The Serra da estrela Mountain Dog is one of the oldest Portuguese breeds. The old shepherds used the dogs in extreme conditions in mountains, to protect herds of sheep. They are big and strong and were able to scare off wolves and other large predators. There are not any precise records of when the breed actually appeared, but we think that this particular breed developed over the centuries as the shepherds wanted a dog that could survive in extreme conditions. The breed was 1stshown in 1908 dog show. During that time, shepherds used to castrate the dogs in order to prevent them from leaving their herds and mates. That is why the breed was almost diminished during the period between 1908 and 1919. The 1strecord of recognition was written in 1922.
These dogs are fairly big as males reach up to 66 to 73 cm and females reaching 63-71 cm. The dog weights between 40 and 50 kg, but are quite athletic and well formed. The coat comes in two types – long and short. The long type is characterized as dense and coarse coat which lies on the body, but it can also be waved.The undercoat is thick, but light in color compared to the outer coat. The short haired dogs have the same characteristics, it is only shorter. Coloring usually comes in fawn, yellow or wolf gray. A masked muzzle is preferred. White markings are tolerated on the chest or the feed, but it is not desirable.
Character and behavior
The Serra da estrela mountain dog is known for its intelligence. Calm, dependable and loving of its pack (family) members, the dog will do anything to protect and serve its master. As they are calm, they are also very wary of strangers and will alert of one on sight with loud barking and even aggressive behavior. They will protect their territory if they feel any danger. They are the perfect guard dogs. The breed is also very protective of children, they are trustworthy of protecting them, but that does not go for unknown people or other animals.
Training and education
A strong and firm hand is needed for the proper training and education of this breed. By nature, they were developed to fight wolves and other large predators to protect their herds and masters, the dogs can be quite aggressive towards strangers and animals they do not recognize. Therefore, proper socialization is very important when the dog is still young. Introduction to other children and family pets is very important as mentioned that the dogs are protective and do not trust strangers. They also need spaces to roam, which does not make them the perfect apartment dog. They would need at least a big yard to satisfy their need of movement and exercise. Though they are intelligent and trainable,you should have in mind thatif not approached correctly, they can be stubborn and dominant. They need to understand who their master is, while they are still young. This means that an experienced trainer is preferred for this breed.
As any other fairly large dog, the Serra da estrela mountain dog is known to suffer from elbow and hip dysplasia. Average life span of the breed is between 12 and 16 years.
Grooming and care
Intensive brushing once a week is strongly advised. Other than there are an usual needs of the dog, such as nail clipping, ear and teeth cleaning.
Children and other pets
This breed will get along quite well with children if introduced to them properly at a younger age. Adjusting to other pets may take more time, but the dogs would socialize.