The Cão da Serra de Aires is a medium-sized breed of the herding dog type that is believed to have been developed just recently, from the first decades of the 20th century.

Cao da Serra de Aires tongue out

However, its origins are mysterious and uncertain because accurate records of most European herding breeds do not exist during those times.

No one could tell how these dogs were created, but several theories have emerged to offer some explanations.

According to many experts, the Cão da Serra de Aires is one of the indigenous regional dogs of Portugal, primarily found in the Serra de Aires Mountains (a small chain located in the south-central portion of the country).

The dog appears to be one of the old-fashioned types of European sheepdogs, thought to be closely related to the Pyrenean and Catalan Sheepdogs. It is also believed that this breed was a cross between local dogs and Briards that were brought to Portugal in the early 1900s.

Traditionally, the ancestors of this modern breed were used for herding animals such as cows, sheep, goats, horses and even pigs.

Two doctors wrote, Dr Antonio Cabral and Dr. Felipe Morgado Romeiros, wrote the standard for this breed that was accepted by the Portuguese Kennel Club. Outside of Portugal, the breed remains rare. 

Despite this rarity, in 1996, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) granted the breed full recognition. The United Kennel Club (UKC) accepted the breed in 2006. The United Kennel Club (UKC) formally regards the breed as the Portuguese Sheepdog.

Traits and Behavior

The Cao da Serra de Aires is a breed with initiative, confidence, and amazing vitality. It has a strong sense of responsibility in protecting its master’s flocks without human assistance or guidance.

With a remarkable sense of sight and hearing, they are very intelligent and can be taught easily. However, they might choose not to carry out someone’s orders on few occasions.

Many agree that these dogs are not the perfect pet choice for everyone, especially for people who had no experience in taking good care of animals. Also, this large breed is not recommended to live in small quarters, together with young children as they might accidentally injure these children when they get excited.

Not surprisingly for a guard dog, the Cao da Serra de Aires is suspicious towards strangers. They tend to bark at night in response to the slightest movement or faintest sound. When its owner isn’t home, it is very much unlikely that it’ll allow its master’s friends or extended family members (whom it has met before) to come onto its territory.

This is an issue that is particularly worrisome after the dog reaches adulthood. He needs a superior owner who is strong, kind, and would act like a boss at all times. Socialization must begin while they are still young.

It is very important to start training these dogs as early as possible because interacting with a fully grown dog may be too hard for an average person.

Pet Care and Diseases

All canine breeds have the potential to display genetic health problems as they grow, just as all humans are at risk of acquiring a particular disease that runs in the family.

Be sure to seek the help of a legitimate veterinarian who has enough experience in dealing with the Anatolian Shepherd dog to prevent the occurrence of such disease through screening and to ensure that your dog will always be in good health.

This breed is generally healthy although few health concerns have been reported by dog owners. These include:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Demodectic mange (or demodicosis, a disease caused by Demodex mite)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Entropion
  • Coronary heart disease

(Note: Not all Cao da Serra de Aires will acquire any or all of these health problems, but it is better to be aware if you are considering having this pet.)

The Cao da Serra de Aires has an attractive medium-length fur that sheds dirt but also sheds hair. Brush its coat at least once a week to get rid of dead hair and to keep both skin and coat in tip-top shape.

Bathe this dog only when it gets dirty or is needed, the rest is basic care. Trim the nails when your dog starts to scratch the floor or every few weeks. Brush the teeth frequently with vet-recommended pet toothpaste.

This breed is not recommended for apartment life or in urban areas since it is large and relatively not active indoors. Provide it with a wide area outside the house where they can run and play. The front yard fence must be at least 5 feet tall so it wouldn’t be tempted to roam around the neighborhood.

Tip: Maintaining the weight of the dog within its normal limits is one of the easiest ways to prolong its life.


The Cão da Serra de Aires weighs approximately 17 to 27 kg (37 to 60 lbs) for both genders. It stands 45-55 cm (17½ to 21½ inches) tall at the withers for the males while a little bit smaller for the females.

Cao da Serra de Aires looking up

The dog’s body is long. The eyes are round and dark, with a gentle expression. The moderately sized ears usually hang down the sides of the cheeks, but sometimes they are cropped.

They are most recognizable because of their oddly furred coat of medium thickness that feels like its goat hair when touched.

Typical coat colours include chestnut, grey, fawn, wolf grey (fulva e a lobeira), and black, with tan marks.

A few white hairs are permissible but patches of white hairs are not, except for white patches on the chest.

General Information

The estimated life of a Cao da Serra de Aires is 11-13 years. The maximum litter size is about 8 puppies. This breed is also known as the Portuguese Sheepdog, Portuguese Shepherd Dog, and Cão Macaco (monkey dog or macaque dog).

Breed Club

Visit these dog club websites dedicated to Cao da Serra de Aires. Click this link: http://www.cao-da-serra-de-aires.com/