The Estrela Mountain Dog (also known as the Cão da Serra da Estrela in its homeland, Portugal) is one of the oldest breeds on the Iberian Peninsula. Their name comes from the Estrela mountains in Portugal where they orginally hail from, and are most likely related to other similar mastiff type breeds found elsewhere around the world. The Estrela Mountain Dog was bred to be a formidable guard dog, to watch over flocks and herds, but was also used for pulling carts and hunting. They are relatively unknown outside of Portugal, but have been gaining popularity of late.
The Estrela Mountain Dog is affectionate and docile with his family, but reserved and suspicious of strangers. A hardy, well built dog who conveys an impression of strength and vigour, but one who is also blessed with ample stamina and a remarkable ability to leap - so a good secure garden or yard will be necessary. He is intelligent, alert and while very loyal, he may also choose to occasionally be a little stubborn. He has a deep, loud bark which he is inclined to use and although affectionate with his family, he is untrusting of strangers and so extensive socialisation will be of utmost importance.
It is important that great care should be taken with Estrela Mountain Dog puppies. Puppies should be allowed to set their own limits and to rest when they want to. Short, slow walks and gentle play, no stairs, no slippery floors, no jumping or rough-housing with other dogs or people will help to avoid future crippling damage to joints and bones. A physically slow maturing breed, the Estrela Mountain Dog do not complete growth until at least two years of age. Once he's matured he will need around an hours worth of exercise a day to keep him fit and healthy.
Basic obedience training is essential for the Estrela Mountain Dog. One of the bigger breeds, it is essential that this large and powerful dog is trained to walk calmly on-lead and not to jump up at people. Estrela Mountain Dogs are very willing and try hard to please their owners, but they will switch off if bored and will refuse to budge if confused or scared. They are extremely sensitive and can be crushed and intimidated by harsh physical or verbal corrections from people in whom they had put their trust. Positive training methods which reward with praise, hugs, and treats will bring out the best in him. Socialization from a young age, with both dogs and people, is crucial as inadequate socialization may give rise to fearfulness or aggression.
- Hip Dysplasia.
Some photographs of the Estrela Mountain Dog...