October 29, 2022

How to Buy an Estrela Mountain Dog Puppy (Your 5 Step Guide)

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How to Buy an Estrela Mountain Dog Puppy (Your 5 Step Guide)

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Estrela Mountain Dog Puppy outside facing the camera in a yard
Estrela Mountain Dog Puppy

An Estrela Mountain Dog Puppy could be your new best friend. Estrela Mountain Dogs are beautiful, loyal, devoted companions ideal for the right environments. But finding and buying the right Estrela Mountain Dog puppy is a big decision, especially when it involves a large, rare breed. 

Here is the guide you’ll want to have if you are considering buying a healthy, quality Estrela Mountain Dog puppy.

1. Choose the Type of Dog You Want: Companion, Working LGD, or Show Quality

Choose your dog based on what you need them to accomplish in their lifetime. Estrela Mountain Dogs fall into these major categories.

  • Companion and Therapy Dogs
  • Working Livestock Guardians ( LGDs)
  • Confirmation / Show Quality Dogs

Before purchasing a puppy, it’s crucial that you consider your goals for the dog. Do you want a loyal companion? Are you planning to show the dog in confirmation? Are you searching for a Working LGD Estrela?

While some breeder’s dogs are dual purpose it is unfair to expect a show quality puppy to excel as a Working LGD unless its parents were also Confirmation Champions and Active Working LGDs. Don’t choose a pup from therapy dog lines to be a companion and then expect him to be a Confirmation Champion.

Some dogs can excel at several things, but deciding what your goals are, makes the selection process easier.

Decide exactly what you want from your puppy.

Canine companions

Companion or pet quality Estrela Mountain Dogs are ideal family members.

Estrela Mountain Dogs make excellent family companion choices. Estrela’s are loving, loyal dogs and have also been used as therapy dogs. Companion Dogs sometimes carry slight faults or traits that prevent them from winning conformation competitions or disqualify them from breeding. Working Estrelas that fail to bond with stock or prove unsafe with stock sometimes fall into this category.

Slight confirmation flaws are rarely of concern to most companion owners. They do not affect the dog’s health or hinder its quality of life.

These dogs make great companions provided they have sound temperaments.

Working Quality LGDs

The Serra da Estrela Mountain Dog and herd.

The working Cao da Serra da Estrela is most suitable for environments needing a quality LGD with more intuition and grit than the standard white LGDs in the western hemisphere.

Working LGD Estrela’s are gritty, intuitive, independent-thinking dogs, deeply devoted to their sheep or livestock and willing to fight to the death to protect them from predators and intruders.

Estrela Dogs used as Livestock Guardians are still very bonded to their owners. It would be abusive to leave them in situations where scant to no human contact is desired. They are best used as a team with a shepherd to defend flocks under significant predator pressure.

If you are inexperienced with dogs or LGDs, these dogs are “a lot of dog.” Working Estrela’s take their job very seriously and need gentle firm guidance to reach their enormous potential.

Working LGD Estrela’s have proved formidable guardians in the territory where apex predators are common. Short-haired working Estrela dogs are common in Portugal. They can still be found in their natural habitat guarding livestock.

Show Quality Estrela Mountain Dogs

Show-quality genetics should never sacrifice character, temperament, health, and longevity, for a flawless confirmation type. Estrelas are rugged, working dogs, so it is imperative not to over-conform and breed the breed into something unrecognizable from its ancestry.

Show-quality puppies often cost more, if their parents were confirmation Champions.

Show quality puppies are selected for their breed standard qualities that make them able to compete in confirmation or show events.

Beware of any breeder who claims they only raise show-quality dogs. Even the finest breeders produce companion-quality dogs and if a breeder says they only breed perfect dogs, this is an exaggeration of excellence and a red flag. Reputable dog breeders are honest about the strengths and flaws of their puppies.

2. Choose an Ethical Breeder

Estrela mountain dog puppy already working with a sheep herd

What defines an ethical dog breeder: An ethical dog breeder is focused on the health, improvement, and preservation of a breed.

If you are searching for an Estrela Mountain Dog breeder, this section will help you make a wise choice.

