The Kurdish Mastiff: Everything You Need to Know

The Kurdish Mastiff is a strong guardian and a capable livestock protector native to the rugged and mountainous Kurdistan Region in Iraq. 

In this article, we will explain the ancient history, physical appearance, personality, and health concerns of the powerful Kurdish Mastiff. 

A Brief History of the Kurdish Mastiff

The Kurdish Mastiff, also known as the Assyrian Shepherd or Pishdar dog, has been around for centuries and was originally developed for the purpose of guarding livestock from predators, such as wolves and bears. 

Origins of the Breed

There is much debate over the exact origins of the Kurdish Mastiff, but most experts agree that the breed is at least 2,000 years old. Some say that the dog is one of the oldest breeds in existence, with genetic links to the ancient Molossus dogs of Greece and the Roman Empire.

One theory suggests that the breed was developed by the Assyrians, who used the dogs to protect their sheep flocks. Another theory suggests that the breed was developed by the Persians, who used the dogs to guard their caravans as they traveled through the mountains.

The Modern Kurdish Mastiffs in Kurdish Culture

In Kurdish culture, the Kurdish Mastiff is highly revered and is often considered a symbol of strength and loyalty. They are often viewed as members of the family and are given the same level of respect and care as humans. 

The Kurdish Mastiff is also a popular subject in Kurdish art and literature. Many poems and stories have been written about the bravery and loyalty of these dogs, and they are often depicted in paintings and sculptures.

Evolution of the Breed Over Time

As the world changed, so did the role of the Kurdish Mastiff. With the advent of modern technology and industrialization, the need for powerful guard dogs diminished, and the breed almost disappeared.

However, thanks to a group of dedicated breeders, the Kurdish Mastiff was preserved and is now recognized as a valuable and important breed around the world.

Physical Characteristics of the Kurdish Mastiff

The Kurdish Mastiff is a large and powerful dog that has a muscular build and a sturdy frame. Here are some additional details about the physical traits of this impressive breed. 

Size and Weight

The Kurdish Mastiff is one of the largest dog breeds in the world, with breed members typically weighing between 130 and 220 pounds and standing 28 to 34 inches tall.

Coat and Colors

The Kurdish Mastiff has a short and dense coat that protects the dog from harsh weather conditions. The coat is usually tawny but can range from fawn to gray to brindle.

Breed members have a distinct black mask, which covers the face and extends down the neck. The Kurdish Mastiff required moderate grooming – weekly brushing and monthly bathing. 

Distinctive Features

The Kurdish Mastiff also has a broad head and a thick, muscular neck. The breed is known for its powerful jaws and sharp teeth, which make it an excellent guard dog.

The Kurdish Mastiff’s body is massive, ponderous, and well-proportioned. Overall, breed members are often compared to Kangals and Akbash dogs, with whom they share many similarities. 

Personality and Temperament

While the Kurdish Mastiff is certainly a powerful and imposing presence, it is also loyal and affectionate with its owners. Here are some of the key personality traits of the breed. 

General Temperament

Kurdish Mastiffs are generally calm and composed, though they can be fierce and protective when needed. They are loyal to their families and will do whatever it takes to defend them from harm. 

Despite the imposing appearance, the breed is also known for its gentle and affectionate nature, making it an excellent companion for those who can handle its size and strength.

Socialization and Training

Socialization and training are key components of raising a well-behaved Kurdish Mastiff. These dogs can be stubborn and strong-willed, so it is important to establish yourself as the pack leader early on.

Consistent training and positive reinforcement are vital for raising a well-behaved and obedient Kurdish Mastiff. The breed is not recommended for novice owners who can be overwhelmed by the breed’s strength. 

Interaction with Children and Other Pets

Kurdish Mastiffs can be wonderful with children, provided they are properly socialized and trained. However, due to their large size and protective nature, it is important to supervise interactions between dogs and kids at all times.

The breed can also get along well with other pets, though again, socialization is critical. Start exposing your Kurdish Mastiff to new people, animals, and experiences from a young age to make it adaptable and open to new situations. 

Health and Lifespan

Like all breeds, Kurdish Mastiffs are prone to certain health issues. However, with proper care and attention, these dogs can live long and healthy lives.

Common Health Issues

The Kurdish Mastiffs is a generally healthy breed with no breed-specific genetic conditions. However, due to their size, breed members are prone to hip dysplasia. 

Hip dysplasia is an orthopedic issue in which the ball-and-socket hip joint fails to develop properly. As a result, the joint is loose and makes the dog limp and experience pain when moving. 

Lifespan Expectancy

Kurdish Mastiffs have a lifespan of 8 to 10 years, which is about average for a large breed dog. By providing your dog with proper care and attention, you can help ensure that it lives a long and healthy life.

Tips for Maintaining Good Health

In order to maintain the health and well-being of your Kurdish Mastiff, it is important to enable regular exercise, a healthy diet, and plenty of love and attention. Regular veterinary checkups can also help identify and treat any health issues before they become serious.


The Kurdish Mastiff is a breed that is steeped in history and tradition. Thanks to its imposing size and loyal nature, the breed has been a valuable part of Kurdish culture for centuries. 

If interested in owning a Kurdish Mastiff, research the breed and keep in mind it is not recommended for first-time dog owners who cannot handle a dog of its size and personality. 

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