Pyrenean Mastiff

Other names: Navarra Mastiff

Pyrenean Mastiff

The Pyrenean Mastiff is a large, imposing dog. Although they have huge, barrel-like frames, the Pyrenean Mastiff is very quick on its feet. These dogs are also completely fearless; they were first bred to protect livestock from wolves and beers. Despite their intimidating stature, the Pyrenean has a soft, loving, and even docile nature when it's not on guard duties. These gentle giants form really strong bonds with their owners and enjoy being around young children. Pyrenean Mastiffs don't require massive amounts of exercise, but they do need lots of space to feel comfortable.

Key facts about the Pyrenean Mastiff

Life expectancy :





Temperament :


Size :

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Origins and history

The Pyrenean Mastiff was developed in the Aragon and Castilla regions, which we now know as modern day Spain. These large, courageous dogs protected livestock and fought off bears and wolves in the process. Unsurprisingly, they became a popular choice for farmers and herders in and around the Pyrenean mountain ranges. They remained popular until the outbreak of the Spanish civil war. Given the hardships many people faced, the Pyrenean Mastiff was simply too expensive to take care off, and their numbers began to decline. Luckily for modern-day dogs lovers, a group of breeders started to re-establish the Mastiff during the 1970s. It was then recognised by the International Federation of Kennel Clubs (FCI) in 1982.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 2 - Pinscher and Schnauzer - Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs


Section 2 : Molossian type

Physical characteristics of the Pyrenean Mastiff

Adult size

Female : Between 28 and 30 in

Male : Between 30 and 31 in


Female : Between 121 and 154 lb

Male : Between 121 and 154 lb

Coat colour

Type of coat

Eye colour



A very large dog with a solid, muscular build. The Pyrenean Mastiff has a sizable head and a deep, broad chest. The hindquarters are exceptionally strong and sturdy. Their tails are set quite high and are very strong and flexible. Despite its appearance, the Pyrenean Mastiff is light and nimble on its feet, displaying the kind of agility and athleticism rarely seen in giant dog breeds.

Good to know

The Pyrenean Mastiff is quite a rare breed in the UK. Potential owners will need to contact a specialist breeder and are likely to spend a few months on a waiting list.

These big dogs are big droolers. They can also be very “gassy.”

They're loyal and affectionate towards their families, but they can be suspicious of strangers. 

The Pyrenean Mastiff is a brave and confident dog that is likely to confront a "stranger." The importance of socialisation can't be overstated when it comes to owning one of these powerful animals.


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    People unfamiliar with the breed could easily get intimidated by this very large dog. But they are gentle giants. They love being around people and make wonderful companions and family pets. These guys are far too big to sit on your lap, but they’ll always come looking for a stroke.

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    The puppies are very playful and can be extremely boisterous in their early years. However, they tend to calm down as they get older. Like most giant breeds, the Pyrenean Mastiff ages much quicker than other dogs. Once they reach the "golden" years, they prefer a more sedate lifestyle.

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    Again, Pyrenean Mastiffs become much calmer as they enter adulthood. In fact, they actually become quite docile, turning into giant couch potatoes the older they get. But the puppies are the complete opposite. They love to play and can sometimes become overbearing if not properly socialised.

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    These dogs are very smart. They need the right kind of training and stimulation to be mentally satisfied. Walks and games need to be interesting and challenging. If not, the dog will soon become bored and frustrated, which may manifest as "bad " behaviour. And a poorly behaved Pyrenean Mastiff will soon become a very big problem.

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    The Pyrenean Mastiff was bred to be a guard dog. These natural protectors are unlikely to go chasing after anything small and furry. They prefer to stand guard and patrol the perimeter.

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    Fearful / wary of strangers

    These dogs are not scared of anything or anybody. They can fight off bears and packs of wolves, so any strangers are extremely unlikely to unsettle them. However, because of their protective instincts, they can be suspicious of new people. If not properly socialised, this can come across as intimidating.

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    The Pyrenean Mastiff is a confident, independent animal that is capable of looking after itself.

    Behaviour of the Pyrenean Mastiff

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      Tolerates solitude

      These dogs are fairly comfortable in their own company, but should never be left alone for long periods of time. Dogs need companionship. Without it, they’ll become frustrated and maybe even destructive. And given the size of these giant dogs, they're capable of doing some serious damage.

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      Easy to train / obedience

      The inexperienced dog owner is likely to have a tough time training and socialising a Pyrenean Mastiff. Each dog has a unique set of needs, but training a giant working dog requires a very specific approach and experienced hand. Big dogs come with an even bigger responsibility. If you don't feel confident enough to handle them, then they're not the dog for you.

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      These big dogs don't bark very often, but you'll know about it  when they do. A Pyrenean Mastiff has a deep, resonant bark that matches its size.

