Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Pyrenean Mastiff
Average Cost to keep/care for a Pyrenean Mastiff
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The Pyrenean Mastiff is a large dog and one that boasts a striking thick, double coat with the hair around their necks being that much longer forming a distinctive ruff. They are known to be gentle giants and form strong bonds with their owners and their families. They thrive in a home environment loving nothing more than to be involved in everything that goes on around them. They were once known as Navarra Mastiffs, but their name was changed to Pyrenean Mastiff.
Although highly prized in many countries of the world, these large and impressive dogs are not as popular here in the UK with very few well-bred puppies being registered with The Kennel Club every year. As such, anyone wanting to share a home with a Pyrenean Mastiff would need to register their interest with breeders for the pleasure of doing so.
During the Middle ages, there were two kingdoms in the lands that were to become known as Spain called Castilla and Aragon with each having their own breed of dogs. The Spanish Mastiff (Mastin Espanol) was the breed found in Castilla whereas in Aragon, the Pyrenean Mastiff (Mastin del Pirineo) was born. These large, courageous dogs protected and herded flocks in the region warding off wolves and bears.
Pyrenean Mastiffs, like all Mastiffs are descendants of molossoid breeds and is native to Spain or more exactly to the southern slopes of the mountains known as the Pyrenees. The breed was developed over the centuries in the region found between Aragon and Navarra which is why at one time they were known as the Navarra Mastiff or the Aragon Mastiff. It was the Phoenician traders who introduced the mastiffs to Spain having bought them in Sumeria and Assyria. The traders sold their mastiffs to locals who continued to breed them as working dogs.
In 1659 during the reigns of the Regent of France and Philippe IV of Spain, the Pyrenean mountains were divided between the two countries. It was a time when the French developed their own breed of mastiff which was to become known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog or Great Pyrenees. On the Spanish side, the people remained true to their original mastiff-type dogs.
Over time, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog became well known and popular throughout Europe and many other countries of the world. However, the Pyrenean Mastiff did not enjoy the same level of popularity outside of their native country and regions of the land. During the 1940’s and 50’s, with the last of the wolves having been killed off and the people still getting over the effects of the Spanish civil war, both the Pyrenean and Spanish Mastiff numbers fell dangerously low.
It was not until the 1970’s that a renewed interest in the breed saw the numbers of Pyrenean Mastiffs rise again all thanks to the efforts of breed enthusiasts they were saved from extinction. However, even today, the breed is quite rare. Although popular in their native land, the Pyrenean Mastiff was only recognised as a breed in its own right by the Club del Mastín del Pirineo de España in Spain in 1977. In 1982, the breed received recognition from the FCI and today, the Pyrenean Mastiff is Kennel Club registered here in the UK although a breed standard has not as yet been established for these large, imposing dogs.
Height at the withers: Males 76.2 - 81.28 cm, Females 74.93 - 81.28 cm
Average weight: Males 81 - 100 kg, Females 81 - 100 kg
It is worth noting that the Pyrenean Mastiff does not have a Kennel Club Breed Standard as yet and as such, the breed cannot be shown at any Kennel Club licensed Breed Shows.
Pyrenean Mastiffs are large and impressive looking dogs that boast a well-balanced look about them. Although very large, they never give the impression of being heavy or sluggish when they move and if anything, they are extremely light on their feet. Their heads are large and strong being quite long with a dog's skull being a little longer than their muzzle. They have a very slight stop and quite a pronounced occipital bone. Their muzzles taper to the tip of the nose with dogs having straight bridges to their noses.
The Pyrenean Mastiff has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their noses are black, large and broad. They have small, almond shaped eyes that are as dark as possible, but hazel eyes are acceptable too. Dogs always have a keen and alert, yet kindly expression in their eyes. Their ears are moderately large and triangular shaped being set above a dog's eye line. They hang their ears close to their cheeks when relaxed, but away from them when alert or excited.
Their necks are strong, muscular and broad with a very distinct dewlap and quite a lot of loose skin. They have long, sloping shoulder blades and perfectly straight, strong legs that show a good amount of sinew and bone. Pyrenean Mastiffs are slightly longer in the body than they are tall and they boast having powerful, yet supple bodies. Chests are deep and broad with a pronounced forechest. They have well sprung ribs and their withers are well defined.
