The Estrela Mountain Dog is a purebred dog from the Estrela Mountains of Portugal. Courageous, protective, and loyal, these pups have some of the best qualities of most dog breeds around today.
The Estrela Mountain Dog goes by several names, including Portuguese Shepherd and Cao da Serra da Estrela. These large, beautiful dogs live primarily in their homeland of Portugal, but you might still find them in local shelters and breed specific rescues. Remember to adopt! Don’t shop!
These adorable pups are quite large and suited for larger homes, preferably with yards to roam. They might not be well suited for apartment living. They’re loyal and protective, which makes them great for households of all sizes. If you want a loving companion who will guard your home and family and alert you to any potential dangers, then this beautiful pooch might be right for you!
Some dogs are simply easier than others; they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They’re also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies.
Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time dog parent to manage. You’ll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
If you’re new to dog parenting, take a look at 101 Dog Tricks and read up on how to train your dog!
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive–barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks. You can find a great jacket for your dog here!
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can’t pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, your dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you’ll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
All Around Friendliness
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn’t the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who’s on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn’t the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with wagging tails and nuzzles; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was socialized and exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a good, strong leash like this one in public!
Health And Grooming Needs
If you’re going to share your home with a dog, you’ll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some “blow” seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you’re a neatnik, you’ll need to either pick a low-shedding breed or relax your standards. To help keep your home a little cleaner, you can find a great de-shedding tool here!
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you’ve got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you’re a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.
If you’re adopting a puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that’s prone to packing on pounds, you’ll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Ask your vet about your dog’s diet and what they recommend for feeding your pooch to keep them at a healthy weight. Weight gain can lead to other health issues or worsen problems like arthritis.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world’s smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if they’re compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating, but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right sized dog for you!
Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word “sit”), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.
Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, in which case you’ll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don’t get the mental stimulation they need, they’ll make their own work–usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase–and sometimes kill–other animals. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they’ll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses–or that bunny that just ran across the path–even if it means leaving you behind.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they’re more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.
Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you’ll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who’s elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.
Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Some dogs are perpetual puppies — always begging for a game — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Dog Breed Group:Herding DogsHeight:24 to 30 inchesWeight:75 to 130 poundsLife Span:11 to 15 years
More About This Breed
- The main colors of the Estrela Mountain Dog include fawn, yellow, and gray. They can have white markings, shading, or brindling. Sometimes these colors might mix, but many will be solid.
- Estrela Mountain Dog can either have long coats or short coats. Neither coat type is hypoallergenic. A good brushing at least once a week is needed for grooming.
- Because the Estrela Mountain Dog is a large purebred, they can easily handle the play of overly excited children. As with all dogs, playtime must be supervised.
- They are highly intelligent but need a strong and confident owner to train them and socialize them early to be able to get along with other dogs.
- Estrela Mountain Dogs aren’t naturally fond of other animals and may prefer to be the solo pet in the household. Still, many Estrela Mountain Dogs get along just fine with other dogs and cats, so it really comes down to training, socialization, and the luck of the draw.
- Estrela Mountain Dogs are prone to weight gain, and they have medium energy levels. Make sure your dog gets at least one good half-hour to hour-long walk per day with a few good, active play sessions and shorter walks mixed in.
The Estrela Mountain Dog is called the Cao da Serra da Estrela in Portuguese and were herd-guarding dogs in the Serra da Estrela, which is now Portugal. While their exact origins are unknown, they are one of the oldest dog breeds in the Estrela Mountains region.
It took almost a hundred years of breeding the best guardian-herding dogs to produce what is today’s Estrela Mountain Dog.
In the early 1900s, the standard for the Estrela Mountain Dog breed was developed. Shepherds in Portugal depended on their ability to identify and scare off wolves and other large predators. These pups are brave and intelligent, which made them perfect guardian herding dogs.
Shepherds and farmers were the main breeders of Estrela Mountain Dogs before World War II. However, greater interest in the breed returned by the 1950s. Special annual shows called concursos were reinstated to encourage the people of Serra da Estrela to stick to official breed standards.
As the Estrela Mountain Dog is an ancient breed in Portugal, there are some standards when it comes to their size. As a purebred guardian-herding dog, you can expect the Estrela Mountain Dog to be on the large side.
