Pyrenean Mastiff: a comprehensive guide to the breed plus 12 photos
Pyrenean Mastiff without a doubt is one of the more impressive herding molossus dogs and is one of the largest Mastiff breeds out there. If you know anything about Mastiffs, this will tell you a lot. They are huge! Pyrenean Mastiff is a dog for those that don’t mind sharing their home with a gentle giant.
Apart from their large size, what else can be said about this dog. And, most importantly, would this be a good dog for you?
Pyrenean Mastiff history of origins
Pyrenean Mastiff appearance
Pyrenean Mastiff character
Pyrenean Mastiffs health and nutrition
Pyrenean Mastiffs pros and cons
Getting ready for your Pyrenean Mastiff puppy
Pyrenean Mastiffs originated in an area with a very magical name of Aragon, which is located in today’s Spain. This is a dog that was developed and bred as a sheep herding dog that spent centuries alongside Spanish cattle herders and farmers.
According to some sources, Pyrenean Mastiffs have descended from Tibetan Mastiffs which is the ancestor of most modern molossus dogs. It is likely that the Pyrenean Mastiff predecessors were brought to Spain by the merchants from India or Syria.
Large and powerful, Pyrenean Mastiffs helped protect the people and herds from predators and enemies and were a valuable part of almost every self-respecting farm and household. Due to their superb guarding instincts, strength, and courage, these dogs earned an important place in the life of the country and its many families. At that time, people paid little attention to the appearance of the dogs as long as they did their job well.
In today’s world, there is little need for such working dogs: the populations of predators are much reduced and farmers and cattle herders have better ways of protecting their herds than using large dogs.
This is why such breeds as Pyrenean Mastiff have been steadily on the decline in their “natural” habitat – in the villages of Spain and the rest of Europe. However, they have won a place in the hearts of many people before this wonderful breed could completely disappear from the face of the earth.
Around the 1970s, groups of dog lovers and particularly Pyrenean Mastiff lovers began working on bringing the breed back into popularity to preserve the breed and help it find a new place in today’s dog world. They worked hard on finding the best examples of the breed in the traditional Spanish households and worked on preserving those qualities, which resulted in the modern Pyrenean Mastiff – a dog that has a growing number of fans all over the world.
Pyrenean Mastiff is a large and muscular dog, proportionately built, tall and long. They have impressively large and heavy heads, with faces slightly more elongated and less square and flat-looking than many other Mastiffs.
The coats are medium to long (up to 10 cm long!) and very thick. Thick coats are what allowed Pyrenean Mastiff to survive and prosper while spending large amounts of time outside watching the herds no matter the weather. The coat color is usually light with a darker “mask” around the eyes. They can have spots and patterns of the same color as the mask all throughout their bodies. Ears are usually dark – the same color as the mask or darker. The coat color itself can be white, gray, tan, or any combination of those colors.
The eyes are always dark – usually of deep brown color.
Pyrenean Mastiff has a wide, long neck and wide strong chest. The tail is usually medium length and kept down. This is a muscular, heavy, and happy giant.
Today, Pyrenean Mastiffs are no longer a working dog responsible for the safety of their people and cattle. Regardless, this is still an excellent guard dog: courageous, devoted and confident.
They can be an excellent dog to have if you own a farm or a homestead: you will likely have a chance to see your Pyrenean Mastiff natural guarding instincts at play in such an environment! They will never hurt any of the household animals but predators will never approach your land either while this gentle giant is around.
Pyrenean Mastiffs have excellent intuition and superb guarding abilities. They are particularly cautious at night time, especially if they sense strangers around. They are very watchful and highly intelligent. Nothing will escape the attention of this dog.
They will know your friends and every visitor you may have, and be extremely cautious around strangers. They tend to protect both their people and household property with equal zest. The size and weight of these dogs, in combination with their powerful presence, are usually enough to ward any unwanted stranger.
Despite their large size and intimidating looks, Pyrenean Mastiffs are rarely inherently aggressive, even towards strangers. They simply prefer to keep a polite distance from people they don’t know well. This is a very motivated, active dog.
They are usually fairly easy to train and can perform various jobs as service dogs as well as guard dogs. If you have a farm and some cattle, your Pyrenean Mastiff will be in their natural element and will be happy to help you guard the herd.
A Pyrenean Mastiff is a very interesting dog. They can be very independent thinking and very self-confident, especially when in their element. However, this is also a dog that absolutely needs the company of its owner, even though it will never be overtly needy. A Pyrenean Mastiff will not bother you with their company when they see you are busy with something or not in the mood.