They have nice level backs and strong, long loins that narrow slightly over a dog's flanks. Croups are wide, sloping and long with a dog's belly being moderately tucked up. Their back legs are powerful with long, well-muscled thighs and showing a good amount of bone. Some dogs have double dewclaws whereas others have single dewclaws. They have very cat-like feet with their back ones being a little more oval in shape than their front ones. Their tails are set moderately high and are thicker at the base with the last part of the tail having a well-defined curl in it. Dogs carry their tails higher when alert in the shape of a scimitar which shows off the longer hair on its underside forming the breed's trademark plume.
When it comes to their coat, the Pyrenean Mastiff boasts having a thick, dense double coat that's quite bristly to the touch and which is moderately long. However, the hair on a dog's shoulders, neck, belly and on the back of their legs and tails is longer than on the rest of the body. The hair on their tails is also much softer to the touch. The accepted breed colours are as follows:
A dog's mask should be clearly defined and their ears are always spotted with the tip of their tails and the lower parts of the legs always being white.
It is worth noting that the accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration can differ from those set out in the breed standard which are as follows:
When a Pyrenean Mastiff moves, they do so with lots of power and purpose always keeping a true and straight gait.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is known to be a gentle giant and one that forms strong bonds with their owners and their families. They can be a little over protective of the people they love which can be a problem when they are around young children. They are naturally wary of people they do not know, but rarely would a Pyrenean Mastiff show any sort of aggression towards a stranger unless they felt threatened in any way. In general, they prefer to keep their distance until they get to know someone.
Pyrenean Mastiffs thrive in a home environment where the children are older and who therefore know how to behave around dogs. However, they are not the best choice for first time owners because they need to be handled and trained by people who are familiar with the needs of such a large dog. They can be quite independent at times which is another reason why a dog's socialisation has to start early and their training has to begin as soon as puppies arrive in their new homes. Puppies need to be taught the "basics" and boundaries when they are still young to prevent them from showing a more dominant side to their natures which can make these large dogs that much harder to live with and handle.
It's really important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be well-balanced, mature dogs. Their socialisation has to include introducing them to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. It's also crucial for their training to start early too and it has to be consistent throughout a dog's life. A Pyrenean Mastiff is never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who the alpha dog is in a household they may quickly take on the role of a dominant dog which is something to be avoided at all costs.
Pyrenean Mastiffs are a good choice for first time dog owners who have large back gardens a dog can safely roam in whenever possible to really let off steam and who have enough time to spend with a dog that thrives on being in a family environment. They are particularly good with young children and older people too although playtime can get a bit boisterous at times.
Pyrenean Mastiffs are very social by nature, but the instinct to guard and protect against any potential threat is deeply embedded in a dog’s psyche. As such, they will give chase to any animals they think are a threat.
Pyrenean Mastiffs have a very playful side to their natures more especially when young when playtime tends to be rambunctious and boisterous. As previously mentioned, they enjoy the company of children and will happily interact with them whenever there’s a game being played.
A Pyrenean Mastiff is a very large dog and one that must have enough space to express themselves as they should. As such, they are not well suited to apartment living being much happier living in a rural environment or a home with a large, well-fenced back garden they can safely roam in whenever possible.
Pyrenean Mastiffs form strong ties with their families and dogs are never very happy when they find themselves left on their own for longer periods of time. They are better suited to people who either work from home or in households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out, so they are never alone for any length of time which could see a dog suffering from separation anxiety. This can lead to them being destructive around the home which is a dog's way of relieving any stress they are feeling and a way to keep themselves entertained.
Pyrenean Mastiffs are known to be “silent” dogs by nature and will only bark when they think it is necessary to voice an opinion and to let an owner know something they don’t like is going on in their environment.
Most Pyrenean Mastiffs like swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a dog off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own. It is also essential for a dog’s coat to be thoroughly dried off when wet to avoid any moisture being trapped in their thick coats which could lead to a flare up.
Pyrenean Mastiffs are natural watchdogs which is a trait that is deeply embedded in their psyche. The need to guard and protect is not something they need to be taught because it comes naturally to a Pyrenean Mastiff to protect their owners and their property.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is highly intelligent and likes to please which means in the right hands they are easy to train. They need to be well socialised from a young age and their training has to begin early too. It also has to be very consistent and always fair, so that a dog understands what their owner expects of them. Like other dogs, the Pyrenean Mastiff is never happier than when they are given something to do which is why they are so amenable to learning new things.
