Portuguese Sheepdog (Cão da Serra de Aires)
The Portuguese Sheepdog is a medium size long-haired dog bred originally in Portugal. It has great appeal with its beautiful coat and engaging disposition. It is a devoted and clever sheepdog. They are high spirited, happy dogs that are eager to work. They are quick, alert and easy-going. With their ‘monkey-like’ attitudes and looks they are often referred to as ‘monkey dogs’ in Portugal. They are loyal and form a strong bond with their families. They are steady and fearless although sometimes wary of strangers maintaining a careful watchful manner ready to react to perceived threats. They are exceptionally intelligent, learn quickly and adapt well to an urban environment.
The coat is smooth or slightly wavy and forms a long beard, moustache and eyebrows, not covering the eyes. The texture is goat-like. Grooming is minimal, a good brushing once a week is sufficient since it has no undercoat or wool. Colours may be black, fawn, grey and brown.
They need early training as they can be stubborn and dominant. As puppies, they require thorough socialization but the rewards are great. They need regular daily exercise and activity to provide mental stimulation. They enjoy long walks with their families which they always tend to herd, as their ancestors used to while tending flocks.
The breed is named after the area in southern Portugal where it was bred to guard and drive flocks. Its early characteristics resembled those of the Pyrenean Sheepdog. However, it is thought that the modern type of dog results from the mix of Briards into the original line. This is reputed to have been done at the beginning of the twentieth century by the Count of Castro Guimarães, who owned the Monte da Serra de Aires and wanted to improve the breed.
From a small beginning, the special qualities of the breed have aroused wider interest throughout Portugal. Today, thanks to dedicated breeders, increased knowledge and ownership of the breed assures its future. It is increasingly popular across Europe and has recently been introduced to the USA. There is an active and supportive group of breeders passionate about Serras and committed to breeding high quality dogs. Nevertheless, it is still a rare breed and comparatively unknown outside its home country.