Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Pyrenean Mastiff
Average Cost to keep/care for a Pyrenean Mastiff
The Pyrenean Mastiff is a large dog and one that boasts a thick, double coat with the hair around their necks being that much longer forming a distinctive ruff. They are known to be gentle giants that form strong bonds with their owners and their families and 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 and although highly prized in many countries of the world, these large and impressive dogs are not as popular here in the UK with only very few well-bred puppies being registered with The Kennel Club every year.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is a descendant of a very ancient breed known as the Molosser and at one time these large and imposing dogs were called Navarra Mastiffs. They were originally bred to protect large flocks of sheep from predators and their owners would put spiked collars around their necks so they had extra protection when they were attacked by wolves or bears.
These dogs have been used since the Middle Ages and were found in many different parts of Europe including Spain and France. It is thought that they were taken to different parts of Europe by Viennese and Phoenician traders when they bought dogs from Asia with them. Over time four distinct types of Mastiff developed in various regions with the Pyrenean Mastiff being one of them.
Although very 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
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.
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 there are young children around. 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 is the alpha dog in a household they may quickly take on the role of a dominant dog which is something to be avoided at all costs.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is 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.
Pyrenean Mastiffs are known to be very good around children thanks to their gentle, placid natures. However, because of their large size, 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 who 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:
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 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.
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 puppy.
The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Pyrenean Mastiff in northern England would be £57.27 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £121.54 a month (quote as of July 2016). 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 or not 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 all 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 pedigree or other puppy.
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