The Pyrenean Mastiff
The Pyrenean Mastiff is a breed of Spanish origin which was traditionally used for guarding herds. The World Canine Organization officially classifies it as a Molosser. With its extremely powerful and proportioned muscle structure, this dog protected herds from predators such as wolves and bears.
The Origins of the Pyrenean Mastiff
As a faithful friend to mountain shepherds, its main role was to guard herds or flocks. Native to Aragon, its everyday life included long journeys moving herds from the Aragonese Pyrenees to the Maestrazgo region. However, due to its size, maintaining them was very expensive. This was the reason why this breed decreased in number after the Civil War, due to the crisis of the post-war years.
So, how was the Pyrenean Mastiff able to survive to this present day? In 1977, Rafael Mal Alcrudo, Daniel Llorens Guerrero, and Jaime Graus Morales — who are passionate about dogs, especially this breed — decided to found the Pyrenean Mastiff Club in Spain. Affiliated with the Royal Canine Society of Spain, its main objective was the conservation and promotion of this breed.
The post-war crisis weakened the nation, especially the genetic heritage of this breed was affected by crossbreeding. As a result, this dog breed was in danger. With the foundation of the club, the few pedigree examples which were running free in the countryside were collected and became the basis for the breed’s recovery.
Today, it’s an international well-known and respected breed. Not only thanks to the club in Spain, but also due to other clubs across Europe and the USA.
Traits and Features
This flexible and agile breed has a strong and sturdy body, combined with the power of a mountain dog. Its chest is broad and muscular. Its thick coats hides its bear-like musculature. The facial features of the Pyrenean Mastiff are that of a breed used for physical work and defending herds.
Regarding its color, its fur tends to have a whitish color, with a typical Mastiff mask. Their patches can spread throughout the body, which are the same color of its mask. For breeders, neither the tricolor or off-white examples are desired. The most appreciated colors are listed below from the most desired to the least:
- Pure white or snow white with medium grey patches
- Intense golden yellow
This breed doesn’t seem to have a maximum size. The bigger the Mastiff, the better. Males usually have a minimum height of 77 cm, and females have a minimum height of 72 cm. This breed can get even taller. Not only that, many breeders prefer dogs that exceed 81 cm as a minimum.
Since this breed belongs the Molosser family, its broad structure, fallen ears, and abundant fur give it a peaceful and inoffensive look.
A Friendly Molosser
Despite its imposing appearance, this Mastiff has a gentle and affectionate personality. They’re also great guard dogs. They never back down from any threat and are loyal to their owner. Due to this breed’s intelligence and authority, they are respected among other dogs, because they are normally aggressive to them.
Their skills as a fighting dog is thanks to several centuries of fighting wolves. Their bark is deep and territorial, perfect for signaling danger in open spaces. As a family dog they’re respectful toward children and faithful to their owner. However, they require open spaces and plenty of exercise.
Caring for this Dog
Since this is a large breed, the Pyrenean Mastiff has a history of hip dysplasia and gastric torsion which is severe and potentially fatal. It tends to happen in large breeds with a deep chest and a distended stomach. This is because gases build up until the ligaments give way and the spleen is put under pressure and twists the stomach.
Pain and inflammation in the abdomen, as well as unusual behavior and restlessness are the most visible symptoms. Therefore, a regular check up with the vet is recommended with this breed because its huge body may cause several problems.