The Estrela Mountain Dog originates from the Estrela Mountains in Portugal. Also known as the Portuguese Shepherd and Cao da Serra da Estrela, these large dogs are courageous and loyal, making a wonderful family pet that will protect their humans at all times. Although these dogs are not normally found outside of their native Portugal, you may get lucky at your local shelter!
These loving dogs certainly have some care needs that some owners can’t match, most of which relate to their size. If you’re interested in learning more about this ancient breed and whether they might be the right pup for you, keeping reading to find out all about the Estrela Mountain Dog.
History Of Estrela Mountain Dog
The Estrela Mountain Dog comes from Portugal and, while these dogs are still primarily used as herding dogs in Portugal, they are also know favored as companion dogs in other parts of the world. They are not very common outside of the country, but it is still possible to add one of these wonderful pups to your household when you live in the United States. Certain breed organizations and breed specific rescues will be able to help.
The Estrela Mountain Dog is recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Kennel Club and Fédération Cynologique Internationale.
The exact origins of the Estrela Mountain Dog are unknown, but they are one of the oldest breeds in the Estrela Mountains region. They were originally used in the Serra da Estrela mountains as herd-guarding dogs, which is know known as Portugal.
In the 1900s, the Estrela Mountain Dog as we know it today was bred. They were favored by farmers for their ability to identify and scare off wolves and other large predators. These dogs were known for being brave, fierce and courageous, which is what made them such great herding dogs.
Before World War II, shepherds and farmers were the main breeders of the Estrela Mountain Dog. However, in the 1950s their popularity began to grow and people began to breed these working dogs more and more. It is during this time that residents of Serra da Estrela were encouraged to keep to breed standards when breeding these pups.
There is no record of the Estrela Mountain Dog outside of Portugal before 1972. In 1972 and 1973, the first of these dogs were imported into the United States. The first registered dog reached the US in 1988.
Characteristics Of Estrela Mountain Dog
The Estrela Mountain Dog has a breed standard that must be adhered to by breeders. That being said, there are variations within the Estrela Mountain Dog, particularly relating to their size and coat.
These dogs are normally born in litter sizes of between seven to eight puppies. An Estrela Mountain Dog puppy will cost at least $1200, if not more if you are buying from a top breeder of show dogs. This is due to the fact they are very rare outside of Portugal. You may also have to go on a waiting list. Always make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder.
The Estrela Mountain Dog is large! However, many of these dogs vary in size and some may be bigger or smaller than average. Normally, the Estrela Mountain Dog weights between 75 to 130 pounds and stands between 24 to 30 inches tall. Males are usually bigger than females.
These dogs are athletic and powerful. They have a lot of fur, almost like a big teddy bear! They have a long head with small ears that sit reasonably high on their head and fall backwards against the side of the head. Their tail is long, too, and very fluffy!
The Estrela Mountain Dog can have one of two coats — long and short. Both coat types should resemble the texture of goat hair; it is thick and coarse yet softer around the face and ears. Short coats are more common among working Estrela Mountain Dogs.
The short coat is dense and may have some feathering. The long coat has a thick undercoat with a lighter color than the coarse outer coat. It’s not curly, but it can be a bit wavy or lie flat. The males can also have a lions main.
Both of the coats are double coats and neither are hypoallergenic. This means that the Estrela Mountain Dog is not for those with allergies. Grooming will help keep them in the best condition, although we will go into more detail about that later on.
The main colors of the Estrela Mountain Dog include fawn, yellow, and gray. Sometimes these colors will be solid and other time they will be mixed. There may be brindling, white markings or shadings of black throughout the coat, too. All the coats have a black mask around the muzzle.
A very family-orientated dog, the Estrela Mountain Dog is protective and loyal of those they know and will want to be around their humans at all times, making sure they are there to ward off any intruders that might cause harm! Thanks to their loyalty, these dogs are very happy curling up on the couch next to you all day and going wherever you go. They won’t be afraid to bark if something is out of place, either.
The Estrela Mountain Dog is a very intelligent breed, but they will need a strong and confident owner to guide them. They can be stubborn at times and will need someone to show them who is the boss. This way they will learn to socialize with other people and animals properly.
Despite their loyalty and willingness to follow you around all day, the Estrela is an agile dog and they like to be kept entertained. They won’t really want to be left alone for too long and, if you have to leave them, will want somewhere to be able to stretch their legs and games to play with.
The Estrela Mountain Dog has a relatively long life expectancy. These dogs can, on average, live between 11 and 15 years.
Known Health Issues
Unfortunately, like any dog, the Estrela Mountain Dog is prone to some health issues. These health problems normally relate to their size and are concerns all large dog breeds may be predisposed to.
– Hip Dysplasia — this is when the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia.
– Elbow Dysplasia — this is a common condition in large breed dogs. It can be caused by different growth rates and can cause lameness. It can be fixed with surgery.
– Dilated Cardiomyopathy — this is the most common cause of heart failure in large breed dogs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing and abdominal swelling. The condition is not normally curable, but it can be managed with the right combination of medications.
Regular vet checkups and keeping an eye on your dog will ensure you can catch any of these issues before they become untreatable.
Remember — buy from a reputable breeder and the chances your dog will suffer any health conditions will be greatly reduced.
Now we know all about the traits and characteristics of the Estrela Mountain Dog, it is time to take a look at what living with one of these dogs is like on a day to day basis. As a large breed, they do have certain care needs that must be met. Read on below to find out more.
