This is very old, rustic and ancient dog breed, originated from the historic Kingdom of Aragon in today Spain. The breed has been documented since the Middle Ages, but it is most likely even older than that. Just like with majority of old dog breeds, its history is rather unknown, but it is believed, that they evolved from large Assyrian and Sumerian molloser dogs brought to Spain by Phoenician traders thousands of years ago.
The main utilization of this breed always was and still is guarding and protecting the livestock against various predators. Back in the Middle Ages, their main purpose was to protect the flocks in the annual transhumance to high pastures of Pyrenees for summer and than return it to lower grounds in winter. It is said, that only 5 Pyrenean Mastiffs were able to protect herd of 1000 sheeps on a route full of bears and wolves. Nowadays, these dogs are still used as livestock protectors, but also for guarding country estates or as companions.
3) Almost extinct
The Pyrenean Mastiff was quite popular up until the 20th century, when their numbers massively declined. It was because of several reasons. The first one was, that bears and wolves dissappeared from the Pyrenees Mountains in 1930s and 1940s. The second was, that sheep now could be transported by train, so there was no need for protecting them during the migration. And the third one was the devastating Spanish Civil War followed by World War II. All these events made the Pyrenean Mastiff breed almost extinct. When the wolves returned into the Aragon region in 1970s, there was once again need for livestock protector dogs. Group of enthusiasts found approximatelly 100 Pyrenean Mastiff dogs and they revived the breed. Slowly, the breed spread to other Spanish regions, as well to other countries, and it is estimated, that today there is 4-6 thousands of pure Pyrenean Mastiffs in the world.
4) Gentle giants
Even though this is a protector breed, these dogs should never be agressive without a reason. Actually, they are known to be very gentle towards its family and they are great example of gentle giant breed. Despite its big size, they are excellent with children and they make amazing family companion dogs. Of course, you should never leave any dog breed with a young child unsupervised. They also get along with other animals, especially if they are raised together from the puppyhood.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is really really big dog breed. There are no maximum height for the breed, but the minimal height should be 72 cm for females and 77 cm for males, which is 28 and 30 inch. The ideal height is around 80 cm, which is 31,5 inch. The weight is typically between 60-90 kg, which is 130 – 200 pounds. Females are naturally slightly smaller than males.
The Pyrenean Mastiff has a heavy coat, which is very practical for working long hours in mountainous weather. This breed has a very thick coat and it can adapt to almost any kind of climate. You can find this breed in several colors. The base color should always be white, and they can have patches of black, gray, dusk, red, sand or tan.
Sometimes, you can see these dogs with spiky collar. This collar is named Carlanca and it is also known as wolf collar. It is a type of dog collar designed to protect livestock guardian dogs from attack by wolves. Wolf collars are fitted with elongated spikes to stop wolves from attacking dogs on the neck.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is a very intelligent and alert dog breed. When it comes to protection, they do not need almost any training, and they will perform the task very good. But even when it comes to classic obedience training, they do quite okay. The Pyrenean Mastiff is pretty eager to please dog who will enjoy shorter fun training sessions with its owner. With patient and consistent training, these dogs can learn all the basic obedience commands quite easily.
The Pyrenean Mastiff does not require much grooming and maintenance and they can keep their coat relatively clean by themselves, but the coat can tangle easily, especially around the ears It is a double coated dog, and just like all the doublecoated dogs they do shed some deal of fur all year long. If you want to minimize the shedding and also keep their coat tangle free, regular brushing is needed. Just like with all dogs, you should regularly check their eyes, ears, nails and teeth and clean them or clip them if needed.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is pretty healthy dog breed with average lifespan around 10, which is actually pretty good for dog of this size. It is not uncommon for these dogs to live for 12 years. Just like any other breed, even the Pyrenean Mastiff may suffer from some health issues. Those might include hip dysplasia, bloating, entropion or inflammatory bowel disease.