Selecting a puppy from an Ethical breeder will ensure your chosen puppy has the genetic ability to live a long happy life. This will save you from the heartbreaking issues that can come with a family member developing a preventable genetic disease.

The Estrela Mountain Dog is a very rare breed outside of Portugal. Due to this fact it can be almost impossible to find local Estrela Mountain Dog breeders in your country of residence or near you. Considerate care should be taken when considering importing a puppy when you have not personally visited the breeder and do not know them in person. Importing foreign breeds has been the cause of many scams, which is a serious tragedy against ethical native breeders committed to preserving dog breeds. 

Below is a list of facts to consider:

Beware of Unethical Breeders

Unethical Dog breeders may do some or all of the following:

  • They tell you that EMD is for everyone and doesn’t discuss the negative characteristics of the breed.
  • Do not understand how their dogs compare to the Estrela Mountain Dog standard or are unaware of the standard.
  • Offers puppies at a discount or claims to sell them more cheaply than elsewhere.
  • Breeds many different breeds of dogs and claims to be an expert on them all.
  • Are unaware of the breed’s health concerns and declare their dogs do not have any health issues (as well as not complying with recommended breed health testing).
  • Breeds dogs that are too young or too old, overbreeds females or males and breeds dogs indiscriminately for profit.
  • Always has puppies available. Ethical breeders normally have a long waitlist for their puppies.

Avoid Dog Breeder Examples Like These:

  • Breeders that do not ask you questions about your expectations, family life, and environment. This could show that they care more about the sale of the puppy than they do about its future quality of life.
  • Breeders who overbreed their dogs and breed indiscriminately will produce puppies that are not genetically sound or healthy. Be aware of breeders breeding dogs before their hip and elbow scores can be completed and before they have received basic health testing.
  • Breeders selling unhealthy puppies often refuse to take back their dogs if you need to return them for any reason and prefer no contract sales.
  • Breeders that offer no photos or videos of parents and relatives; do not keep records of the dog’s lineage
  • Always remember that just because the breeder provides nice online photos does not mean they are ethical or keep their dogs in quality living conditions.  
  • Avoid situations when the breeder can’t produce a pedigree or other registration paperwork for their dogs or pups. Occasionally, LGD breeders do not choose to register their puppies. However, this should be the exception and ideally, you should visit the breeder and see the parents working in this situation.

How to Find a Trustworthy Estrela Mountain Dog Breeder

A relationship with a trusted dog breeder lasts a lifetime. Ethical breeders want their dogs to live happy lives and strive to ensure that potential puppy families match well with their puppies’ temperaments.

Reputable breeders are committed to the well-being of their breed and do everything they can to produce healthy, mentally sound representations of their breed.

They will answer your questions, discuss your lifestyle, and discuss the costs of owning a large breed dog. The purchase price of a puppy is only the beginning of the lifetime expenses a large breed puppy incurs to raise. How much do Estrela Mountain Dog puppies cost? Estrela Mountain Dog puppies cost upwards of 2,000 USD since they are extremely rare outside of their native country.

Here are some examples of trustworthy breeders:

  • Interview you (often with a questionnaire) to discuss your goals for your upcoming puppy and to see if you will be a compatible match for their Estrela Mountain Dog puppies.
  • Often has a waitlist. It’s not uncommon to wait years for the right puppy from the most reputable breeders.
  • Discusses with you the pros and cons of owning the breed.
  • Asks for references and proof that you can have a large breed dog in your current residence.
  • Chooses the puppy for the owners based on puppy temperament evaluations and puppy buyer information.
  • Has pedigree, health testing, and vet paperwork on hand for your review.
  • Requires that you return your puppy to them if you are unable to keep the dog in the future. Ethical breeders are adamant about keeping their puppies out of shelters. They require that you return the dog to them if you need to rehome their puppy in the future.
  • Specializes in breeding only one breed or a select few breeds of dogs
  • Does not overbreed their dogs, and allows dogs time off from reproduction for the health of the mother, and puppies. (source).
  • Ethical breeders screen their dogs for health issues and can confirm this with documentation.

What Does An Ethical Dog Breeder Look Like?

