The Estrela Mountain Dog is known as one of the oldest, pure-bred, herd-guarding dogs in Serra de Estrela, which is now Portugal. The Estrela breed now is a product that has gone through many cross-breeding, unlike the earliest times when this guardian dog was separated as holding a distinct breed.
The Portuguese shepherds, during those early days, valued these Estrela mountain dogs so much for their excellent skill in protecting the flock by their intelligent nature of identifying and scaring off wolves and hungry predators.
As time passed, the shepherds went to extreme measures of castrating these dogs so they would not mate with other dogs and leave the flock.
Such practices have contributed to the sudden and gradual demise of the Estrela mountain dog breed.
A shift of interest in this breed came about when some of these mountain dogs were brought down as guard dogs in large estates of the local aristocrats.
The dogs’ guarding skills and their unique appearance have given their Portuguese owners and local breeders to initiate breeding of this kind.
Later, the Estrela mountain dogs were seen in dog shows around Portugal. And many people began to admire their intelligence, abilities, and hairy looks.
Today, the Estrela mountain dog remains true to its value as a guard dog of flocks in Portugal. However, it was the United Kingdom that established and recognized the dog’s importance in the canine world outside Portugal in 1972.
Traits and Behavior
The Estrela mountain dog is a fearless breed that will not hesitate to defend its owner and whoever it has come to serve and love. This is why this dog has been considered an exceptional, guard dog. Its kind of intelligence is such that it understands how to be loyal and affectionate to those who own/trains it and, particularly, loving towards children.
With this instinctive behavior, this dog may be wary of strangers and can immediately show aggression. Since they easily do not get accustomed to just anybody, socialization training and management must be considered as part of the owner’s responsibility in deciding to make this dog a house pet.
Pet Care and Diseases
Though owning this kind of dog may pose problems in terms of living spaces due to its large size and its natural behavior of being active and energized, caring requires less maintenance when it comes to its coat covering.
A weekly brushing will do to un-matt some part of its thick hair. However, being almost purebred, regular maintenance must be provided on this dog, such as yearly vet check-up, proper feeding and nutrition, and regular exercise, like walking and running.
Owners must always watch for any incidents of hip or elbow dysplasia as these are common health problems seen in large dogs.
Being originally born in the mountain regions, the Estrela mountain dog is large and athletically built weighing an average range of 66-110 pounds.
The cold climate of the mountains has endowed this dog with a thick, coarse coat covering.
There are two coat types: short and long. For the short coat, the outer and undercoats are short but thick, while for the long coats, the outer coat is slightly long and wavy while the undercoat is thick with a slightly lighter color than the overcoat color.
Coat colors vary from fawn, wolf gray, and yellow with shades of white or black markings. Aside from its protective coat covering, this dog is made up of drooping ears and a bushy tail.
This dog has a long life expectancy of 12-16 years when properly cared for. The average litter size for this breed is 7 or 8 puppies. Other names include Portuguese Shepherd, Cão da Serra da Estrela or Estrela.
Visit this dog club website dedicated to Estrela Mountain Dogs. Click this link: http://www.emdc-uk.com/