Pyrenean Mastiff

FCI standard Nº 92

Mrs. C. Seilder
Group 2 Pinscher and Schnauzer- Molossoid breeds – Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs
Section 2.2 Molossoid breeds, Mountain type
Without working trial
Acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI
Monday 15 November 1954
Publication of the official valid standard
Wednesday 26 May 1982
Last update
Friday 30 August 2002
En français, cette race se dit
Mâtin des Pyrénées
Diese Norm ist in deutscher Sprache sichtbar
Pyrenäen Mastiff
En español, esta raza se dice
Mastín del Pirineo
In het Nederlands, wordt dit ras gezegd
Pyrenese Mastiff


Guard and defense. Previously, the Pyrenean Mastiff was used for defense against beasts of prey, in particular against wolf and bear. Nowadays he is an excellent guard for country estates and their owners as he is easily trained.

General appearance

That of a very large dog, above average size and of medium proportions. Harmonious, emphatically strong and muscular. Firm bone structure. Coat not exaggerated in length. In spite of his size, must not give the impression of being heavy or sluggish.

Important proportions

Within medium proportions. Well balanced and harmonious over.
• The length of the body measures barely more than the height at withers.
• Length of skull in relation to bridge of nose = 5 : 4.
• Breadth of skull : Equal to or slightly larger than length.
• Relationship of height at withers to girth of chest is approximately 7 : 10.

Behaviour / temperament

Friendly towards humans, calm, noble and very intelligent, at the same time courageous and proud towards strangers from whom he never backs away. In his behaviour towards other dogs, he is good natured and aware of his superior strength. Occasionally, he will fight with great skill, an atavistic quality which goes back to hundreds of years of fighting wolves. His dark bark comes from deep within his chest. His expression is alert.


Cranial region

Large, strong, moderately long. Length of skull is 5 : 4 in proportion to bridge of nose. Longitudinal axes of skull and muzzle are very slightly diverging to almost parallel. Seen from above, skull and muzzle must be long and even in shape without marked difference between width at set-on of muzzle and width at temple. Seen from side, head must be deep and not bulging.
Broad, strong, slightly convex in profile. Width of skull equal to or slightly broader than length. Occipital bone pronounced. 
Gentle, barely emphasized, but still visible.

Facial region

Black, moist, large and broad.
Seen from side, bridge of nose must be straight. Seen from above, the muzzle is slightly triangular, tapering very gradually from its set on to the nose leather, without, however, getting pointed.
The upper lip should cover the lower without any hint of slackness. The lower lip forms a marked labial corner. Mucous membranes should be black.
Jaws and teeth
Scissor bite. Teeth white, strong and healthy. Canines : large, long, pointed, well adapted to each other, so as to be able to catch any prey. Molars : large and strong. Incisors : rather small. All premolars should be present. Gums black with pronounced transverse membraneous ridges.
Small, almond shaped, hazel colour. Dark eyes preferred. Expression is alert, noble, sympathetic and intelligent, but can be extraordinarily stern towards an opponent. Eye lids : black pigmented. When dog is alert, lids fitting close to eyeball are preferred. In repose, a slight slackness of the lower lid, which shows a small stripe of conjunctiva, is typical of the breed.
Medium size, triangular, hanging flat. Set on above line of eyes. In repose, hanging close to cheeks. When dog is alert, clearly standing away from cheeks. One third of the upper and rear part should be slightly pricked. Ears should not be cropped.


Should be the shape of a blunt cone, broad, strong, muscular and flexible. Skin thick and slightly loose. Distinct double dewlap, well formed, yet not exaggerated.


Rectangular, powerful and robust, giving the impression of great strength, yet supple and agile.
Straight, horizontal standing and moving.
Well pronounced.
Strong and muscular.
Long, broad and strong, gradually getting narrower towards the flanks.
Wide and strong. Compared to the horizontal its inclination is 45°. Height at rump equal to height at withers.
Broad, deep, muscular and powerful. Point of sternum protruding. Ribs spaced widely apart with rounded ribcage, not flat. Proportion of height at withers to girth of chest : approximately 7 : 10.
Underline and belly
Belly moderately tucked up. Groin deep, flanks very broad.


Set on medium high. Thick at root, strong and flexible. The coat on tail is definitely long, soft and forms a beautiful plume. In repose it hangs low and reaches easily to the hocks. The last third is always lightly curved. In movement and when the dog is alert, it is carried in sabre form with definite hook at tip but without the entire length being bent or resting over the back.



