The Perro da Serra da Estrela is a Portuguese dog breed of large size and powerful constitution, originally bred as a guard dog. One of its most distinctive characteristics is its thick and dense coat, which has two varieties of hair, one long and one short.
Dogs of the breed are large in size and rustic in appearance. Males can weigh between 45 and 60 kilograms, while females range between 35 and 45 kilograms. Their height varies between 65 and 73 centimeters in males and between 62 and 69 centimeters in females. The life expectancy of this breed is 8 to 10 years. It belongs to Group 2 of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), which includes Pinscher and Schnauzer type dogs, Molossers, and Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs.
Breed history in brief
The Serra da Estrela dog has a long history that, although not known exactly, is believed to date back to the Roman Empire. This breed is one of the oldest in Portugal and originated in the Estrela Mountains, a mountainous and rocky area in the center of the country. There, the dog was used as a protector and guardian of livestock.
Some Portuguese preferred foreign breeds to their own, and shepherds who owned Estrela Mountain Dogs tended to neuter them, so both factors had a negative effect on the population size of the breed. Nevertheless, from 1908 to 1919 several competitions were organized with the aim of promoting and preserving the Serra da Estrela Dog in the Portuguese region. Today, the breed is still valued as a guard dog in Portugal and other parts of the world. In addition, it is also used as a police dog and is an exceptionally loyal and affectionate pet.
The breed Perro de la Sierra de la Estrela is characterized by its well-proportioned, compact and rustic body. The eyes are oval, symmetrical and dark amber in color, while the ears are small, triangular and hang close to the cheeks tilted slightly backwards. The tail is long, curved in the shape of a hook at the end, and only when the dog is in motion does it rise above the horizontal line.
The coat is thick, somewhat coarse and slightly rough to the touch. The long-haired variety has a smooth or slightly wavy outer coat, with longer length hair on the tail, neck, throat and over the thighs. The short-haired variety is also dense, but the hair is shorter, especially on the head and limbs. Both coat varieties can be fawn, brindle, yellow and gray, and also often have a black mask.
The Sierra de la Estrela dog is a loyal and protective breed, with a calm and self-confident temperament. They are docile, intelligent and reserved with strangers. However, with proper socialization and early training, it is possible to prevent them from becoming stubborn or dominant. The Estrela Mountain Dog requires an experienced owner.
Common health problems
The OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) recommends a cardiac screening test, in addition to a test to assess the following diseases: elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia and patellar luxation.
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