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Developed in Portugal to become its national herding dog, this devoted and loyal breed was recognised by the English KC in 2006.
Not much is known about the history of the Portuguese Sheepdog, but it is thought to have descended from the Briard and the Pyrenean Sheepdog. Often nicknamed 'the monkey dog' because of its primate like features, this dog is thought to have developed in the Serra de Aires area of the country. It is speculated upon that the native sheepdogs of the area where not suited to the harsh landscape and mountains, and thus this breed was developed to cope with the barren, dry environment. It remains a very popular dog in its national country and also enjoys a high profile in many other European countries.
Average height to withers: Males are between 17-22 inches, with females slightly smaller at around 16-20 inches.
Average weight: There is no particular standard set, just weight in proportion to height, but most dogs of this breed are around 12-18 kg.
Often noted as being 'goat like' the coat of this dog is generally very long and smooth but can be seen slightly wavy, forming long beards, moustache and eyebrows, but not covering the eyes. The hair is very long on the head, body and legs, including profuse hair between the toes. The coat is dense and evenly distributed all over the body with no undercoat. In colour, they are yellow, chestnut, grey, fawn and wolf grey, with shadings from light to dark or black, including tan with or without mixed white hairs They should never have white patches, except a small patch on the chest on occasion.
This dog can have what is termed a 'natural bobtail', which has never been traditionally docked, while others have a longer, quite highly set tail. Under the profuse coat, the ears are dropped and pendant. The eyes are round and dark with a calm, but intelligent, expression.
Agile, lively, intelligent and loyal are all typical traits of the Portuguese Sheepdog. It has retained much of its herding instinct, and put to good use by the owner, this dog can excel at most canine sports including flyball, agility, herding and obedience. Making a good family pet, this breed is patient with children but can be given to 'rounding' them up when the mood strikes, as it does with many other herding breeds. Early socialisation is essential to ensure that this trait being exhibited is minimised within a home environment. It is easy to train and actively wants to please its owner, being naturally very obedient. As it has quite a high energy drive, it does better with a good amount of mental and physical stimulation meaning it is well suited to an active family who enjoy being outdoors with it.
Little data or research is available about the overall health of this breed, but it is generally thought to a robust and healthy dog. It can live until around the age of 14-15 years of age.
The coat needs regular grooming to keep it free of tangles and it will also benefit from professional grooming every so often to keep it in tip top condition. At least one good walk per day is needed, but optimally two to keep its brain and body well stimulated.