Seen from the front, absolutely vertical, straight and parallel. Muscles and sinews clearly visible. Length of forearm three times length of pastern. Good strength of bone, strong pastern.
Well muscled. Shoulderblade sloping, longer than forearm. Angle of shoulderblade to upper arm approximately 100°.
Upper arm
Very strong.
Very bony, close fitting to ribcage. Angle of upper arm to forearm approximately 125°.
Bone sturdy, straight and strong.
Seen from side, slightly sloping, practically in continuation of forearm.
Cat feet. Toes tight with strong, well arched toe bones. Nails and pads strong and robust. Skin between toes moderately developed, hairy.


: Powerful, muscular. Adequate angulations, seen from the side. Seen from rear and side, limbs are vertical. Hocks straight and vertical. Hindquarters must have the ability to provide with ease forceful drive with elegance.
Upper thigh
Strong and muscular. Hip joint angle approximately 100 degrees.
Lower thigh
Long, well muscled and good strength of bone.
Angulation from upper upper to lower thigh approximately 120°.
Well defined with clearly visible Achilles tendon. Dewclaws, either single or double, are either present or missing. Their removal is permitted. In dogs of equal quality, double dewclaws are preferred.
Angle open, approximately 130 degrees.
Hind feet
Cat feet of light oval shape, slightly longer than front feet.

Gait and movement

Preferred movement is the trot which should be harmonious, strong and elegant. No tendency for legs to swing outward. No pacing.


Elastic, thick, pink in colour, with dark pigmented patches. All mucous membranes should be black.


Dense, thick and of moderate length. The ideal medium length, measured on middle section of topline, should be 6 to 9 cm. The coat is longer on the shoulders, neck, under belly, at the back of legs as well as on the tail. On the plume, the texture is not as bristly as elsewhere on the body. The coat should bristly, not woolly in texture.
Basic colour white, always with a well defined mask. Sometimes there are irregularly distributed distinctly outlined patches of the same colour as the mask. Tricolour or pure white dogs are undesirable. Ears always spotted. Tip of tail and lower parts of legs are always white. Mask should be clearly defined. It is an advantage if the outline of the patches is clear cut. At the roots, the coat should be as light as possible, ideally really white. The most desired colours are, in order of preference, pure white (snow-white), patches medium grey, intensive golden yellow, brown, black, grey-silver, light beige, sandy or marbled. Undesirable are red patches and yellowish-white basic colour.

Size and weight

Height at withers
There is no upper height limit. When quality is equal, the bigger dog is always preferred.
Lower limit : Dogs : 77 cm, bitches : 72 cm.
It is, however, desirable that all dogs should exceed the lower limit considerably. Dogs should be above 81 cm, bitches 75 cm.


• Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and its ability to perform its traditional work.
• Faults listed should be in degree of seriousness.

General faults

 Bridge of nose slightly arched when seen from side.
 Pincer bite.
 Any missing premolar.
 Topline not straight, wavy, rolling movement at walking pace but not in an exaggerated way.
 Coat slightly wavy; coat in the middle section of the topline a little longer than 9 cm.
 Very slight shyness.

Serious faults

 Generally weedy or sluggish.
 Muzzle too pointed or too blunt.
 Slightly overshot mouth.
 Absence of several premolars and canines if loss is not caused by an accident.
 Slight faults in the occlusion of the incisors.
 Cropped ears.
 Height much greater at the croup than at the withers.
 Tail carried lying over the croup; lack of plume; lack of hook on the end of the tail; docked tail.
 Extremities not vertical.
 General weakness in pastern, rear pasterns and feet.
 Cowhocked, either standing or moving.
 Legs swinging out sideways in movement.
 Coat very wavy or curly; coat in middle section of the topline slightly shorter than 6 cm and longer than 11 cm.
 Lack of patches on ears.
 Generally unbalanced temperament.

Disqualifying faults

 Too shy, timorous or aggressive dog.
 Lack of pigment in noseleather or mucous membranes.
 Split nose.
 Very marked overshot mouth, undershot mouth.
 Coat in middle section of the topline only 4 cm or shorter or longer than 13 cm.
 Absence of white colour; absence of white on the tip of the tail and on lower parts of the legs.
 Solid white coat colour : lack of mask.
 Patches not clearly defined and with little contrast to basic colour which points to a cross with another breed.

NB :

• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
• The above mentioned faults when occurring to a highly marked degree or frequently are disqualifying.
• Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
• Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.



Detailed history

Because of its difficult position, between the French race of the Mountain of the Pyrenees universally known, on the other side of the Pyrenees, and, in most of Spain, the Spanish Mastiff who is of "national molosse", it was to fear that the Mastiff of the Pyrenees is called to disappear, and that is what nearly happened to him.

