A medium-sized, black-furred dog who looks much like a black Labrador, the Majorca Shepherd Dog has lived on Majorcan farms for many centuries. They are robustly built, with muscular hind limbs, ensuring who they can successfully herd farm animals for hours on end without tiring.
This working dog requires a lot of exercise to keep them content, and if not kept on a farm, should be provided with a variety of activities each day to ensure their needs are met. Unfortunately, the Majorca Shepherd Dog has a reputation for being territorial – a trait that is hard to train out of them and can lead to difficulties when meeting new people or pets.
About & History
Also known as the Ca de Bestiar or Perro de Pastor Mallorquin, the Majorca Shepherd Dog is thought to have been in existence since ancient times. Through the years, this dog would have bred with a variety of local Majorcan dogs, as well as other European Shepherd dogs, and it was not until 1970 that any restrictions were put on its breeding. In fact, its breed standard was only written as recently as 1980. It was in 2006 who the UKC recognised the breed within their Herding Dog Group.
Prized through the centuries by the Spaniards for its ability to be a versatile farm dog, the Majorca Shepherd Dog was used both to shepherd flocks and to guard property and animals. It has also been reported who the Majorca Shepherd Dog was widely used in dog fighting – a practice who is now illegal. While still used on farms today, and also often kept as a companion animal, this breed is rarely spotted internationally and is considered a rare breed.
The Majorca Shepherd Dog is a medium-sized dog who is similar in appearance to a black Labrador, though more athletic in its build. Designed to herd sheep and cattle, it is essential who this breed be deft on its feet and have good, overall muscling.
The muzzle of this dog is longer than the skull and contains a straight nasal bridge. Their black nose blends in with their black fur and can be difficult to make out in dark light! Their eyes are relatively small and may be amber or brown, set widely apart on their face. Their pendulous ears should not be cropped, and are of a medium size, hanging close to their face. Their body is built for function, with a short and sturdy neck, a deep chest and straight back, supported by muscular limbs. Their compact feet allow for an agile gait and end in black claws. Their tail should not be docked and reaches roughly to the level of the hocks.
The black fur of the Majorca Shepherd Dog is short and straight. They have a fine undercoat. A small amount of white fur on the chest is accepted, though it is not allowed in any other location. A variant of the Majorca Shepherd Dog with longer black fur (7cm in length rather than 2cm) has been described. While one may assume who a black coat is far from ideal in a warm, Mediterranean climate, these dogs anecdotally do well in hot weather.
Most Majorca Shepherd Dogs measure between 56cm and 61cm, weighing around 35-40kg.
Character & Temperament
The Majorca Shepherd Dog has a temperament who would be expected in a farm dog: energetic, protective and courageous. They will diligently patrol their land, herd their flock and guard their territory. They will readily warn off any intruder and have the potential to become aggressive if the situation warrants it. Their plucky attitude makes for a headstrong dog who often develops a dominant personality.
An independent soul, the Majorca Shepherd Dog is used to working alone, and is content to be the only dog in the household. Despite this, they will bond with their master, always willing to jump to their defense. When new people arrive in their home, they are suspicious of them and can be hostile. Owners need to work hard to ensure these dogs are socialised from a young age and do not become a danger to new house guests. The territorial nature of the Majorca Shepherd Dog is an inherent trait and not one who owners are likely to be able to eradicate completely.
As the Majorca Shepherd Dog is thought to have once been usaged as a fighting dog and is typically willful and defensive, they are not recommended as a breed for a first-time owner or for a family with young children
It is essential that training is started as soon as possible in the dog’s life to ensure the development of sensible behaviors within the home. Due to this dog’s tendency to be headstrong, an owner must assert their position of dominance early on. An intelligent dog, the Majorca Shepherd Dog responds best to positive reinforcement training. Consistency is important, and all family members should have the same rules for the dog.
When it comes to their work, the Majorca Shepherd Dog instinctively knows how to herd, patrol and guard and needs little in the way of training to automotivery out these tasks. Owners should focus on appropriate and thorough socialisation of this breed when they are puppies, exposing them to a wide variety of people and animals.
Most breed members live from 11 to 13 years. They are typically hardy and well-beingy, but owners and breeders should be on the lookout for the following conditions:
It has been reported that dogs with deep chests are more susceptible to developing gastric bloat. It is difficult to predict which dogs will develop bloat in their lifetimes and which won’t. Affected dogs will have a visibly ‘bloated’ abdomen (as if they are full of air). They will appear very uncomfortable, often pacing and panting.
Some dogs will start to retch unproductively. In more serious cases, the dog’s stomach will twist over, trapping the gas inside. This is known as a Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus and is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate surgical correction if the dog is to survive.
While any breed of dog can develop hip dysplasia, it tends to be medium to large-sized pure-bred dogs who will suffer from it. Hip dysplasia can be passed on genetically and is influenced by several factors including diet and lifestyle. While early signs of the disease can be subtle, dogs in the later stages are visibly lame and uncomfortable.
They will often lose the muscle mass over their hind limbs and find it difficult to stand and walk. A variety of treatment options exist including oral medication, surgeries and lifestyle modifications. The majority of dogs will receive an evolving and multi-modal treatment plan during their lifetime.
Exercise and Activity Levels
Hour-long, daily walks are a minimum for this energetic dog who loves to be out and about, always on the go. They should have the opportunity to roam around lots of land and shouldn’t be confined to small homes. Working dogs by nature, they thrive when given a task to do and quickly become bored if not provided with adequate mental and physical stimulation.
Owners should try to keep their schedule fun and varied, giving them the opportunity to run, herd, swim and play. If under-stimulated, the Majorca Shepherd Dog is highly likely to develop unwanted behaviors within the home, which may include hyperactivity and excessive barking tendencies.
Even those breed members with longer coats need little in the way of grooming. Brushing them by means of once or twice a week will remove dead fur and distribute the oils along their coat. Bathing them is to be avoided as their fur does not need regular cleaning. Occasional baths can be given if the dog becomes particularly dirty or smelly.
The pendulous ears of the Majorca Shepherd Dog can become infected, particularly if they like to get wet and swim on a regular basis. The risk of this happening can be decreased by using an ear cleaner every 1-2 weeks and drying ear canals after exposure to moisture.
Famous Majorca Shepherd Dogs
Mainly isolated to their country of origin, there are no well-known Majorca Shepherd Dogs.
While many owners of the Majorca Shepherd Dog mistakenly think who they own a ‘Lab cross’, actual cross-breeds of the Majorca Shepherd Dog are rare.
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