If you are looking for a large, gentle dog breed with very few health problems (great with smaller house pets too) then the Estrela Mountain Dog might be perfect for your family. But are Estrela Mountain Dogs good with kids?
We are providing information and experiences from people familiar with the Estrela Mountain Dog breed, so you can find answers to all of your Estrela questions. Making the right decision for you and your family will be easier after you read our detailed post explaining who would and would not be a right fit for an Estrela Mountain Dog Companion.
Is An Estrela Mountain Dog a Good Family Dog?
Yes, Estrela Mountain Dogs love kids and family members and they genuinely enjoy human companionship. The Estrela is historically known as a gentle family companion and steadfast guardian. This breed has a history of patience and tolerance, both qualities that are sought after by families.
While the Estrela Mountain Dog is a very good family dog, the Estrela Mountain Dog may remain aloof with strangers. It is usually not outwardly friendly to those outside its known associates. The Estrela Mountain Dog is observant and enjoys watching over its owner’s yard and home. Owners often appreciate this trait.
Big dogs tend to be more tolerant and choose to move away from annoyances rather than react negatively. For this reason, large-breed breed dogs are often a better choice than small dogs when your family includes small children and toddlers. Large breeds are less likely to get hurt when accidentally stepped on or tripped over and are less prone to nipping or biting their family members.
Why do big dogs rate higher then small dogs as family pets? The RightPet study found a direct correlation between dog size satisfaction and the fact that dog owners rate bigger dogs as more emotionally stable, child-safe, trainable and less-barky than small dogs.
Are Estrela Mountain Dogs Good with Kids?
Yes, and Yes. The Estrela Mountain dog is child-friendly and enjoys children when properly socialized and trained. The Estrela Mountain Dog is one of the most nurturing old-world dog breeds that exist. Ask any experienced owner of old-world Estrela’s and they will assure you that they easily bond with children (often quicker than adults). Estrela holds a deep love for children and baby creatures. They are a highly intelligent breed that were specifically selected throughout history for their loyal, guardian temperament with their families.
A properly socialized EMD is a welcome addition to a home with children. Ideally children are taught to respect the dog and the dog is taught to respect the children. We don’t expect dogs of any breed or intelligence to babysit children or child sit. This is a human responsibility, not a dog’s.
Estrela Mountain Dogs bond quickly with kids in the home, and tend to protect their families. However, they could become overly protective of family members if not properly socialized and trained.
How to Practice Child Safety With an Estrela Mountain Dog.
Many problems between children and large breed dogs develop when neither understands the body language of the other. Small children tend to move quickly, scream in high-pitched voices, and have a lot of energy.
Estrela Mountain Dogs may interpret these actions and noises as the child being hurt or as invitations to play. Whereas the child may be afraid of the dog or view the dog as intimidating. The introduction of an Estrela dog and a child should always take place in the presence of adults who know both the dog and the child. The process should be slow, calm, and relaxed.
Any Large Breed Dog’s attempts to befriend and play with a child might appear as an attack by the child, causing long-term mental fear of dogs or trauma to the child. Children and dogs should always be given a chance to engage in positive interactions from an early age. Traumatic experiences creating a fear of dogs should be prevented at all costs.
Estrela’s are large dogs bonded to their family. Keep in mind the following when considering this loving breed:
- Both Estrela and the children need supervision to prevent miscommunication. Don’t leave children and dogs unsupervised.
- Kids who are familiar with large dogs still need supervision when interacting with dogs.
- Big dogs can knock small children over in exuberance. An adult’s calming presence is necessary for dog-child introductions.
- Big dogs like to lick children’s faces. This is a form of dog-to-dog communication. When a big dog tries to lick a child’s face this often creates fear in children unaccustomed to the behavior.
- Puppies love to jump and are very active. We should ensure that they learn to respect all humans, especially the tiniest ones.
- Dogs may show stress and anxiety if a child is knocked over or starts to cry in their presence.
