Let's talk Estrela Mountain Dogs

A giant breed with a heart to match, the Estrela Mountain Dog is passionately loyal to family, bonding to one person in particular. Bred as a guard dog, they remain superb protectors and guardians of any group they are put in charge of.

Named for the Estrela Mountains in Portugal and bred by local shepherds to watch over flocks there, this is an imposing yet gentle dog, possessing bravery in spades and intelligence alongside. Going through a great breeder will ensure your adopting the healthiest dog possible.

Official name: Estrela Mountain Dog 

Other names: Portuguese Shepherd, Portuguese Mountain Dog

Origins: Portugal

Black and white headshot of a Estrela Mountain dog sat with its tongue out
 Drooling tendencies

Very low

Warm weather? Very low
 Shedding level Medium
Suited to apartment living?  Low
 Energy level * Medium Family Pet? * 
High
 Compatibility with other pets Medium
Can stay alone? * Very low

 * We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.
 
For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).
 
Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.
 
Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.
 
All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company.  However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age.  Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 
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Illustration of a Estrela Mountain dog
Male
65 - 72 cm Height
45 - 60 kg Weight
Female
62 - 68 cm Height
35 - 45 kg Weight

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 8 months
 Adult age 8 months to 2 years
 Mature age  2 to 5 years
 Senior age  From 5 years

Side view of a Estrela Mountain dog with tongue out

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Get to know the Estrela Mountain Dog 

All you need to know about the breed

With European breeding and a treasured pedigree, the Estrela Mountain Dog is a fascinating all-around canine. This noble dog carries an air of sophistication yet a rugged nature emanating from their origin in the mountainous region of Serra da Estrela in Portugal from which they take their name. He is said to be one of the oldest dogs from the Iberian Peninsula, a Molossoid and mastiff-type breed, and one of the most beloved for their brave nature and allegiance to family, especially to children.

Their manner is affectionate but by dint of their devotion to those closest to them, these dogs are somewhat leery of strangers. Not to worry:  the Estrela Mountain Dog breed will open up soon enough, especially with proper socialisation from the time they are a puppy.

The breed comes in both a short-haired and a long-haired variety, both coats of which need be kept in good condition as the hair is coarse and can become quite long, if of the latter variety.

A large dog like this can easily become dominant if not shown who is in charge. They require a firm hand in teaching them all they need to know as they grow into adulthood. Calm and known to be intensely bonded to one person in the family in particular, the Estrela Mountain Dog is a steadfast companion to all. Don’t let a fight break out if you’re not the chosen one in the pack. The Estrela loves you just the same.

Two Estrela Mountain puppies sat next to each other on grass

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2 facts about Estrela Mountain Dogs

1. Room to move

A large breed like the Estrela Mountain Dog needs space to develop fully. This is a hulking dog, with large limbs and a substantial body. A spacious, fully-fenced-in yard or better yet, property with fields will keep this dog pleased and give him the room to roam he needs.

2. Let’s do this together  

This is a breed that’s known for their devotion to humans, and for developing a huge bond to one of them the most. Keen and perceptive, the Estrela Mountain Dog takes very much to heart what it is told, so communication between dog and owner needs to be full of strength and positive reinforcement.

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History of the breed

A robust nature emanating from his origin in the mountainous region of Serra da Estrela in Portugal, the Estrela Mountain Dog is a pack animal from way back. As a Molossoid and mastiff-type breed, the dog was bred over many centuries by shepherds to guard their flocks and farms, their massive size and huge strength proving the right variety of dog needed in such terrain.

Given the rural Portuguese region of the Serra, the Estrela Mountain Dog breed was not well-known until the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Interestingly, the breed was ignored in dog shows of the time so from 1908 to 1919, special shows called concursos were established in the area to promote this special dog.

The breed was recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCA) officially in June 1955.

Black and white portrait of a sitting Estrela Mountain dog

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Estrela Mountain Dogs

1. Ears

Triangular ears at medium height, hanging at side of head.

2. Head

Strong head in proportion to body.

3. Body

Giant imposing body, deep wide chest, very muscular legs, straight back.

4. Tail

Long bushy tail, at medium height, hooked at end.

5. Coat

Coarse topcoat; short, fine undercoat on both short- and long-haired variety.

Close-up side view of a panting Estrela Mountain dog

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Estrela Mountain Dog
Estrela Mountain dog running towards camera with mouth open

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Caring for your Estrela Mountain Dog

Grooming, training and exercise tips

Long-haired or short-haired, the Estrela Mountain Dog requires grooming that is consistent and attentive. The breed has a double coat, a full, dense, and abundant outer coat with a texture like coarse goat hair. Shedding isn’t a worry but weekly brushing will keep him looking his best. Exercise for the Estrela Mountain Dog should be daily - walks or even indoor play is great as well. If they are a working breed, they will surely receive more than their daily dose. The training routine for this gentle giant needs to be firm and steady. It’s important that a large dog like this knows his place, and the right relationship is established between owner and dog. With that settled, the Estrela Mountain Dog will be one contented breed.

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All about Estrela Mountain Dogs

Estrela Mountain Dogs were bred in the mountains of Portugal to be herding and guard dogs, typical of many breeds with similarly sturdy bodies that could handle the long passages and arduous terrain where flocks roamed. Their large size was the ideal fit to dissuade predators from attacking their charge.

Affection is one of the Estrela Mountain Dog’s best traits. They are very calm and cuddly, although mistaken at times to be anything but as a result of their standoffish demeanor with strangers. Since bred for security, it’s in their blood to defend and protect. Proper training will make sure that the breed warms up to all those who enter their domain.

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/