The Pyrenean Mastiff is an ancient breed that is believed to have been around since the middle ages. These dogs are descended from an ancient breed that was known as a livestock guardian. These dogs often traveled with nomadic tribes throughout Europe and they were bred according to the needs of whatever region they were in. Eventually the dogs started becoming refined within their regions and there were a few large breeds throughout Europe. The Pyrenean Mastiff was further developed in Spain, which is considered their country of origin and they are known as a purebred breed. These dogs are slowly becoming more well known around the world, but they are not yet officially recognized by the AKC. They are listed in the Foundation Stock Service, which is in place to keep track of breeding records and information on dogs that are rare or still being developed.
Pyrenean Mastiffs are a very large and powerful breed. They stand at about 28 to 32 inches tall at the withers and they usually weigh between 179 and 220 pounds. The large head is strong with a long muzzle that has a soft stop. The large nose is black and the small eyes are hazel, with darker shades being preferred by breeders. The ears are medium sized and v-shaped. They are partially lifted and they lay flat against the side of the dog’s face. The strong tail reaches the hock and is usually slightly curled in a sabre shape. The Pyrenean Mastiff has a medium length coat that is thick and lays flat against the body. It is usually straight or slightly wavy. The coat will usually be slightly longer around the shoulders, neck, stomach and tail. These dogs should be primarily white with a well defined mask in addition to matching markings on the body. The markings may be grey, gold, sand, black, silver, tan, or brindle. The double coat on the Pyrenean Mastiff is relatively low maintenance. They will need occasional brushing in order to keep mats from forming. These dogs shed heavily once or twice a year and will needs lots of extra brushing during this time.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is known as a calm and independent breed. This is what made them such efficient workers, but they can also be a good companion dog. In the home they are even tempered and docile, and they are also known to be quite protective of children. These dogs are wary of strangers and can often make a good watch dog. The Pyrenean Mastiff naturally gets along well with other dogs and even cats or other animals that it is introduced to at an early age. These dogs will consider their family and familiar animals as their flock. Pyrenean Mastiffs are also a very intelligent breed that can be trained very easily with the proper techniques. This is an independent dog that will require plenty of obedience training from a strong owner while they are still puppies. The owner of this dog needs to be a strong pack leader, which means being naturally authoritative and issuing commands to the dog in a firm and consistent manner. This will ensure that the dog listens. Obedience training should be done with positive reinforcement for good behaviors such as a treat or play. This is a very effective form of training for this breed. It should also be noted that these dogs take time to mature and will act very puppy like even after they have grown quite large. These dogs will also need to be well socialized while they are still puppies. This is a process that should include taking them out to expose them to new people, places, and situations. Doing this ensures that their protective nature does not turn into aggression.
Pyrenean Mastiffs are a very large breed and therefore apartment life is not recommended. They need a yard to play in and they are well suited to most climates, though they should not be left out in warm weather for too long. The yard should also be well fenced in to stop these dogs from jumping or even climbing over the fence. A tall wooden fence works best, but make sure the dog is not digging under it. These dogs are not a high energy breed, but they will need a walk every day to keep them happy and healthy. They will enjoy getting to run and play games. Make sure that these dogs get enough exercise every day, otherwise they will become bored and destructive.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is a relatively healthy breed. They sometimes have eye issues or jaw abnormalities, but these issues are relatively minor. Hip dysplasia has also been known to occur, but selective breeding has made this relatively rare. One of the most serious health concern with this breed is bloat and gastric torsion. Bloat happens when large dogs take too much air into the stomach, usually from eating too fast. Then the stomach inflates and can twist, blocking off air supply and blood flow. This is known as gastric torsion. A good way to prevent this from happening is to feed the dog small meals throughout the day from an elevated dish. If it is suspected that the dog has bloat, they should get to a vet right away and may require emergency surgery. A healthy Pyrenean Mastiff will live about 12 years.
Overall the Pyrenean Mastiff is a very large and somewhat rare breed that may not be for everyone. They need plenty of space, as well as an owner that has experience obedience training dominant dogs. They can make a good family companion for those that have enough space and patience to raise them.