Pyrenean Mastiff is one of the oldest and rarest breeds directly from Pyrenees Mountains in Spain. This breed was bred to guard and protect flocks from bears, thieves, and wolves. Nowadays, this gentle giant guards only his family members. This dog is giant, but also sensitive, independent and loving. Read on and discover what makes this breed so different from others.
Real name: Pyrenean Mastiff
Origin: Aragon, Spain
Breed type: Guard dog
Weight: 81 kilograms (179 lb) to over 100 kilograms (220 lb)
Height: Males 77 centimetres (30 in), Females 71 centimetres (28 in)
Lifespan: 10-13 years
Color: Snow white, medium grey, marbled, sandy. Red and yellowish-white patches are often seen
Coat: Dense, thick and of moderate length
Pyrenean Mastiff: History
This is a breed whose origin is still unknown, although it’s accepted that the breed descended from molosser dogs. These dogs were originally brought from Sumeria and Assyria to Spain 3,000 years ago. Due to the remoteness of the wide areas of the Pyrenees Mountains (area today known as Spain), the original molosser dogs developed by region into several breeds:
- Pyrenean Mastiff
- Spanish Mastiff
- Pyrenean Mountain Dog, known as the Great Pyrenees
Each breed saved the main traits of molosser dogs, such as strong need to guard and protect. Over the years Great Pyrenees or Pyrenean Mountain Dog built a strong reputation that was based on their strong breeding programs. That’s how they got their popularity. At one moment the mountains were almost completely free from wolves, so the need for guarding dogs was lower to bare minimum. However, with the return of the wolves the need for Great Pyrenees escalated and a small group of enthusiasts for this breed had a plan.
They selected 100 specimens of the breed and narrowed it down to the best 30. Those 30 resembled the standard the most, plus they demonstrated great health and an adequate temperament. Their breeding program resulted in what we know today as Pyrenean Mastiff.
Nowadays, Pyrenean Mastiff is known for its size, strong build, non-aggressive and gentle temperament, as well as graceful movement. In addition, Pyrenean Mastiff possesses strong urge to protect, amazing fighting skills, and willingness to put them in use if he needs to protect his family, pack members or its home.
Overall, around 4,000 to 6,000 of Pyrenean Mastiffs can be found nowadays all around the world. The breed can be seen in following countries:
- United States of America
A few could be found in some countries in Eastern and Western Europe and Scandinavia.
Pyrenean Mastiff: Physical Appearance
Firstly, this is a really large dog that is muscular and strong. Although he is massive, his body is well proportioned. Surprisingly, this dog is easy in its movement and that’s for sure not something that you would expect from such massive dog. Pyrenean Mastiff has a large and long head, with a skull being slightly longer when compared with the length of the muzzle.
Compared with other Mastiffs, Pyrenean Mastiff has a the lower lip that is a little slack, revealing black gums beneath. In this breed, nose is always black. Interestingly, their hazel eyes are small, almost almond-shaped. In addition, the ears are triangular and medium in size. As a large breed their neck is always broad while the body is robust, with a strong and straight topline and a broad chest. The tail is always set high and its surprisingly flexible and strong.
Their coat is dense, moderately long and thick, and softer in the plumed area. Their coat color is always white, with a darker spots when it comes to facial feature. In addition, their ears are always spotted with color, and may have irregular patches or matching color elsewhere on the body. These colors include:
- Medium grey
- Light beige
For males, the minimum size is 81 cm (32 in), while females are around 75 cm (30 in). When it comes to body weight, it can vary, so it goes from 70-86 kg (154–189 lb) for females to 80–100 kg (176–220 lb) for males.
Pyrenean Mastiff: Personality
For a large breed it’s always surprising how peaceful and calm Pyrenean Mastiff actually is. The Pyrenean Mastiff is a confident, calm, and even-tempered dog. They are great with humans, especially children – they are gentle with children, and it’s difficult to irritate them. Just like with any breed you should make an extra precaution when it comes to leaving your children with dog, especially if they are young and don’t know how to behave around dogs. Therefore, you should always educate your child how to behave around dogs.
Pyrenean Mastiff will probably spend his days lounging around while being nibbled or pounced by smaller family members (children) or smaller canine members. They are so flexible and great with other dogs. The logic behind their calmness lies in their self-realization and awareness of their size and strength, so they rarely use it. But, if they feel directly threatened or if they feel their family is in danger, they will become an entirely different animal – intimidating, fearless, and aggressive if needed. Long story short, if your family guard dog is a Pyrenean Mastiff, it’s unlikely for your home to be high, or at all, on any burglar’s list of targets.
Pyrenean Mastiff Is Great With Other Animals
Temperament of this breed is what makes this dog so unique among large dog breeds. Their calm quality makes this breed dog-friendly, so Pyrenean Mastiff is a great choice when you are looking for a second dog.
