Huntaway vs Estrela Mountain Dog - Breed Comparison

Huntaway vs Estrela Mountain Dog - Breed ComparisonHuntaway is originated from New Zealand but Estrela Mountain Dog is originated from Portugal. Huntaway may grow 6 cm / 2 inches shorter than Estrela Mountain Dog. Both Huntaway and Estrela Mountain Dog are having almost same weight. Both Huntaway and Estrela Mountain Dog has almost same life span. Both Huntaway and Estrela Mountain Dog has almost same litter size. Huntaway requires Low maintenance. But Estrela Mountain Dog requires Moderate maintenance


huntaway - historyThe Huntaway or New Zealand Huntaway is a herding dog that originated in the New Zealand sheep country. Their main purpose is to drive sheep and they are not an old breed. They were developed late in the 19th century for their working skills. The only real criteria was that they were black and tan. A dog must win a trial in order to be placed in the New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Association studbook. They drive sheep mainly through their deep, loud voice.

In the New Zealand high country there was a need for a working dog with stamina, agility and intelligence to work the sheep as a drover (herder). The dog had to be able to handle rough, steep land and work with very large groups of sheep. The sheer area of land that the sheep graze and the dog would have to cover, demanded that this dog have stamina and strength to cover large pasture land and work for days if necessary. Before this the shepherds had used British sheepdogs but they preferred dogs that barked while working. So they bred the British Sheepdogs with Collies, Border Collies, Labrador, Rottweiler, Doberman and other barking sheepdogs to create the Huntaway. In addition to the bark, they bred for stamina and size.

They were participating in field trails in 1870 and ads for them were seen in newspapers by 1884. They became a separate breed in the 20th century. Today they are spreading around the world and are becoming very popular. It is not recommended that they be kept as pets however, since they are true working dogs.

estrela mountain dog - historyAlso known as the Cao da Serra de Estrela, the large Estrela Mountain Dog from Portugal is an ancient breed, having been used for centuries to guard homesteads and livestock.

The Estrela, as a herding dog, has been developed over a long period of time because shepherds particularly wanted a dog that could survive in the mountains and be strong enough to guard livestock from predators.

The first official recorded breed standard was published in 1933, with an attempt to make the Estrela a distinct breed with a hooked tail and double dew claws.

Today the Estrela is a dog which can be found in other countries beyond Portugal, and in fact in 1973 pairs of the dogs were imported to the United States.


huntaway puppy - descriptionThe Huntaway is a large dog with a deep chest and a black and tan coat. They are strong, big and muscular with voices to match. They herd, head, work the sheep in pastures and force them into pens. They are bred to have that big authoritative, deep bark. They do not yap. Their bodies are well proportioned but longer than high. They have well - padded feet and a deep chest for stamina, along with strong legs and body that allows them to run fast and change directions at will.

The tail of a Huntaway if long, while their heads are shaped like blocks while the muzzle is long and the nose is black. They have dark, round eyes and long ears. An unusually attractive dog, they have dense fur with fringe on the tail and chest. There is characteristics a very large variety in the in the way the breed looks from one dog to the next. Thus they do not participate in confirmation events, as the standard is based on working characteristics rather than appearance guidelines. They are more a “class” than a “breed”.

estrela mountain dog puppy - descriptionThe large Estrela Mountain Dog stands between 62 and 72cm and weighs between 30kg and 50kg.

The dog has 2 coat types – short and long but always coarse and thick. The coat is available in a number of colors, from fawn to gray to yellow and brindle and there can be white and black mixed throughout the coat.

The head of the dog is large and long, the neck fairly short and thick, he has dark brown eyes, a bright, intelligent expression with small, floppy ears which are set high on the skull, falling backwards against the side of the head. The tail is long and thick and the dog has a deep chest.


A large, athletic dog, the Estrela Mountain Dog is actually a calm dog, while still being protective towards his human family.

He is an intelligent dog who responds well to training and socialization. He is an independent dog, so this training and socialization is important - will be good for him, turning him into an obedient, relaxed pet who gets on well with other pets in the home as well as with children.


Children friendliness

huntaway dog - characteristicsThey are very good with children and love to play with them.

Special talents

Stamina, speed and independence


Not really. Don’t do well in small spaces. Better off in the country.

Learning ability

Very intelligent, quick learner, loves learning new things.

estrela mountain dog dog - characteristicsThe Estrela Mountain Dog loves his human family and takes guarding them and protecting them seriously. He is a strong willed, independent dog that will require training and socialization. He makes an excellent pet, and is calm and gentle with children.

