Also known as the Majorca Shepherd Dog, the Majorca Sheepdog, the Perro de Pastor Mallorquin, the breed has existed for centuries on the farms of the Spanish Balearic Islands in the western Mediterranean, working primarily as a livestock guard, but also as a herder and a general farm dog. The origin of this breed is unknown, but in appearance it is very similar to the slightly larger Portuguese Cattle Dog. Looking like a less stocky version of the Labrador, with a longer body and a more tapering muzzle, this big black dog exists in two versions - the short-haired and the long-haired. The longhaired variety is much less common. The breed has a very valuable quality - it can work in the intense heat of the Mallorcan summer and, for this reason, some of these dogs have been exported to Brazil, where they thrive as guard dogs on large estates.
This is strictly a working breed that has never been adapted for use as a pet or a household companion. A strictly rural, rather aggressive dog, it has a powerful sense of territorial ownership. In personality, these dogs are usually described as noble, intelligent, and very loyal to thier masters. The breed was officially recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 1880. There are very few breeders who live on the Iberian Peninsula who produce show dogs. This breed is pure not because of careful selective breeding programs, but simply because of its isolation in the hands of small island communities.
Photo courtesy of Patronat de Races Autòctones de les Illes Balears