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      Tendency to run away

      Unlike most working dogs, the Pyrenean Mastiff is a fairly docile dog with a low prey drive. This means they're very unlikely to run away. Still, it's a good idea to secure all outdoor spaces. The Pyrenean Mastiff is a nimble,  athletic dog; they could easily escape if they wanted to.

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      As long as its needs are being met, the Pyrenean Mastiff is a well-behaved animal. However, if they're bored or lonely, they may start expressing their frustrations through destructive behaviours. The Pyrenean is a giant, powerful dog with incredibly strong jaws.  If they're not looked after properly, these big guys will do some serious damage to your property.

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      Greedy / Gluttony

      These dogs aren't greedy or gluttonous, but they do eat a lot of food! But despite their huge frames and big appetites,  it's still important that you don't overfeed big dogs.  Extra weight can put a lot of pressure on their joints, leading to painful long-term health issues like arthritis.

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      Guard dog

      The Pyrenean Mastiff is a natural born guard dog. They're alert, watchful, and extremely protective over members of their pack. They’ll quickly spot anything suspicious and will soon raise the alarm. Given their loud bark and imposing frame, they also make an excellent deterrent.

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      First dog

      Although the Pyrenean is a gentle giant that loves being around people, they can be very difficult to train. An experienced dog handler would need to use all their skills in training one of these large, powerful animals.

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        Pyrenean Mastiff in a flat

        These giant dogs are not suited to living in a flat or a small house with no outdoor area. The Pyrenean Mastiff is not a particularly active breed, but they still need lots of space to be truly happy.

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        Need for exercise / Sporty

        The Pyrenean doesn’t require a great amount of exercise. Some working breeds need at least two hours per day, but these dogs are happy with about half that amount. The puppies can be extremely active, but try not to over-exercise them. Too much pressure on their developing bones and joints can lead to health problems later in life.

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        Travelling / easy to transport

        Relaxed, docile breeds are usually fairly easy to travel with. They respond well to crate training, which is really useful for long journeys, and essential for plane travel. However, the Pyrenean Mastiff is an extremely big dog. Many airlines won't even allow them onto their planes.


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          Pyrenean Mastiff and cats

          These dogs will get on well with the cats they grow up with, but they might not be so friendly towards new felines. They're likely to see any new cats as an outsider to the pack. Because of their strength and size, extra care should be taken when they come into contact with smaller animals.

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          Pyrenean Mastiff and dogs

          They generally get on well with other dogs, although they do have a competitive side. The Pyrenean Mastiff is not aggressive by nature, but they will respond to any perceived threats,   using their overwhelming size and physical strength to dominate other dogs. Socialising a dog is always important. But when they're this big and this strong, it suddenly becomes super-important.

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          Pyrenean Mastiff and children

          Pyrenean Mastiffs love being around children of all ages. However, they should never be left unsupervised. They could easily knock over younger children and are very boisterous during their first few years.

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          Pyrenean Mastiff and the elderly

          An adult Pyrenean Mastiff can be an ideal pet for an elderly person or couple. They don't require a large amount of exercise and become increasingly docile the older they get.  But a Pyrenean Mastiff puppy is a completely different proposition. They’re active to the point of becoming hyperactive and can be very awkward to train.



          The average cost of a purebred Pyrenean Mastiff registered at the Kennel Club is approximately £700.

          You'll also need to budget around £120 month for feeding costs.


          Despite their thick, heavy coats, the Pyrenean  Mastiff doesn’t require much grooming. You’ll need to give their coat a quick brush twice a week and they do tend to shed quite heavily during spring and autumn.


          Shedding is important.

          Nutrition of the Pyrenean Mastiff

          These big dogs have big appetites, although it tends to decrease as they grow older. They need  3-4 cups of high quality dog food split into two meals. They also need access to fresh drinking water.

          Health of the Pyrenean Mastiff

          Life expectancy

          The average lifespan for these dogs is between 8-10 years, although some can make it to 12 or 14.

          Strong / robust

          These dogs are strong, robust, and very tough. Not only were they breed to survive inhospitable mountain conditions, but they would often protect the livestock by fighting off bears and wolves. And it doesn't get much tougher than that!

          Withstand heat

          Its thick, dense coat means that the Pyrenean Mastiff is not suited to the warmer climates. So try to keep them out of the heat, especially when they're very young. Pyrenean puppies are full of energy and love to play; they can easily overheat if the temperatures soar.

          Withstand cold

          These mountain dogs have no problem dealing with the cold. Like most other cattle and herding dogs, they have a thick double coat that insulates them from the worst weather conditions. If they can survive for hundreds of years in the mountains, they’ll have no trouble getting through the average British winter.

          Tendency to put on weight

          This dog is very greedy, you must be careful not to over feed him.

          Common illnesses

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