Pyrenean Mastiff (Mastín del Pirineo)
The Pyrenean Mastiff is a huge herding and guard dog, which has been bred on the Iberian Peninsula since very old times. The breed is notable for sharp intellect and superb protective instinct so nowadays it enjoys moderate popularity in the roles of a property and personal guardian. And due to its even temper and good trainability it also can be successfully used as a companion animal.
The Pyrenean Mastiff belongs to the group of the Mollosser canine varieties. Its forebears were imported to the territory of present-day Spain by Phoenician merchants who transported their goods from Assyria and Sumeria to other parts of the world. The age of the breed reached 3 000 years so it was developed during the times when Spain didn’t exist. It’s thought to have originated in the Aragon kingdom. At the approximately same time the neighbouring Castilla kingdom created other Shepherd dog that today is known as the Spanish Mastiff and it’s actually closely related to the Pyrenean Mastiff.
This magnificent dog quickly established reputation of an excellent flock guardian and was widely used in its native land in this role for centuries. One Pyrenean Mastiff could easily manage with up to 200 sheep and effectively defended its charges from attacks of wolves, bears and other wild animals. It was trusted with driving large herds from one pasture to another without any human help since the dog was smart enough to avoid dangerous places in the ragged terrain of its homeland. It also provided reliable protection for the homestead and other properties of its masters.
By the end of 30-s of the XX century the large-scale sheep breeding in Spain significantly dwindled. The number of large predators also became rather scarce and sheep were primarily transferred from one grazing area to another by modern transport facilities. These factors as well as expensiveness of keeping a giant dog as a pet caused dramatic decrease in the population of the Pyrenean Mastiff. Eventually the breed would have gone extinct completely if it hasn’t been for several concerned canine fanciers who decided to change its fate. They were able to find 100 pure-bred breed members but only 30 of them were classified as fit for the breeding program. In the 70-s the program gave the first positive results and in 1977 the Spanish Pyrenean Mastiff Club was founded.
The current-day Pyrenean Mastiff is almost exclusively kept as guard or companion dog although it’s reckoned to be a rare breed even in its native Spain.
The Pyrenean Mastiff fully deserves the nickname «gentle giant» since it usually demonstrates very high and profound level of affection to its masters. Actually it perceives them as a flock and does its best to defend them from any danger. Remember that under socialised or untrained dog of such an impressive size is very hard to handle and make sure to put in sufficient amount of efforts into up-bringing of your pet. The breed assumes patronizing attitude towards family kids and never hurts them intently. Nonetheless it’s not the optimal choice for families with toddles as the Pyrenean Mastiff can easily knock a small kid down while playing.
The dog holds itself warily in the presence of strangers so it’s always ready to act if it notices some sighs of aggressive intentions. Proper obedience training is the only effective way to habituate the Pyrenean Mastiff to well manners. It becomes a wonderful watcher and guardian that can frighten off most of unwelcomed guests only with its booming bark and formidable appearance.
In most cases the Pyrenean Mastiff is accepting of other dogs although it may clash with its counterparts of the same sex. It got used to dominate in the group of other canines and won’t hesitate to use aggression in order to affirm its alpha status. This dog is prone to make friends with other animals in the house if it had an opportunity to socialise with them since its puppyhood.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· canine hip dysplasia;
· eye problems;
· gastric torsion.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is a large dog with thick and long coat so it’s no wonder that it needs vast amount of care. It should be thoroughly brushed at least once a week otherwise lots of mats and tangles will develop in its fur.
The master should regularly check ears of his pets for such signs of infection as bad smell or redness. It’s also essential to clip the dog’s nails on a monthly basis and brush its teeth once or twice a week.
Remember that it’s almost impossible to apply above-mentioned grooming operations to the resistant grown-up Pyrenean Mastiff and start training your puppy to them as early as possible.
The clever and attentive Pyrenean Mastiff is notable for excellent trainability. It doesn’t needs any instructions to fulfil its guarding duties although early obedience training is a must for this good-natured yet huge dog. It takes approximately two years for its specimen to fully mature so be patient with your pet and forgive its occasional reluctance to learn new tricks.
This breed also responds well exclusively to reward-based training techniques and starts misbehaving if forced to obedience. The best motivation for the Pyrenean Mastiff is your praise although it would be wise to keep its favourite treats handy during the lessons.
The Pyrenean Mastiff is a moderately active dog and needs several long strolls per day to remain in a good mental and physical shape. The dog looks big and clumsy but its ability to momentarily switch to vigorous mode is absolutely amazing. It will be grateful for the regular opportunity to roam and play in a safely enclosed area.
After such outdoor exercises the Pyrenean Mastiff usually behaves itself calmly in the house although this breed is probably too large for keeping in a city apartment. The dog that lacks physical stimulation will surely become restless, disobedient and even unpredictably aggressive.