The Estrela Mountain Dog, also known as Cão da Serra da Estrela, is a large breed of dog from the Estrela Mountains of Portugal. The breed has been around for hundreds of years and is considered one of the oldest breeds in Portugal. Its exact origins are not entirely known, but it is thought to have descended from ancient dogs brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Romans or Visigoths. The breed was traditionally used for guarding herds and homesteads, and its large size, bravery, and protective instincts made it an excellent choice for this purpose.
Estrela Mountain Dogs are generally healthy, but as a large dog breed, they are susceptible to bloat, also known as gastric dilation volvulus (GDV). This is a life-threatening condition that can come on suddenly, so it’s important to know the warning signs and get an affected dog immediate veterinary care. They can suffer from elbow and hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, heart conditions such as dilated cardiomyopathy, and eye disorders including entropion and ectropion. However, degenerative myelopathy and progressive rod-cone degeneration are common genetic conditions from which many other dog breeds are known to suffer. Genetic screening is recommended to assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.
The Estrela Mountain Dog is known for its loyal, protective nature. These dogs form strong bonds with their families and are known to be especially gentle and patient with children. They can be wary of strangers, making them excellent guard dogs, but proper socialization from a young age can ensure they are not overly suspicious. They are intelligent dogs and can be independent thinkers, which can be both a delight and a challenge for their owners.
Estrela Mountain Dogs have a unique bark, which was traditionally used to help shepherds locate their dogs in the mountains and to alert to any danger.
They are great adaptors. While they are used to mountainous environments, they can adjust to other climates and environments quite well, including urban living, as long as they get enough exercise and mental stimulation.
Their coat can come in two varieties: short (smooth) and long (rough). Both varieties are thick and provide excellent protection against the weather.
According to the AKC, Estrela Mountain Dogs are used by Marine and Portuguese Police.