Estrela Mountain Dog

Type: Guardian Dog

Height: Females: 20 - 24 inches; Males: 23 - 27 inches.

Weight: Females: 60 - 90 lbs.; Males: 75 - 110 lbs.

Life Span: 9 - 13 years.

Litter Size: Litter size for the Estrela vary from 2 all the way up to 12. The average litter size for this breed is 7 or 8.

Country of Origin: Portugal

Activity: Medium. Activity is low key as Estrelas like to play and sleep a lot.

Watch-dog: Good

Guard-dog: Good


Description: A sturdy, mastiff-type dog, conveying an impression of strength and vigor, the Estrela Mountain Dog is not a massively boned bog. Estrela Mountain Dogs should be agile rather than cumbersome. They are large dogs with fluffy coats. They have a black mask, and can be many colors from fawn to wolf gray. They have a strong head with wide nostrils, and a bushy tail. Estrela Mountain Dogs have a heavy double coat, which sheds at designated times. They were originally used for herding and guarding in high mountainous regions, making food scarce. This has made them content with whatever they can receive in food. The same goes for love--Estrela Mountain Dogs need a lot of love, but are content with whatever they receive. They are a sociable animal that enjoys the company of their human family. Estrela Mountain Dogs are extremely loyal to the ones they love, but are indifferent towards strangers. Their loud bark can deter any threat, and they are good for guard dogs. Portuguese Sheepdogs need a firm handler, as they are stubborn and often self-willed. They do not like to be dominated, however, and need to convinced to do their job. They are adaptable to living environments, and get along with children and other animals. They are said to be very difficult to breed; as one owner stated, "If you start trying when she is just ...two, you may get her mated by the time she is three and a half." Hardy, agile, and loving--the Estrela Mountain Dog is a good herder, guardian and friend.

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Other Names: Portuguese Sheepdog/Shepherd, Cão da Serra da Estrela

Colors: Fawn - which varies from burnt yellow through reddish gold to a deep red, with or without guard hairs. The fawn should never be so pale as to be a dirty white. Brindle - any of the previous permitted colors with the addition of streaks or smudges of black or brown varying in intensity. Wolf Grey - all black and all white, skewbald and piebald unacceptable. Black muzzle or mask is highly desirable. White markings on chest, underside, feet or tail are tolerated but undesirable.

Coat: Long Coat: The outer coat is thick and moderately harsh, resembling goat hair, lying close over the body, flat or slightly waved, never curly. Undercoat very dense and normally lighter in color than the outer coat. Short and smooth hair on head, diminishing in length from the base of ears to tip, is thick and abundant around the neck and chest forming a ruff, particularly in the males. Thighs, lower hocks and backs of the forearm abundantly feathered, as is the tail. Front of legs have short, smooth hair. A woolly or fluffy coat is undesirable. Short Coat: Short, thick, moderately harsh and straight, calling to mind goat‘s hair, with shorter dense undercoat. Any feathering should be in proportion.

Temperament: Estrela Mountain Dogs are loyal, affectionate to their owners, but indifferent to others. They are intelligent and alert, but inclined to be stubborn. They need a firm hand in training, but not a domineering hand. Estrela Mountain Dogs do not like to dominated and need to be shown why your way is better than theirs. They are generally friendly to children, as long as they are behaved. They have a natural nurturing instinct, and they like to bark, which is loud and threatening-sounding. They can be aggressive with dogs of the same sex, but are generally good with other pets. Estrela Mountain Dogs are generally gentle and devoted to their master. They are said to need a lot of love, but are content with whatever they receive.

With Children: Yes, good companion dog for active families, but tends to bond with one member specifically.

With Pets: Yes, good with other pets, but may be aggressive towards other dogs of the same sex.

Care and Training: Estrelas are easy to groom. Give them a good brush once a week and that should keep their coat in good condition. When molting, use a good slicker brush as they will lose their complete undercoat. More attention is needed when the dog is molting. A good 'slicker' brush, a wide toothed comb, and a good rake will make grooming easier. Exercise the Estrela Mountain Dog as much as you can. Needs to be trained with a firm hand, but does not like to be dominated. He is known to be very stubborn and may be selectively deaf. Patience is the key to training.

Learning Rate: High. Estrela Mountain Dogs are very intelligent. Obedience - Medium. They can be stubborn.

Special Needs: Socialization and training.

Living Environment: This breed is very adaptable, as they are quite sedentary, or they can be active with the help of their owners. They enjoy the outdoors or indoors of a rural or suburban environment.

Health Issues: Estrela Mountain Dogs have relatively few health problems, of these are hip dysplasia and gastric problems.

History: The Estrela Mountain Dog comes from the Estrela mountain region of the Iberian Peninsula in central Portugal, where they have been used for guarding and herding livestock for hundreds of years. He is thought to have evolved mainly from the Roman Mastiffs, with a touch of Saint Bernard, and is known to be one of the oldest dogs of Portugal. It is thought that they came from Asia originally. Estrela Mountain Dogs began herding and guarding centuries ago, watching over flocks and living off meager means. They eventually came to be content with little food, as they would eat whatever scraps their shepherds had left over. Aristocrats eventually picked up on the breed and took a few home. They then served as guard dogs for their estates. From this point the flocks began to decrease in population, while aristocrats increased their collections of Estrela Mountain Dogs. Because royalty dogs were fed more often and worked less often, this led to the breed becoming bigger and stronger-boned than its predecessors. In 1908 the Estrela had its first show recording. In the 1930s the breed finally gained a foothold in the dog world and began to spread out from its native land. In 1933 the breed standard was written for the Estrela, but it largely remained within its own country in dog shows. It was not until 1974 that the breed gained recognition in the United Kingdom under the category of Rare Breeds. Prior to 1972, the breed was not recorded existing anywhere else but Portugal. In 1972 and 1973 a few of the dogs were imported into the United States, but the first EMDAA (Estrela Mountain Dog Association of America)-recognized Estrela was not brought over until 1998. Today it is commonly seen in British dog shows, and exists in several countries.

First Registered by the AKC: FSS (Foundation Stock Service - not yet eligible for the AKC)

AKC Group: FSS

Class: Working

Registries: KC (RB), FCI (Group 2), KC (UK), UKC