The Pyrenean Mastiff was originally raised as a guard dog in the Aragonese Pyrenees. So we are facing one of the largest Spanish breeds. With time it was entering the homes of the shepherds and descending from the mountains to the towns and cities. His docility and affectionate displays made the rest easy. Today, despite its size, we find it more as a domestic dog than as a livestock keeper. A role that it has continued to perform, along with that of guarding and defending farms and industrial zones.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is a very large and fluffy dog with a calm and balanced temperament . Which makes him a wonderful home dog. Especially because it is really docile and behaves well at home. He even gets along with children. It is true that you have a lot of self-confidence and that it is sometimes difficult to handle. But if you know how to train him, you will have a magnificent dog by your side.
Characteristics of the Pyrenean Mastiff
The Pyrenean Mastiff is a human-friendly dog. What makes him a good companion both in work and in life. It is a calm, noble and very intelligent animal , thus facilitating having it in a home, although, obviously, it needs space to spend energy and be able to move.
At the same time, he is brave and is alert to strangers, from whom he never departs as if wanting to impose with his presence. Perhaps it is a memory of your past as a livestock guardian dog. Which is why it is still widely used as a guard dog , although you should bear in mind that it is more intimidating because of its size than because of its bark. Of course, when I bark, you will know that something is happening, that it is not a habitual barker.
Being a sheepdog (guard, really), it has very little prey drive and almost no aggressiveness. That makes him a kind and grateful dog, especially with his family, and that affection shows, too, with all those whom he does not consider a threat. However, all that love can be a bit complicated; Like any Mastiff, they drool quite profusely when exposed to heat, food, or water. So if you don’t like being soaked by your dog’s drool, you’re in real trouble.
A Medium Energy Dog
He is not a high energy dog, but he does need play time. Except right after eating, because it can cause gastric torsion . Walking comes in handy, but not as a puppy, as they grow quickly and their bones are soft and take a long time to harden and mature. That is why you should make sure to walk on dirt or unpaved roads, whenever possible. Pyrenean Mastiffs are a relatively calm breed, but they need your exercise to stay mentally and physically fit.
It is a large, muscular and extremely powerful dog , but well proportioned. In addition, it is not clumsy despite being very robust. It has a long hair cape. Its head is large and robust and its ears are medium and drooping, triangular in shape, flat, set above the line of the eyes. The tail is medium and thick at birth. Strong and flexible, it is heavily dense with decidedly long and smooth hair. When active or alert, he lifts it up in a saber shape, curling around the tip. When he is calm, he shows fall,
As large as the Pyrenean Mastiff is, it is a surprisingly calm and affectionate breed . He was bred to be a livestock keeper, so he retains many of his protective instincts. What’s more, he will not hesitate to defend his family if necessary. This does not mean that he is aggressive towards people, although he is cautious with strangers. Of course, it is a meek dog, which will obey without problems. Even more so if we have taken advantage of his great intelligence to give him a good training.
At home, however, it will be a waste of love and kindness. Enjoying being with the family and being able to spend time with the little ones . Although, due to their size, you should be careful that neither one nor the other is damaged. We are before a goofy giant, if the expression is allowed, which, at times, can show a certain stubbornness and impose itself. Fortunately, this does not usually happen and with a good education you will not have big problems with living together.
The Pyrenean Mastiff with children and other animals
Due to its lack of aggressiveness, its docility, kind and affectionate character, it is a dog that usually gets along well with the little ones in the house. His balanced temperament means that he rarely loses patience with children. But, due to its size, we must be careful with younger children. You think that you may inadvertently damage it due to its size and strength. Also, you have to remind the little ones that this dog is not a horse and that they cannot ride it. Otherwise, you could suffer irreversible damage to your back. So let them have fun together, but avoid leaving them alone until the children are old enough to understand that they need to be careful.
With Other Pets
Like other livestock guard dogs, the Pyrenean Mastiff lacks aggressiveness towards other animals. In fact, it celebrates your company regardless of size or race. Fortunately, it is not a territorial dog, which makes it easier for it to share a habitat with other pets. Since, lacking prey drive, it does not feel the need to attack smaller animals.
- Height at the withers: minimum 77 cm.
- Weight: about 80 kg.
- Coat: pure white or snow white with medium gray spots, deep yellow gold, brown, black, silver-gray, light beige, sand, or mottled.
- Average life span: 12 to 14 years.
- Character: meek, affectionate, alert and brave.
- Relationship with children: excellent.
