One of the world’s lesser-known Mastiff breeds is the Pyrenean Mastiff. It’s rare to see this dog in the UK but they are still popular working dogs on the Pyrenees Mountains. Today we’re going to take a look into this canine’s background.
Pyrenean Mastiff Breed Standards:
Kennel Club Member?: Yes
Pyrenean Mastiff Lifespan: 10-13 years
Pyrenean Mastiff Exercise: Up to 1 hour per day
Height: Male 30-31 inches Female 25-30 inches
Weight: 54-109 kilograms
Pyrenean Mastiffs are incredibly rare in the UK. Those interested in Pyrenean Mastiff puppies will probably have to get one imported! Currently, there are no breed clubs in the UK for this canine. It was only recently the Pyrenean Mastiff received its Kennel Club recognition.
Despite receiving this recognition, there is no official KC breed standard. This means the Pyrenean Mastiff is not allowed to be exhibited at KC licensed breed shows. They’re not to be confused with the Pyrenean Mountain dog or the Pyrenean Shepherd.
Check out the pros and cons of the Pyrenean Mastiff dog breed below:
- Child & dog friendly
- Great watchdog
- Drafting dog used to pull carts
- Highly intelligent
- Won’t bark excesively
- Heavy drooler
- Needs to be in a large home
- Sheds throughout the year
- Prone to weight gain
The Pyrenean Mastiff is a giant, strong and muscular breed yet in spite of this, they’re not known to be sluggish. In fact quite the opposite! Their double-coat is thick with a basic colour of white. Patches of a darker colour such as Grey, Gold, Brown, Black and Beige is found across the body.
The best term to describe this breed is as a ‘Gentle Giant’. They really are kind and affectionate dogs that’ll form strong bonds with their family. Due to its independent nature, Pyrenean Mastiffs aren’t easily affected by separation anxiety.
Intelligent and easy to train, this dog will excel in the hands of an experienced owner, even if they’re a senior. As this Mastiff has a stubborn side, first-time owners should steer clear. This guardian was bred to protect both humans and animals, so it’s important they don’t develop any possessive habits over their family.
Pyrenean Mastiffs are naturally suspicious of strangers but they won’t show aggression. Unless they feel threatened of course. They’ll keep their space from strangers but this will change as they get to know them. As a watchdog Pyrenean Mastiffs will bark to alert their owner of somebody entering their territory.
This guardian does exceptionally well in a family environment. Growing up, they’ll be a little boisterous and their size could accidentally injure smaller children but never intentionally. For this reason, homes with older children are better suited. They’ll protect every member of the family, young, old, human, or animal!
Sociable with other dogs and friendly towards all animals, this canine is great at making friends! They can live in households with other pets including felines. Despite their intimidating size Pyrenean Mastiffs are a placid and calm breed.
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The Pyrenean Mastiff dog dates right back to the Middle Ages and is a descendent of the Mollosser dogs. Mollosoid breeds were brought from Assyria and Sumeria to Spain over 3,000 years ago. They came with the Phoenicians, an ancient civilization, from what we now know as Lebanon.
During the Middle Ages, there were two Christian kingdoms Castille and Aragon, an area today known as Spain. The Pyrenean Mastiff was developed in the Aragon region in the rugged terrain of the Pyrenees Mountains. Here they would protect and guard livestock alongside shepherds.
As the herd would migrate through the mountains, the Pyrenean Mastiffs, who often worked in groups, would have to defend the livestock from bears and wolves! Spiked collars were worn to protect them from these predators.
In 1659, the Pyrenees Mountains were split between France and Spain. France obtained the northern area and Spain the South. The French worked on refining their Mastiff into the modern Pyrenean Mountain dog we know today. By the 1940s bears and wolves declined in numbers across the Pyrenees Mountains.
Sheep were transported by rail and the Spanish Civil War and World War II was taking place. This almost wiped out the Pyrenean Mastiffs entire existence. By 1970 wolves had returned to Aragon which resulted in a breeding programme for the Pyrenean Mastiff. They increased their size and numbers, which allowed the breed to spread into different countries.