An ethical breeder can show you pictures of the pup’s relatives and is familiar with common breed issues. They openly discuss this information with you, along with health and scientific information that can prevent your puppy from developing health issues in the future.

 Ethical breeders do not offer cheap puppies for resale or supply puppies to pet stores. Quality breeders will insist that you return the puppy if you are unable to keep the dog. The last thing they want is a dog of their creation to be rehomed to an unsafe home or end up neglected or in a shelter.

Ethical breeders sell puppies with written contracts, for the safety of the dog. Responsible breeders are available to their dogs throughout their lives.

3. Decide on a Male or Female Estrela Mountain Dog.

estrela mountain dog puppy lying underneath a rose bush

Estrela Mountain Dog Female Standing in a Field

Some families do not have a preference for a male or female puppy. This gives the breeder more flexibility when placing pups in homes based on temperament. But male and female dogs can vary in size and temperament.

Dog sexes come with their own unique set of characteristics. These characteristics can affect other dogs in the home (if you own any) and how they develop with you.

This is a personal choice decision. Both sexes are lovable, gentle companions when given the right socialization and training.

Male Estrela Mountain Dog Character Traits

  • Male Estrelas are traditionally dominant dogs, so a confident handler is necessary.
  • Males are generally bigger and stronger
  • Males have been reported to be more protective of their owner’s possessions.
  • Males can be more boisterous, tolerant, and easygoing.
  • Dominant males do not do well living with other dominant males.
  • Males may pee to mark their territory.
  • Sexual maturity can influence males’ behavior. Extra socialization with other well-behaved dogs, is a bonus when they are teenagers.

Female Estrela Mountain Dog Character Traits.

  • Female Estrelas are reported to be sweeter and more submissive in pack relationships with other dogs.
  • Females are often less dominant, and smaller than males.
  • However female bitch aggression is a scientifically proven fact in all dog breeds even when spayed. (source)
  • Some owners report females being moodier and less tolerant than males.
  • Females may be better for a first-time owner.
  • Working females seem to mature earlier with less of an adolescent period and get down to business, taking their guardian jobs very seriously when used as LGDs.
  • Unspayed females cycle every 6 months. Care and secure facilities must be arranged to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
  • Unspayed females are at risk for developing pyometra later in life.

An Estrela Mountain Dog Puppy is a great family companion whether it is a male or a female. Families with more than one Estrela often have harmonious peaceful relationships between males and females (both fixed of course).

Discuss the character traits of the prospective parents with the breeder when deciding on which sex you might prefer.

To prevent Littermate syndrome, it is advisable to never adopt 2 puppies from the same litter, or close in age. Beware of breeders suggesting you adopt two puppies from the same litter without educating you first about the risks and social development of puppies that develop littermate syndrome. Littermate syndrome puppies are unnecessarily aggressive, difficult to socialize, and unable to bond with their human owners. (Learn more about the dangers of littermate syndrome here.)

4. Consider your preferred coat length and color.

This is a short Haired Estrela Mountain Dog.

The Estrela Mountain Dog comes in 2 distinct coat lengths and several breed-standard-approved coat colors. After you’ve decided on other characteristics of your future companion, consider the coat length and color you may prefer.

The short-haired Estrela Mountain Dog is most common in Portugal. Outside of Portugal the long-haired Estrela is more popular, and both coat lengths remain very rare. Certain breeders and organizations only deal in certain coat lengths and colors. It’s helpful to know your preferences before looking for a quality breeder or rescue.

 Are Estrela Mountain Dogs Long or Short-Haired?

Male short haired Estrela Mountain Dog  named Heroi from the Golden Feather Kennel.

 The Estrela Mountain Dog is available in both short and long-hair varieties.

  • Long-haired Estrelas have a luxurious long double coat, with a thick and coarse texture like goat hair. The coat easily sheds dirt and is self-cleaning.

The undercoat is often lighter than the outer coat. The coat can be wavy or flat but not curly. Lion-like manes are often found in males.

  • Short-haired Estrela Mountain Dogs have a dense weatherproof double coat and may have some feathering. Working Cao da Serra da Estrela dogs have shorter coats.

