Gran Mastín de Borínquen
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|Other names||Puerto Rican Mastiff, Mastín Borincano, Becerillo de Borinquen, Perro Barsino de Hacienda|
|Breed status||Not recognized as a standardized breed by any major kennel club.|
|Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)|
The Gran Mastín de Borinquen, also known as the Puerto Rican Mastiff, Mastín Borincano, Becerillo de Borinquen and Perro Barsino de Hacienda, is the only breed native to the island of Puerto Rico. The Borinquen Mastiff is a blend of Spanish Mastiffs, traditional island dogs (Perros Jíbaros) and Latin American Molossers, all brought to the island for protection from colonial times until the early 20th century.
Rarely available today, El Gran Mastín was established as an internationally recognized rare breed by la Sociedad Cynológica Caribeña ( S.C.C.) in 1979. A tremendous amount of interest has been generated by the work being done to carefully restore the dog to its place among the Caribbean dog fancy. It was only during the last part of the 19th century that local recognition began with the overseer's of the Sugar Cane, Tobacco and Coffee plantations. El Gran Mastín de Borinquen are by origin and type the "Old Country" dogs tuned to cold rain forest region mountains, hot "campo" hills and the tropical valley lands of Puerto Rico. Country folk would come from near and far to acquire a pup- in exchange for produce, game chickens, goats, hogs or just plain friendship and a handshake.
This magnificent breed's ancestry is deeply rooted in the history of the Spanish conquest of the Americas. For centuries Spanish Landlords and Noblemen kept these Molossi (referred to as bloodthirsty) for protection and bloodsport. They are adept at bringing down feral steer, boar and dogs; fighting to the finish if allowed to, just as they did during the colonization servicing the Conquistadors as gladiators and war dogs. During those days their quarry was most of the time human, particularly during the "Spanish Encomendado"- early 16th century. Helping enforce the Spanish reign in Latin America, the El Gran Mastín de Borinquen did this out of loyalty and desire to please his master, on the other hand many lacking proper human contact they were actually as bloodthirsty as described by Friar Bartolomé de las Casas.
The Mastín is noble, courageous and loyal- many died protecting their masters during the Spanish-Indian Wars. A perfect example is the case of Don Sancho de Arango in 1513, mentioned in the "Discovery, Conquest and Colonization of Puerto Rico" and in "Apuntes para la Historia de Humacao" both by Dr. Ricardo E. Alegría. These make reference to the Carib attack (cannibals) made against the plantations on the Cayarabón River, now called Loíza. The attack was so violent that despite a heroic defence many were killed by Carib arrows. The Indians captured Don Sancho de Arango, but the fierce attacks of his dog Becerillo (legendary terror of Borinquen), forced them to release the master, who fled. The brave animal, who some say was really owned by Ponce de León, fought to the end, as did his son - Leoncillo. Both died in the aftermath of the terrible battle felled by poisoned arrows.