Origin and History of the Pyrenean Mastiffs - Breeder of Pyrenean Mastiff and Jack Russell Terrier Reis D'Aragon

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Throughout history in the Iberian Peninsula, as a specific geographic area partly isolated from the rest of the continent, have set numerous types of dogs with specific functionalities, of them in the group of the mastiffs there are two varieties recognized by international canine organisms, the Spanish Mastiff and the Pyrenean Mastiff.

About the origin of the Iberian mastiffs there are several theories, as most of them they have been brought from the East and crossed with the large dogs that already existed in the peninsula.

Origin of Spanish mastiffs

Vintage photograph courtesy of Rafael Malo Alcrudo

Origin of Spanish mastiffs

Its origin is located on the peninsula linked to the transhumance in the Middle Ages and well before, accompanying the great herds in their seasonal displacement from the mountains of Leon and Soria to Extremadura and from the Pyrenees to the Ebro valley, with the function to guard and protect livestock from predators and thieves.

Due to the abundance of bears and wolves each herd was accompanied by several mastiffs that warns barking and also they defended as this large and massive dogs face up to the big predators, for this helped them by putting on his neck “carlancas”  to protect its weakest part avoiding the fierce bite them.

Evidence of the importance attached to these dogs is that they were looked after carefully, they should be given the same ration of food to the shepherds, the theft of a mastiff was fined with five sheep and was obligatory to return all lost mastiff being unlawful its possession.

Photography of the Pyrenees
History of the Pyrenean Mastiff breed

Photograph of Los Alanos in the Pirinean Mountain
Author José Antonio Atrián
Montañeros de Aragón

Photo of a CARLANCA: Collars widths of iron or leather spiked to the outside

Carlanca for mastiffs

The Pyrenean mastiff for centuries has not only accompanied the herds in transhumant routes of Aragon but has been used to guard their herds, properties and families in the area of the Pyrenees in Aragon and Navarre, becoming over the time in an important part of Aragon life, with the names “Mostín, Mostín d’Aragón o Mostín dell Aragó”

Old postcard of Pyrenees dog
Origin of Spanish mastiffs

Panticosa. Aragonese Pyrenees

A mid-twentieth century the use of these great dogs dropped to almost disappear, motivated in part by the loss of its primary function to lower the number of wolves and bears, on the other part, during the Spanish civil war and economic crisis that affected the country to maintain these animals became a luxury few could afford. The number of Pyrenean Mastiffs decreased in a manner that endangered the survival of the race.

History of the Pyrenean Mastiff breed

Since the 70’s the race has been recovered thanks to the work of a small group of passionate people, from specimens found in the field gathered enough characteristics of the breed.

This group of amateurs founded in 1977 the Pyrenean Mastiff Club of Spain and has been thanks to their dedication and effort that now the race is recovered, is known and respected internationally, has spread to Europe, America, Asia and Australia; being possible to find breeders in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Holland, Italy, France, Portugal, Czech Republic, United States, Japan, Canada, etc.

In 2002 the Government of Aragon acknowledged the Pyrenean Mastiff as a native breed of Aragon, granting official recognition as element of the historical, cultural and socioeconomic of Aragon.


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