The Estrela Mountain Dog has so much going for him – he is beautiful to look at, he is loyal and protective with his human family, he is intelligent, loving and a healthy type of breed, and he is just waiting to become a member of your family.

Health Problems

huntaway puppies - health problemsThe Huntaway is a pretty healthy breed, developed as it was from the sheepdogs and collies. They still face some inherited issues such as:

  • Hip dysplasia – can cause lameness and arthritis
  • Cancer of bone – life threatening
  • Ear Infections – long eared dogs are prone to infections
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis Type IIIA (MPS IIIA) – rare metabolic issue can cause neurological problems.
  • Dilated Caridomyopathy (DCM) – enlarged heart can cause heart failure

estrela mountain dog puppies - health problemsThe Estrela Mountain Dog can live to be between 10 and 14 years of age, but as with any large dog, he will have a tendency to suffer from hip- and elbow dysplasia.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is another common heart failure disease found particularly in large-breed dogs. The Estrela is prone to this disease and you’ll notice he has shortness of breath, abdominal swelling and coughing. The disease may not be curable, but there are certainly treatments for it.

Caring The Pet

Feeding the Puppy

huntaway dogs - caringIf you are not using your Huntaway to herd, then feed a medium formula not a high protein, high calorie formula. Feed 3-4 times a day and 1-2 cups.

Feeding the adult

3 cups per day feeding twice a day high quality medium calorie food.

Points for Good Health

Exceptional stamina

Games and Exercises

This herding breed has a great need of mental and physical stimulation. They were born to herd and to do so over vast tracts of land in challenging conditions. They need to be challenged. They need daily exercise at a very high level. A Run them every day or take them on a couple of long walks. They will excel in field trials, Barnhunt, agility and rescue. They love to learn.


estrela mountain dog dogs - caringThe Estrela Mountain Dog is a large dog and thankfully, when it comes to feeding him, experts in dog feeding have come up with commercially manufactured dog feeds that particularly cater for a dog’s age, his size and any illnesses he may have.

As a large dog, your Estrela Mountain Dog can suffer with joint problems such as hip dysplasia. For hip dysplasia you want to be looking at a dog food for large dogs which contains joint-health ingredients. An ingredient in the dog food such as glucosamine can work to reduce the damage brought about by hip dysplasia.

Mix in some cooked brown rice, vegetables and chicken into his kibble from time to time. You want your pet to live a long, healthy life and raw meat added in occasionally can increase your pets energy levels, reduce the risk of joint disease and ensure a shiny, soft coat. Raw meat can provide iron, zinc, vitamins, minerals and potassium.


The Estrela isn’t a huge shedder, but his beautiful, thick coat will require brushing twice a week. It’s your chance to check him over for fleas and ticks as well, and the entire grooming process – checking his ears, nails and teeth – is an excellent bonding experience for you and your canine friend.


The Estrela may be large, but he is fairly calm. He’ll love to join you on your daily walks or for a ball game in the garden. He can adapt to life in the city or the country, but his big size will mean he isn’t suited to a tiny property.

Basic Information

Herding dogs
Herding dogs
New Zealand
Height Male:
56 - 66 cm
22 - 26 inches
65 - 72 cm
25 - 29 inches
Height Female:
52 - 62 cm
20 - 25 inches
62 - 70 cm
24 - 28 inches
Weight Male:
25 - 46 kg
55 - 102 pounds
40 - 50 kg
88 - 111 pounds
Weight Female:
20 - 35 kg
44 - 78 pounds
30 - 50 kg
66 - 111 pounds
Life Span:
12 - 14 Years
10 - 12 Years
Litter Size:
5 - 7
2 - 8
Large dog
Large dog
Other Names:
New Zealand Huntaway, New Zealand Sheepdog
Cao da Serra de Estrela
Colors Available:
commonly black and tan, tricolour, variable
Fawn, gray, yellow, brindle
smooth or rough
Short or long - coarse and thick
Affectionate, Alert, Courageous, Energetic, Gentle, Independent, Intelligent, Loyal, Playful, Responsive, Sweet
Affectionate, Alert, Cheerful, Courageous, Curious, Energetic, Friendly, Gentle, Independent, Intelligent, Lively, Loving, Loyal, Outgoing, Playful, Protective, Quiet, Responsive, Social, Stubborn, Territorial
Low maintenance
Moderate maintenance
Kids Friendly:
New Owners Friendly:

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