This breed is a working dog first, but in the right hands, the Majorca Shepherd temperament can make him a good companion dog.
The Majorca Shepherd (or Ca de Bestiar to the Majorcans) is a livestock guardian dog from Spain who is also an excellent all-around farm dog.
He is known for his devotion to his master and affectionate disposition. However, he has a dominant nature and can be aggressive when provoked.
He is not a good choice for an inexperienced dog owner.
Majorca Shepherd Temperament
The Majorca Shepherd is a very smart dog that learns quickly. He works at several jobs in his native Spain. They include herding livestock, general farm labor, and guarding animals and property.
As a sheep-herder, the Majorca Shepherd works alone. He does his job with little to supervision from humans.
Because of this, he has developed what some call willfulness, which can create training challenges.
In spite of his willfulness, the Majorca Shepherd is very obedient to his master.
His instinct to protect is so strong that he appears to feel no fear.
The Majorca Shepherd temperament is intensely loyal to his master. He is said to not do well with a new master if he loses his original one.
Interestingly, this trait was purposely bred into this dog through selective cross-breeding.
He is affectionate toward members of his family, but he is mainly a one-master dog.
The Majorca Shepherd temperament is suspicious of strangers, sometimes to the point of aggression if he feels it’s needed. He is an excellent guard dog.
The Majorca Shepherd temperament trait of independence in his work has led to a dominant personality.
He is used to ordering a flock of sheep around in the field. This dog is comfortable with being the boss.
7. Potentially Aggressive
His dominant nature can turn into aggression if he is not socialized early to strangers and other dogs.
He has a history of dogfighting, so he comes by this naturally.
The Majorca Shepherd temperament is very territorial. This trait is so instinctive that you’re not likely to train it out of him. He needs strong and early socialization to control this.
The Majorca Shepherd temperament can be reactive when he feels threatened or feels his master is being threatened.
This is probably another legacy from his fighting history and part of his territorial nature.
The well-trained Majorca Shepherd temperament is not shy and not aggressive (unless provoked). He’s comfortable that he knows what needs to be done.
He confidently takes care of business, at work or while guarding his people and property.
The Majorca Shepherd is an ancient breed. Its exact origin is uncertain.
Historians believe they have been in the Balearic Islands of Spain at least since the reign of King James I of Aragon in the early 13th century.
Most agree that the Majorca Shepherd actually helped King James conquer Majorca. Islanders then discovered that the Majorca Shepherd was a great farm dog.
Early in this breed’s history, this dog was crossed with other Spanish dogs for two different purposes.
He was crossbred with an Alaunt breed (probably Alana Espanol). This was a Molosser-type dog – now extinct – that was used as a bullfighter.
The purpose was to create a tougher dog. Lumberjacks wanted a fierce dog to confront poachers.
This new breed was later used in dogfights, which has been outlawed since that time.
The other cross was done with the Ca Mè Mallorquí. Ironically, the purpose of this cross was to create a dog that was more obedient and more bonded with his master.
These crosses caused the near extinction of the original Majorca Shepherd. The Majorcans also cite the Doberman, the Mastiff, and the Great Dane for the “contamination” of their beloved Ca de Bestiar.
In the 1970s, dedicated Majorcans began a selective breeding program to restore the original Ca de Bestiar. This program is still a work in progress.
Today, there are estimated to be about 4000 Majorca Shepherds in Majorca, with only 1000 considered “excellent” for breeding purposes. The breed is still rare outside of Spain.
Majorca Shepherd Training
The Majorca Shepherd is an energetic working dog whose independence and sometimes willful temperament are necessary for the job.
Because of these Majorca Shepherd traits, this breed needs particularly firm and consistent training. You must show him who’s in charge, make rules, and stick with them.
Otherwise, you will have a dominant and stubborn dog that’s hard to control.
You will also need to take his potential aggressive tendencies into account. This breed needs extensive early socialization to strangers to prevent over-protectiveness.
He can be good with children, but his defensiveness and occasional aggressive reactions can make him unpredictable.
For this reason, the Majorca Shepherd temperament is not suited to families with young children.
Because of their tendency to be dominant, they need lifelong socialization and training.
Training needs to be very firm but not punishing. Punishing a Majorca Shepherd may produce an aggressive dog.
Helpful Dog Training Resource:
For help with training your Majorca Shepherd dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.
Majorca Shepherd Appearance
The Majorca Shepherd is a medium to large dog with a muscular build. Many people think he looks like a Black Lab or lab cross, though the Majorca Shepherd is leaner and more muscular.
Others have mistaken him for a black German Shepherd.
Their coats are always black with a thin undercoat. Some have white chest markings. Most have short, straight, glossy hair, but there is also a long-haired version of the breed.
His head is well-defined. His muzzle is longer than his skull. He has medium-sized hanging ears, eyes that are small, round, and wide-set. The eyes are brown or amber, and the nose is black. He has a level or scissor bite.
His neck is short and strong. He has a deep chest and muscular legs. The tail is long and hangs straight when he’s still but points upward like a saber when he’s on the move.
Majorca Shepherd Size
Average Majorca Shepherd weight is 75 to 90 pounds. And the Majorca Shepherd height averages 24 to 28 inches.
