The Welsh Gafaelgi aka Celtic Mastiff

The Welsh Gafaelgi aka Celtic Mastiff breeding program was created by Mr G.W from Valley Forge Kennels in South Wales. This is an old write up on the breed by him.

For hundreds of years prior to the industrial revolution, Wales’s economy was agriculture, and primarily the rearing and sale of livestock. The biggest customers by far were the English, so the stock had to be transported and very often, all the way to London. This most difficult task was carried out by professional Drovers on foot and mounted, with their dogs, the Red collie for sheep herding, Corgis for keeping cattle moving, and the Gafaelgi also for moving cattle, catch dog to assist with butchery, and to guard this precious shipment from two legged and four legged thieves. During the Glyndwr rebellion when Wales was again fighting for independence, the droves still went on. The drovers were offered no protection by law at that time on the journey through English lands and had to look out for themselves. The Gafaelgis were used in a defensive roll, to harry mounted raiders and even hamstring their mounts. Droves of some 9000 head were not unknown, with the Royal Houses of England buying thousands per year. The drovers would make their way back to Wales with purses full, and this wasn’t all their money. They still had to pay the farmers for the stock, thus another hazardous journey where the Gafaelgi would show his worth and earn his crust. With the coming of the railways the Gafaelgi went into decline. In those days dogs were bred for a function not a fancy and redundancy meant just that. The legendary Gwyllgi a monstrous black dog terrorising travellers on hills and valleys probably arose from the now rarely seen Gafaelgi. Was Gelert a Gafaelgi? Who knows but there was a cattle fair in Beddgelert for hundreds of years, and he would definitely be capable of slaying a gaunt wolf.

Breed standard – Description: The Gafaelgi has strong musculature and bone structure and a well proportioned body. Head Massive, without wrinkling, with tight lips. Height Males : On average around 26 inches (65cm) Weight Males: 110 lbs (50 kg) Coat Short and of medium thickness. Colour Usually black but any solid colour is permissible. Not more than a little white on the rear toes and chest. No brindles, whites or piebald. Eyes Almond shape, any colour but light eyes are preferred, with a confident, direct gaze. Tail Straight or curved reaching the hocks. Temperament Steady, Determined, Intrepid, Fearless. Note – Bitches are 10% smaller.

8 thoughts on “The Welsh Gafaelgi aka Celtic Mastiff”

  1. Could the Gafaelgi and the rottweiler share a common ancestry, both drover dogs and herder protection dogs, I imagine as the Romans expanded in to Britain, they took their dogs with them, assuming the history of rottweiler is correct.

  2. Are these dogs being bred of good standard today and if so by whom and where are they located ? Link to websites if they exist would be helpful. Thx

      1. When did he stop breeding and who has his remaining blood 🩸?
        I also notice this dog seems like the one used to make black boerboles ? Ur thoughts

    1. I had a beautiful girl from this breeder 2006 _ 2020 . The best dog I’ve ever owned . Intelligent, lovable mentally stable obedient and a great guard dog.
      I did try to get another but unfortunately not being breed by this wonderful breeder any more which is such a shame.

  3. The breeder stopped as cancer came into the line.
    These dogs where meant to live to 12_15 yrs .
    I tried to get a second as my girl was 12 at the time the breeder only had his old boy left and my girl where the last of good line .
    Yes I had a fawn bitch and as a pup often mistaken for a boerboel.
    So sad as best dog I’ve ever had.

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