AKC Dog Breeds: Estrela Mountain Dog

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Foundation Stock Service® Breed
Height: 20-27 inches   Weight: 60-110 pounds  Color: yellow, fawn, wolfgray, brindle; white markings, black mask

The Estrela Mountain Dog is agile, sturdy, and hardy. This mastiff-type breed possesses strength, power, and is extremely vigilant. The earliest of the Estrela ancestors were herd-guarding dogs in the Serra da Estrela, in what is now Portugal. Since there are no written records, it is not known for sure whether the ancestors which contributed to this breed were brought by the Romans when they colonized the Iberian Peninsula, or later by the invading Visigoths. Regardless, there is no disagreement that the Estrela is one of the oldest breeds in Portugal. To this day, the Estrela Mountain Dog remains true to its guardian heritage. It is still a working dog, guarding flocks in its native Portugal and elsewhere. The Portuguese use it as a police dog. It is also an ideal family pet because of its alertness, loyalty, intelligence, and its instinct to nurture young, all features it needed in its earliest days. The Estrela Mountain Dog has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since 2004.

General Appearance
The Estrela Mountain Dog has several distinctive physical characteristics including rosed ears, a black mask and a hook at the end of the tail. The Estrela Mountain Dog comes in two coat types. Both types should have coat resembling the texture of goat hair. The long coat has a thick, slightly coarse outer coat that lies close over the body and may be flat or slightly waved, but never curly. The undercoat is very dense and normally lighter in color than the outer coat. The hair on the front sides of the legs and the head is short and smooth. Hair on the ears diminishes in length from the base of the ears to the tips. The hair on the neck, the buttocks, the tail, and the back side of the legs is longer resulting in a ruff at the neck, breeches on the buttocks and backs of the legs, and feathering on the tail. On the short hair variety the outer coat is short, thick, and slightly coarse, with a shorter dense undercoat. Any feathering should be in proportion. Colors include fawn, brindle, and wolf grey. A black muzzle or mask highly desirable. White markings on chest, underside, feet or tail are tolerated but undesirable. The tail is set on slightly low and should reach the hock, forming a distinctive, rigid hook at the tip. The tail is well furnished, feathered, and carried low. The feet are oval with thick, hard pads and tightly closed toes, with abundant hair between pads. It has moderate angulations. The Estrela Mountain Dog's thighs are well muscled. The back is preferably short, slightly higher at withers and almost level. The head of the Estrela Mountain Dog is long and powerful with broad, slightly rounded skull. The muzzle is moderately tapered. Estrela Mountain Dog's jaws are well developed. Both the lips and the roof of the mouth on the Estrela Mountain Dog are black. The eyes are either deep nor prominent, of medium size, oval in shape with calm and intelligent expression, preferably amber or darker. The ears are small in relation to the body of the Estrela Mountain Dog ,and are thin, triangular in shape, and rounded at the tips.


The Estrela Mountain Dog breed is independent, intelligent, affectionate, and loyal. They form close deep attachments to their family and do not do well if re-homed. The Estrela Mountain Dog does well with children and other pets they have been raised with. They are loyal and affectionate to owners, aloof to others. Intelligent and alert, the Estrela Mountain Dog is self-willed yet trainable. Estrela's are Portuguese and were breed to fight off wolves to protect sheep. They are very defensive of their territory. He should be well socialized, preferably when young with both dogs and people, especially with children, as the breed tends to be naturally wary of strangers. The Estrela Mountain Dog will not hesitate to protect their family, home, and territory. The Estrela is able to be a fierce guardian and protector, yet so versatile and gentle that he will often clean up newborn lambs or kids, stimulating them and getting them moving while the mother is preoccupied with birthing. The Estrela Mountain Dog has a tendency to be stubborn, willful, and dominant. An alert, faithful, and loving breed, they make excellent guard dogs and companions.


Estrela Mountain Dog's require regular brushing with special attention needed during heavy seasonal shedding. Bathing should be done when necessary.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

Estrela Mountain Dog's are relatively a healthy breed, although gastric problems and hip dysplasia may occur. The Estrela Mountain Dog has a life expectancy of 12-14 years.

Activity Level
The Estrela Mountain Dog breed is not recommended for apartment living. They are prone to wandering and barking. The Estrela Mountain Dog does best with a large securely fenced yard or rural setting with a job to do. Because its thick coat protects it so well, it can happily cope with living out-doors provided it has proper shelter.


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