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Estrela Mountain Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Origin & Care

Written by: Lorre Luther

Last Updated on July 5, 2024 by Dogster Team

Estrela Mountain

Estrela Mountain Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Origin & Care

Estrela Mountain Dogs are gorgeous large canines with herding and guarding skills. They’re loving and devoted and make protective companions. Although most of them love hanging out with their humans, Estrela Mountain Dogs have dominant tendencies that can make them less interested in interacting with strangers.

Breed Overview


24.5–29 inches


77–132 pounds


10–14 years


Fawn, wolf gray, yellow, and brindle

Suitable for:

Active families and individuals looking for large, devoted guardians


Loving, intelligent, and protective

Estrela Mountain Dogs make fantastic working dogs and thrive on farms and in environments where they have lots of activities to keep their minds and bodies busy and engaged.

Due to their size, dominant tendencies, and independence, they’re not considered great companions for first-time dog owners, and they do best in homes with large backyards and plenty of interior space.

Estrela Mountain Dog Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Estrela Mountain Dog Puppies

Image Credit: ThomasLENNE, Shutterstock

Estrela Mountain Dogs are relatively rare, and it may challenging to find a reputable breeder in your area. It’s possible to find adult dogs through breed rescue organizations, but there aren’t always pets available for placement, and you may end up on a waiting list.

Estrela Mountain Dog puppies are incredibly energetic and require early training to ensure they develop into good canine citizens. They can be aggressive toward strangers, and early training and socialization are essential in managing their behavior.

Puppies are like little sponges that learn quickly, which is why early socialization is so important. Socialization is the process of exposing dogs to different situations and teaching them how to behave. It helps puppies develop into confident, calm, well-behaved adults, which ensures that large breeds with dominant tendencies can interact safely with people and other animals.

Estrela Mountain Dog Origin & History

The Estrela Mountain Dog’s origins are shrouded in mystery, but they’re considered one of the oldest breeds in their homeland of Portugal. No one is sure when or how their ancestors first made it to the Iberian Peninsula, but some suggest they could have arrived with either the Romans or Visigoths.

Shepherds then refined the dogs by selecting traits that transformed them into the perfect livestock guardians for the harsh mountain terrain. The breed’s popularity has waxed and waned over the years, and the dogs still aren’t that common outside of Portugal.

Estrela Mountain Dogs have been part of the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service program since 2004.

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Temperament & Intelligence of Estrela Mountain Dogs 🧠

Estrela Mountain Dogs are loyal and protective and need plenty of mental stimulation to stay happy and engaged. They’re outstanding guard dogs that are quick to defend their loved ones. However, they sometimes get carried away with barking.

While they’re devoted to and gentle with their humans, Estrela Mountain Dogs sometimes aren’t friendly to people they don’t know. Early socialization is essential to ensure Estrela Mountain Dogs can behave appropriately and effectively manage their dominant and protective tendencies.

Due to their size, independence, and dominance, Estrela Mountain Dogs are best suited for experienced dog owners.

Image Credit: Oliver-OB, Shutterstock

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Due to their loving and devoted natures, Estrela Mountain Dogs get along well with older children. However, they can accidentally knock small children over while playing, so they should always be supervised around younger kids.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Estrela Mountain Dogs that receive good, solid, early socialization can get along just fine with other pets. Without good socialization, they’re not terribly interested in the companionship of other animals.

Puppies that grow up with other pets shouldn’t take long to become friends, but adults will take longer to accept their new roommates.

Image Credit: Joao-Marques, Shutterstock

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Things to Know When Owning an Estrela Mountain Dog:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Estrela Mountain Dogs should eat diets designed for large breeds to ensure they get all the nutritional support they need to thrive. Large puppies need to eat food that’s specifically designed for them to manage their growth, which helps lower the chances they’ll develop joint problems in the future.

The portion size of their serving depends on their age, weight, health, and activity level, but you can consult your veterinarian to develop an appropriate diet plan.

Exercise 🐕

Estrela Mountain Dogs thrive when they spend lots of time outdoors and need an hour or more of daily exercise. They enjoy daily walks but can also join you on hikes and jogs.

They can participate in canine sports, but it’s best to wait until they’re adults before engaging in more intense exercises.

An Estrela Mountain dog sitting in leaves.
Image Credit to: EstrelaDogz, Shutterstock

Training 🦮

Estrela Mountain Dogs are incredibly smart, and they were bred to be independent and make decisions on their own. Since they were bred to be independent decision-makers and protectors, it’s essential to ensure they understand how to behave in situations likely to trigger their guarding instincts.

Early socialization is crucial to teaching Estrela Mountain Dogs how to be good canine citizens that get along well with others. They benefit from ongoing socialization training to prevent aggressive behavior.

Grooming ✂️

Their thick coats can be long or short, and both types shed frequently and easily pick up mud and debris. They have double coats and short hair on the front of their legs and heads, but their tails and the backs of their legs have longer fur.

Longhaired dogs have thicker coats around their chests and necks. Most need to be brushed one or two times a week to keep their coats in top shape and baths from time to time. They should also have their teeth regularly brushed and their nails clipped. Their ears require regular checking and cleaning.

Front view of a Serra da Estrela dog eating some grass at the green forest park
Image Credit: Renato Martinho, Shutterstock

Health and Conditions ❤️

Estrela Mountain Dogs tend to be quite healthy. Due to their size, though, they’re prone to developing hip and elbow dysplasia. Dogs with these conditions have loose joints that begin to degenerate over time, which can result in problems such as arthritis. Hip and elbow dysplasia occurs more often in larger breeds.

Minor Conditions
  • Eye conditions
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia

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Male vs. Female

Male Estrela Mountain Dogs are larger than females. Longhaired males also have thick manes around their necks and chests, but the temperament of males and females is similar.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Estrela Mountain Dog

1. Estrela Mountain Dogs Have Double Dewclaws.

Most dogs only have one set of dewclaws, and some don’t have any. No one knows why some breeds have double dewclaws, but it’s common in large dogs originally from mountainous regions. Estrela Mountain Dogs also have hooked tails and curled ears.

2. Estrela Mountain Dogs Are Still Active Working Dogs.

Estrela Mountain dogs can still be found keeping livestock in line in Portugal. They also commonly work with Portuguese police and military teams.

3. The First Official Breed Standard Was Written in the 1930s.

Although Estrela Mountain Dogs are considered one of the oldest Portuguese breeds, they took quite some time to grab the attention of dog fanciers.

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Final Thoughts

Estrela Mountain Dogs are loving, playful, devoted, and protective and bond deeply with their loved ones. They were bred to guard livestock and can be independent and protective. They make excellent guardians but are wary around strangers and require early and continuing socialization to ensure they’re well-behaved and controlled.

Due to their size, independence, and dominance, Estrela Mountain Dogs do best with owners who have plenty of experience with large dogs.

Featured Image Credit to: ThomasLENNE, Shutterstock

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