The Estrela Mountain Dog is a large dog that was bred years ago as a herding and flocking dog. The Estrela Mountain Dog is one of the oldest dogs on the Iberian Peninsula. They have also been bred and used for protecting flocks and herding. For many years, they were a pure breed until breeders began breeding them with the German shepherd. Today, however, they are once again their own pure breed.
The Estrela Mountain Dog has two distinct coat varieties. The most popular coat for the show line is the long, thick coat that is somewhat coarse but not harsh to the touch. The coat may be wavy but not curly, and the dense inner coat is very thick and soft. The shorter coat variety will still have the dense undercoat and the same textured outer coat it will just be shorter and not as wavy. The male Estrela is usually larger than the female, but both are large muscular dogs. They are well developed without being overly developed or bulky. Their most distinctive characteristic is their tail, which is carried low and with a hook in the end.
There are many purposes which this dog would be excellent. They still have a great herding ability which makes them great as a livestock guardian on a farm. They also make excellent family dogs and pets. They love being around their family and will never tire of being next to them. They love children and if they have their way, will sleep either next to their bed or on the bed with them.
The Estrela Mountain Dog has two coats, a longer and a shorter coat. Both of these coats have a thicker harsh outer coat as well as a dense undercoat. It is these two coats that make them so weather resistant.
The Estrela may come in three different colors. One color is fawn, which may be anywhere from yellow to a dark mahogany. They may or many not have guard hairs. Another possible color is brindle which is a fawn color with streaks of black or brown running through it. The third possible color is wolf grey, which is a mixture of black and gray hairs.
Some of the very first Estrelas were herd-guarding dogs in Portugal, but was then called Serra da Estrela. There's no written history as to where these dogs were brought from, but they are the oldest breed of dog in Portugal. The Estrela of those days is not the same dog we see today. Shepherds did a lot of breeding to get what they wanted in the dog so they could perform their duties. They bred for endurance, agility, strength, large size, powerful mouth, etc. Although the Estrela we see today has many of these qualities, they are no longer bred with other dogs, but once again pure breeds.
In the early 1900s, many of the shepherds castrated their dogs to prevent them from leaving the flocks to mate, this lead to an almost the extinction of the breed. To preserve the breed, special shows were held to bring them together. They also started dog shows so the shepherds could have their Estrela show off their herding and guarding ability. Today, they are still used as a working dog in Portugal, but more as a family and companion dog here.
The temperament of the Estrela Mountain dog is very good with their family. They are shy and distrustful of strangers because they are so protective of their home and family. If the person turns out to be perfectly harmless the Estrela will lost interest in them but will still remain watchful from time to time. They get along great with other animals if they've grown up together and know each other. If the other pet is another dog, the Estrela may choose to be the dominant dog and show that they are dominant. It's all about who's the alpha with this dog.
The Estrela is a wonderful and very loyal pet and companion in any family. They love children and enjoy the interaction with them. If they have their way, they would never leave your children's side. Not only are they excellent with children, but has a lot of patience with them. They are an independent dog that enjoys being kept busy and doing things.
They always feel the need to be protecting the home and family and are especially protective of children. They make the perfect family dog in any home.
The Estrela Mountain Dog is a healthy dog with the only real health concerns being hip and elbow dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is common with many large breed dogs, especially the German shepherd, which is very similar to the Estrela in structure. Hip dysplasia is a condition that affects the joints in the dog often causing crippling lameness or severe arthritis. A special X-ray of their hips can determine if the dog suffers from hip dsyplasia. Although some dogs are also affected by elbow dysplasia, it's not as common as hip dysplasia.
Many reputable breeders will have their dog X-rayed to ensure they are safe from the disease before breeding. The results of the test will show up on the pedigree as an OFA reading.
Try to prevent your Estrela from doing excessive jumping which can be very hard on the dog's joints.
The Estrela Mountain dog needs to be brushed on a regular basis, specifically more so for the long coated dog. If they spend a lot of time outdoors, their coat may become tangled and matted. Regular brushing gives you the opportunity to check them for parasites and ticks, especially important if they've spent a lot of time outside in grass or woods.
The Estrela can be bathed but only occasionally. It's important to not bathe this dog too often because this may strip their coat of its natural oils which give it protection from the cold weather. Their nails should be trimmed on a regular basis. They'll grow rather quickly and may break off or rip and possibly cause damage to the vein.
The ears should also be cleaned regularly to ensure they don't have ticks or ear infections. Always make sure the ears are dried thoroughly.
Grooming the Estrela is not as difficult of a process as it may seem. If they are brushed regularly, you shouldn't have too much of a matting problem. Their coat has a beautiful appearance when it is clean and brushed regularly.
The Estrela Mountain Dog was bred to be a herding and protective dog and still today wants and needs to be busy. Because they don't have the same duties they once had, they will still feel the need to keep busy. They will love playing outside with the children and never seem to get tired of running around and interacting.
Because of their high need for energy release, they should have a big yard to run off some of their excess energy. It's very important that the Estrela get plenty of structured exercise each day such as long walks. Walking on leash for a brisk walk not only gives them exercise but also provides much-needed socialization of any people or dogs them may encounter.
The Estrela Mountain dog is a very intelligent and loyal dog that should receive training at an early age. They have long been used as guard dogs and still believe that is their role in life. They will be very protective of your home and family. If they feel their home is being threatened, they won't hesitate to attack. In this day and age with lawsuits as prevalent as they are, this is not something you want to happen.
The Estrela may be very intelligent but is also very independent and stubborn. They may be slow to learn and follow your commands. Training should start when they are very young and should include basic obedience training. They also need to be socialized with other people at a young age so they realize that strangers are not necessarily always a threat. With their high level of intelligence, love for their family and protectiveness, you can have a wonderful family pet that is loyal without being a threat when they are properly trained and socialized.