They do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or heavier handed training methods because they are quite sensitive by nature. They do answer well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these large and intelligent dogs. Training sessions should be kept short and interesting so that dogs remain more focussed on what is being asked of them. Longer more repetitive training sessions become too boring for clever dogs and they soon lose interest in what is going on making it that much harder to train them.
They excel at many canine sports which includes activities like flyball, agility and obedience because they thrive on the attention they are given during their training and the one-to-one contact they have with their owners when they are competing.
Like all puppies, Pyrenean Mastiffs are incredibly cute when young and it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in new homes. As soon as a puppy is nicely settled owners must start out as they mean to go on by laying down ground rules and boundaries so that a puppy understands what is expected of them. It helps establish a pecking order and who the alpha dog is in the household. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
Pyrenean Mastiffs are known to be good around older children. However, because of their large size, they could easily knock over and scare a younger child. As such, Pets4homes advises that Pyrenean Mastiffs are not the best choice for families with babies or very young children.
Anyone who already shares a home with a Pyrenean Mastiff and have younger children should always make sure they are never left together unattended. It is also crucial for parents to teach young children how to behave around dogs and when to stay away from them, particularly when there is food around or during playtime.
When dogs have been well socialised from a young enough age, they generally get on well with other dogs they meet, but they will stand their ground if they feel threatened by another dog. If they have grown up with a family cat in a household, they usually get on well together. However, a Pyrenean would think nothing of chasing off any other cats they encounter because they would see them as fair game. Care has to be taken when they are around any smaller animals and pets just to be safe.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Pyrenean Mastiff is between 8 and 13 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is known to be a healthy dog although they can suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these impressive looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
Pyrenean Mastiff puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different, and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
As with other breeds, some Pyrenean Mastiffs gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight, it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal bearing in mind that giant breeds should not carry too much weight as it puts more pressure on their joints too.
Some Pyrenean Mastiffs are prone to suffering from allergies and it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. As previously mentioned, because of their thick double coats, it’s essential for a dog to be thoroughly dried off when they’ve got wet to prevent moisture from getting trapped in their coats which could lead to a flare up. If a dog develops a skin issue, the vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Pyrenean Mastiff breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions that are in place for all Kennel Club registered breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the Pyrenean Mastiff.
The Kennel Club strongly recommends that all breeders use the following tests on stud dogs:
As with any other breed, Pyrenean Mastiffs need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Pyrenean Mastiff puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or, so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Pyrenean Mastiff puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out making them withdrawn, timid and shy.
As previously mentioned, Pyrenean Mastiff puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older Pyrenean Mastiffs need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Living with a Pyrenean Mastiff in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include looking at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older dogs need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older dogs don't need the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
Pyrenean Mastiffs have dense, thick moderately long double coats that consist of a harsher top coat and a much softer undercoat. Although heavy, they are not high maintenance in the grooming department because their coats are not prone to knotting or matting. As such their coats needs to be brushed 2 or 3 times a week to remove any loose and dead hair. They are known to be prolific shedders throughout the year and they tend to shed even more during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to stay on top of things and to stay on top of things.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is not a high energy but they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded characters. They need at least 1 hour's exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Pyrenean Mastiff would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they may be feeling.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must with as much off the lead time as possible. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these large dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape and could get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, Pyrenean Mastiff puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Pyrenean Mastiff puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Because Pyrenean Mastiffs are known to suffer from bloat, it is really important for them to be fed twice a day instead of giving dogs one larger meal a day. It's also a good idea to invest in a stand for their feed bowls which makes it easier for dogs to eat comfortably without having to stretch their necks down to reach their food. Dogs should never be exercised just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more at risk of suffering from gastric torsion.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Pyrenean Mastiff puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 18 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Pyrenean Mastiff should be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult dog can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Pyrenean Mastiff, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £800 for a well-bred pedigree KC registered puppy.
The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Pyrenean Mastiff in northern England would be £61.09 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £124.12 a month (quote as of October 2018). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £80 - £90 a month. On top of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Pyrenean Mastiff and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1500 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Pyrenean Mastiff would be between £130 to £210 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred, healthy Kennel Club registered pedigree Pyrenean Mastiff puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Finding well-bred KC registered Pyrenean Mastiff puppies in the UK can be extremely challenging as so few are bred every year which means that puppies can often command a lot of money. As such, with Pyrenean Mastiffs there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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