Exercise & Grooming
Pyrenean Mastiffs need up to one hour of exercise each day. Pyrenean Mastiff puppies are more boisterous but care must be taken to ensure they aren’t over-exercised. It’ll be damaging for their growing joints. Split their walks across the day as opposed to one long walk.
Mental stimulation is important for a smart canine like this one. This working breed is at its happiest when it has something to do! Teach him some advanced tricks and get his mind to work! A bored Mastiff can quickly destroy any home in seconds!
Take the Pyrenean Mastiff to a big open space where they can enjoy some off-leash time. They love exploring and it’s also a form of mental stimulation. Thanks to its relatively low prey drive, Pyrenean Mastiffs won’t dart off to chase a small animal.
Pyrenean Mastiffs shed copious amounts of fur throughout the year. Brush through their coat every three days to prevent matting and reduce shedding. A wide-toothed comb, grooming rake and slicker brush are all ideal to use on their fur type.
Baths should be given every 6-8 weeks but the longer the better. Trim the fur in between their toes as this can form into mats. Clip their nails every fortnight to prevent overgrowth. The long floppy ears of the Pyrenean Mastiff are prone to infection so ears must be cleaned weekly.
Below are the breed-related health issues of the Pyrenean Mastiff:
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus: The stomach twists trapping the contents within, gasses fill the tummy with no means of escape causing it to expand. It’s a life-threatening condition.
- Hip Dysplasia: Poor development of the hip joint causes the ball and socket to rub and grind against each other. This will cause pain, lameness, inflammation and arthritis.
- Elbow Dysplasia: Poor development of the elbow joint will cause lameness, pain, inflammation and arthritis.
- Entropion: The eyelid rolls inwards causing the eyelashes to scratch against the surafce of the eye. It could lead to ulcers, eye infections, conjunctivitis, and weepy eyes.
- Ectropion: The eyelid rolls outwards exposing the eye’s inner tissues. Treatment may be needed depending on the severity.
- Glaucoma: Intra-ocular pressure within the eye will cause redness, severe pain and a loss of vision.
Pyrenean Mastiff Training
In the right hands, these intelligent canines are easy to train. However, they can be stubborn so an experienced owner is recommended. This breed will quickly pick up on commands but can also grasp bad habits just as fast.
Socialization is deeply important to raise the Pyrenean Mastiff into the even-tempered breed we know and love. These canines are renowned for being gentle and placid. They’ll only resort to aggression when pushed. But it’s still important to socialize the breed due to its natural suspicions of strangers.
Positive reinforcement works best for this canine. If the Pyrenean Mastiff doesn’t want to do something it won’t do it. Keep training sessions to around ten minutes long. If they begin to lose interest divert their attention to something new.
As this breed is prone to weight gain, avoid dishing out too many food treats. Toys are a good replacement. Training goes hand in hand with exercise. If their activity needs aren’t being met, they’ll resort to destructive behaviours.
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Pyrenean Mastiff Interesting Facts
- The Pyrenean Mastiff is closely related to the Pyrenean Mountain dog. Despite the dogs being developed near one another, they’re a completely separate breed. Both are descendants of ancient Molloser dogs.
- Although their popularity has risen and expanded into other countries across the world, Pyrenean Mastiffs are still rather rare. It’s estimated there are around 4,000-6,000 Pyrenean Mastiffs left in the world.
- This breed isn’t allowed to compete in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show as it doesn’t have a KC breed standard. They’re also unable to participate at Crufts!
- There is no official Pyrenean Mastiff Club in the UK.
- The Kennel Club lists the Pyrenean Mastiff as an IMP. This means its currently on the Imported Breed Register as its a newly recognised breed that isn’t officially established in the UK. Eventually they’ll be transferred onto the breed register.
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MENDIKO kennels in the U.K. are the only breeders of Pyrenean mastiff on the U.K., and own the only known registered examples of these dogs in the country. They have some of the best spanish lines in the world. Shane and Karly can be found on Facebook (Mendiko Pyrenean mastiffs and estrelas). They are working hard on developing a breed standard and forming the Pyrenean mastiff club of GB, with the aim of getting these dogs eligible for the show ring