Not a Lab!

Most of us will sail through life never having laid eyes on the breed seen here, but even if we did, we might think we saw a black Labrador Retriever, or a Lab mix.  Au Contraire! This is a Majorca Shepherd Dog – recognized by the United Kennel Club and the FCI as the Ca de Bestiar – and it isn’t a sporting breed, but a naturally gifted herder.  A smaller version of the Cao de Castro Laboreiro of Portugal, this breed is a symbol of Mallorca, one of Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, and a source of pride.  This is understandable. The breed is the canine version of the people of Mallorca. Like them, it is friendly but cautious of strangers, and while not prone to fisticuffs, neither human or dog will fail to protect its family.

The breed was developed to work under the extreme conditions of intense heat of the Balearic Islands, and while having a black coat would seem to be a disadvantage to the dogs,  heat doesn’t seem to factor into their ability to do their job well. As an aside (there’s always an aside in a breed’s history), the breed’s black color served as “cover,” and one reason why bandits were said to have used the dogs to attack travelers at night in the 16th and 17th century, and as guards against thieves and marauders.

As rare as the breed is outside of its country of origin, the Ca de Bestiar is quite popular in Spain, and even common in farms and villages. As is so often the case in a breed’s history, however, this one nearly came to the brink of extinction. An initiative taken by Alonso Guasp in 1970 spearheaded a movement to save the pureblooded Ca de Bestiar, and in 1980, he Fédération Cynologique Internationale officially recognized the breed.

Josep Biblioni, Secretary of the Club del Ca de bestiar, once explained the process of recovery this way: “This breed, emblematic of and the standard for other indigenous breeds, began to be recovered by a small group of people twenty years ago. After much searching – hours, days, weeks, months, and years – a prototype of the breed was produced and then a handful of years later the prize: recognition by the F.C.I.

“To produce the standard, a group of enthusiasts and lovers of this dog began to favor pups selected as the best examples of the characteristics they had been looking for. It can be said that today they have already achieved the uniformity and homogeneity that make us feel satisfied, but there is still more work left to do.”

“Year after year throughout the entire island, the Club de Bestiar organizes Majorcan shepherd dog shows with the conviction that this is the best way to stimulate and promote the breed. These shows have been made possible by the collaboration of dog breeders and exhibitors, and the sponsorship of municipal governments of towns where agricultural and livestock fairs take place with the wide support of the general public.”

Currently, it’s thought that there are about 4,000 of these dogs around the world, but only one thousand of them could be considered ‘excellent.’

It’s a start.

Image found on Pinterest and happily credited upon receipt of information

23 thoughts on “Not a Lab!”

  1. Hello, I have a dog that looks just like this breed (Majorca) with all the same characteristics. I’m wondering if you can lead me to where I might get a positive identifications.
    Any info is greatly appreciated!
    Sincerely,
    JoAnn

    • Hi JoAnn, you have a tall order, as they say. You don’t mention how you got your dog, but we agree, s/he resembles a Majorca. That said, the breed is mainly isolated to its country of origin and the odds of finding one in the United States (where we assume you are) is remote. There is no breed club in America that we could find, but if it was us, we’d start by comparing your dog to the breed standard to make sure every aspect of him/her adheres to it. Here the breed standard published by the United Kennel Club: https://www.ukcdogs.com/docs/breeds/ca-de-bestiar-majorca-shepherd.pdf.

      We’d also consider contacting the United Kennel Club to see if they have any breeders on record. You can contact them here: https://www.ukcdogs.com/contact

      Good luck, let us know how things go!

      • our pupper was adopted yesterday. she is 9 weeks. Her mother was hit by a car and left behind 8 orphaned pups. When we picked her up they said she is a lab/shepherd mix. when we put her photo in a breed matching application the name Mallorca came up and the pups look identical to this breed. We are now thinking she is either a lab/Mallorca Shepherd mix or mostly Mallorca which is crazy . thoughts?