Most weigh in at 75 to 130 pounds and range in height from 24 to 30 inches at the shoulder. That said, many can be smaller or larger than normal.
The Estrela Mountain Dog is a very protective and family-oriented pooch. These are large dogs who like to be around their pet parents or family and are natural guardians.
Because of their calm temperament, they can stay inside and cuddle all day with you. They are not very agile but are very brave and able to defend against predators larger than themselves.
These dogs have a barking tendency if they feel if something amiss is going on outside the home and will have no problem alerting their pet parents of any sign of trouble. They are highly intelligent but need a strong and confident owner to train them and socialize them early to be able to get along with other dogs.
Estrela Mountain Dogs are easy to train and are willing to please their owners. They are best as watchdogs and guardians and have a natural instinct to protect their family and small children.
If you want a loyal and loving dog who is best suited for larger homes with yards, then the Estrela Mountain Dog is the right dog for you!
The Estrela Mountain Dog might be predisposed to the same conditions that most large herding dogs might also face. While most are generally healthy, some may be prone to a few health issues, which is why it is important to maintain good care and regular veterinary checkups.
Some of the more common health problems the Estrela Mountain Dog suffer from include:
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy
- Elbow dysplasia
- Hip dysplasia
As with all dogs, you should keep up with your Estrela Mountain Dog’s regular veterinary checkups to detect any health concerns early. Your vet can help you develop a care routine that will keep your dog healthy.
Estrela Mountain Dogs are prone to weight gain, and they have medium energy levels. Make sure your dog gets at least one good half-hour to hour-long walk per day with a few good, active play sessions and shorter walks mixed in.
Check their ears for debris and pests daily and clean them as recommended by your vet. Trim your dog’s nails before they get too long—usually once or twice per month. They should not be clicking against the floor. Your groomer can help with this.
Your main concern when it comes to your Estrela Mountain Dog will be maintaining oral health. You should brush their teeth as recommended by your vet, as many dogs are prone to dental issues. Your veterinarian can instruct you on how to brush your dog’s teeth properly.
An ideal Estrela Mountain Dog diet should be formulated for a large breed with medium energy. These pups have a tendency to gain weight if overfed, so you should stick to a regular feeding schedule and not leave food out during the day. Limit their number of treats, as well.
As with all dogs, the Estrela Mountain Dog’s dietary needs will change from puppyhood to adulthood and will continue to change into their senior years. You should ask your veterinarian for recommendations about your Estrela Mountain Dog’s diet, as there is far too much variation among individual dogs—including weight, energy, and health—to make a specific recommendation.
Coat Color And Grooming
The main colors of the Estrela Mountain Dog include fawn, yellow, and gray. They can have white markings, shading, or brindling. Sometimes these colors might mix, but many will be solid.
Estrela Mountain Dog can either have long coats or short coats. The short type of coat is dense and coarse to the touch and can have some feathering. The long type of 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.
Neither coat type is hypoallergenic. A good brushing at least once a week is needed for grooming.
Because they tend to have longer coats, the Estrela Mountain Dog can handle colder weather, as they were bred to be herding dogs in the mountains of Portugal.
Children And Other Pets
Because the Estrela Mountain Dog is a large purebred, they can easily handle the play of overly excited children. Although they’re usually gentle and protective, they could knock a child over during play on accident. Even so, for children who learn early how to properly approach and play with dogs in general, the Estrela Mountain Dog can make a great, loyal companion.
When it comes to other pets, the Estrela Mountain Dog can get along with other animals if they are introduced slowly and calmly, and early socialization will help this go smoothly. It’s best if they used to other pets early. That said, Estrela Mountain Dogs aren’t naturally fond of other animals and may prefer to be the solo pet in the household.
Still, many Estrela Mountain Dogs get along just fine with other dogs and cats, so it really comes down to training, socialization, and the luck of the draw.
Because the Estrela Mountain Dog is a somewhat rare breed outside of Portugal, it may be difficult to find a breed-specific rescue. However, you can always check with your local shelter, and you may want to try a rescue that caters to all types of dogs. You can take a look at the following:
- Wright-Way Rescue
- Angels Among Us Pet Rescue