The Estrela Mountin Dog or Cao Da Serra Da Estrela, as the breed is know in its native Portugal, is a guardian breed which originates from the Estrela Mountain region in the North of the country. The breed is old and is thought to have evolved from the Mastiff dogs the Romans took with them into the Iberian Peninsula, this theory can not be proved or disproved, it is however safe to say that the breed is very old.
The development of the breed was in the hands of the local farmers who highly prized the dogs' guarding ability. As the sheep and goats were often the sole source of livelihood for the farmer, only the dogs who excelledin guarding were kept and bred from, this meant that the breed could be quite formidable and not to be taken lightly.
As transportation in the mountain region was difficult, the breed was kept fairly pure by the use of only dogs that occurred locally. The breed has developed over hundreds of years and is still a good huard as well as a family pet even to this day. The Estrela had to be capable of dealing with a full grown wolf and so it developed into a strong and powerful dog who is supple and agile, and should show no signs of being cumbersome and slow, the breed has a fair turn of speed.
They are also very capable of clambering over very tough terrain. In the times before the wolf was wiped out, the dogs often wore heavy spiked collars to protect them against attacks.
At one time the breed caught the eye of the aristocracy and were a decorative addition to the villas and mansions where they were bred and sold as pets, in this way they moved out of the mountains and into the country as a whole. Today, there are not many Portuguese who have not hear of the Estrela.
As a breed they are wonderful with children, many believe that an Estrela bitch would protect a baby with its life, which makes them the perfect guard of companion dog. Estrelas love human contact but they are not a demanding breed and will adapt to your household quite happily and fit in with you. The guard instinct is strong and so the breed can be noisy. This may be considered a draw back, however can be managed/controlled.
Being an agile breed it does require good high fencing to keep them in, but I have found that if they have never gotten out then they do not try, but once they have done it once, it's likely they will do this again and again given the chance.
An Estrela pup grows relitivly quickly and so they do not cost a lot to rear, if it is done properly.
As an adult they do not eat a huge amount, and in fact getting weight on them is often a problem. The breed seem to do well on a low protein diet and they do not tolerate very rich food well. You may find that they 'self starve', as in the mountains they may not be fed regulary and as they have developed as a breed, this has stayed with them. You will often find an Estrela won't eat for a few days and then all of a sudden will again.
Training should start as soon as you get your new puppy home, start as you mean to go on and you will have a great relationship for many happy years. The average lifespan is about 10 years and even up to 14 year ols which is a good one for the larger breeds.
We hope this page has given you an insite into this lovely breed, and in the future if you are looking for a new breed that you consider the Estrela Mountain Dog.
Any more questions?
Please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page or contact a member of the committe who will be more than happy to help.