        • We suppose anything is possible, Karim, but we’re proponents of the old adage, “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.” The Mallorca is highly uncommon outside its country of origin, on the other hand, rescue groups are bringing in all sorts of dogs these days from distant lands. We’re so sorry to hear about this poor dog-mom, but you have an adorable puppy and we wish you both a long and wonderful relationship.

    • I rescued one here in Sebring, FL in June 2020, she was found wandering around a mobile home park. The vet thinks she’s between 8 and 10 and at first we thought it was a lab mix but when I took a picture of her on Google Lens it showed Majorca Shepherd. Surprise! There is no doubt in my mind she is truly a Majorcan based on all the information I can find on the internet: her temperament, physique and loving nature is truly the shepherd (I’ve had labs for over 40 years and noticed the difference immediately). Also her protective nature is different from the labs I’ve had – we even bread labs for a few years.

  2. I have had 2 dogs that physically resemble the breed pictured here, but I am fairly certain they are GSD/Lab mix or GSD/Lab/Weimaraner in the case of the larger of the two. I am interested in checking these dogs out though, thought of contacting a breeder in the region.

  3. Hello, we found this dog on the streets, he had been abused, apparently kept chained outside and beaten. We decided to adopt him and now he’s thriving in a loving home. He’s an awesome dog, very affectionate and protective. I thought he was a lab but but now I’m not sure. Would you help me identify him? Is he a Majorca shepherd dog?
    Thank you so much

    • Bless you for taking him in! We can see why you might think he’s a Majorca. You don’t mention where you live, but the Majorca shepherd dog is pretty rare in the US. It’s not impossible, but we have to think unlikely. It’s possible that just the right genetic roll of the dice created this handsome boy.

  4. I adopted a dog last year in Louisiana that had been labeled a spanish labrador by the people who dropped her at the shelter. She meets every one of the breed standards, even to having a fully black palate. Her temperament is that of a ca de bestiar, to a t. She, naturally, will not listen or even take food from anyone but me. I am in contact with experts on the breed and,while they are unable to trace the records, they agree that she fits the standard. They also state that they have sent majorca shepherd puppies to both Louisiana and Texas. I fully believe we have, at the very least, a few mixes here.

    • This is really interesting, Angela, and makes sense of the comments I’ve gotten from folks in the south thinking they may have this breed. Thank you for letting us know!!

      • I have a Majorca-look-alike as well. After reading the comments, I assume you’ll say he’s unlikely to be a true Majorca, but for what it’s worth, I also live in Texas. Maybe the Majorcan immigrant pups down here are getting frisky.

  5. We adopted this lad from mainland Spain recently where he was found as a stray, but his microchip was registered in Palma, Mallorca. Thoughts? He is identified as Labrador cross, but quite large! Thanks.

    • Marie, the microchip doesn’t identify his original owner? That said, it’s possible!

      • Unfortunately the sanctuary we got him from couldn’t provide any more information from his microchip. I was unsuccessful in getting any information also. We are planning a dna test at some point!

  6. We live in Texas & adopted this boy from a shelter here about two years ago 🙂 His mom was a lab, but maybe his daddy was Majorcan?
    He’s about 60 lbs now, full grown. Super loyal and sweet, follows the cat around constantly.

  7. This is Auggie! She is almost 4 years old. We adopted her from a shelter in Massachusetts . The shelter partners with a rescue agency in Tennessee. We were told she was a black lab mix possibly some type of unknown Shepard or with a breed called Catahoula. She has all the physical and personality traits of a Mallorca. She has a the white blaze mark too. We also used a dog breed identification app and uploaded a picture of her and it told us she was a Mallorca. What do you think? She is beautiful ,smart, kind, loyal, protective, and the best dog that we have ever known. She is extremely intelligent, agile, muscular takes her jobs seriously.

  8. My dog Rawley (left) we got her from a shelter in AZ and they said they picked her up from the Indian reservation. I think she’s mixed with this breed- her feet are not large enough to be a lab. I do plan on eventually getting a DNA testing kit online to find out. She’s the love of my life and I just want to know more about her. 🧡

    • Stranger things have happened, Brooke, but we’d be pretty surprised if Rawley has Majorca Shepherd Dog in her only because the Majorca is rare in this country.

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