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Pyrenean Mastiff

Pyrenean Mastiff


The Pyrenean Mastiff has been around for thousands of years as a guardian dog for shepherds in the Pyrenean Mountain range. But by the middle of the 20th century, their usefulness had become almost obsolete as the number of predators in the Pyrenean region had fallen dramatically. Thus their population was confined to very few bloodlines that were inbred in a highly abusive manner, due either to lack of alternatives or ignorance. Thankfully, in the 1970s a group of dedicated breeders in Spain, led by Rafael Malo, began the immensely difficult task of recovering the breed from just a few widely scattered dogs. In 1996, the first Pyrenean Mastiffs arrived in the US to the De La Tierra Alta kennels owned by Karin Graefe in Southern California. She is solely responsible for all of the Pyrenean Mastiffs in the US. And to this day, there are only four to six thousand Pyrenean Mastiffs worldwide.


The Pyrenean Mastiff is amiable, well balanced and intelligent, capable of discriminating and distinguishing between situations with an innate sense of friend and foe and an unparalleled honor and loyalty. They are tender, tame and noble, brave and aloof with strangers. In their relations with other dogs, they are good-natured and of their superior and extraordinary strength. They rarely bark and are not destructive by nature. They are utterly attentive and tender, especially to children and it is not uncommon to see them guarding children and actually trying to herd them like a flock of sheep.

Breed Standards:

  • Working Group
  • Males are a minimum 32 inches at withers, 150 – 170 pounds
  • Females are a minimum 29 inches at withers, 120 – 140 pounds
  • Full body maturity is reached at 3 ½ - 4 years
  • Average litter = 5 – 6 puppies
  • Average life span is 8 – 13 years
  • Coat is dense, thick and of moderate length. Should be bristly, not woolly in texture
  • Colors = Basic color of snow white with a well defined mask and medium gray, intensive golden yellow, brown, black, silver, light beige, sandy or marbled patches

Everyday Care:

  • Exercise: Young Pyrenean Mastiffs should not be over-exercised, as this could harm their growth. Adult Pyrenean Mastiffs should enjoy regular on-lead walks and daily play sessions in the yard.
  • Feeding: It is best to feed two or three meals a day instead of only feeding once. A Pyrenean Mastiff should never be exercised one hour before feeding or for two hours afterwards. And they should never be allowed to gulp water.
  • Grooming: Daily grooming is ideal, but baths are not advisable, as this can alter the natural pH of the skin, which protects the Pyrenean Mastiff from cold and moisture. Ears should be checked weekly and cleaned if needed. And nails should be trimmed when you can hear them clicking as the dog walks across the floor.
  • Attention: The Pyrenean Mastiff is very attached to their families and require your love, devotion and attention. Although independent by nature, they need plenty of respect, attention and socialization.

Health Considerations:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Gastric Torsion (Bloat)

Am I Right for You?

  • It is crucial that I be allowed some degree of freedom, access to open spaces and as many varied experiences as possible.
  • Do you entertain in your home a lot? I am very mistrustful of strangers and won’t enjoy being subjected to them on a regular basis.
  • Females are usually more attached to the family, while males are generally more independent.
  • Because of my size, substance and strength, you will need to be the kind of person who can command my respect and always be in control.
  • You must be willing to be consistent with obedience training and socialization.