Other names: Navarra 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 :
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
Group 2 - Pinscher and Schnauzer - Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs
Section 2 : Molossian type
Physical characteristics of the Pyrenean Mastiff
Female : Between 28 and 30 in
Male : Between 30 and 31 in
Female : Between 121 and 154 lb
Male : Between 121 and 154 lb
White or coloured coat with large dark markings, especially around the face and back.
Type of coat
The hair is mid-length.
Thick, dense coat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is a confident, independent animal that is capable of looking after itself.
Behaviour of the Pyrenean Mastiff
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.
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.
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.
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.