Dog Breed Group: Pastoral (Herding Dog)
Life Span: 10-14 years
Weight: Male: 37-60, Female: 35-58
Height: Male: 25-29, Female: 24.5-28
Origin of Name: The Estrela Mountain Dog is a large breed of dog from the Estrela Mountains.
|Size||Temperament||Shedding||Drooling||Monthly keeping cost|
Estrella's ancestors were herd dogs in Serra da Estrella, now Portugal. Since there is no written record, it is uncertain whether the ancestors who contributed to this breed were brought by the Romans when they colonized the Iberian Peninsula, or later by the invading Visigoths. Despite this, there is no disagreement that Estrella is one of the oldest breeds in Portugal.
Those early guardian dogs were not distinct breeds that we know today, rather, Estrella evolved over a period of hundreds of years. Shepherds would have chosen to breed dogs that had the necessary characteristics to survive and do their job in their mountain environments: large-sized, strong, enduring, agile, deep-breasted, tolerated modest food. Able to do, a properly set foot, a powerful mouth, a tufted hair around his neck, an easy, jog-like, a warm coat, and a cautious, inconsiderate, yet loyal disposition.
Life changed little for the people and dogs of the region even in the 20th century. The isolation of the region meant that the breed was relatively unknown outside of it until the early 1900s, and even then, they were mostly ignored in early dog shows. The Portuguese admired foreign breeds much more than themselves and shepherds often reared their dogs to prevent them from leaving their herds in the herd. These factors had a negative impact on Estrella, so from 1908 to 1919 special shows called concertos were organized to promote and preserve the Estrella Mountain Dog breed in the area. Special livestock conservators were working in these shows. The trial involved an owner bringing his dog to a large field with several flocks of sheep. The dog was seen by the judges for the subsequent reactions to the field and was ordered to move the herd as a shepherd, which essentially produced the straggler. The dog was expected to move from its position of guarding to bring back the stragglers, and then projected a leadership position at the head of the herd. During this period, some effort was made in the registry, of which there are no surviving records.
The first temporary, recorded breed standard was published in 1922. This standard naturally reflected the functional characteristics found in the best dogs of the time, although it referred to dew claws as reflecting the ""perfect"" dog. The bent tail and inverted ears, which later became part of the official standard, were not mentioned. The first official breed standard was written in 1933. This standard attempted to distinguish Estrella as a separate breed. This made hook tails and double dew claws a necessity. All colors were allowed.
Before World War II, the breeders of Estrella were still mainly shepherds and farmers of the region. Since they were mostly illiterate, they made no effort to follow the official race standard, even if they knew they existed. But in the early 1950s, interest in the breed returned, and the annual concertos were restored. Again, the intention was to encourage interest among Serra residents and encourage them to follow the official standard. During this period, the long-haired variety was most popular on the show, but show dogs represented, and still do, only a small portion of the Estrella population in Portugal. Many of the Working Dogs, and were short-haired.
To date, the Estrella Mountain Dog remains true to its patron heritage. It is still a Working Dog, guarding herds in its native Portugal and elsewhere. The Portuguese also used it as a police dog. At home, it is an ideal family pet because of its vigilance, loyalty, intelligence, and its instinct to nurture the young, who all needed it in its early days.