- Relationship with other dogs: very good.
- Skills: guard and defense dog.
- Space Needs: You can adapt to the interior, but you need space.
- Feeding: variable during growth, consult the vet.
- Fix: regular brushing.
- Maintenance cost: high.
FCI Classification: Group 2 Pinscher and Schnauzer, Molossian, Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs. Section 2: Molossian. 2.2: mountain type.
Although the origin of the Pyrenean Mastiff is not clearly known, it is generally accepted that the breed descends from Molossian dogs brought by the Phoenicians around 3,000 years ago . Due to the geography of our country, the original molossi developed differently in each region, appearing several breeds of livestock guardians such as the Pyrenean Mastiff, the Spanish Mastiff and the closest breed related to the Pyrenean Mastiff, the Mountain Dog. of the Pyrenees which is also known as the Great Pyrenees.
The Formation of The Breed In The Middle Ages
In the early Middle Ages, Spain was divided between the Christian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon in the north and the Muslim-controlled areas in the south. In the wide, flat area of Castile, the smooth-coated Spanish Mastiff was developed to protect flocks of sheep that traveled long distances.
However, in the region of Aragon, where the Pyrenees are located, more resistant cattle guards with longer hair were developed. Later and due to transhumance , -transhumance of cattle to and from the pastures established by the Visigoth king Eurico-, the flocks of sheep began to be accompanied by a shepherd and five mastiffs through the Pyrenean mountains, infested with bears and foothills.
Thus began to form an independent breed, strong and capable of long journeys , living in the harsh and complicated conditions of the Pyrenees -a high altitude and with very low temperatures-, and willing to face bears and wolves.
The Mastiff In The Modern Age
In 1659, Mazarino, the regent of France, and Felipe IV, king of Spain, signed a decree that divided the property of the Pyrenees mountains with the northern area becoming French territory, and the southern area remaining Spanish territory. The northern or French area further refined their mastiff, developing a longer-haired white breed , the Pyrenean mountain dog, which possessed a more refined head and stature.
This dog enjoyed wide recognition , which gave it popularity and allowed strong breeding programs, while the Spanish mastiffs in the south continued their work as livestock guardians and remained more massive, primitive and less homogeneous.
The 20th century: The (almost) disappearance of the race
In the 1930s and 1940s, the disappearance of the Pyrenean wolf and bear, the new dependence on the railroad to transport sheep, the Spanish Civil War followed by World War II, and food shortages almost led to the total loss of the Mastiffs of Aragon , as they were called at that time. Being very large and expensive to maintain and with no other purpose than to protect livestock, these noble dogs became almost completely extinct.
With the return of a pack of wolves to the Aragon region in the 1970s, the need for these dogs, now known as the Pyrenean Mastiff , also returned . At the same time, a small group of enthusiasts of this breed went to work reviving it, finding approximately 100 specimens of the breed and then narrowing down to the top 30 that most closely resembled the standard and displayed the right temperament and excellent health.
Their breeding program resulted in today’s Pyrenean Mastiff which is known for its large size, strong build, graceful movement, and smooth, non-aggressive and even temperament. However, the Pyrenean Mastiff still possesses great fighting skills , honed through centuries of protecting livestock, but will use them only when pressured into aggressive behavior to protect himself, his people, his herd, your herd or your home.
Although it is still relatively rare , the breed has spread throughout Western and Eastern Europe , Scandinavia, Russia, Australia, Japan and even Mexico, the USA. And now Canada, with between 4,000 and 6,000 worldwide. What has facilitated its recognition as a breed by the AKC and the FCI.
It is adopted last race in 1954 although the official standard t UVO to wait until 1986, when breeders had managed to seat the dog they wanted.
Education and Training
When it comes to training a Pyrenean Mastiff, we are facing a difficult task, as they are quite independent by nature, so they tend to do things on their own without your permission. Therefore, it is important to form strong leadership because in the absence of it you can quickly assume the role of a dominant dog.
When training a Pyrenean Mastiff, we must also provide them with constant and firm training throughout their lives . Rewards and gifts work very well for your motivation, so let’s always do it through positive reinforcement.
Socialization is also an important part of their training , socialize them by introducing them to a new situation, places, people and sounds from an early age or you may have problems with this giant from peaceful nature.