But deep inside, they are very attached to their owners. They will do their best to please you and will love you deeply. This is a great dog to have around children, provided the dog is well-socialized and well-raised. They are very gentle, despite their large size, and are usually very patient even with the youngest and most rambunctious of children.
This is a thoughtful, watchful dog – qualities that have been forged through centuries of evolution. They are very good at learning new tricks (and rules) and are happy to demonstrate what they learned.
Pyrenean Mastiff is a fairly healthy breed. Throughout the centuries of their evolution, they had to adapt to various climate conditions and to the hard work they had to do for the farmers they lived with. They don’t have any breed-related diseases that are easily susceptible to, as opposed to many other breeds.
Although young Pyrenean Mastiffs may have a very healthy appetite, an adult dog, in general, does not consume that much food, definitely not as much as you would think judging by their size. Overfeeding is never recommended for any dog, especially if the dog isn’t getting enough exercise. A lean dog will always be healthier and live longer than an overweight one.
As a dog owner, you probably wonder if you should feed your dog commercial dry or wet kibble, as opposed to natural food such as meat. Natural feeding has many advantages over commercial foods, especially over dry kibble. Fresh meat contains all the necessary nutrients and vitamins a dog needs and is usually hypoallergenic, as opposed to many commercially-formulated foods.
Young Pyrenean Mastiff puppies should be fed three times a day (up to 6 months old.) For a puppy from 6 months old to 18 months old, you can feed them twice a day. Starting with 18 months old, the dog can be fed once a day.
Apart from meat, you can feed your dog some carbohydrate-rich food such as oatmeal or rice, but it’s best not to overdo grains in their diet. You can also give your dog some dairy such as cottage cheese. Eggs can be a great addition to the diet as well. Organ meats are extremely healthy and are usually well-loved by dogs: you can use beef or chicken or pig livers, hearts, tripe, etc. Be sure to always cook organ meats to avoid parasites.
You should only give access to food for about 15 minutes or so. Anything that the dog doesn’t finish at once should be taken away and given at the next feed. Don’t free feed by always giving your dog access to food. This may make it hard to know how much your dog has eaten and also lead to uncontrolled food behavior. Not so with water. Your dog should have access to clean, fresh water at all times.
As with any breed, there are pros and cons to owning a Pyrenean Mastiff. Some of the pros of owning this wonderful breed are:
- Pyrenean Mastiff’s intelligence and well-developed intuition
- Their confidence and patience
- Excellent guarding qualities
- Their watchfulness and caution around strangers, as well as their excellent guarding and protecting qualities
- Their devotion and love for their owners.
As always, with good come the less positive sides that may cause issues with some inexperienced dog owners. With Pyrenean Mastiffs this will be:
- Their stubbornness and tendency to follow their own will in anything they do
- Hair! Lots and lots of hair that you will need to groom and clean out of your furniture regularly
- Their large size. Is your car big enough to fit this dog?
- Patience and understanding that you will need to have to raise and train this dog properly
Pyrenean Mastiffs are large dogs that will take a lot of space not only in your heart but in your house as well. This is why, if you’ve made a decision to adopt a Pyrenean Mastiff puppy, you will have to thoroughly prepare for this happy occasion.
First of all, you will need to prepare the living area for your puppy. If you live on the farm and plan to let your dog live outside for a large part of the day while you work outside, you will need a fenced-in area and a dog house where they could sleep. Mind you, it’s not a great idea to keep your Pyrenean outside if you spend most of your time in the house or at work. These dogs crave human companionship and will not be happy spending most of the day away from you.
You will need a feeding area with a food bowl and water bowl ready for your pup. You will also need a dog bed (or three!) for your pup to sleep on.
Leashes and collars are a necessary accessory that will now be a part of your (and your puppy’s) lives. You will need several leashes of different length: 1.5 meters, 3 meters for city walks, and also some really long ones for country walks that you may do with your pup.
You will also need some medicines and some stuff for hygiene such as dog soup and dog shampoo, anti-flea and anti-tick sprays and lotions, ear and eye drops. You will also need stuff for grooming your pup: dog combs and brushes are essential to keep that unruly coat clean and beautiful.
And of course, the most important thing and something your pup will find most important are toys! Balls, kongs, sticks, and anything else you can find in your local pet store. Dogs particularly like noisy toys, as long as you can handle the noise yourself! Kongs are great for hiding little treats in: a good kong will keep your pup occupied for a while when you can watch them but need them to behave.