For many people, the criteriae behind choosing an Estrela puppy will depend on the price but also on aesthetic taste, in which case three elements are usually determinant: colour, coat profusion and length and the size of the animal. All of this is understandable. Or at least it would be, if, besides these factors, or preferably above them, there were others, responsible for longevity, life quality and breed purpose: temperament, health, functionality. However, few puppy buyers show interest in those criteriae and are sensible towards the worries in the centre of any serious breeder's breeding programme. Before asking "how much?", "what colour?" or "where are you based?", it would be preferible if they wanted to know if the puppy's parents have adequate temperament and were screened against genetic diseases and if the breeder provides health warranties. Beauty and size are of little importance when an animal develops a lethal or incapacitating disease or when he's fearsome, unable to perform his protection task, or too aggressive, becoming a menace to visitors.
Genetic disease screening and a scrupulous selection of breeding dogs are some of the procedures that make a serious breeding programme very expensive - the reason why the standard price of a reputed breeder's puppies is high. But, in the end, what will become more expensive? Paying 500 or 1000 euros for a puppy that comes from a controlled breeding practise, in which the breeder studied the bloodlines with the purpose of reducing the odds of lethal or disfunctional genetic diseases/defects to arise, or spending 100 or 200 euros on buying an animal who was produced with no criteriae or control of any kind, when it is of public knowledge that problems such as hip dysplasia and dilated cardiomyopathy are not rare in the breed? What if the puppy turns up developping serious, disfunctional hip dysplasia or dies suddenly from heart failure? If such problems can occur in any circumstance, they're much less likely to appear in a serious, technical, controlled breeding.
Several of our puppy buyers have previously been through the trauma of putting their dog down due to severe hip dysplasia, epilepsy, dilated cardiomiopathy, or payed expensive orthopedic surgeries, or even lost them when youngsters, to sudden death caused by heart failure. In most cases, the animals had been acquired from backyard breeders, puppy farms or unscrupulous commercial breeders. After that traumatic experience, the owners decided their next puppy would come from a breeder who cared about health and screened their dogs, in order to guarantee, as much as possible, that this time there wouldn't be any problems.
If you're planning to acquire an Estrela Mountain Dog, choose carefully. There are plenty of cheap puppies, pure-bred or mutts, mostly bred by people with little competence and scruples, whose only concern, in most cases, is purely commercial. They frequently own several bitches and exploit their breeding capacity to the limit, seriously compromising their health. They usually have one male only, who sires dozens of litters, contributing to a dangerous genetic bottleneck in the breed. In other cases, they have only one bitch and mate her to the next door neighbour's dog, even if he's not purebred. They sell cheap puppies, because their breeding itself is cheap and usually of little quality (if the pupopies are good, it's out of random, not competence). If you choose to buy one of these puppies, we wish you and them the best of luck - because, like with a Russian roulette, you're going to need it.