The Portuguese Sheepdog: dog breed appearance, character, training, care, health

The Portuguese Sheepdog breed of dog is characterized by being an excellent herding dog, strong and of medium size. Its character is that of an excellent companion dog. It has a good temperament, sweet and intelligent. But it is also a perfect guardian who loves its family. At Petlifey, we explain everything about the Portuguese Sheepdog dog.

Character of the Portuguese Sheepdog breed

The character of the Portuguese Sheepdog dog is that of an exceptionally intelligent and very affectionate animal. It is a dog very devoted to the shepherd and the livestock that it cares for, keeps away from strangers and keeps watch at night.

Thanks to its good temperament, it is also an excellent companion, sport and guard dog. Highly prized for its ability to keep herds in pasture and to find lost animals.

Its behaviour makes it always be alert and vigilant in the presence of predators. Do your work with pleasure and efficiency.

Its expression is sweet and very intelligent, since it has quite developed beards that give it the appearance of an adult dog since it is very young.

  • Energy: High level. You have a very high need to exercise daily.
  • Temperament: Balanced, rustic, faithful and courageous, it is extremely intelligent and lively
  • Adaptability: Medium. You need open spaces and outdoors, as you are used to working in the fields. It does not adapt very well to city life, especially in small apartments.
  • Sociability: Medium. Very attached to its master, it lives with the members of the family in full harmony, but is suspicious of all people outside its family nucleus.
  • Health: Very good. It is not prone to hereditary diseases.
  • Longevity: High. it can live between 12 and 15 years and keeps all its abilities in top form almost to the end.
  • Utility: Very versatile. Shepherd dog, guard dog, companion dog, police dog, in detection of drugs or explosives, agility and flyball .
  • Use: Storage and grazing on farms.

Is it a good dog for the family?

Like many other shepherd dogs, their faithfulness and attachment to the owner and family are extraordinary. Thus, it is an excellent family dog, offering its unconditional love and service to its people.

In addition, it is one of the most dedicated and intelligent dogs, since its passion is work and it dedicates itself to it until the last consequences, whatever the task entrusted, because it learns very quickly.

Is it a suitable dog for beginners?

Being such an intelligent, lively and insightful animal, it can become dominant and stubborn if it perceives any sign of weakness or doubt in its owners.

Therefore, you need to follow a very well planned, consistent and balanced training that is carried out with a specific purpose and that is not limited to a mere succession of basic and disjointed obedience exercises.

Can you live in an apartment?

Despite its relative adaptability, it is not the best dog to live in an apartment, as it needs very high and daily doses of exercise. Therefore, life outside is its favourite and it is happier on a farm or a large plot than in a small townhouse.

Of course, you can spend part of your time indoors and, in fact, enjoy those moments of closer contact with your master and family, but as long as such stay indoors is not imposed or prolonged.

It is a very sober and rustic animal, used to living in the countryside with its master, without having any kind of luxury, beyond the affection and food that it can give it at all times. It is not, therefore, a demanding animal and can adapt to almost any living condition.

How does it behave around children and other pets?

Its relationship with children is excellent, since it considers them part of the family and includes them within its inner circle, of what it feels obliged to care for and protect. But you have to be careful, because the reactions of both can be unpredictable.

Regarding other pets, you can live with them, but better if you get used to it from a puppy, because due to its dominant nature, it could be imposed on them.

Is it a good watchdog?

As a territorial shepherd, the Portuguese Sheepdog dog has also shown its great value as an excellent guardian. It loves its family above all things and adores its owner, so it will do whatever it takes to keep them safe.

In this sense, it protects its family and its possessions in an effortless, brave and tireless way, being very reserved with strangers and even being hostile towards them if they appear unexpectedly or if they perform any action that the dog can calibrate as potentially aggressive against your interests.

Characteristics of the Portuguese Sheepdog

The general appearance of the Portuguese Sheepdog dog is that of a medium-sized dog. It has a robust constitution and a rustic and sober appearance, due to its appearance and attitude it resembles an ape, which is why in its country of origin it is also known as an ape dog.

How is the Portuguese Sheepdog race physically?


The length of the body exceeds the height at the withers by approximately 10%, so the structure of the dog is rather rectangular. The males reach a height at the withers of about 50 cm, and the females, a little lower, of about 47 cm.

The dog moves primarily with a lightsuspended, powerful trot. When the job demands it, it moves in an energetic gallop.

They have a rounded foot shape, they are strong and have long toes and together that form a pronounced curve. The pads are thick and resistant, and the nails are long and strong.

This dog has a fairly narrow tail from the base, it has a high boot and is long. At rest it falls and arches or curls at the tip. In movement it is raised, curved and moves in a fan.


Its head is strong, robust and broad in structure, it has an almost cylindrical nasal bridge, the stop is well marked and the nose is detached, cylindrical and preferably black.

It has round and medium-sized eyes, they are not bulging or sunken. They are usually dark in color and with an alert, intelligent and docile gaze. Sometimes they are half hidden by the fur.

The ears are well proportioned, of medium length, triangular, fine and covered with straight hair, they are drooping. Formerly they used to be cut to make them straight and upright.

Hair and colors

The hair is single layer (no undercoat). The coat is rough in texture or “goat hair”, of medium thickness and very long. It is abundant, dense and is distributed evenly throughout the body. On the head, the hair forms a mustache, beard and bushy eyebrows, and is straight or slightly wavy.

