AKC Group: Foundation Stock Service
Also known as the Portuguese Shepherd or Cao da Serra da Estrela, the Estrela comes from the mountainous region of the Iberian Peninsula in central Portugal. They have guarded and herded livestock there for hundreds of years. It is believed they descended from the Roman Mastiff (and have a touch of Saint Bernard in them). They are one of the oldest dog breeds in Portugal. Prior to 1972, the breed was not recorded anywhere outside of Portugal. Since then, Estrelas have been popping up around the world.
Size: 25.5 to 29 inches tall; 65 to 110 pounds
Color: Brindle; gray (wolf-colored); all shades of fawn (except pale). Black masks should appear and shading on the coat is desired.
Life span: 9 to 14 years
Health problems: Hip dysplasia and gastric problems
The Estrela is a large, sturdy, mastiff-descended dog that projects an air of strength and vitality. They are quite agile for their size (they did work in mountainous regions). They have a fluffy coat, black mask, strong heads with wide nostrils and a bushy tail. Their heavy double coat sheds seasonally.
The social Estrela enjoys their family and will always be loyal to them. To a stranger, they could care less, but that won’t stop them from alerting you with their loud bark. An Estrela is a stubborn and strong-willed canine that will get on better with an experienced dog person. They do not respond to being dominated. They are quite adaptable, and can get along with all children and companion animals.
Bathing should only be undertaken when necessary. Brush them regularly. When shedding season hits, brush more often. Training requires a firm, but patient Top Dog. Don’t be surprised if you find that your Estrela has selective hearing (like your kids; your Estrela does!) Socialization and obedience training are required. If you think you need to be harsh or punitive with this breed, think again! (Truth be told, no one ever needs to be harsh or punitive with any dog breed.) An Estrela will never respond to unfair treatment. In fact, harsh treatment will only make an Estrela more stubborn and willful, making him even more difficult to train. All you’ll need to do is be firm, consistent, fair and patient.