Although the breed is generally healthy, the Kennel Club advises that prospective owners research their breeders carefully, and that all Pyrenean Mastiffs should be hip-graded and undergo a careful eye examination by a specialist veterinary ophthalmologist. In addition, they are prone to certain diseases:
The breed standard specifies that the Pyrenean eyelids must conform to the eye, a characteristic that can sometimes cause problems. Occasionally, puppies will be born with abnormally everted eyelids that are prone to irritation and infection due to chronic exposure. If it is problematic, the ectropion can be corrected surgically.
More common than ectropion, entropion represents the opposite problem: the inward displacement of the eyelids, again, is usually first noticed in adolescence. Because the outer surface of the eyelid is covered with hair , when it comes in contact with the delicate and sensitive surface of the eye, it causes discomfort and chronic inflammation, and if left uncorrected it can cause permanent scarring of the cornea. Surgery is required to evert the affected eyelid (s), but will need to be done in stages or delayed until adulthood.
Like other large deep-chested breeds, the Pyrenean Mastiff can experience a sudden twisting of the stomach, resulting in massive inflammation of the organ. The first signs of the problem can be massive abdominal enlargement and collapse, and emergency veterinary care is required for life-saving surgery. Feeding a single large meal each day and exercising after feeding are factors that can cause this disease , so they should be avoided in any large breed dog.
The hip dysplasia is a common cause of lameness in many large breed dogs, you can see that this development disorder affects one or both hind limbs sometime between 5 and 14 months old. Although the signs of stiffness after lying down, lameness, and pain in hip extension are suggestive, the diagnosis requires an X-ray examination. Although many young dogs seem to recover from the problem in adulthood, it is one of the main Causes of early-onset osteoarthritis in middle age.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Although this is not a common disorder, Pyrenean Mastiffs appear to be predisposed to developing chronic diarrhea and weight loss as a result of an inflamed intestine. The cause is never determined in most cases, but its response to hypoallergenic foods and immunosuppressive medications suggests an autoimmune basis for the disease.
Fast-growing dogs of any large breed can develop this condition, which causes lameness and pain when handling the bones in the limbs. Lameness is often “changeable” in nature, meaning that it can affect different limbs in a relatively short period of time. X-rays of puppies with panosteitis reveal marked inflammation in the long bones. It generally responds very favorably to the use of anti- inflammatory medications as needed, and affected dogs outgrow the problem before 18 months of age.
Having a dog of this size and energy means allowing the Pyrenean Mastiff free play all the time – except just after eating. However, walking a Pyrenean Mastiff puppy can be harmful if the distance is not increasing slowly. Extra-large breed puppies grow quickly, and their bones are soft and take a long time to harden and mature, so we must be very careful with the exercise they do.
You should also make sure to try to walk on dirt or unpaved roads, if possible, or you’ll damage their joints. Options for exercise include playtime in the backyard, preferably fenced in, or going for a walk several times a day. Pyrenean Mastiffs are a relatively calm breed, but they do need your exercise to stay mentally and physically fit.
Hygiene and Bathroom
You may be tempted to bathe it several times a year, but you should only do it when it is really necessary , or we will damage the natural oils and PH of our Pyrenean Mastiff. Remember that it is a breed adapted to living outside the home, so in the matter of care it will be simple.
As it has a double coat, it will also shed twice a year and it is important that you brush it up to three times a week at those times . With the appropriate comb we will be able to clean the outer layer and avoid tangles while removing the dead hair from the inside.
The Pyrenean Mastiff should do well with a high-quality dog food, either commercially manufactured or prepared at home with the supervision and approval of your veterinarian. Any diet must be appropriate for the age of the dog (puppy, adult or senior).
Females remain on puppy food until 18 months of age and males until 2 years of age . Some dogs are prone to being overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie intake and weight level.
How to get a Pyrenean Mastiff
Fortunately and thanks to the policies to recover the breed, it has become a relatively frequent dog in Spain and in the rest of the world. So you can find available litters with relative ease. Maybe your vet knows some, and if you ca n’t get in touch with the Pyrenean Mastiff Club.
Other Similar Dogs
If you finally decide to look for another dog with similar characteristics, you can try one of the following:
- Kangal Sheepdog
- Tibetan Mastiff
- Saint Bernard
- Central Asian Shepherd
- Caucasian Shepherd Dog
- Rafeiro do Alentejo
- Dog of the Sierra de la Estrela
- Castro Laboreiro dog
- Yugoslav Shepherd Dog by Charplanina
- Pyrenean Mountain Dog
- Spanish Mastiff
- Karst Shepherd
- Bosnia-Herzegovina Shepherd