It comes in many colors: yellow, brown, grey, reddish, and wolf grey. There are also varieties of light and dark color, and more or less marked fiery black, with or without mixed white hairs. Sometimes they have small spots on the chest

Standard of the Portuguese Sheepdog breed

  • Origin: Portugal
  • Other names: Portuguese Sheepdog / Berger de la Serra de Aires / Portugiesischer Schaferhund / Cao da Serra de Aires.
  • Size: Medium.
  • Height at the withers: 45-55 cm (Males) and 42-52 cm (Females).
  • Weight: 17-25 kg (Males) and 15-23 kg (Females).
  • Head: Medium in size, strong and broad, not too large in relation to the body.
  • Skull: With a tendency to be square, it is somewhat longer than wide. 
  • Naso-frontal depression (stop): It is well defined.
  • Muzzle: Wide, with a rectilinear or slightly concave profile, it has a short, almost cylindrical muzzle.
  • Nose: Well defined, slightly raised, and with wide windows, in general it is black, but in yellow or brown specimens it can also be liver-colored (brown), always darker than the coat.
  • Jaws: Strong and developed, they are in perfect opposition. The dentition is complete, with 42 solid white teeth, with a scissor bite; although some specimens close in clamp.
  • Eyes: Medium in size, they are round, not very prominent and almost always dark in color, but in animals that have a yellow coat they can be hazel or amber-brown. The expression is friendly, intelligent and docile.
  • Ears: Medium in size and set high, the dog usually wears them down, but not bent. They are triangular in shape, and the skin is fine and smooth.
  • Neck: It is harmoniously united to the head and to the trunk, and it is straight and a little ascending, of thickness proportionate to the body, without dewlap.
  • Body: Slightly rectangular, with a straight or slightly sloping top line.
  • Back: With the back straight or slightly sloping and long, it is very muscular. Seen in profile, the loin is short and arched, but wide and curved from the front, well attached to the croup by strong muscles. The rump is somewhat prominent and slightly sloping.
  • Chest: Up to the elbows it is broad and of medium depth, with slightly arched ribs and an oval, backward-sloping rib cage.
  • Tail: Set high and pointed at the end, reaching the hock and tapering from the base. It is long and covered with abundant hair. In movement, the face takes it to the height of the upper line, or something curved over it.
  • Forelimbs: Strong, well poised seen from the front and in profile, and quite far apart, the elbows are closer to the withers than to the ground.
  • Shoulders: Of medium length and well muscled, the shoulder blade and humours are set at a straight angle.
  • Forearms and arms: The first are long, vertical and with good muscles and bones of medium thickness. The arms are strong, muscular and of medium length.
  • Hind limbs: They are of medium width, plumb seen from the front or from behind, strong, and give a perfect impression of strength and agility.
  • Legs: Slightly sloping, long and muscular, they are endowed with strong bones and thighs of medium width and length, with strong muscles. Knees: Well articulated.
  • Hocks: Of medium width and low set, they are strong and thin.
  • Feet: Rounded, not flattened, their toes are long and close together, with a pronounced curve. The nails are long, strong and black, or, in any case, always darker than the coat. The pads are thick and tough.
  • Skin: It is thick, flexible and not too tight, with pigmented mucous membranes.
  • Hair: It is long, straight or slightly wavy, of medium thickness, without undercoat or undercoat, and of a somewhat rough texture, like goat hair. Form a long beard, moustaches and bushy eyebrows.
  • FCI Classification : FCI No. 93. GROUP 1 – Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs (except Swiss Cattle Dogs). Section 1 – Sheepdogs.

Education and training of the Portuguese Sheepdog breed

The Portuguese Sheepdog is a breed of dog that can be a bit stubborn, therefore, it requires positive training. It is convenient to be clear about who the master is, but never without yelling at them or using force.

As for herding, it is usually not even necessary to train it for this task, since it is capable of instinctively leading the herd with unusual skill and precision.

Thus, where it stands out the most is in herding work, work with which it feels happy and fulfilled, and where it brings out the best of themselves.

This well-trained dog is surprisingly useful. In Portugal, it is not strange to see them accompanying the police or the army in defence work, customs control, drug and explosives detection, etc.

It is also common to see them as the guardian of houses, farms or companies, and there are those who maintain that its inoffensive appearance works in its favour, since it generates confidence in intruders and leads them to make mistakes that it later knows how to take advantage of.

Like other medium-sized shepherds, the Portuguese Sheepdog dog is also very skilled in the practice of some canine sports, such as agility or flyball , although its low impact and international expansion mean that it is not yet well known in these fields.

The Portuguese Sheepdog dog is not widely used outside its area of ​​origin, but it could be considered the shepherd dog par excellence, since its way of working is orderly, intelligent and very effective.

Its way of working is very peculiar; Faced with other shepherd dogs that face their relationship with livestock from a plane of superiority and use force, sometimes even extreme, to show who is in charge and who must be obeyed, the Portuguese Sheepdog is very careful with the animals that it has. Its position and earns the respect of the flock thanks to its intelligence and good work.

Health, food and care of the Portuguese Sheepdog

Being a rustic and not very widespread breed, it is a healthy, tough and very resistant dog that does not suffer from characteristic diseases and has a high life expectancy, since it is common to find specimens older than 12 years of age that are still active.

It is important to watch your diet. Your diet should be rich in protein due to its high energy level, which leads to frenzied activity.

In relation to the coat, its maintenance is very simple, since the hair is rustic and does not present the typical undercoat of other shepherd dogs, so a good weekly brushing is enough and bathing it only when it is dirty.

Thus, a well-fed, healthy Portuguese Sheepdog, with an intense sporting practice and a master who gives it the necessary affection and attention is one of the best life and work companions that can be had: faithful, intelligent and with a absolute surrender.

Leave a Comment