The Cão da Serra de Aires is a medium-sized breed of dog of the herding dog type, and is one of the indigenous regional dogs of Portugal. Called the Portuguese Sheepdog in English, the original name refers to the Serra de Aires, a mountain near Monforte in the Alentejo region, often mistaken winth the "Serra d'Aire" a range of hills or mountains marking the boundary between Ribatejo and Oeste, north of the Tagus river. The breed is nicknamed the "cão macaco" (monkey dog, referring to the macaque or monkey) for its furry face and lively attitude.
The Cão da Serra de Aires is a medium-sized dog, standing 45 to 55 cm (17½ to 21½ ins) at the withers for males (females slightly smaller) and 17 to 27 kg (37 to 60 lbs) in weight. The dog's body is long and has a long coat without an undercoat, of medium thickness and described as having a "goat like" texture. The lack of an undercoat makes the dog less resistant to extreme weather as a working dog. Typical coat colours include yellow, chestnut, grey, fawn, wolf grey (fulva e a lobeira), and black, with tan marks. White hairs may be mixed in with the coat, but there should be no large white patches.
The tail should be long, and a natural bobtail is a disqualification under the breed standard, meaning that owners are discouraged from breeding such non typical dogs, and tailless dogs cannot compete for breed championships. The tail should never be docked. The drop (hanging) ears are set high and close to the head. Detailed descriptions of all of the ideal proportions and colours are listed in the original breed standard, as well as faults which are aspects not typical for the breed or that are structural problems.
Related Portuguese breeds
The Cão da Serra de Aires is a regional herding breed, and in other areas of the country the Cão de Fila de São Miguel, Cão da Serra da Estrela, Cão de Castro Laboreiro and Rafeiro do Alentejo traditionally did similar work herding livestock in other mountain areas of the country. Nowadays, most of them are kept as pets.
No recurring health problems or claims of extraordinary health have been documented for this breed. They are prone to Ehrlichiosis transmitted by ticks. Abdominal tumors are to be expected on senior dogs so regular echograms are advised after the 8th year of life.
The breed standard states that the ideal Cão da Serra de Aires is "exceptionally intelligent and very lively."
Cão da Serra de Aires can compete in dog agility trials, obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking, and herding events. Herding instincts and trainability can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. Portuguese Sheepdogs exhibiting basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials.