The Estrela Mountain Dog is a medium to large dog that typically weighs 50kg. For centuries, this alert and protective breed has been used to guard herds and homes in the Estrela Mountains of Portugal where it was developed. True to its name, this breed can work and guard flocks on the high mountains of the Serra da Estrela in central Portugal as high as 2,000 feet above sea level. This sturdy, well-built dog has a mastiff influence in its blood. Besides its coat, it features a black muzzle or mask, small neatly folded back ears and a hooked-tipped tail. It has a moderately tapered muzzle, large black nose, oval-shaped eyes that display a calm and intelligent expression, straight forelegs, and well muscled loins and thighs. It has oval feet with thick hard pads and tightly closed toes that serve as protection against the harsh cold rocky terrain of the Serra da Estrela. The tail reaches to the hock and is well feathered. The coat of the dog comes in two types, long coat and short coat - both resembling the texture of goat hair.
The long coat variety has a thick outer coat that is slightly coarse to the touch but not too harsh. The hair can either be flat or slightly waved but not curly and lay close to the body. It has a dense lighter coloured undercoat which acts as a weather-proof protection. The hair on the head is short and smooth while the hair on the neck and chest is thick and forms a distinctive ruff. Besides the tail, long featherings also adorn the forearms, thighs and rear pasterns while the front of the legs have short smooth hair.
The short coat variety has a shorter, dense undercoat with a short and thick outer coat that is slightly coarse but not too harsh. The short coat variety is mostly found in the parched summer lowlands of central Portugal. Recognised coat colours are fawn, brindle, and wolf grey.
All dog breeds have different levels of intellect. Some dog breeds; working dogs in particular, are very independent thinkers and have been evolved to be very intelligent. Typically, a highly intelligent dog does well in obedience training and other activities. A highly intelligent dog can be very demanding and do require lots of physical and mental stimulation. If you’re looking for a relatively laid-back dog, that doesn’t require lots of mental and physical stimulation, then you must fully understand the level of intelligence of your dog breed of choice.
Before committing to a certain dog breed, you must fully understand their intellect levels and their specific levels of energy. To keep your dog well-balanced and happy, their needs must be met and maintained.
All dog breeds have different needs when it comes to the level of exercise they require. For the high energy dogs; which are your typical working dogs, they have a lot of energy and require lots of daily exercise along with plenty of mental stimulation. A highly energetic dog breed would suit an individual or family that is equally as active and loves the outdoors. There are also breeds that have relatively low exercise needs, such as toy dog breeds. Although they require daily exercise and mental stimulation, they’re just as happy chilling at home with their loved ones. This type of dog breed would suit an individual or family that prefers the peace and quiet and relaxation.
Before deciding on your chosen dog breed, Mypetzilla recommends that you research the exercise needs and whether you’re well equipped before committing to buying or adopting a particular dog breed.
There are several dog breeds that are known and potentially predisposed to developing health related conditions. Sensible breeding can help prevent the onset of health related conditions and this should always be taken into condition when researching your dog breed of choice. Before committing to a dog, you should speak to the breeder about any health related conditions that may affect the dog you’re looking to buy or adopt. You can also request to see any test results from genetic testing.
There are many dog breeds that tolerate children really well and are not affected by the constant noise and need for play-time. However, there are some dog breeds that don’t do very well with children and can become frustrated and snappy. That being said, all children should be shown how to handle and care for a dog in their home and should always be supervised when playing. As much as a dog can become annoyed and snappy with a younger child, the child can also become less tolerant and misbehaved towards the dog.
Mypetzilla recommends that you always supervise play-time between your children and dog. Children need to respect the boundaries and feeding time for the dog and likewise for the child. We also strongly advise that play-time doesn’t get out of control and too rough which can cause injury to both child and dog.
There are lots of dog breeds that are well suited to living in an apartment. It’s worthwhile noting that you need to check that you’re allowed dogs in your building before committing to bringing one home. If you do decide to own a dog and are living in an apartment, then you must make sure that they have plenty of room to roam around and frequent walks outside to prevent them from becoming bored and depressed.
Mypetzilla recommends that you check as to whether you’re allowed dogs in your apartment building and to fully ensure your apartment is dog proof before committing fully to bringing a dog home.
All dog breeds shed to some extent, some more than others. With this, all potential dog owners should be aware of this, as it will be a matter of putting up with some hair or lots of hair being left around the house. Depending on the dog breed, there are certain times during the year where some dog breeds shed the most and this is typically around spring and autumn. However, there are some dog breeds that shed all year round.
If you’re very house-proud, they you may want to choose a dog breed that sheds very little. Mypetzilla strongly recommends that you fully research your dog breed of choice and their shedding levels before committing.
All dog breeds require different levels of grooming. Some dog breeds are easier to maintain than others and only require a weekly brush to help keep their coat in good condition. There are some dog breeds that require regular trips to the grooming parlour and this can come at a huge cost. Either way, all dog breeds require their coat and nails to be maintained and cared for.
Mypetzilla strongly advices that potential owners research the grooming needs and associated costs with their desired dog breed before fully committing.
Barking is a necessity for your dog to communicate. However, it can also be a nuisance to yourself and fellow neighbours if it’s not kept under control. If you live in an apartment, then you’re better off choosing a dog breed that doesn’t bark as much. If you live further out and far from civilisation, then it’s worthwhile looking into a dog breed that does bark and will bark to alert you of any other company on your property.
Mypetzilla advices that you research the behaviours of your dog breed of choice and whether this would work for you and your family. It’s worth noting that dogs can be trained to bark less and this will take a lot of effort and training from the owner.
Majority dog breeds form very close relationships with their owners and as a result can become very stressed when left alone for a period of time. If a dog is suffering with separation anxiety then they’re very likely to become destructive around the home as a way of dealing with their anxieties. Dog breeds that do form strong bonds with their owners are better accustomed to a household where one member of the family remains home, whilst the others are out, this is to help avoid further anxieties and destructive behaviours.
Mypetzilla recommends that all potential owners research their dog breed of choice on their bonding abilities and how well-adjusted they are to being left alone at home. It’s also worth noting that you should never leave your dog for longer than 4 hours alone at home.
There are certain dogs breeds that have very high intellect and therefore easier to train than other dog breeds. There is also a downside to this; as fast as they learn the new trick or command, they can easily pick up bad habits just as quick. Other dog breeds that don’t rank as high on the intellect scale require patience and plenty of reward treats from their owners during training.
Before committing to a certain dog breed, Mypetzilla advices you to fully research your dog breed of choice and their level of training needs.
All dog breeds have different energy levels. The working dog breed has one of the highest energy levels in comparison to the low-energy dog’s breeds such as the Toy dog breed group. To keep a dog truly happy, healthy and well-balanced, their energy levels must be met.
High-energy dog breeds need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. High energy dog breeds would suit an active family or person. Dog breeds that are considered as low-energy, love to spend the majority of their time relaxing and sleeping in their favourite, comfy spot. A low-energy dog breed would suit an individual that equally loves the quiet life and relaxing lifestyle. Of course, low-energy dogs still need their daily walks and mental stimulation, just not as much as a high-energy dog breed.
Mypetzilla recommends that potential owner research fully on the type of dog breed that would suit their existing lifestyle and to also take into consideration the dog breeds energy levels and exercise requirements.
Before you decide on what dog breed would be suitable for you and your family, you must consider whether they’re a friendly dog breed and if you already have other pets within the household. For homes that already have dogs and other domestic pets, then it’s wise to choose a dog breed that has a friendly personality and temperament.
There are some dog breeds that mix well with other dog breeds and there are others that don’t suit one another and this could potentially cause issues later on down the line.
Another important point to consider is whether the dog breed of choice is friendly towards people and children.
Mypetzilla recommends to research fully on the right dog breed for your family and to also consider their temperament and characteristics.
The Estrela Mountain Dog is considered to be one of the oldest local dogs in Portugal, with origins dating back to the 16th century. It is known as the Cao Da Serra Da Estrela in its native country and is reputed to not only being the oldest breed in the Iberian Peninsula but also one of the many large guardian dogs of Europe. For centuries, it has been known to guard herds and homesteads in the high plateau of Serra Da Estrela and the nearby lowlands. Since its origin dates back to pre-written history, it is not sure whether this dog’s ancestors were brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Romans or later by the Visigoths. It’s isolation meant that it was relatively unknown outside of the region which made it endangered until early 1908 to 1919 when a selective breeding program was established to promote and preserve the breed.
