Estrela Mountain Dog: Breed Facts and Information

Country of origin: Portugal
Shoulder height: 62 – 72 cm
Weight: 45 – 60 kg
Age: 10 – 12 years
Colour: fawn, wolf grey, yellow
Use: guard dog, protection dog

The Cão da Serra da Estrela (Estrela Mountain Dog) is a large and hardy Portuguese livestock guardian dog that is ideal as a guardian of homes and yards.

Origin and history

The Cão de Serra da Estrela is a very old Portuguese shepherd dog breed that has its origins in the mountain plateaus of the Serra da Estrela. The Estrela Mountain Dog is one of the oldest dog breeds on the Iberian Peninsula but is not very common outside of Portugal.


The Estrela Berghund is a large, rustic shepherd dog of the typical Molossoid type. It is bred in the variants long-haired and short-haired – with the short-haired type being much less common. Both have dense, goat-like top coats and plenty of undercoats. The ears are relatively small and hanging, the tail is long and saber-shaped. The coat color is fawn, wolf-grey, or yellow in varying degrees of intensity, each in one color or with light markings. The dark mask on the face is typical of the Estrela mountain dog.


Like all livestock guardian dogs, the Serra da Estrela Mountain Dog is a very attentive and watchful dog that tends to be suspicious to intolerant of strangers. Calm and easygoing, he is always ready to defend his territory against intruders. It is used to act independently and subordinates himself only to clear leadership. The Estrela Mountain Dog requires knowledgeable, consistent, and sensitive training. Puppies should be used to anything unfamiliar from an early age.

The Serra da Estrela mountain dog is an excellent guardian of home and yard and needs a job that does justice to this disposition. Living space in a rural area is ideal, where it can guard and protect a clearly defined territory and still be offered the necessary family connection. It is unsuitable for an apartment dog or a city dog. The Serra da Estrela mountain dog is a lively, active dog, but does not demand top athletic performance. It is hardly suitable for obedience exercises, agility, or other dog sports – its will and independence are too pronounced for that. After all, he was also bred to work independently, i.e. without instructions from humans.

The breed is very robust, and the long coat is easy to care for but sheds heavily when changing fur.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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