The Estrela Mountain Dog: Everything You Need to Know

The Estrela Mountain Dog is a large and powerful breed that was developed in Portugal. It has a long and rich history and was primarily used as a guard dog and herder.

Today, the Estrela Mountain Dog is still a popular breed, known for its loyalty, intelligence, and protective instincts. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about the breed. 

History and Origin of the Estrela Mountain Dog

Ancient Roots in Portugal

The Estrela Mountain Dog has a rich history that dates back centuries. It is believed that the breed originally came from the Serra da Estrela mountain range in Portugal, where they were developed to protect flocks from predators and thieves.

The Estrela Mountain Dog is a proud and majestic breed that has been a symbol of Portugal for centuries. They were highly valued by the shepherds who relied on them to protect their flocks from wolves and other predators. 

As the breed became more popular, breeders began to refine and develop them further. They selected certain traits and emphasized them, which led to the creation of the modern Estrela Mountain Dog breed that we know today.

Modern Status of the Breed 

The Estrela Mountain Dog is a highly intelligent breed with a strong work ethic. It is agile and able to navigate difficult terrain with ease. However, modern members of the breed are used primarily as pets and not work dogs. 

The Estrela Mountain Dog, despite its qualities, is not very recognized and popular outside Portugal. The breed is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) but is accepted into its Foundation Stock Service.  

Physical Characteristics and Appearance

The Estrela Mountain Dog is a magnificent breed with a striking physical appearance that demands attention. Their impressive size and muscular build make them a formidable presence, while their luxurious coat and distinctive features add to their allure.

Size and Weight

Estrela Mountain Dogs stand between 24.5 and 29 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh around 77 to 132 pounds. Despite the size, they are incredibly agile and nimble. They are sturdy and muscular but move with ease and grace. 

Coat and Colors

The Estrela Mountain Dog has a thick and luxurious coat that provides excellent protection from the elements. Their coat is either long or short, depending on the variety of the breed, with both varieties being dense and double-coated.

The breed comes in a range of colors, including fawn, brindle, wolfgray, and yellow. Some Estrela Mountain Dogs may also have black masks and markings on the coat. 

Distinctive Features

The Estrela Mountain Dog has large and powerful jaws that are a testament to the breed’s strength. The alert and intelligent eyes are also a striking feature, conveying the breed’s intelligence and keen awareness.

The Estrela Mountain Dog’s thick and luxurious coat is not only visually appealing but also provides excellent protection from the elements. The confident and self-assured demeanor is another hallmark of the breed.

Temperament and Personality Traits

The Estrela Mountain Dog is incredibly devoted to its owners and families and will go to great lengths to protect them from any perceived threats. One of the most notable traits of the breed is its bravery and courage. 

Loyalty and Protective Instincts

As mentioned earlier, the Estrela Mountain Dog is an incredibly loyal and devoted breed. They form strong bonds with their owners and families and will do anything to protect them.

This loyalty also extends to their home and territory, which they will defend against any potential intruders. While the protective instincts make the Estrela Mountain Dog an excellent guardian, it makes it wary of strangers. 

It is important to socialize breed members early on to prevent aggression toward strangers. With proper training and socialization, the Estrela Mountain Dog can learn to be friendly and accepting of new people and animals.

Intelligence and Trainability

The Estrela Mountain Dog is a highly intelligent breed that is quick to learn and eager to please. They respond well to positive reinforcement training and enjoy learning new things.

However, because of their strong-willed and independent nature, these dogs require a firm and consistent hand when it comes to training. It is important to establish clear boundaries and expectations. 

Also, be consistent in your training approach. With the right training, these Estrela Mountain Dogs can excel in a variety of tasks, including obedience, agility, and even search and rescue.

Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

Like all breeds, the Estrela Mountain Dog is prone to certain health issues, such as: 

  • Orthopedic Issues: Common orthopedic conditions in the breed include hip dysplasia and cranial cruciate ligament ruptures 
  • Eye Problems: The breed often suffers from progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and eyelid abnormalities like entropion 

It is important to work with a reputable breeder who screens their dogs for these and other potential health issues. Regular checkups with a veterinarian can also help to catch any health issues early on, which can lead to a better overall prognosis for your dog.

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

Preventative care is important for keeping your Estrela Mountain Dog healthy and happy. This includes regular checkups with your veterinarian, as well as providing your dog with a healthy and balanced diet and plenty of exercise.

As a large and active breed, the Estrela Mountain Dog requires plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. A daily walk or run, as well as plenty of opportunities to play and explore, can help to keep your dog physically and mentally fit.

Expected Lifespan

The average lifespan for an Estrela Mountain Dog is between 10 and 14 years. With proper care and attention, however, many of these dogs can live well into their teens.


Overall, the Estrela Mountain Dog is an impressive breed with many admirable qualities. From its loyalty and protective instincts to its intelligence and physical prowess, it is an excellent companion and protector.

It is important to do your research and work with a reputable breeder if you are considering adding an Estrela Mountain Dog to your family. With proper care and attention, this dog is a wonderful addition to any household.

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