Perro Majorero

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Perro Majorero
Anja Griesand /

Developed over the last few centuries on the Spanish island of Fuerteventura, the Perro Majorero has mainly been used as a working dog. Whether it is used for herding cattle or sheep, keeping intruders away or simply acting as a companion for the farmer and their family, the Perro Majorero is well-respected as a sensible addition to any rural farm.

Within the population, there is a huge variety in appearance as this is a breed that has developed naturally and was chosen for its working ability and athleticism through the years rather than the way it looked. Most dogs are robustly built and quite large with dark fur that is brindled. Independent and not overly affectionate, its personality is that of a typical working dog.

About & History

The Perro Majorero, also known as the Perro Bardino, is a little-known dog from the Spanish island of Fuerteventura. Fuerteventura is a large Canary Island off the coast of Africa that tends to be warm for most of the year. On the island, the Perro Majoreros have traditionally been used as farmyard dogs; herding cattle and guarding property. Sadly, in the past, they were also used in dog fights.

While it would be impossible to estimate how long this indigenous breed has been in existence on the island, it is thought that they were brought over from mainland Spain around 600 years ago. Despite this, it is only as recently as 1979 that they participated in their first dog show and it wasn’t until 1994 that the Spanish Kennel Club (Real Socieded Canina de España) accepted the dog as a native Spanish breed.

In recent history, what with the modernisation of farming and importation of international breeds, the Perro Majorero has come close to extinction. In fact, some sources even report the Perro Majorero as being extinct, but, within Fuerteventura at least, they are still going strong. In response to the population decline, the ACPM (Association for the Preservation of the Perro Majorero) initiated a conservation programme. They work hard to maintain the purity of the breed and to ensure the best breed examples are used for reproducing.


There is a huge physical variation within the breed. The Perro Majorero is classified as a medium to large breed and will typically weigh between 34kg and 40kg when fully mature, measuring from 56cm to 66cm.

The coat of the Perro Majorero is short to medium in length, soft, straight and may exhibit some feathering on the tail. Coats are usually a dark brindle pattern, often with a black undercoat and brown or grey brindling. White patches of fur are common.

The relatively large head of the dog is in proportion to is body. Its medium size ears hang from the level of the eyes and fall tightly beside the face. Their alert and soulful eyes may be a brown or a striking amber colour. They have a long and wide muzzle that ends in a large, black nose. Their body shape is similar to that of a Labrador dog, though often more athletic in appearance. They should have dense bones, well-muscled limbs and a tucked-up abdomen. Their tail is carried low and reaches the hocks.

Character & Temperament

Used to working alone on the farmyard with little human intervention, the Perro Majorero is an independent and calm dog. They are content to get along with their task, requiring little input from their owner. They continue to act as fantastic guard dogs and remain very territorial to this day.

When it comes to their own family, the Perro Majorero will accept them willingly and show them a certain level of affection. While they will generally bond well with children, small children should be supervised in their company due to their sheer size and strength. The same cannot be said for strangers, who are likely to be ignored, or potentially even treated aggressively if the Perro Majorero thinks he senses a threat. Bred for guarding property, any ‘intrusion’ on their territory can put the intruder at risk. This is best avoided by thoroughly socialising young Perro Majoreros and encouraging new guests to bring food treats and to allow the dog to approach them in its own time.

The Perro Majorero does not typically get along well with other dogs and can be hostile in their company, so any canine introductions should be done at a safe distance and in a neutral environment.


The stubborn nature and autonomous tendencies of the Perro Majorero do not make for a breed that is easy to train. Basic commands can be mastered, though teaching them may require more time than expected. Even after learning commands, it is not unheard of for the willful Perro Majorero to ignore them. An inexperienced trainer can find this very off-putting and may be best considering a breed that is easier to work with.

Tasks that are inherent to the breed, such as guarding and herding, come so naturally to them that they often perform them with no training whatsoever.


There is hardly any information available regarding the health of this rare breed, and the only evidence we have is anecdotal. Given their conformation, the following conditions should be observed for within the Perro Majorero:

Hip Dysplasia

As with most pure-bred larger dogs, the Perro Majorero is likely prone to hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is one of the most common conditions encountered in veterinary practice and affects a dog for the majority of its life. Their hips do not fit adequately into their sockets, resulting in rubbing and local irritation and inflammation. Inevitably, osteoarthritis will occur. Often the treatment of this condition involves a multi-modal approach, which may include surgery, pain relief, physiotherapy and even acupuncture. This is a condition that is managed, not cured.

The best way to combat hip dysplasia is to screen any breeding dog with hip X-rays, and to remove any affected animals from the breeding population by neutering them. Prudent purchasers should ensure that the parents of the puppy that they are interested in both have acceptable hip scores. Hip scoring will typically be carried out when a dog is one year old.

Ear Infections

Infected ears tend to smell bad, look awful and cause pain and irritation for the affected pooch. Early intervention is critical to ensure that they are adequately treated. Vets will usually give the ears a thorough clean, take a sample of the contents with a swab for analysis, and start topical therapy (ear drops). Unfortunately, a dog that has had one infection is likely to get more throughout their lifetime.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Really only suited to a rural lifestyle, it would be foolish to attempt to contain this farmyard dog in a small apartment. They are used to their freedom and enjoy the opportunity to roam their territory and patrol their land. They will choose to spend the majority of their time outdoors and like to be aware of what is going on at all times.

While the Perro Majorero does not require long hikes or vigorous exercise, they should have the opportunity to walk as much as they like. Ideally, they should be allowed to work on a farm as they need the mental stimulation that a working role provides to keep them motivated.


The Perro Majorero does not require a lot of intervention when it comes to their grooming. A brush down once a week is usually sufficient to rid them of any dead fur. Owners should use this opportunity to give them a check-over, ensuring their ears and eyes are free from build-up and that they do not have any brambles, awns or ‘stickers’ on their fur or between their toes.

Due to the shape of their ears, the airflow to the canals is not ideal in the Perro Majorero. They also do not drain easily of any liquid. This means that all breed members, particularly those that swim frequently, are prone to ear infections. Owners can reduce the likelihood of their dog developing an infection by cleaning their ears of any excess wax or debris on a regular basis.

Famous Perros Majoreros

The Perro Majorero is a rare breed that is practically unheard of outside of Fuerteventura. For this reason, there are no famous breed members.


While it is true that farmers would traditionally breed a variety of dog breeds together based on their performance and work-ethic rather than their pedigree, there are no established cross-breeds of the Perro Majorero.

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