Falling within the 'pastoral' branch of canines, the Estrela Mountain Dog was traditionally bred as a herding and guarding dog, originating in the former Serra da Estrela mountain region of Portugal. The breed is one of the oldest in Portugal and due to the largely isolated district of its early origin, little breeding occurred with non-native dogs, resulting in its longevity as a pure breed. Interest in the breed has fluctuated throughout its history, diminishing and returning by the early 1950s, diminishing once more to the point of near extinction, and resurrected during the Revolution of 1974, with widespread showing of native breeds and an increased call for versatile guard dogs in light of increased rates of crime.
Muscular and proportionately built, the Estrela Mountain Dog is a large sized breed, characterised by a rustic, weatherproof double coat in colour variations of fawn, burnt yellow, reddish gold, brindle and wolf grey. Two coat types characterise the breed - either Long or Short. Further features include a deep chest, low-set tail, ovular feet with dark nails and dark eyes. Traditionally bred to wrestle wolves for the safety of its owner's sheep, the Estrela Mountain Dog is exceptionally well built, boasting an impressive size and stature. A natural pack dog, the breed is best suited to regular interaction with people and other animals, although may exhibit initial wariness of strangers, is notoriously protective of children, is vigilant to change and threat and possesses an easy and affectionate temperament in a familiar setting.
Whilst not as trainable as some other dog breeds, the Estrela Mountain Dog is obedient to its owner, fearless to danger and thus an excellent guard dog. Its tendency to bark loudly and incessantly, especially when marking its territory, makes it an unsuitable breed choice for some pet owners. The average Estrela Mountain Dog weighs anywhere between 30-50 kg depending on its gender, and has a life expectancy of 10-13 years when cared for accordingly.
Generally a healthy and long-lived breed, the Estrela Mountain Dog is not susceptible to any breed-specific ailments. Whilst there are a number of documented cases of hip dysplasia, this is a common complaint across all breeds.