Need to learn more about the Estrela Mountain Dog? You’re in the right place! We explain all the important facts about the amazing dog breed.
Height: 24-30” at the shoulders
Lifespan: 11-15 years
Pedigree Breed?: Yes
Positives and Negatives of the Breed
- Good family pet thanks to its affectionate nature
- Very child-friendly
- A great choice for active people who prefer an outdoor lifestyle
- Excellent guard dogs and watchdogs
- May be too large for smaller homes or apartments
- Sheds a lot
- Prefers to be the only pet in the household
- Need and strong and experienced owner
Hailing from the Portuguese Estrela Mountains, the Estrela Mountain dog is loyal, protective and courageous, making it a wonderful choice for anyone who wants a dedicated family pet.
The Estrela dog goes by a number of different names including the Portuguese Mountain dog, the Cao da Serra da Estrela dog and the Portuguese Shepherd.
Beautiful and large, these dogs may be native to Portugal but these days they can be found all over the world.
An ideal choice for a larger home with a secure back yard, these protective dogs are great watchdogs and guard dogs. They are also loving companions that are safe around children, making them a great family choice.
In Portuguese, the Estrella Mountain Dog is known as the Cao da Serra da Estrela. They originated in the Serra da Estrela that is now Portugal as herd-guarding dogs.
Although their precise origin remains unknown, they are certainly one of this region’s oldest breeds.
Today’s Portuguese Estrela Mountain dog is the result of around a century of breeding the top guardian-herding dogs.
Portuguese shepherds were dependent on them to identify wolves and other large predators and to scare them away from their flocks. Both intelligent and brave, these dogs are wonderful guardians.
While farmers and shepherds were the original breeders of this type of dog before the Second World War, in the 1950s interest in the breed increased dramatically, with special yearly shows being instated to encourage local people to breed these dogs.
Both protective and family-oriented, the Estrela dog is a large pet that is naturally a guardian to its family and pet parents.
They have a calm temperament and will be happy to cuddle up with their owners, and while they aren’t especially agile, they are extremely brave and can easily defend themselves and their family against larger predators. This makes them a great choice as a guard dog for your home.
It’s important to also note that these dogs have a strong barking tendency when they feel something wrong. They will therefore alert you to any trouble quickly and effectively as a highly efficient watchdog.
While they are very intelligent, they do need their owner to be confident and strong enough to socialise them properly and train them at an early stage.
Luckily, these dogs are quite easy to train since they want to please their owner. They are also usually safe for families with children, although supervision of children with any dog is very important.
As Estrelas are very loyal, they will usually be very protective of children in their family and will enjoy playing with them.
When they are puppies, they can accidentally knock small children over during their rough and tumble play, so this is something to bear in mind.
Like other large herding dogs, the Estrela Mountain Dog is predisposed to certain health conditions. These include:
- Elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia – these can be treated with surgery or can be treated with medication and weight loss in less severe cases
- Dilated cardiomyopathy
- Hot spots and skin allergies
- Bloating and gastric torsion
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The Estrela dog is large and therefore needs plenty of exercise to keep his weight at a normal level.
They need around 30-60 minutes of walking every day along with a few active playing sessions and a few shorter walks through in. This breed is quite calm, however during their puppy stage they can be very playful.
This breed makes a good working dog, but if kept as a family pet, good exercise options include playtime in a fenced back yard along with daily walks, and indoor activities such as learning tricks and chasing a ball.
As you might expect from its history as a herding dog, this breed needs freedom and space to roam. This makes it a poor choice for anyone who lives in an apartment or smaller home.
Without sufficient stimulation, the Estrela Mountain Dog can become destructive and display unwanted behaviours.
If you’re interested in training your dog in sports like rally, obedience and agility, the Estrela Mountain Dog would be a good choice and it would also be helpful in giving them the mental and physical stimulation they need.
Sufficient off the lead time is a must for these dogs, but remember that if you’re allowing your pet to roam freely in your back yard you will need to ensure that the fencing is very high and secure.
This is a large and energetic breed that can easily jump a low fence or escape through a weak fence.
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The Portuguese Estrela Mountain dog is very intelligent and can quickly pick up on new tricks.
This means that, if you know what you’re doing and dedicate enough time to training, you’ll find that this breed is easy to train. Of course, it’s important to begin socialisation of this breed at an early stage.
Consistency in commands is key as this breed needs to know who their alpha is and what their place is in the pack. Although Estrelas learn all the basics quite rapidly, they probably won’t be too interested in retrieving objects, balls and toys since it isn’t part of their nature.
While the Estrela is a large breed, these dogs have a sensitive nature. Therefore, it’s best to rely on positive reinforcement rather than harsh or heavy handed training techniques as these will produce a negative response.
With encouragement, praise and rewards, these dogs are loyal and intelligent and can learn quickly and effectively.
You will need to lay down the boundaries and ground rules at an early stage though, as these dogs grow very large and can be hard to handle if negative behaviours remain unaddressed during puppyhood.
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The Estrela Mountain dog is usually yellow, grey and fawn in colour, sometimes with brindling, shading or white markings. While in some cases the colours mix, in many dogs the colours will be solid.
This breed comes in both short and long coated varieties. Those dogs with short hair will have a coat that is coarse and dense to the touch and which has some feathering.
Those that have longer hair will have a thicker undercoat that is lighter in colour than the outer coat which is coarser and darker.
While their coat won’t be curly, it could be wavy, although in most cases it will lie flat. Note that neither long haired nor short haired Estrelas have a hypoallergenic coat, also they will shed throughout the year.
You will need to brush your Estrela’s coat at least once weekly. As they have thick and long double coats, they are relatively high-maintenance when it comes to grooming, and you’ll have to put some effort into ensuring their coat remains tangle-free and tidy, whether its coat is short or long.
Like many other breeds, while the Estrela will shed all year round, it will shed even more in the Autumn and during the Spring. You will, therefore, need to brush your pet’s coat more often at those times of the year.
Thanks to its thick, long coat, this breed handles cold weather very well, which makes them a good choice for colder climates.
As well as brushing their coat, you will need to check your Estrela’s ears regularly and, whenever necessary clean them thoroughly. If excess wax builds up in their ears, they could develop an infection that is painful and difficult to treat. Prevention is better than cure in this respect.
You will also need to trim your pet’s claws regularly before they become too long. This will need to be done a couple of times a month. If you can hear clicking when your pet walks across a hard floor, their claws need a trim. If you’re not comfortable in doing this yourself, a groomer can help.
Maintaining your pet’s oral health is also very important. Make sure you brush their teeth a couple of times every week or as instructed by your vet as bacteria and tartar will need to be removed to stop them from building up on the teeth and gums and causing an infection.
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By Traceywashere at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, link
By Pleple2000 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, link 2