The History of the Estrela Mountain Dog
in the United Kingdom
This breed is known as the Cao Da Serra Da Estrela by the Portugese Kennel Club (Portugal being the country of origin) and also by the FCI. In the United Kingdom it is known as the Estrela Mountain Dog. The breed is reputed to be the oldest breed in the Iberian Peninsula and there is certainly a poem about a dog which sounds very similar which was written in the 16th century. It is one of the many Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) breeds of Europe. It has been known to work in the Serra Da Estrela Mountains of Portugal for many centuries and has only really gained recognition outside a small area since the early 1970s.
The breed was becoming endangered, by crossbreeding amongst other things, and a Mr Pye of Oporto decided to send a bitch in whelp to England in the hope that some interest would be shown. The bitch, Port. Ch. Rogean Augusta duly arrived in April 1974 and gave birth to 7 puppies on May 14th 1974. Some of the pups were sold including two to the Sturtmoor Kennels of Marcia Dovey who also took the two unsold puppies home until suitable homes were found.
In 1975 a young male and a bitch in whelp were sent to Mrs Dovey from Portugal and in January 1976 the bitch had nine pups. This made Sturtmoor the first Estrela breeding kennel in the world outside Portugal. Several more imports allowed a breeding program to develop which led to the first of the breed being introduced to Norway, Sweden and Holland which started the spread of the breed through Europe. Over the years the breed has seen a great strengthening of numbers and due to the internet breeders all over the world are now able to work together for the good of the breed. Many issues are being looked at with the aim of achieving a uniform standard worldwide so that wherever a judge may come across the breed the same standard will apply. (Breed Standards page)
We are lucky enough to have a few of the more experienced breeders in Portugal still involved with the breed as well as many newer, and just as enthusiastic, owners. The UK has sustained a small group of breeders over the years which has allowed numbers to remain relatively stable. The breed has yet to achieve a real appreciation of the wonderful dog that it is.
As breeders most of us are very determined in our aim to keep the breed correct to type in body and temperament, this is a very special breed and we would hate to see them spoilt. It is only in very recent years that the breed has really been seen in the USA and numbers are still very small but growing. Camille Pentland, daughter of Marcia Dovey and co-owner of the Sturtmoor affix, moved to the US in 2001 with her male Estrela and started the Estrela Mountain Dog Association of America (EMDAA) along with Cindy Martishius (Trailsend) and Tracey Conner (Tradewinds). The EMDAA has a worldwide membership and works in conjunction with all the other breed clubs in the world. Several pups were imported into the US in 2002 with more following over recent years. With careful control it is hoped that the breed will have some success in the USA, not only as a pet and show dog but as a working dog too.
We prize the long history of this breed and will work tirelessly to protect it as best we can and will hopefully continue the unity which exists throughout the world.
Below is a list of breeders (past & present) in the UK and the year they had their first litter. This list is compiled from information available from various sources.
Breeder (affix) – Date of first litter
- Mrs Marcia Dovey (Sturtmoor) – 10 January 1976
- Dr & Mrs Lee (Alertse) – 18 March 1978
- Mrs Grey (Astonoff) – 25 July 1978
- Mr & Mrs Pye and Mr & Mrs Kirtland (Norogean) – 12 August 1980
- Mr & Mrs Kirtland (Oakleywinds) – 22 June 1983
- Mr & Mrs Cox (Clerafora) – 8 May 1984
- Mr & Mrs Hoskins (Kyrebern) – 23 July 1984
- Mrs PA Dean (Asterel) – 22 February 1986
- Mrs S Mussell (No kennel name) – 1 November 1986
- Mr C Maxfield (Hacer) – 24 April 1989
- Mrs V Moncaster (Scotaster) – 29 August 1991
- Mr & Mrs Godderidge (Essanelle) – 25 May 1993
- Mr & Mrs Yeoman (Wentcourt) – 2 October 1997
- Mr & Mrs Damas-Mora (Capanegra) – 26 December 1998
- Mrs Snowdon & Mrs Robinson (Barkarina) – 27 August 2003
- Ms N Marshall (Drimbea) – 8 April 2005
- Breeder’s name unknown at present (Sewstern) – 8 May 2005
- Mrs D Curtis (Stormwitch) – 15 April 2007
- Mrs L Rutter (Lnmasha) – 27 December 2008
- Mrs V Watkin-Jones (Jerdax) – 15 April 2010
- Mrs J Lewis (Unknown) – 6 September 2010
- Mrs G C Douglas (Milagre) – 5 April 2012
- Mr J Frater & Miss J Pine (Adephagia) – 24 January 2014
- Mr & Mrs Morrish (Unknown) – 1 March 2014
- Ms J Hodge (Unknown) – 12 May 2014 (?)
We apologise to anybody we have missed, if you contact us with details you will be added as soon as possible.