Majorca Shepherd Facts
Majorca Shepherd Lifespan
This breed’s life expectancy is 11-13 years.
The Majorca also goes by the following names (so more popular than others)
- Ca de Bestiar.
- Mallorquin Shepherd.
- Chien de Berger de Majorque.
- Perro de Pastor Mallorquin.
The Symbol of Majorca
Majorcans are very proud of their Majorca Shepherd/Ca de Bestiar.
They consider him a “Symbol of Majorca” and feel that his personality is like the Majorcan people themselves: These dogs are not loud or generally aggressive, but they know how to be both when they feel it’s needed.
They say the dog will warn you first, but if you ignore the warning or provoke it, “it will bite you.”
The Majorcans value the Ca de Bestiar’s strong temperament but also his obedience. They are proud that he’s both independent and obedient.
They appreciate that when a Ca de Bestiar is being judged, he will growl a little at the judge. But he will then open his mouth on his master’s command and let the judge check it. The Majorcans reject any dogs that are “afraid or untamed.”
They also tell stories about the Ca de Bestiar’s legendary loyalty to his master.
Majorca Shepherd Health Issues
The Majorca Shepherd is a robust, healthy breed. However, it is susceptible to several health problems that often occur in large dogs:
- Gastric torsion (also called bloat). This is a medical emergency. It is also called gastric dilatation or volvulus and is a twisting of your dog’s stomach that creates a blockage. You should know the symptoms and call your vet right away if you notice any.
- Hip dysplasia. This is a malformation of the dog’s ball-and-socket joint that can cause lameness, arthritis, and loss of function. This is often a genetic condition.
- Patellar luxation, or dislocation of the kneecap. This is also an inherited condition. Symptoms can be mild or severe. The most severe cases require surgery.
Note: if you agree that your health and your dog's health should be a top priority then get a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health. Your Majorca Shepherd friend will love you for it. This guide will help save you money, time and most of all help you keep your dog healthy.
Caring for the Majorca Shepherd
Majorca Shepherd Grooming
Both long- and short-haired Majorca Shepherds are easy to maintain. Their coats are self-cleaning. They should not be bathed often—only when they’ve gotten into something unpleasant.
These dogs should be brushed once or twice a week to remove dead hair and bring out the natural oil of their coats.
They do need their ears cleaned regularly. Pendulous ears are more prone to ear infections. You should use a good cleaner every week or two and dry their ears well when they get wet.
Majorca Shepherd Diet
This breed does well on a good-quality commercial food. However, for dogs who work hard or play hard, you may want to consider a high-performance food. Otherwise, they have no specific dietary needs.
Majorca Shepherd Exercise
As a dog bred for working, the Majorca Shepherd needs a lot of exercise. A daily walk will probably not be enough. He also needs room to run.
For this reason, this is not a breed who could live in an apartment or even a house with a small yard. He really should be considered a rural dog only.
As a very intelligent breed, he also needs a lot of mental stimulation. Providing several different actitivies for him would help meet that need.
This is an athletic breed. Dog sports like agility, rally, or herding trials would be great choices for him.
Finding a Majorca Shepherd
Buying a Majorca Shepherd from a Breeder
Unfortunately, this breed is very rare. It may be difficult to find any Majorca Shepherd breeders in North America.
If you have your heart set on this dog, you may need to consider importing a puppy from Europe. You could start with eurobreeder.com, which at the time of this writing had one listed European breeder.
Another possibility is to locate user groups and forums online. Facebook groups and others exist for nearly every breed.
If you can connect with current Majorca Shepherd owners, you may be able to get a recommendation for a breeder of Majorca Shepherd puppies.
This would also give you a great opportunity to ask questions. These people would know what it’s like to live with a Majorca Shepherd.
Majorca Shepherd Rescue/Adoption
Again, due to the breed’s rarity, finding a Majorca Shepherd for adoption would also be difficult. You’re not likely to find one at your local shelter.
However, based on the history of the breed, it’s likely that there are a significant number of Majorca Shepherd mixed-breed dogs in Europe. This may be true in North America as well.
If you would consider a mixed breed, you may have better luck finding your dog.
Mixed breeds can often have many of the same traits that purebreds have but without the breed-specific health concerns.
It may make sense to alert shelters within traveling distance that you are looking for a Majorca Shepherd mix. It may be a longshot, but it’s possible that one might eventually turn up.
You may still have to resort to a search in Europe. But again, you would probably have better luck finding a Majorca Shepherd mix than a purebred.
The breed is popular in Spain, but there are still not a lot of them that are considered fit for breeding.
Is the Majorca Shepherd the Right Breed for You?
For the right owner, the Majorca Shepherd is an excellent working and/or companion dog. However, he’s not a good choice for a family with small children.
It’s also critical that he be properly trained and socialized. If he is not, he has the potential to become overprotective or aggressive.
However, in competent hands, he is an affectionate family member and devoted friend.
If you have the right stuff to be a firm master to him, the Majorca Shepherd temperament will make you proud to have this dog by your side.
Paula is an experienced writer who loves dogs and had many of them through the years. Her family always had large dogs—Border Collies, Labs, and Golden Retrievers. When her beloved Golden died of cancer, she decided to practice what she preached and do some research before choosing her next breed. She now shares this knowledge with thousands of dogtemperament.com readers worldwide.