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Your Pet, Our Passion.

Estrela Mountain Dog

Sturdy and well built, the Estrela Mountain Dog is a mastiff type, but athletic rather than cumbersome. This powerful, large breed comes in long and short haired varieties. The long-coated dogs have a thick, slightly coarse coat of flat or slightly waved outer-hairs and a dense lighter coloured undercoat. The short coat should be thick and slightly coarse without being too harsh, and still have the dense undercoat.

The need-to-know
  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Giant dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks, alerts and may be physically protective/suspicious of visitors
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Best suited to countryside
  • Can be left alone with training
Generally healthy breed

The Estrela dog breed is generally a robust breed but can be prone to:
- Hip dysplasia 
- Elbow dysplasia
- Gastric dilatation volvulus 
- Dilated cardiomyopathy¹ which is a condition where the heart muscle becomes progressively weak and cannot beat properly.

Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
- Hip dysplasia screening scheme

¹L. Lobo et al, 'Histologic Characterization of Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Estrela Mountain Dogs', 2010, Veterinary Pathology 

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10-12 years
Weight:  30-50kg
Height:  65-72cm for males and 62-68cm for females
Colours:  Fawn, brindle, wolf grey or black
Size:  Large
UK Kennel Club Groups: Pastoral

Ratings

Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 3/5
Easy to train: 4/5
Tolerates being alone: 3/5
Likes other pets: 3/5
Energy level: 3/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 4/5
Estrela Mountain Dog standing on the grass

Personality

Alert, intelligent and independent, the Estrela Mountain Dog is devoted and loving with their family, but likely to be reserved and potentially suspicious of strangers. Bred to think for themselves and deal with danger alone, the Estrela needs early dog socialisation and habituation to cope with life as a pet. They are keener to work with their owners than some livestock guardian breeds however, and will enjoy training and joining in activities with their family if raised appropriately. 

Estrela Mountain Dog watching

History and Origins

Country of Origin – Portugal 
 
Bred and kept to guard sheep and goats in the Estrela Mountains in northern Portugal, this dog’s origins are unclear but were possibly developed from the Mastiff-type dogs the Romans had with them when they arrived on the Iberian Peninsula, or brought in with the invading Visigoths. 

It is easy to see the similarities between the Estrela and other mountain livestock guarding breeds such as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Kuvasz, Maremma and others, and whether they are closely related or have developed similar appearances due to performing the same function in similar environments, we can’t be certain. 

Regardless of exact origins however, the Estrela is one of the oldest breeds in Portugal, and their popularity as livestock guardians only waned when the wolf and bear numbers reduced to the point that owning such a large dog became an expense rather than a benefit. 

First seen in the show-ring in Lisbon in 1908, they were not bred in the UK until the 1970’s with a litter born in quarantine in 1974 and the first truly British litter produced in 1976. 

Did you know?

Did You Know? 

  • The Estrela Mountain Dog has double dew-claws, where most dogs have just one (and some have none at all), the Estrela has two sets on each hind paw. No one knows if this is just a genetic anomaly (it is seen in other large mountain dog types) or if there was some physical benefit, perhaps giving these dogs more grip when climbing rocky or snowy terrain.