Although Estrela Mountain Dogs can be aggressive and fierce when it comes to strangers encroaching on your property or attempting to break into your home, they are also sensitive animals that quickly become attached to family members, especially children.
As herding dogs for shepherds in the Serra da Estrela Mountains in Portugal, these dogs spend their summers outside. However, during the winter they stayed inside with the family as a guard dog. During this time, they became accustomed to family life and being around kids. In fact, these dogs have an affinity with children that may surprise you.
Estrelas are especially gentle and loving with children and even babies. Throughout their long history, this breed became known for tending to and even cleaning newborn lambs and kids, while their mothers recovered from childbirth. When it comes to Estrelas and children, it is best to let them grow up together, so they grow closer over time.
Estrelas don't mind a little roughhousing during playtime and are patient, so they will put up with much more from children than you can imagine. If you have an Estrela with short hair, there is little danger of kids pulling on it. However, you need to teach them not to pull his tail or ears, or aggravate the dog in any way.
They are also very protective of these younger family members. If they sense any danger, they will bark loudly and if necessary, take the matter into their own hands by physically warding off any potential threat. This type of dog has a built-in aggressive and lively nature, so you will have to train him not to bite, jump, sit on the kids, bite their ankles, or otherwise endanger your children.
Since this is an intelligent breed, it should not be too difficult to train him to eliminate bad and potentially dangerous behavior. Use a firm hand with a good dose of love to let your dog know what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Once he is properly trained, your children will find him a joy to be around.
When an Estrela becomes attached, the dog likes to stay close to those he cares about. You will likely find him curled up at your childrens' feet or in a comfy spot near them on the couch or bed. You might want to train him not to jump up on furniture as he sheds like most dogs. In this case, children should also be made aware of this rule.
You might also want to get your children involved with grooming the dog. The more time they spend in close contact with an Estrela, the more the dog will return this attention with never-ending affection and loyalty.