This large, powerful, athletic mastiff-type stands around 65-72cm (dogs) or 62-68cm (females) when fully grown and weighs in at 30-50kg. He comes in two coat types: long or short, which come in fawn, brindle, wolf grey or black.
Originally a guarding breed from the Estrela mountains in northern Portugal, this dog either developed from the Mastiff-type dogs that the Romans had with them when they arrived in the Iberian Peninsula, or came with the invading Visigoths. No one knows for sure, but, regardless of the exact origins, there's no disputing that the Estrela Mountain Dog breed is one of the oldest breeds in Portugal, used for centuries to guard sheep and goats against predators that included the wolf. The isolated geographical area meant that the breed changed little over the years.
With his family, the Estrela Mountain Dog is devoted and loving; with others, he is reserved, so early, thorough socialisation with people and ongoing training is especially important. As you would expect of a guarding breed, he is alert and naturally vocal. Given his size, he is surprisingly agile, so a minimum of 6ft high fencing is recommended.
The Estrela dog breed is generally a healthy and robust breed. However, as with many breeds they can suffer from hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important. They are also predisposed to a particular heart disease which is common in many large breeds of dog.
Bred to patrol the mountains, he can walk for miles and has great stamina, but around an hour's exercise a day will keep him content. He is surprisingly playful, given his size, and will enjoy games with his owner. He can be stubborn, but is generally a happy pupil and has taken part in search and rescue as well as obedience and agility.
Large breed dogs, as well as having large appetites, benefit from a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins compared to smaller-breed dogs.
There are two coat types with the Estrela Mountain Dog – long and short. In both, the double coat is made up of a dense undercoat and a thick topcoat that is slightly coarse in texture. There is shorter hair on the head and the front of the legs, and longer hair (feathering) on the tail and the back of the legs. The long variety has longer hair, of course, and a thicker 'mane' around the neck and chest, which is especially noticeable in male dogs. The Estrela should be groomed around twice a week, paying particular attention to the areas of longer hair that are prone to tangling.