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Pyrenean Mastiff

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Pyrenean Mastiff

The Pyrenean Mastiff is a giant sized purebred from Spain and was developed in the Arogonese Pyrenees to be a guardian of livestock and has also over many centuries been used to guard the home. It is also called the Mastín del Pirineo or Mastin d'Aragon and has a life span of 10 to 12 years. It is a different breed to the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, they are not the same dog. It is a great guardian but also is gentle and docile in the home making it a great family pet and protector.

The Pyrenean Mastiff at a Glance
Name Pyrenean Mastiff
Other names Mastín del Pirineo, Mastin d'Aragon
Nicknames PM
Origin Spain
Average size Giant
Average weight 175 to 220 pounds
Average height 28 to 32 inches
Life span 10 to 12 years
Coat type Long, double coat
Hypoallergenic No
Color White, may have marking of black, grey, brown and tan
Popularity Not yet recognized by the AKC
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat Moderate - take care it does not overheat
Tolerance to cold Excellent – can handle even extreme cold
Shedding Above average to heavy during seasonal shedding
Drooling High – be prepared to clean up drool and slobber daily, especially after eating and drinking
Obesity Average – measure its food and make sure it gets exercise
Grooming/brushing Fairly high – needs brushing at least three times a week, sometimes daily
Barking Occasional – barks sometimes but should not be constant
Exercise needs Fairly active – needs owners who can take it out a good amount
Trainability Moderately easy for experienced owners
Friendliness Very good
Good first dog Low to moderate – requires experienced owner
Good family pet Very good to excellent with training and socialization
Good with children Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with other pets Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with strangers Good with training and socialization but wary
Good apartment dog No – needs space and a yard
Handles alone time well Good – can be alone for moderate lengths of time but not really long
Health issues Fairly healthy a few issues can include Hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat and ear infections
Medical expenses $485 a year for insurance or medical emergency savings and basic health needs
Food expenses $500 a year for a good quality dry dog food and doggy treats
Miscellaneous expenses $685 a year for toys, license, miscellaneous items, grooming and basic training
Average annual expenses $1670 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,500
Rescue organizations Valley Mastiff Rescue, Canadian Mastiff Club Rescue, also check local shelters and rescues
Biting Statistics None reported

The Pyrenean Mastiff's Beginnings

The Pyrenean Mastiff is a Molosser type dog that comes from Spain, in the Aragonese Pyrenees and is an ancient breed, having been around for many centuries though it was not actually known to the outside world until quite recently in the mid to late 1970s. It is thought its ancestors were a livestock guardian type dog that was brought to the area by the Phoenicians as far back as 3000 years, but nothings else is really known about its beginnings. It is a mountain breed used for many years very effectively as a guardian of livestock and a protector from things like wild boar and wolves.

In more modern times its protective instincts were also used effectively to guard people's homes and families. But before that it would travel with livestock, especially herds of sheep as they moved in a migratory path around the mountains. As well as being fierce, strong and bold enough to defend against wild predators it was also to defend against thieves. However in the 20th century particularly after the Spanish Civil War when there was not enough money or food to go around the dog's numbers dropped significantly as its size meant it was too expensive to keep.

New Lease on Life

Much to all dog enthusiasts' satisfaction the breed was saved in the early 1970s when a group of fanciers of the Pyrenean Mastiff found rare examples of the breed in very rural settings and brought them together to start a breeding program. In 1977 the dog was recognized by the Spanish Club del Mastín del Pirineo de España as a modern purebred and it was then that it was introduced to other countries including the US. The FCI gave it recognition in 1982 and there is a Pyrenean Mastiff Club of America but it is not yet recognized by the AKC.

Pyrenean Mastiff

The Dog You See Today

The Pyrenean Mastiff is a giant sized dog breed weighing a hefty 175 to 220 pounds and standing 28 to 32 inches tall. It is a powerful and solidly built dog, imposing in its size and strength. It has a large head that is long and a muzzle that tapers slightly to a nose that is wide, large and black. Its eyes are almond shaped, alert and it is good at having a stern expression when needed. The ears hang down onto the cheeks when it is relaxed and are triangular shaped, but when it becomes alert the ears lift off the cheeks. Its coat is medium to long in length, coarse and double. The under layer is thick and protective and the outer is weather resistant. Common colors are white with black, golden, grey and brown markings.


The Inner Pyrenean Mastiff


In the past the PM has been largely a flock guardian but in more modern times with less demand for dogs playing such roles it has also become a companion and guardian of the home. It is a calm and self-reliant breed so it can be left alone for short periods and has strong protective instincts as well as being territorial. It is alert so as well as letting you know with by barking that there is an intruder or stranger it will also act to defend its family and home if there is need. Often just its size is quite a deterrent!