The Estrela Mountain Dog arrived in England in April of 1974 when a Mr. Pye of Oporto sent a bitch in whelp in the hope of arousing some interest in the breed. The bitch named Port. Ch. Rogean Augusta gave birth to a litter of seven on the 14th of May 1974 and two of the puppies were sold to Mrs. Marcia Dovey who owned Sturtmoor Kennels. A year later, a young male and another bitch in whelp were also sent to Mrs. Dovey and gave birth to 9 puppies which started the first Estrela breeding program outside of Portugal. From England, the breed spread to different kennels in Norway, Sweden, Holland and eventually throughout Europe. It was officially recognised by the Kennel Club on May 14, 1975.
The Estrela Mountain Dog is described as alert, protective, loyal, stubborn and territorial. It is a substantial breed, although not as bulky as some of the other mountain dogs. It is very agile and athletic – traits that are required when working high up in the mountains. As a flock guardian, it is very protective and strong – both vital characteristics especially when working against large predators such as wolves or bears. It has a strong territorial instinct but it’s typically not aggressive. It has no problems with other people whom the family trusts but strangers are forewarned. Like other dogs, early socialisation with other people, animals, and exposure to different places will go a long way in raising a well-balanced adult Estrela Mountain Dog. It can be noisy at times especially when it is in guard mode.
Gentle, consistent and firm training with positive reinforcements is the key to winning the Estrela Mountain Dog’s heart. This breed is very intelligent, to the point that it will try to convince you that it is stupid. It has a stubborn streak and an independent mind but it is not hard to teach the dog as it loves pleasing its master. This stubbornness comes from the fact that it has a very strong working instinct, and working means that it has to make decisions of its own for the safety of the flock. If it senses something strange, it will not leave (even if it’s commanded to) until it deemed that the smell is not a threat.
Grooming is on the moderate side. For obvious reasons, the long coat variety needs more frequent grooming than the short coated type. Usually, a good brush on a weekly basis will help maintain the coat in a healthy condition, particularly paying close attention to the area behind the ears where knots can occur. However, more frequent brushing is required when the dog is moulting. Loose dead hairs should be removed on a daily basis by brushing the coat with a slicker brush and a rake. It is generally a clean breed which does not require frequent baths. The nails should be trimmed regularly.
Like other medium to large size dogs, the Estrela Mountain Dog is one of the many breeds that can suffer from canine hip dysplasia (CHD) which can cause painful lameness in some dogs. There is no medicine to cure canine hip dysplasia but the British Veterinary Association (BVA) maintains a hip score to identify which parents should be used for breeding that are not prone to CHD. When buying a puppy Estrela Mountain Dog, ask the breeder if the hip score of both parents is less than 26, which is the current breed “mean” hip score for this dog. In addition to CHD, the Estrela Mountain Dog is also prone to elbow dysplasia, which is also common with other dogs.
The Estrela Mountain Dog tends to be longer lived compared to other large breeds, with an average lifespan of 10 – 13 years.
This large breed (dogs typically between 65 – 72cm and bitches being 62 – 68cm in height) needs plenty of exercises to stay healthy and happy. As a typical working dog that’s used to a full-time job of guarding herds, the Estrela Mountain Dog requires plenty of physical and mental stimulation to stay sound. However, being an adaptable breed, it will take as much or as little exercise it can get, but the more the better. It will be happy walking for miles as it will on a short walk. It will be happy snoozing around inside the house as it is when getting the chance to play in the yard.
It is usually very good with children as long as it is treated kindly and does not have any bad experiences with kids early in life. However docile it may be, adult supervision is still required when the dog is around small children because its large size can easily knock a small child down. It is best suited to older children who knows how to handle a large dog. As long as it is socialised with other dogs from an early age, the Estrela Mountain Dog should be good with them. It has a tendency to herd other animals which may become a problem if it encounters a dog who doesn’t want to be dominated. Again, early socialisation is the key in order for the breed to become a good companion with other dogs.