Are Estrela Mountain Dogs LGDs? Can LGDs be Family Companions?
Estrela Mountain Dogs are in the FCI Molossoid, Swiss Mountain, and Cattledogs Group. Along with the Bernese Mountain Dog, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, and several other breeds.
The Estrela Mountain Dog is one of the original LGD breeds. (LGD is short for Livestock Guardian Dog.) The term LGD covers a wide variety of guardian breeds from many different countries, social environments, and cultures. LGD breed traits and personalities are as varied as the beautiful nationalities that created them.
The Portuguese Culture home to the Estrela Mountain Dog, placed significant importance on the dog being a part of the family unit and a shepherd’s close companion. The Estrela was a regular part of their owners’ homes, lives, and life, often spending much more time with their owners than our modern dogs do today. While deeply bonded to their flocks the Estrela was foremost bonded to their shepherd, which was described in detail to us when we questioned modern Portuguese shepherds.
Knowing how deeply the Estrela bonds to its humans, the Estrela has every right to be a loving family member. This is just like any other working breed, such as the Bernese Mountain Dog, German Shepherd, or Newfoundland.
What a Portuguese Advocate says about Estrela Mountain Dogs and their relationship with kids:
“Since many of these LGD owners have never met an Estrela or know much about the breed, it is imperative not to follow any information regarding Estrela’s LGD personalities from online forums. How can they understand the Serra da Estrela if they do not understand the culture the dog comes from? The Serra da Estrela dog is a family dog par excellence, friendly with the elderly and children, and devoted to his family. It is also an excellent guardian in work. It is a dog that will defend the flock with its life just like the shepherd. However, it is a calm, quiet, and respectful dog in the family. Like all dogs, it needs socialization and commitment on the part of the owners in the way it is raised. The Serra da Estrela is deeply like our children in that it requires a great deal of love, respect, and guidance.”
It is no secret that the culture it calls home recommends the Serra da Estrela as an excellent family companion. The Estrela Dogs accompany children, and their owners throughout their everyday lives. They are not vicious or easily irritated. Some common American dog breeds have a much higher relative risk of aggression than the Estrela ever will.
Who is not a Good Match for an Estrela Mountain Dog?
The Estrela Mountain Dog is not for everyone, and this is Okay! Here is a list of family lifestyles and situations that would not be a compatible match for an Estrela.
- Families who have excessive amounts of agritourism or other activities (For example, corn maze, wedding venue, farm market) on their property and are not willing to give the dog a space of its own or socialize the dog properly.
- Dog owners who work long hours that choose to leave their pets alone for the day.
- Owners who haven’t prepared for the costs of owning a large breed dog.
- Families that live in apartment complexes or tiny spaces are unable to provide adequate exercise for a large active dog.
- Families with very close neighbors. The Estrela is an alert dog, with a big voice, that enjoys alerting its owners to any new arrivals or daily life happenings. The Estrela is not a nuisance barking dog, but they do bark, and some neighbors might not appreciate the booming, earth-shaking bark the Estrelas are so proud of.
More Unsuitable Environmental/Social Factors:
- Environments that lack proper fencing.
- People who value a perfectly manicured yard. The Estrela can dig holes etc. And will need guidance if the owner wishes them not to landscape without permission.
- People who are unable to tell a dog “No.” Serra dogs feel most comfortable in a routine, secure environment. They are independent thinkers and require loving guidance to learn respect and appropriate behaviors.
- Families that already have a dominant resident dog that will not enjoy another large dog in its life. Some dogs prefer single-dog homes, and it is unfair to adopt a large dominant breed such as the Estrela into a home that already has a dog companion that does not do well with other dogs.
- People who will not take the time to educate themselves about a large breed dog, and do not understand dog behavior. The Estrela is not the most appropriate option for a novice dog owner who is not familiar with dog behavior.
