When deciding on the acquisition of a dog of this breed, it is important to know some details regarding his history and genetic heritage, in order to be able to train and feed him adequately, allowing him to develop as healthy and socially fit as possible. Only then will it be possible to live in harmony with an adult dog from this breed.
The first thing to have in mind when a pup of this breed enters our life is that he does not need to be trained to fulfil his guarding task, for this breed has always been used for PROTECTION purposes.

Seemingly harmless and always tender, the big-pawed, fluffy pup that leaves his mother after 50 days will naturally grow into a skilled protector of his territory and the goods under his guard. This happens in adulthood, after one year of age. For this to happen without causing problems, he will have to be taught to live by the rules and respect the family, friends and other domestic animals in the house.

The second important thing to remember is the following.

These dogs have always been free to run the hills following the herds in a constant physical exercise and watching activity against threats to the herd, often covering large distances in a single day in search of better pastures. Pups join the herds when they are just two months old, following the lambs around and learning with them and with their own mothers what to do. Contact with humans is scarce and the relationship with the shepherd is weak. They soon learn to live on their own and to make important decisions on their own, under a natural selection where the strongest rules and only the most fit survive. Very often they reach adulthood without being aware that they have a name to which they should respond and even less that there is a man's voice to which they should obey!

Even if the conditions under which he lives change, the open country is swapped by a cottage yard or garden, it is important to remember that this pup has this genetic inheritance well imprinted and is naturally curious, suspicious and independent. As a good guard, he instinctively knows how to mark his territory.

One should always have in mind that the dig thinks that his space, no matter how small it may be, is truly his, is under his guard and it is his role to rule over it.

It doesn't come as a surprise, then, that the character of these dogs is marked by a need of independence and self-sufficiency and that their temperament is dominant and patronising regarding other domestic animals he lives with but he considers to be inferior.

The 50 day-old pup that enters our home with barely 8 kg and 35 cm, will, within less than one year, weight 60 kg and measure 80 cm. Although we are able to take him in our arms during the first weeks, soon this won't be possible, due to his excessive weight and size.

It is therefore necessary to learn how to dominate this dog since the very beginning, teaching him the rules and good manners and firmly, obedience too. 

With 2 months of age, he should already be trained to walk on a lead without pulling it, respond to the calling of his name, learning to eliminate in a toilet area (if he lives inside the house) and stay by himself at night without howling. He should recognise a sharp voice as a punishment and that the word “NO” demands immediate obedience.

With 3 months old, he should be severely reprimanded if he misbehaves and accept the reprimand without baring his teeth. The keyword is always: respect.

The Transmontano Mastiff pup is jealous and possessive, which can represent danger when he reaches adulthood, if we don't train him to control that instinct.

This characteristic is very distinctive of this breed and should be controlled since the early days.

It is important to remember once more that in the herd work in the field, the strongest one is the survivor and therefore, defending the little food he is given becomes a primary survival need. Therefore, at home, the pup must learn to allow his food and toys to be touched, without growling, as well as to tolerate patting or other signs of affection towards the other pets and children of the house, if there are any. This is because the master himself becomes an “object” of great importance that he won't want to share with anybody.
The Transmontano Mastiff pup loves to be patted and pampered, reacting with a unique joy to the master's caresses, that usually translates into jumping and pawing. If this is an acceptable behaviour for a pup, we should not forget, however, that pawing with an impulse of a 60 kg body can have devastating effects once the dog grows up and becomes an adult. If he is not taught to control this kind of impulse as a pup, he will not understand that he is not supposed to carry on playing like that as an adult!

Another trait of this breed when they want to show love is nipping their master. Once again, they have to be taught not to do it. While nipping from a pup during the tooth changing is an unpleasant experience, adult nipping can be quite painful! Beware that they are very stubborn and won't learn easily!

The owner of a Transmontano Mastiff dog must always accept the following fundamental principle:

When deciding on the purchase of a pup of this breed, he will automatically need enough time to dedicate to it's training and education, especially during the first months of life. If this does not happen, in a few months, instead of an intelligent and faithful companion, willing to trade his life for that of the family, he will have to live with a stubborn, independent and uncontrollable beast! Plus, he will still be very intelligent.

The pup will have to understand since the beginning that the master is the one who rules in the house and therefore, he will have to be submissive. In other words, it is during the first weeks of his life that the pup needs to learn to hand himself over to his master without any restriction. In this breed, this does not occur naturally and not without some confrontation.

