The noble Estrela Mountain Dog is a big, fluffy pastoral breed from the mountainous Serra da Estrela in Portugal. This breed makes a loving companion for families whether or not they’re in the mountains since it’s got many excellent characteristics and an affinity for children. Furthermore, these large dogs are ideal to purchase as puppies since they make excellent protectors of home and the family and can be trained into obedient and affectionate pets. Another benefit is that they’re relatively rare in the UK, meaning that they’ll stand out and impress others with their size and intelligence.
Some highlights of Estrela Mountain Dogs:
Watchdogs: since they’re bred to guard flocks of sheep and livestock and to protect homesteads, Estrela Mountain Dogs make excellent watchdogs.
Trainability: this breed can be trained relatively easily, requiring little effort and persistence to learn commands and tricks from owners.
Child-friendly: this breed gets along well with children of all ages.
House-friendly: Estrela Mountain Dogs make wonderful pets for houses, particularly in rural areas where they can protect and engage in healthy exercise regularly.
Pulling: this large breed is ideal for pulling or carting thanks to their innate strength.
Some downsides to the Estrela Mountain Dog:
Stubborn: this breed is known to be stubborn from time to time.
Barking: some Estrela Mountain Dogs tend to bark and howl frequently, which can be annoying or distracting for owners.
Obedience: this breed may disobey its owner from time to time, especially if proper training and care are not given as puppies.
Roaming: Estrela Mountain Dogs may escape and roam if left unsupervised.
The origins of the Estrela Mountain Dog are largely unknown and may be lost to history forever. What is known is that this breed was used in the Serra da Estrela mountain range of Portugal for a great many years due to their strength, independence, ability to herd livestock, and their rugged appearance that can withstand the climates of both the high mountains as well as the lowlands near sea level. Due to the isolated nature of shepherds and homesteads in this mountain range, little mixing of breeds was possible, making the Estrela Mountain Dog a pure, natural breed that has been preserved through the centuries. Consequently, their robust ability to survive in extreme conditions and to perform their herding and watchdog duties have been honed and perfected over time. On account of their isolation, Estrela Mountain Dogs were virtually unknown outside of their native Portugal until 1972, when the United Kingdom recognised the breed. They remain a rare breed that is gaining in popularity in the UK and worldwide but is most prevalent in its home country of Portugal.
The Estrela Mountain Dog can be best compared to a mastiff in its initial appearance. Strong, robust, and well-proportioned with a rustic and impressive attitude are defining characteristics of this breed. The most recognisable part of the Estrela Mountain Dog is its overcoat of goat-like fur that can appear either straight or wavy. The coat comes in two major varieties: long and short. Both types feature two coats. The overcoat is always harsh while the undercoat is dense and soft to the touch.
Estrela Mountain Dogs are very large-sized dogs. Males grow on average to 63.5-76 cm in height, whilst females can grow up to 61-71 cm high.
Fully-grown adult male Estrela Mountain Dogs weigh between 45-60 kg on average, whilst females weigh between 35-45 kg.
Estrela Mountain Dogs have the following commonly-accepted coat colours:
Regardless of colour, all Estrela Mountain Dogs have dark masks.
Few pastoral dogs are as renowned for their courage, fearless ability to deter predators, and their decisive capacity to face danger as the Estrela Mountain Dog. This breed tends to remain calm and composed whenever its territorial defensiveness isn’t needed, at which point he can become an excellent watchdog for the home. On account of their streak of independence, Estrela Mountain Dogs may be stubborn at times and disobey owners. This behaviour can be corrected from a young age, so ensure that puppies are well-trained with patience and persistence to reward positive behaviour. This makes Estrela Mountain Dogs a lot of effort for many owners, so be aware of this requirement before purchasing a puppy.
Owing to their size, bark, and territorial nature, Estrela Mountain Dogs are superb watchdogs and guard dogs.
Most Estrela Mountain Dogs bark frequently, but some bark and howl excessively. They are not an ideal puppy choice for quiet homes.
This breed requires extensive training on an ongoing basis to overcome their independent and often stubborn nature.
This breed enjoys playing, especially as a puppy. Estrela Mountain Dogs can be a little overbearing due to their size, so engage them and stimulate them safely and with plenty of interaction.
Due to their kind and calm disposition, Estrela Mountain Dogs tend to get along very well with children of all ages. Supervision is recommended at all times with younger children due to the large size of this breed.
This breed can get along just fine with other dogs and cats, but it will likely chase smaller pets such as rodents.
This breed tolerates being left alone for moderate periods of time.
Most Estrela Mountain Dogs love to swim, but they don’t like being on boats. Always encourage your puppy to swim on its own volition and never force him to enter the water.
Generally, Estrela Mountain Dogs are expected to live anywhere from 10-12 years.
This breed requires at least an hour’s worth of exercise every day to remain healthy and stimulated. Ensure that your puppy is allowed to roam and play freely in gardens and parks with supervision.
There are a few common health issues that may affect an Estrela Mountain Dog. These include:
A propensity to gain weight.
This breed requires wide, open spaces to remain happy and healthy. Large rural homes with large gardens would be appropriate; small apartments are not suitable for this breed.
This breed requires 6 to 8 cups of high-quality dog food every day, divided into two meals. Puppies require less and should be closely monitored in terms of feeding. Overfeeding may lead to weight gain, but underfeeding is also a possibility with Estrela Mountain Dogs. If he doesn’t feel like eating at mealtime, don’t despair. It’s fairly common with this breed.
Estrela Mountain Dogs are high maintenance in terms of grooming due to their thick double coat of dense fur. Furthermore, ear and eye infections are a possibility and thus professional groomers should inspect them regularly to ensure that painful infections are dealt with.
This breed sheds a moderate amount. Regular brushing will help to ensure that dead hair is removed and healthy growth is promoted. Be prepared to clean around the house regularly, because even if this breed sheds moderately, it’s a very large breed and thus generates a lot of loose, dead hair around the house.
As a rough guide in pricing: Cost to buy: roughly upwards of £1,000 for a well-bred Estrela Mountain Dog puppy Other costs (Vet, Food etc): £100-150 per month
You can read our general buying guide here, with the most important thing being going to view your Estrela Mountain Dog puppy, seeing it with its mother, and checking the quality of the breeder. More specifically, here is some Estrela Mountain Dog puppy buying advice:
Estrela Mountain Dogs are rare outside of Portugal and consequently, puppies may be difficult to find. This scarcity correlates to higher costs, so be prepared to spend a little more for an Estrela Mountain Dog puppy. Also, check that the puppy’s been properly microchipped and that it’s been bred according to Kennel Club breeding standards.
Rarer puppies may encourage sellers to engage in unethical breeding practices. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Avoid online scams and ‘puppy mills’ selling Estrela Mountain Dog puppies that have been bred in poor conditions.
A big thank you to the following sources who helped to shape this article:
Kennel Club of Great Britain: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/search/breeds-a-to-z/breeds/pastoral/estrela-mountain-dog/
Federation Cynologique Internationale: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/173g02-en.pdf