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Safari da Ponta da Pinta. Photo:  Paula Barreto
Breeding program

Estrela Mountain Dog

Ponta da Pinta

The Estrela is a working dog, raised from early times with the purpose of protecting flocks from wolves and cattle robbers. Transhumance would make it cover long distances, frequently on very irregular ground – a task for complete athletes, marathon runners that, whenever required, could turn into sprinters. Living under hard conditions, depending on the shepherd’s sparse means, it necessarily had to be a sturdy, healthy animal, with a strong survival and protection instinct and an immune system that could overcome infections; its character and physical capacities also had to be up to the function they performed. Such were the working dogs, the ones the shepherds bred from. Throughout the centuries, the breed survived and become vigorous thanks to breeding practices that copied natural selection.


The Estrela's courage and sturdiness stems from longtime natural breeding practises that reinforce his skills. When kennel breeders took interest in the breed and began working on it, priorities changed: type homogenization and aesthetics took first place. Those goals were achieved through systematic tight in-breeding practices, which on the other hand endangered all the traits that were the one reason for the Estrela to exist: temperament, physical skills, sturdiness, vitality.

Our breeding project has a conservational perspective. It is based upon our respect and admiration for the breed and our will to preserve the inheritance built up by consecutive generations of shepherds and a few breeders - but it also uses the means and techniques currently available by science and technology. Therefore we established the following 

Alvorada da Ponta da Pinta
Photo: Márcia Silva
  • Helping to preserve genetic diversity in the breed, especially in the long coat variety, which, among the kennel lines, has a high in-breeding coefficient.

  • Establishing priorities: health, character, natural surviving and working abilities, which are as important as a correct morphology.

  • Screening against hereditary diseases and contributing to academic scientific research about pathologies that have been associated to the breed.

  • Studying the breed’s genetics and the frequency of genetic diseases and problems.

  • Contributing to decrease, in the breed, the frequency of deleterious mutant genes that are responsible for lethal, sub-lethal or incapacitating diseases.

  • Cooperating with other breeders, breed clubs, researchers and institutions that develop projects for the study and betterment of the Estrela Mountain Dog.

  • Contributing to re-establish the long coat variety as a livestock guardian dog, in Portugal.

  • Benefiting both varieties by ocasionally outcrossing them.

  • Creating new bloodlines for the long-hair variety, by using short-hair ones, thus widening the first's genetic diversity.

  • Contributing to the conservation, betterment, promotion and expantion of the short-hair variety.

  • Selecting breeding stock in a way that resembles natural selection, as a means to preserve traits that are fundamental for its survival as a working dog.

  • Preserving rare colours in the long-hair variety.

  • Establishing a network of collaborators and partners that supports and enhances our program for bettering the breed.

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