This is just a short list of all the reasons why an Estrela Mountain Dog might not be the right fit for your family. Always do your research and evaluate your situation carefully before committing to adopt any dog. Not every dog breed is the right match for every situation. Fortunately, many delightful dog breeds might be appropriate for a family when Estrela Mountain Dogs are not a suitable match.
Estrela Mountain Dog Puppy or Adult for a Family with Kids?
Estrela Mountain Dog puppies are a lot of work! Young families with tiny kids should carefully consider if they have time to care for a new baby. The first year of an Estrela Mountain Dog Puppy’s life is crucial to its behavior and success as an adult. It is unfair to the puppy to neglect its socialization and expect it to function as a gentle adult guardian. Check out this guide to socializing your EMD puppy.
Some families with young children choose a puppy thinking they are safer and easier to train than older, adult dogs. This isn’t always necessarily true.
Estrela Mountain Dog Puppies require time and care and are prone to play-related scratching, jumping, and biting. They aren’t appropriate for homes where the parents are busy and can’t provide the training and basic needs of a large breed.
Look for Known Child-Friendly Estrela Mountain Dogs that are good with kids to purchase a Companion Puppy from.
The most suitable choice for many families is to find a committed breeder of Estrela Mountain Dogs whose adult dogs previously lived successfully with children. This means the breeder knows the Estrela Mountain dog lineage of their dogs. The genetics of your EMD should be child-friendly throughout the dog’s history, enabling your puppy to have the highest success as a family member.
Ethical dog breeders, care about the breed and your experience with the breed. Learn more about what to look for in a trustworthy dog breeder here.
Purchasing a puppy from an unethical breeder is unsafe and detrimental to Estrela Mountain Dogs everywhere. If you choose to “rescue” a puppy with money this will only fuel an unethical breeder to continue producing sick, unhealthy dogs with unsafe temperaments.
Be aware of any breeder offering mixed-breed puppies.
These puppies will be unpredictable as adults. For example, mixing an Estrela Mountain Dog with a Husky will produce dogs with instincts that are in opposition to each other, producing a mentally unstable dog. The Husky has a very high prey drive, and the Estrela Mountain Dog has a very low prey drive. By mixing the two, a breeder does not create a dog that has a balanced prey drive. Instead, this mix will create a litter where some puppies favor the mother and some the father. Mixed breed puppies are instinctively confused. Mixing highly instinctive breeds is irresponsible and the puppies are set up to fail.
Be cautious when considering adopting Estrela Mountain Dog puppies for companion purposes, from unsocialized LGD working stock lines.
Working LGDs in the western hemisphere are often less socialized than in their original homeland. Many new owners of LGDs in the western hemisphere are first-generation LGD owners that are not familiar with appropriate LGD practices or care. Working LGD Estrelas make wonderful companions when the Owner understands the breed and chooses to care for and treat their LGDs as dignified companions and not common livestock.
When searching for an Adult Estrela Mountain Dog to adopt, check if the dog has had a history of aggressiveness or instability with its previous owner. Dogs that have experienced abuse or neglect need homes with experienced dog owners.
Check Estrela Mountain Dog rescues for adoptable adult dogs.
Socialization, family-friendly training, enough exercise, and the right type of attention make for the right EMD for kids.
Don’t underestimate how much time Estrela Mountain Dog Puppies need to grow up. Estrela Mountain Dog puppies will reach maturity between 18 months – 2 years of age. They experience an adolescent period, where they are almost adult sized but act with adolescent and puppy behaviors. ( Learn More about Estrela Mountain Dog Puppies here. )
Teach Your Children Basic Dog Communication Skills
Training our dogs teaches them to regulate their behavior around you and your family. Estrela Mountain Dogs are one of the smartest dogs in the world, but they are independent thinkers and not as biddable as herding breeds such as the Border Collie. They are not a go-fetch breed and become easily bored with “Sit, roll over games.’ They can consider this unimportant and rather below them.
