and steady training, and an owner’s reinforcement of the pack hierarchy. 

    Behaviour of the Portuguese Sheepdog

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      Tolerates solitude

      The Portuguese does not tolerate solitude. 

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      Easy to train / obedience

      Training of this dog must be done right. Portuguese Sheepdogs get bored easily of routine and will try to dominate proceedings. 

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      This is a dog that will bark incessantly if not trained to stop on command. 

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      Tendency to run away

      Generally speaking, a Portuguese will respond to your voice and not run away. 

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      If it finds itself at home for long periods of time without human company the Portuguese will be destructive. 

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      Greedy / Gluttony

      This dog is not known to be greedy. 

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      Guard dog

      Although not willing to back up its bark with a bite, the Portuguese is exceptionally territorial. It makes an excellent watchdog. 

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      First dog

      A Portuguese Sheepdog needs to be exercised and trained well in order to stay out of trouble. It is unlikely that a first-time owner would successfully manage such a dog. 

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      • 33%

        Portuguese Sheepdog in a flat

        The Portuguese needs plenty of exercise. It will not be happy living in a flat, but a large outside garden will provide some of its exercise needs. 

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        Need for exercise / Sporty

        An energetic dog is the Portuguese. It enjoys long and adventurous walks

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        Travelling / easy to transport

        Once trained, a Portuguese Sheepdog is comfortable to travel. 


        • 66%

          Portuguese Sheepdog and cats

          This dog will tolerate a cat that it is familiar with but it may not be so tolerant of other cats. 

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          Portuguese Sheepdog and dogs

          Portuguese Sheepdogs are very social and will interact well with other dogs. 

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          Portuguese Sheepdog and children

          The Portuguese is careful and gentle around children but it can be boisterous. 

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          Portuguese Sheepdog and the elderly

          Because it is a dog that requires lots of exercise, the Portuguese Sheepdog may not be the perfect choice of dog for some of senior years. 



          As this is a rare breed, the average price of the Portuguese Sheepdog puppy is unknown. The average cost of care for a dog of this size is £100 to £120 per month.


          Brush this dog every day of the week to prevent its coat from becoming tangled and matted. Special attention should be paid to the feathering on the dog’s face: food gets trapped in its fur. 


          The Portuguese is a low shedder, but does shed throughout the year. 

          Nutrition of the Portuguese Sheepdog

          It is always worthwhile to feed a Portuguese a high-quality and specially formulated dog food rather than human food. The Portuguese’s diet should consist of good amounts of protein and fat. 

          Health of the Portuguese Sheepdog

          Life expectancy

          Having been successfully bred for centuries, the Portuguese Sheepdog is generally healthy and robust. 

          Strong / robust

          The Portuguese is strong and agile. It does not readily suffer with ailments. 

          Withstand heat

          The Portuguese tolerates hot weather reasonably well. 

          Withstand cold

          The double coat of the Portuguese keeps the dog warm even when it is walking in the snow. 

          Tendency to put on weight

          Weight gain is seen of any dog that is not exercised as regularly as it should be and is fed too much human or substandard food. 

          Common illnesses

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