Furthermore, this breed is also great with felines, so you can feel free to leave your Singapura or any other cat breed. If you are wondering how it’s possible for such a big dog to get along with a cat, the logic behind it is very simple actually – it’s all about the genes.
Pyrenean Mastiff’s ancestors lived mostly in farms and served as the protector of farm animals for centuries. Protecting other animals is in their DNA. However, their willingness to protect other animals and love toward them doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t track his interactions with other animals.
After all, Pyrenean Mastiff is a strong and big dog, and as any other dog he can easily get carried away. Luckily, it’s easy to control him as he will always obey the commands. However, in order for him to obey every time you must show strong leadership. Also, it’s crucial to socialize him early to ensure only positive traits.
Pyrenean Mastiff: Grooming
First thing that you should know about dog bathing is that less is more. Dog skin is different than humans and they have to maintain their natural oil in their coat. That’s the main reason why dogs never should be bathed too many times.
You can brush your Pyrenean Mastiff at least three times per week to keep the coat fresh and mat-free. Always check for toes as trim mats can appear between the toes. This is a double-coated breed, so you can expect shedding twice a year. During the other days you can expect low-shedding days. Just keep with regular combing and brushing. Just like with any other dog breed you should check the ears always – keep them dry and clean, as well as the area around its eyes.
As for any breed, daily tooth brushing (you can use dogs toothpaste or specially made sticks that will protect his tooth and gums) should be a part of regular grooming sessions. After all, keeping your dogs tooth clean and healthy means that you will prevent any dental diseases, and moreover healthy teeth means that your dog will live longer.
Pyrenean Mastiff Is A High Maintenance Dog
You wouldn’t expect for a mountain dog to have so frequent grooming needs, but with that thick coat and massive body regular maintenance is mandatory. He needs regular brushing to avoid matting and tangling. You will need to have on hand tools that will make grooming sessions easier, including:
- metal comb
- pin brush
Some Pyrenean Mastiff owners even have a de-tangling spray. It’s important to understand Pyrenean’s coat, so you can provide a proper grooming process. One thing is for sure – grooming him isn’t a quick or an easy process. Regular grooming is mandatory if you want to slow down the shedding and keep the hair out from your home as much as possible.
All in all, your Pyrenean is a Mastiff after all, so you can expect some drooling. Don’t mix drooling with foaming. Clean drool regularly off his chin or across your pant leg – it will happen.
How To Train Your Pyrenean Mastiff?
Pyrenean Mastiff is easy to train, due to his calm temper and easy going nature. But, just like with any other breed, it’s important to start training your puppy from day one. In addition, early socialization is crucial when it comes to having a properly behaved dog. But, it’s important to set yourself as a strong pack leader so your dog follows your commands.
Its not all sunshine and rainbow with this breed and training, as this dog was tough to be independent and to be able to make his own decisions. That being said, you can expect some stubbornness, especially if you don’t have enough experience when it comes to handling this breed. He will try to bend you to his will, and you should avoid that.
Never use force with this breed, not ever and specially not during the training sessions. If you feel that you are missing on something in training maybe you should think about hiring a professional dog trainer to help you with tips and training sessions.
Starting learning lessons at an early age is a must for Pyrenean Mastiff owner. If you miss on those he will become untrainable. Great starting point would be to focus on basic commands and progress from there.
Pyrenean Mastiff: Exercise Needs
Your Pyrenean Mastiff will love to be free and run around, especially after a good meal. You need to make sure that you provide enough exercise to this massive canine and that he goes the necessary distance on a daily basis. Extra-large-breed puppies grow fast, and their bones are soft, so it takes time for them to mature and reach their final, adult constitution. If possible, walk your dog on unpaved paths and soil, and always focus on their joints.
Spend enough time in the backyard, fenced if possible. Your Pyrenean won’t hurt anyone, but its better to be safe and avoid moments without an leash as people have a tendency of easily getting scared every time they see a large dog. If you don’t have a fenced backyard, be prepared for walks several times a day.
Pyrenean Mastiffs are a calm breed, but they do need their exercise to remain physically fit and mentally healthy.
Pyrenean Mastiff: Health
Pyrenean Mastiff is still a rare dog breed, so there is not enough information to identify any specific genetic conditions or illnesses that can be prevalent. But, what we know for sure is that with all giant breeds you can expect hip dysplasia and gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV).
Luckily, there are some tests that you can undertake to check dog’s health, including DNA panel for genetic illnesses and OFA Hip and Elbows.
Pyrenean Mastiff – Key Takeaways
If you are searching for a giant dog with gentle heart, you can stop looking further, as Pyrenean Mastiff is your perfect combination of both. If you never heard before about this breed you shouldn’t be worried, as this breed is one of the rarest in the world.
They are full on vivid personality, gentle, and above all, huge and calm protectors.