Gran Mastín de Borinquen

He is not recognized by the F.C.I.

Origin
Puerto Rico
Translation
Francis Vandersteen
This breed is also known as
Becerillo de Borinquen
Mastín de Borincano
Perro Barsino de Hacienda

A brief presentation of the Gran Mastín de Borinquen

The Gran Mastin de Borinquen originated in Puerto Rico and was mainly used as a guard dog or in blood sports. This is an ancient breed thought to date back to the 16th century, and is a direct descendant of the Spanish Mastiff and various native dogs. While these dogs are mainly used as guard dogs, they have also been used in dog fighting circles and for boar hunting. Their tenacious attitude has made them a favorite breed in Puerto Rico. However, their unstable temperament is not necessarily suitable for families with young children. The Gran Mastin de Borinquen is a loyal breed, but needs a strong leader at home to keep them under control. The Mastín is noble, courageous and loyal, and many died protecting their masters during the Spanish-Indian wars. A perfect example is the case of Don Sancho de Arango in 1513, mentioned in "The Discovery, Conquest and Colonization of Puerto Rico" and in "Apuntes pour l'Histoire de Humacao", both by Dr. Ricardo E. Alegría. These refer to the Caribbean (cannibal) attack on the plantations on the Cayarabón River, now called Loíza. The attack was so violent that, despite a heroic defense, many were killed by Caribbean arrows. The Indians captured Don Sancho de Arango, but the ferocious attacks of his dog Becerillo (Borinquen's legendary terror), forced them to free the master, who fled. The courageous animal, which some say really belonged to Ponce de León, fought to the bitter end, as did his son, Leoncillo. Both died as a result of the terrible battle brought down by poisoned arrows.

History of the Gran Mastín de Borinquen

The Gran Mastin de Borinquen, better known as the Puerto Rican Mastiff, is the only breed native to Puerto Rico. Many believe that the Gran Mastin de Borinquen originated in the 16th century, from Spanish Mastiffs brought to Puerto Rico by the Spanish army. These Spanish Mastiffs were crossed with Latin American molosses, and then Perros Jibaros were added to the mix. Perros Jibaros are simply island dogs of unknown origin. The resulting dog was massive and ferocious. Over the years, the breed has even been described as bloodthirsty. The breed was used to terrorize Spanish colonists during the Spanish Encomendado. Guards would send these dogs to attack and kill settlers who didn't readily abide by the laws set down by the government. For centuries, the Spanish nobility used the Gran Mastin de Borinquen to protect their estates, due to the breed's size and propensity for aggression. In the days of slavery in Puerto Rico, plantation owners used the Gran Mastin de Borinquen to prevent slaves from disobeying. During this dark period in Puerto Rico, hundreds of runaway slaves were attacked and killed by these dogs. The Gran Mastin de Borinquen is an easily adaptable breed, able to withstand the cold, wet climate of the rainforest and the hot, humid climate of the plains and valleys. People used to be able to trade or buy a Gran Mastin de Borinquen quite easily, however, the breed is now considered rare and is a little hard to find. Their historical past has contributed to their demise, however, breed enthusiasts understand that their ferocity and aggressive nature stem from their loyalty to their master. In 1979, the Gran Mastin de Borinquen was recognized by the Sociedad Cynologica Caribena, or SCC, as a rare breed.

Appearance of the Gran Mastín de Borinquen

The Gran Mastin de Borinquen is a large dog with a robust body and massive head. Their bodies are well muscled but must not appear bulky, as they must be able to cross different terrains quickly. The Gran Mastin de Borinquen has floppy ears, although some people clip their ears. Their head is broad and square. They have a scissor bite. The muzzle is narrower than the skull but still broad with a wide nose and open nostrils. The nose is always black. Their eyes are dark brown and a little small, so they should have an intelligent, alert expression. The Gran Mastin de Borinquen has a short to medium coat that is dense and hard to the touch. They can be found in fawn, black, brindle or bone white. There may be white patches on the head, legs, tail or chest, but the white areas should not be too large.

Temperament of the Gran Mastín de Borinquen

The Gran Mastin de Borinquen is a loyal breed and will form a close bond with its master. Because of their loyalty and close bond, they can become overprotective and aggressive towards anyone they perceive as a threat to their master. Used in dogfighting circles and even as war dogs, they are not the ideal pet for anyone. They will need ongoing training throughout their lives and a strong master to keep them under control. Borinquen's Gran Mastin does not do well with other pets or even other dogs. They should not be left alone with other animals. They are known for their volatile nature and are therefore not child's dogs. They should not be kept in a home with children or even weak or frail adults. The Gran Mastin de Borinquen needs a strong, secure fence to contain it outside. They are not recommended for homes where there is no secure fence. These dogs have been known to attack without warning when they sense their master is threatened.

Needs and activities of the Gran Mastín de Borinquen

The Gran Mastin de Borinquen is not a very energetic dog, but neither are they slugs. This breed needs several brisk walks a day. When walking a Gran Mastin de Borinquen, they must be kept on a leash and collar secured and under control at all times. They do not communicate well with other dogs and should never be allowed in a dog park. Playing games in the yard between walks is a great way to keep them active and happy. Daily training sessions are also a good way to bond with them and give them the daily exercise they need.

Maintenance of the Gran Mastín de Borinquen

The Gran Mastin de Borinquen is a relatively low-maintenance breed. To keep their coats in perfect condition, they should be brushed at least once a week using a natural bristle brush, a soft brush or even a hound glove. Start brushing them at an early age, so they get used to handling them. They don't have a strong dog smell. This breed should not be bathed too often. Bathing them often can cause skin problems, as the harshness of the shampoos will strip the natural oils from their coat and skin. When it's necessary to bathe them, use a mild shampoo or one specially designed for sensitive skin. Clean their ears weekly with alcohol wipes or cotton balls and hydrogen peroxide. Make sure ears are dry after cleaning. Check their nails every few weeks and trim them if necessary. As a Mastiff-type breed, the Gran Mastin de Borinquen will drool especially after eating or drinking. It's a good idea to keep a drool rag handy to wipe off any excess drool.

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