Food And Diet
The amount that you feed your Estrela Mountain Dog should be based on their size, their age and their activity levels. Their food should also change over the course of their life, depending on these things. You should always check the back of the food packet to see how much of a certain food you should be feeding your Estrela, particularly based on their weight.
Because the Estrela Mountain Dog is prone to gaining weight, experts recommend you feed them a kibble that is either formulated for large breed dogs with medium energy, or a food that helps to regulate their weight. Either way, the food should be complete and balanced, ensuring they get the right nutrients for their needs. Take a look at the food we recommend below.
Best Dog Food For Estrela Mountain DogBUY ON AMAZON
We recommend the Healthy Weight Formula from Purina ONE for the Estrela Mountain Dog. Formulated for dogs that are prone to gaining weight, this food contains fiber and protein from high-quality sources to promote fullness and an ideal body condition. With real turkey as the number one ingredient, this dog food helps give your pup strong muscles and a healthy heart, too.
Also included in this food is an antioxidant blend for a strong immune system, omega-6 fatty acids for a healthy coat and skin, and a natural source of glucosamine for healthy joints. There are also vitamins E and A and calcium to promote strong bones, teeth and bright eyes. Even better, there are no fillers and no artificial colors or flavors in the recipe.
The Estrela Mountain Dog is not a particularly active breed, despite their size, but they are very prone to gaining weight and therefore have certain exercise needs. You should be exercising this dog for between thirty minutes to an hour every day to keep them active.
The Estrela will like to play games and have be active with their family. They’ll also like to spend time outside in the back yard. Because they are primarily a herding dog, they don’t do well in confined spaces and will need space in the open to patrol and have fun!
A loving and loyal pup, the Estrela Mountain Dog can make a wonderful family pet. They are very protective of their owners and make a great watchdog or guard dog, barking when they feel something is out of place. The Estrela can be wary of strangers and will need proper socialization from a young age to ensure they interact with them properly.
The Estrela Mountain Dog gets on well with children and will be a fantastic playmate, although you will need to supervise them around each other! This dog is a very large and powerful breed and may end up hurting small children without meaning to. The Estrela can also get on well with pets they are raised with, although it is often said they will do better in single-pet households. Again, socialization is needed.
These dogs are intelligent and will want to please their owners, making training fairly easy. However, they can be stubborn and so you must be able to dedicate some of your time to showing this dog who is the boss. Remember, they also like to be around you and won’t want to be left alone for hours at a time!
While the Estrela Mountain Dog does not need a particularly active family, they need to live in a family home where there is a yard for them to run around in. They don’t like to be cooped up and will want to be able to walk around outside. However, this yard should have a fence as they are agile pups and may escape!
The Estrela Mountain Dog has good trainability because they are an intelligent breed who likes to please their owners. However, they will need a strong and confident owner who will be firm with them and show them who is boss. Otherwise, they can become stubborn and will want to do their own thing!
Like any dogs, the Estrela Mountain Dog responds best to positive reinforcement techniques and reward based training. This includes verbal praise and treats. You should never get angry or frustrated with your dog when training. They may not understand what is happening and this will cause them to not want to learn. You should ignore negative behavior and praise positive behavior so they learn which is more desirable.
The Estrela is a sociable dog with those that they know but, thanks to their protective nature, won’t be afraid to bark at strangers and those they see as a threat to ensure their family is safe. Proper socialization from a young age is required to correct this.
Introduce your Estrela Mountain Dog to new sights, sounds, places, smells, people and animals in a calm and controlled way. This way, your pup will learn that not everything is to be feared and not everything should be seen as threat.
The Estrela Mountain Dog has a thick coat, no matter whether it is a long or short coat. This means that their grooming requirements are fairly high and they are prone to shedding. You should brush your Estrela at least twice a week to remove any loose hairs and to keep the coat from tangling and matting.
The Estrela Mountain Dog’s coat keeps them warm even in the coldest of weathers, so you don’t need to worry about taking them to the groomers to be clipped. However, you can take them to the groomers to get their nails trimmed. You should also keep on top of their teeth brushing and try to do this as often as can. This will help prevent dental decay and disease.
Estrela Mountain Dog FAQ’s
How much does an Estrela Mountain Dog cost?
An Estrela Mountain Dog can set you back at least $1200, although it will depend on the breeder. The price is high because they are such a rare breed and it can be difficult to find a breeder. Because they are so rare, the puppies are also in high demand from those who want these dogs.
Where can I get an Estrela Mountain Dog from?
The Estrela Mountain Dog is not commonly found outside of Portugal and so it can be difficult to know where to find one of these dogs. Of course, you can always check your local shelter, but the chances of finding one there are not very high.
You should search online for reputable breeders in your area, or for breeding organizations that can help you meet with a breeder. You should always make sure the breeder can show you health clearances for both parent dogs, so you can be sure your Estrela is not going to be prone to certain health issues.
If you’re looking for a wonderful loving and loyal breed that will protect you at all costs, then the Estrela Mountain Dog might be for you. While this dog is large and needs lots of space at home and in the yard, they are a fantastic companion that will stay by your side all day every day. An excellent guard dog, the Estrela won’t be afraid to let you know if something is out of place and their playfulness means they get on very well with children.
While they have relatively high grooming needs, this pup isn’t overly active and will be very happy going with the flow and joining in on family life. Do you think an Estrela Mountain Dog could be the next addition to your home?