Estrela Mountain Dogs bond easily with children when both the child and dog take active and successful steps to live with one another. Success starts with adult planning, participation, and guidance.
First, parents teach the Serra da Estrela how to act in a controlled manner through home obedience, with Positive reward lure training. Second, parents can teach children how to control and respect their family dog.
Training is a group effort but must start with the adults.
Training with Rewards
Show your children how to correctly feed your dog treats and teach them how to positively reward the dog. Dogs soon learn to link petting and stroking with food and affection.
Your Estrela quickly learns that getting treats is fun and LOVES receiving gentle affection from children.
A major side effect of positive-reward training is your dog quickly starts to appreciate his trainer and enjoy the human connection. When children give treats to a dog, the dog associates children with positive experiences.
Basic socialization and training are the foundation for a well-behaved dog.
Teach your kids to respect that your dog needs their own space and is not always available to them. Never permit your children to take your dog’s food while they are eating, and please do not let them play near their food bowls during mealtimes. Don’t allow kids to annoy or mess with your dog when they are resting or sleeping. Never allow kids to crawl into your dog’s crate or pin a dog in a tight spot where the dog could accidentally feel trapped or threatened.
How much exercise does an Estrela Mountain Dog need?
The Estrela Mountain Dog is a giant breed with low to moderate activity requirements. Estrela Mountain Dog Puppies need daily, unforced exercise. Because the puppies grow fast and get big quickly, it is unhealthy to force them to do agility exercise or other forced exercise before they are at least 1 year old.
Serra da Estrela can fit both into a relaxed family environment and a more active lifestyle. They enjoy guarding their owner’s yard and hanging out around the home. Estrela dogs are eager companions for running, hiking, and walking excursions. At home, we often find one or more of our Estrela Mountain Dogs with the kids or hanging out in their vicinity.
These dogs do not do well when left alone without human or animal companionship for extended periods. They are patient and not prone to anxiousness if given space in the house and freedom to explore their small domains. Estrela dogs are traditionally left alone with flocks while the shepherd runs errands. They are a calm, non-anxious breed, but they do not enjoy being kenneled unnecessarily.
Include your Estrela on Family Excursions to Ensure Family Bonding
Estrela Mountain Dogs accompany their owners in everyday life activities in their original environment. Estrela Mountain Dog Puppies love exposure to outdoor activities: a farmers’ market, outdoor coffee shop, the beach, or any place their owner likes to visit. Search your local area for dog-friendly environments and places your dog can accompany you. Play interactively with your dog frequently to burn energy and promote calmness. This also helps them to stay fit, happy, and healthy.
If you’re an active family willing to devote time to your dog, then they are a perfect match!
The Estrela Mountain Dog is compatible with kids and families who are active and enjoy fun activities with their dog family members. If you’re interested in adopting an Estrela Mountain Dog, read up on how to buy an Estrela Mountain Dog puppy first.
Is an Estrela Mountain Dog Right for Your Family?
Estrela Mountain Dogs are ideal companions for outdoor lifestyles, small homesteads, active families, countryside living, and families that are willing to learn, love, and care for the breed appropriately.
In Conclusion: Is an Estrela Mountain Dog a good family dog? And are Estrela Mountain Dogs gentle with kids?
Estrela Mountain Dogs are ideal family members for families with kids that give them appropriate training, socialization, and care.
The Estrela Mountain Dog is a giant breed dog that is generally tolerant of grabs, roughhousing, and occasional tail tugs from children in the family. Many families adopt and choose Estrela Mountain Dogs because they are so loyal to their families, especially kids.
Like most giant breed dogs, they are patient with small children and enjoy their close family members. The Estrela Mountain Dog may see kids as their flock that needs protection. They need plenty of socialization and love the outdoors.
Check out these blog posts to find out everything you need to know about owning and caring for your Estrela Mountain Dog. If you want to read more about the Estrela Mountain Dog Breed go here.