Long-haired Estrela Mountain Dog
Photo: Trailsend Estrelas
Rustic, shaped by its activity as a livestock guardian dog, by freedom and by the constraints of the job, it's an easy breed to rear, that requires space, affection, a balanced education and a diet adequate to its large size, enriched by supplements that maintain healthy bones and joints.
As a livestock guardian, mostly owned by shepherds with low resources, the Estrela would be kept on a sparse diet, that nevertheless would allow them to perform their demanding physical activity. That's why in most cases, many generations later, the breed requires less food than expected from such a large dog. A good quality super-premium kibble, made with fresh ingredients and containing supplements such as chondroitin and glucosamine sulphates (joint protectors), or, for those who have enough available time, a natural diet that includes raw meat, tripe, organs and bones, as well as cooked rice and vegetables, are the best options. Whatever the diet, it should be served in two meals (or more, for puppies), as prevention from a common problema, bloat and stomach torsion.
Space and exercising
Wide space, freedom, physical exercise.The essence of the Estrela Mountain Dog is related to those elements, which they need for their well-being and balance. Although they are, as a rule, quiet dogs, a sedentary life in an apartment is not for them, bevaude it bores them and makes them destroy the furniture. They should enjoy a wide area in the garden, yard or farm, which should be circumscribed by a wall or strong fence, that are at least 7 feet high as to prevent them from escaping to patrol the neighbourhood (a endency inherited from their original task). Regardless of the space they're kept in, they should go out for a walk with their owner, every dar, for a least half an hour, which will stimulate their curiosity and reinforce the affectionate bonds between them. Their exercising needs are moderate, but as adults they should adjust perfectly to sport activities that could make them walk or run several miles per day.
As every protection dog, the Estrela has a dominant character and should be educated with affection but as to understand that their owners are on top of the hierarchy and thay they should trust them and their decisions. They don't need to be taught how to guard, they have that natural instinct about their space and the ones they love.
It is very important to socialise them from an early age, so that they don't become too suspicous or aggressive. With a balanced education, they'll be extraordinary, reliable dogs. Taking them to obedience classes where they can also learn to refuse food from strangers will help to control their stubborness and to prevent them from being poisoned.