It is not an aggressive dog though unless it is in protective mode. It should be docile and steady in temperament, affectionate with its family and kind. This gentle giant needs strong and confident leadership though which is why it is best with experienced owners rather than new ones. It is used to making its own decisions, it is confident and its size means it has the strength to do what it wants if it can. It is suspicious of strangers and can be wary turning to suspicion so make sure you socialize it well.

Pyrenean Mastiff

Living with a Pyrenean Mastiff

What will training look like?

The Pyrenean Mastiff needs good training and socialization from an early age as its size alone can make it hard to control if there is not a good foundation there. Be confident and consistent with it, when you want it to do something or stick to a rule set you need to be firm about it. If it is with an owner that it is too meek and passive it will not respect you and will act how it wants to. Early socialization means let it get used to different places, people, sounds, animals situations and so on. It is intelligent but dominant and that means you can expect it to be a gradual process, just be positive and offer it rewards, treats and motivate it with praise and encouragement.

How active is the Pyrenean Mastiff?

As a breed that has been developed over many years to be a working dog the PM needs a role to play, needs to be mentally stimulated and needs a certain level of physical activity. It should be with owners who are active and enjoy going out every day where you can take it with you, especially if you are not keeping it as a working dog. It is not suited to apartment living, it needs space and at least a large yard, preferably you live in a rural setting. Take it for two or three good walks a day and it could also join you for a hike and it should also get some off leash time somewhere safe. Also play with it though watch out for the tug of war games – it is really good at that!

Caring for the Pyrenean Mastiff

Grooming needs

There is an average to above average amount of maintenance and grooming involved with a Pyrenean Mastiff. Its coat is moderately long and sheds an average amount usually to heavy amount during seasonal times. Use a firm bristled brush and brush every other day, and then daily even when it is heavier shedding and the loose hair needs to be controlled. Give it a bath only when it is desperate for one as wet baths and shampooing can dry out its skin if done too much. Only use a cleaning product that is made for dogs.


The dog's ears should be checked for infection and wiped clean using an ear cleansing solution or damp cloth once a week. Signs of an ear infection would be something like redness, wax build up, irritation or even a bad odor. It needs its teeth brushed two to three times a week and its nails clipped when they get too long. Take care with the latter that you do not clip too far down as if you hit the nerves and blood vessels in the nails you will hurt the dog and they will bleed.

Feeding Time

A giant dog like the Pyrenean Mastiff will eat around 7 to 10 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day. That should be split into it least two meals though otherwise issues with bloat can occur. Exactly how much varies depending on its size, health, level of activity and rate of metabolism. Make sure you watch its treats and that it has access to water that is kept fresh.

How is the Pyrenean Mastiff with other animals and children?

The Pyrenean Mastiff can be that gentle giant with good exercise, firm owners and clear socialization and training. It is a steady and docile dog and gets along very well with children and other dogs and pets. Supervision for small children is a good idea though not because it might hurt them but because being so big it can easily accidentally knock over toddlers. Also ensure the children are taught how to touch and play with the dog properly. Its size also means care should be taken when it plays with small dogs!

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The life span for this breed is 10 to 12 years and it is a fairly healthy breed but some issues can include joint dysplasia, bloat and ear infections.

Biting Statistics

The Pyrenean Mastiff has not been identified in reports as being involved in attacks against people in the US and Canada, over the last 35 years. This is not a people aggressive dog but it is very protective so socialization and training are important so it recognizes genuine threats from not genuine. The fact is any dog can get drawn into things, have an off day or be provoked so make sure you supervise yours well, and as well as good socialization and training give it the stimulation and activity it needs and the attention and good leadership.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Pyrenean Mastiff puppy is going to start at $1500 for one from a good breeder of pet quality dogs. That can range right up to $3000 or more for a top breeder of show dogs. Things like location and breeder and what is offered will also have an impact on its price. While finding a PM at a shelter or rescue is less likely, it is something to consider for adoption costs of around $50 to $400. Avoid bad breeders like pet stores, puppy mills and back yard breeders.


There are other costs for things your PM will then need in the home, a crate for example, bedding, bowls, leash and collar for about $220. Then there are initial medical and health needs like a physical exam at a vet, deworming, micro chipping, vaccinations, blood tests and spaying or neutering for another $290.

Annual costs for feeding a giant dog like this can be significant, for a good quality dry food and treats these costs are going to be at least $500 a year. Basic medical needs like, shots, flea and tick prevention and check ups along with emergency medical savings or pet insurance will cost about $485 a year. There will then be other miscellaneous costs like toys, grooming, license, miscellaneous items and basic training for about $685 a year. This gives an annual estimated figure of $1670.


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The Pyrenean Mastiff is a large and strong dog so it really needs training and socialization from a young age with a firm and experienced owners. Everything is more with this dog, the shedding will be more, the grooming takes longer, the costs are higher and it needs more yard space and living space. Be sure you are truly prepared for what it takes to be a giant dog owner. With the right owners though it is hard working, steady, calm, gentle, protective and very loyal. It is a kind and steady dog, will make a great companion and friend and is very loyal.

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