Cão da Serra de Aires
The charismatic Cão da Serra de Aires, also known as the Portuguese Sheepdog, is a charming medium-sized breed. Much of its abundant character is derived from its striking coat, which lends the breed its distinctive facial expression. On top of that, the Cão da Serra de Aires is also renowned for its excitable temperament and steadfast loyalty.
The Breed’s Uncertain History
It is undeniable that a certain degree of ambiguity surrounds the Cão da Serra de Aires exact ancestry. Indeed, while it is widely speculated that the Cão da Serra de Aires is the product of cross-breeding herding breeds, such as the Briand, the Pyrenean Sheepdog, and the Catalan Sheepdog, there is little in the way of available evidence to categorically substantiate such claims.
Although the Cão da Serra de Aires’ genetic lineage is certainly contestable, nevertheless, it is clear that the breed was developed during the early 20th Century in the Alentejo region of central Portugal. Fittingly, this geographical heritage is reflected in the breed’s name, which directly references the region’s Serra de Aires mountain range.
Somewhat curiously, the breed was standardized relatively late. In fact, it wasn’t until 1932 that the Portuguese Kennel Club eventually recognized the breed. International recognition was even less forthcoming. The Federation Cynologique Internationale and the United Kennel Club recognized the Cão da Serra de Aires as recently as 1996 and 2006 respectively.
Bred originally as a working dog, the Cão da Serra de Aires traditionally served as an indefatigable partner for mountainside shepherds. Funnily enough, while the Cão da Serra de Aires’ finely-tuned herding skills initially safeguarded the breed’s popularity, this aptitude would also, very nearly, prove to be its undoing. By the 1970s, the advent of improved technology had sidelined the previously indispensable breed to an increasingly peripheral role. To compound matters, housing developments had begun to steadily infringe on the breed’s once rugged territory. Thus caught between redundancy and homelessness, the Cão da Serra de Aires was eventually pushed to the very edge of extinction.
Ultimately, it took the impassioned efforts of local enthusiasts to rescue the breed. Their unflagging advocacy succeeding to popularize the Cão da Serra de Aires among Portugal’s affluent middle classes. Today, although still extremely rare outside of Portugal, the breed is being exported in increasing numbers.
The Cão da Serra de Aires’ Expected Lifespan
As the Cão da Serra de Aires is still a young breed, our understanding of its health status remains a little disjointed. Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests that - occasional ear infections aside - the breed is typically pretty robust. Overall, the breed’s average lifespan is 12-15 years.
How Much Does the Cão da Serra de Aires Shed?
The Cão da Serra de Aires sheds only moderately. What is more, semi-regular brushing can help limit the amount of hair which is actually shed. At this juncture, however, it is important to note that excessive grooming can damage both the texture and appearance of the Cão da Serra de Aires’ impressive coat.
What is the Cão da Serra de Aires’ Temperament Like?
In a nutshell, the Cão da Serra de Aires can be described as a highly intelligent and amiable breed which develops close bonds to its principal caregivers. That, however, is not to say that it doesn’t have its quirks. After all, the Cão da Serra de Aires was until relatively recently bred exclusively as a working dog and its characteristics naturally reflect that utilitarian heritage.
For example, although generally unswervingly loyal, from time to time a slightly stubborn or independent streak can come to the fore. Moreover, such traits are particularly prevalent in cases where the dog does not fully respect its owner.
Where respect is established, however, the Cão da Serra de Aires is highly trainable and exceedingly willing to learn. Now, while this aptitude for learning does attest to the breed’s undoubted intelligence at the same time it also hints at a propensity for becoming bored if understimulated.
Providing plenty of toys will help nip destructive behaviors in the bud. As will allocating the breed with a generous play area. Bear in mind, that all in all, the breed requires 1-2 hours per day of activity, which, ideally, should combine both physical and mental aspects.
Despite its almost hyperactive temperament, the Cão da Serra de Aires is, nevertheless, typically patient with children. Against this, the breed can be wary of strangers and can become aggressive if it perceives a threat. Such deep-set wariness can also shape how the Cão da Serra de Aires interacts with other household pets. In this regard, to avoid issues, early socialization is recommended. Thankfully, no such issues are typically apparent in the breed’s interactions with other dogs.
|16-22 inches (41-56 cm)
|26-40 pounds (12-18 kg)
|Average $800 - $1000 USD