Cao da Serra da Estrela: Sentinel of past times

Pineda de Geres
North Portugal has several large nature areas that are protected or supervised. Most of the areas are Natural Parks (none governmental) and one area (Pineda de Geres) is National Park (governmental) due to the rich combination of cultural and natural heritage. In and around these areas we find the last remaining traditions of ancient times and also the remaining livestock guard dogs (LGDs)

Located in the south of North Portugal lies Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela, a rocky and dry landscape with tough vegetation adapted to the dry environment. This park is famous and draws many tourists. They come to see the remaining image of the beautiful area this used to be, back in the days when wolves and traditional shepherds shared ground here.

There are still a few traditional (transhumant) shepherds in Serra da Estrela; wolves however are no longer present. Passages to migrate to other (linked) nature areas are scarce due to the high human activity and infrastructure. The retreat of the wolf has negative consequences for the biodiversity of the ecosystem and balance between flora and fauna species. The small (Iberian) wolf population of North Portugal is fragile and sadly wolf presence is already vanishing in the center of North Portugal too, seeking refuge in the North in the Portuguese/Spanish border area.

Due to the retreat of the wolves in Serra da Estrela, an ancient and legendary guardian became unemployed. The Cao da Serra da Estrela; the LGD that developed here long time ago. This breed faced extinction but luckily was preserved thanks to a few devoted breeders who never stopped cherishing these noble dogs. Today the Cao da Serra da Estrela is a national cultural heritage symbol and occasionally they are still guarding livestock, mostly far away from their originating region.

The Cao da Serra da Estrela is a compact dog with an abundant coat in two varieties: long and short haired. Their ancient history and natural selection resulted in a splendid guardian for this territory. The though life of moving with the flock, fighting off predators and the hot and dry environment is an ungrateful specialist task. The Cao da Serra da Estrela is built for it, always performing often lacking sufficient food and water for multiple days.

It is great that this LGD is preserved yet sad that it it’s unemployed in its home region. In their home region they are a symbol, Sentinel of past times. Their temperament is sharp but balanced; they display controlled aggression towards strangers, possess loyalty toward its owner and toughness in harsh circumstances. The Cao da Serra da Estrela can be of great importance in similar regions elsewhere.

Registered under KVK nr: 74452800

Registered under KVK nr: 74452800