Both the long and short-haired Estrela’s coat should feel like goat hair, softer around the face, and feature a weatherproof double coat. The Estrela Mountain Dog coat is not hypoallergenic.

Neither coat requires excessive grooming; a once-a-week brushing keeps the Estrela coat well-maintained.  

What Color is an Estrela Mountain Dog?

Estrela Mountain Dogs come in these come in these breed standard colors:

  • Fawn
  • Yellow
  • Wolf grey
  • Brindle

An Estrela Mountain Dog Puppy may be any of the breed standard colors, and they often have a black mask on the face and muzzle. Small white markings or patches are acceptable on the chest.

Estrela Mountain Dog Puppies are born dark, sometimes almost black, and lighten with age. Their adult coat colors can change with age, becoming more variegated and brindled.

All Estrela Mountain Dogs shed. While there are plenty of things you can do to help lessen an EMDs shedding, expect to brush your Estrela’s coat once a week. Be prepared for Estrela Mountain Dogs to lose their coats twice a year.

The most accurate way to know what color and pattern your dog will be is to see the parents of the litter. Ask for photos of the father if the breeder does not own him. If the father is unavailable, request photos. Keep in mind the color of Estrela Mountain Dogs will change from puppyhood to around 2 years of age.

Your puppy may become lighter or darker. They may lose or gain variations in color as their adult coat develops.

5. Adopt a Puppy or Adult Dog

Estrela Mountain Dog Puppy with toys

Sometimes the first place to start looking for a family companion is your local Shelter and Rescue Groups. While rescue groups for Estrela Mountain Dogs outside of Portugal are very rare, inside of Portugal Estrela Mountain Dog puppies are regularly available for adoption through no fault of their own.

Many of these organizations regularly have puppies in need of loving homes.

While you might not know the full pedigree of the puppy, some of these puppies are equally sound and well-natured as a pup with a pedigree.

Puppies from these organizations have been dewormed and come with vaccinations and microchips. These groups offer information and support for first-time dog owners.

Before adopting, ask as many questions as you can.

Was the puppy socialized with children? Was he abandoned or neglected? Has the puppy been with other dogs or cats?

A well-organized shelter or rescue helps you decide if the puppy is a suitable match for your family and lifestyle.

Consider Adopting an adult Estrela Mountain Dog.  

While you may have your heart set on finding an Estrela Mountain Dog puppy don’t overlook the potential in a well-socialized adult Estrela. Sometimes a breeder needs to rehome a dog that is not eligible for breeding, or a family is no longer able to keep an adult due to unforeseeable circumstances

 Quality Estrela companions can be found for a reasonable rehoming fee, allowing you to bypass the work and costs of rearing a puppy. Puppies are time-consuming, requiring a lot to raise, whereas an adult is already raised and is looking for a family they can love.

Older dogs should never be disqualified from a search for the ideal family companion. Some of these dogs are perfect matches for their new homes and come ready for work, love, and success.

Adult Estrela Mountain Dogs may suffer through a period of grief for their previous families and homes. While you have gained a new member, it’s a big adjustment for a dog that was previously bonded to its family. Be gentle and understanding during this time.

Check out these articles for dealing with a dog with grief and bonding exercises.

How to Buy an Estrela Mountain Dog Puppy Conclusion

Choosing to adopt a puppy is a big life commitment, bringing you years of companionship and enjoyment. Previewing this guide will help you make the right choices when looking for a puppy that complements your family.

Decide what you want from your Estrela Mountain Dog and what you expect from your new family member. Do not buy dogs from unethical breeders and commercial sources of puppies. Avoid situations where you could purchase sick puppies or puppies that will struggle with health issues.

Estrela Mountain Dogs have their unique strengths and challenges. They are a large, intelligent, loyal breed that requires a gentle and understanding owner who is willing to train their EMD using positive techniques.

Focus on giving your dog a healthy start both nutritionally and mentally. Remember, your brand-new pup will need mental stimulation to keep its brain active, a gentle exercise program, and plenty of love and affection.

May you and your chosen Cao da Serra da Estrela experience a long, joy-filled life together.

Read this post to learn how Estrela Mountain Dogs do with Children and as Family Companions.

 Share this if you found it helpful!

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