The education of this dog is therefore a result of discipline allied to affection. This is indeed the key to succeeding in the training of this breed.
Patience, affection and firmness are the fundamental pillars to manage this dog to obey and accept training. Physical force and violence are last resource alternatives and more than often bring results contrary to those that are desired. Because this dog is stubborn and very intelligent and does   not easily forget an offence or abuse, he can even become spiteful. Under these circumstances, the most efficient method is to use different tones of voice: harsh reprimands when something goes wrong and lavish praise through words and verbal incentives when he does well. This way, the pup learns to recognise the meaning of the various voice tones and the words associated to them and has pleasure to please him.
Used since immemorial times to the freedom of vast spaces and to running across the hills, these dogs suffer intensely when kept captive, confined by chains or kennels. This is not a dog to be kept whole days within a kennel with limited horizons forever. Under such circumstances he grows sad, becomes grumbling or gloomy, barks constantly and turns into a truly unhappy animal. Above all, this is a working dog with a mission to fulfil. In his natural environment and integrated in the herd, it is common to watch him cover 15 or 20 km in one day, always agile and energetic. Such physical exercise is vital for him to grow up normally and for the development of his powerful skeletal structure, as well as for his emotional development and psychological balance.
There is a big difference between males and females of this breed, not just regarding size and corpulence, but also character. The male Transmontano Mastiff is dominant by nature and has a more impetuous and rebellious character. It is a common to watch him, since the earlier days, “crushing” the other dogs with his paws or laying on top of them and barking, in a dominant attitude. Once his dominant role is defined, he is very tolerant with the other males and co-habits with them without problems. With the females, he behaves like a lion and their lionesses. They are forced to be submissive and curiously enough, they sometimes even become monogamous, rejecting mating with all the other males.
It is certainly easier to live with a female Transmontano Mastiff, and this is something to be considered before acquiring a dog. While displaying all the breed's typical characteristics, females are more docile and tender, although they don't have the same impressive look of the male. In fact, the male is more imposing, inspires more respect but eventually, he can also cause more problems. He imperatively takes up a lot of space to grow up healthy and a very careful education.

This feature of this breed's character is the most inconvenient of all, especially for those who like to have a well-groomed garden! With all his dexterity, the Transmontano Mastiff is able to dig holes on the ground big enough to lay inside in just a few minutes. The harsh climate of Trás-os-Montes explains this need: in the country, to escape the winter cold or the summer heat, the best solution is a good hole in the ground!

To avoid this problem, the best solution is to provide alternatives, in other words, keeping the dog busy with other activities such as playing with toys, giving him large bones to chew on and essentially being very vigilant to dissuade him since the beginning.

One of the most curious traits of these pups is the fact that when they are weaning and taken away from their mothers, they eat relatively little and show little appetite. If we consider how quickly they will double their size from two/three and six months of age and their exceptional skeletal structure, we realise that this is a metabolism specific of this breed. In fact, under natural conditions, the food given to these weaning pups is always poor: a potato or rice broth and, with luck, some meat leftovers. The sheep breeds of the region are raised for meat, which means that milk and cheese are also out of the menu. Moreover, to get to the food, the pups must allow the older dogs to feed first, so they only feed on the remains... It comes as no surprise, then, that their metabolism has adapted to this poor feeding and that their bodies manage with little to sustain their development!

It is a mistake to feed them with very rich food and calcium-based additives. A good pet-food brand and plenty of boiled chicken meat are enough to ensure a correct development and two daily meals are enough too.

Water availability at all times is very important, for they drink abundantly along the day.

In addition to a balanced nutrition, the Transmontano Mastiff pup needs a plenty of physical activity. Since an early age, he alternates between sleep hours and long walks or crazy runs. He exercises naturally. It is enough to watch the lightness of his pace, the agility of his trot and the impulse of his gallop to understand we're looking at an indefatigable animal, capable of covering the country for a whole day without getting tired. It is almost unbelievable that such a big sized animal can be so agile in his movements. And there he goes after the herd all day long, his tail held high, on a cadenced trot. It is good to know that the pup we have at home will one day be able to jump in the air on his four feet without effort and jump a high wall without need for an impulse!  And it is important to teach him the limits of his horizon.

The Transmontano Mastiff is the largest among the Portuguese breeds as well as the most rustic. It has maintained it's functionality until today and human interference regarding breeding selection has been kept to a minimum.

This breed can be found nowadays in northeast Portugal where it has been preserved solely for its use in the protection of the herds and their defence against wolf attacks.

For those who seek a guard dog that can be left alone in a farm without human contact or even chained, there are certainly other, more adequate choices among the many dog breeds classified as “guard” dogs.

The Transmontano Mastiff must have a mission to fulfil and a “shepherd” to guide him, he needs space to grow up and a firm hand to train him.

This dog is not for everyone and it is certainly not adapted to live in an urban flat.

Once it is integrated in an area adequate to its needs and certain conditionals are overcome this dog becomes the companion we have always dreamed of, ready to defend the people and things put under his guard with his own life.

In the troubled times we live in, where our private safety is so much at stake, what else can we demand from our faithful friend?
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