It is first necessary to specify its original dissemination area. Contrary to what could affirm the first version of the standard (published in 1946), it has never understood Navarre and Leon, which have always been the field of election of the Spanish Mastiff. On the other hand, it has always been known in Aragon (province formed by the central foothills of the Pyrenees) under the name of "Mostin" (in Aragonese, a different language of Castilian).

Organized since the Middle Ages, mesta, the great transhumance of merinos from Andalusia to the north, has never reached the Pyrenean province. We can not therefore consider that the Mastiff of the Pyrenees proceeds from the Spanish Mastiff, as did some Spanish dogs in the past, but without doubt they wanted to avoid emphasizing its analogies with the Mountain of the French Pyrenees, yet much more obvious.

All of the foregoing naturally concerns the location and history of these dogs, since, in terms of appearance and characteristics, the selection criteria for the three breeds have been different.

As for their distant ancestors, it seems that they are the same, namely the Dogs of Tibet. If the Pyrenean Mastin stayed close to the Pyrenees Mountains, it was because he was performing a similar task in a similar environment (mainly the defense of herds at altitude).

While the Spanish Mastiff has been able to maintain itself until our time thanks to a not insignificant staff and to a vast area of diffusion, the survival of the Mastiff of the Pyrenees was much more difficult. Between 1912 and 1960, only six specimens were inscribed in the Spanish Book of Origin, and no relationship (affix, filiation) can be established between these subjects, ie without any indication of a subsequent breeding. It was not until 1977, and the creation of the Club du Mâtin of the Pyrenees that has gathered almost all the owners and enthusiasts of the race, so that we can hope for its sustainable safeguard.

In 1978 was awarded the first title of champion of Spain to a subject of the race, Perro, who, with some others, would contribute to its improvement, as fast as spectacular. Since then, the good score of champion titles awarded testifies the dynamism of the Mâtin des Pyrénées and that of the twenty or so breeders who devote themselves to him. Among these are Rafael Malo Alcrudo, founder of the Club, whose breeding (affix of the Tajadera del Tio Roy) has obtained an impressive number of awards.

The presence of the breed in international and world exhibitions is, however, still extremely discreet. It may be noted, however, that the Pyrenean Mastiff has been established for more than five years in Finland and especially in Sweden.

Like the French Pyrenees Mountains, the Mostin participated in the transhumance of herds, remaining high in June until late October or early November (until the first snow), protecting them from the attacks of bears and wolves. The shepherds trusted him greatly to avoid cornices and precipices and to borrow cattle from safe paths. In the lowlands, the Mostin most often stayed with the sheep.

Today, transhumance is lost and wolves are gone, but the Pyrenean Mastiff remains the guardian of Aragonese farms. It is thanks to this job, and to the esteem of the natives, that it has not disappeared.

Sure of him and peaceful during the day, he increases his vigilance as the night advances. He knows the difference between the intruder and the friendly visitor, becoming fierce and intractable only in the event of real danger. With good reason, the Breed Club pays great attention to character, which must be absolutely devoid of cowardice or shyness.

It would be a great mistake to consider it as a sort of less well-selected variety of our Pyrenees Mountain. Certainly, its standard (the one that was written in 1981, because the first attempted a rapprochement with the Spanish Mastiff) is never far removed from the official description of the French dog, although he notes the presence of an occipital crest clearly visible, that he specifies that his tail should never make the "wheel" (which is a characteristic of the French dog) and that it is much less demanding with regard to the pins (one can proceed to their ablation, they can be single or double). No doubt, too, even if its appearance is noble and imposing, it does not have the elegance and the distinction of the French Mountain.

In fact, it differs in several ways. It is slightly larger, usually very large, with a lot of bone and muscles. The coat, long and rough, is often less opulent. The head is stronger, but the skull remains slightly ogival, the stop is more visible without becoming marked, muzzle more square but free of very low chops. Finally, it is never entirely white, and the colored spots never dominate. At the head, we notice the two symmetrical spots encompassing the eyes and ears and separated by a white band that widens to completely cover the snout. This layout is typical of the breed. The spots are gray or golden; black is not appreciated, orange is not allowed.

The Pyrenean Mastiff therefore has a well-defined silhouette in relation to the Pyrenees Mountains and its cousins, the Italian Maremma-Abruzzi, the Hungarian Kuvasz, the Polish Tatra, the Slovak Chuvash (Slovensky Cuvac). It does not yield to them from the point of view of the presence and, soon, homogeneity. We can only wish him greater international circulation.

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