AKC Dog Breeds: Spanish Mastiff

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Foundation Stock Service® Breed
Height: 28-35  inches  Weight: 145-220 pounds  
 any color including yellow, fawn, red, black, wolf color and deer-color

The Spanish Mastiff, or Mastín Español is a large breed of dog, originating in Spain, originally bred to be a sheep dog and a guard dog whose purpose is to defend livestock from wolves and other predators. The Spanish Mastiff is thought to have descended from Greek dogs brought to Spain via Greek and Phoenecian maritime traders starting around 1000 BC. The Greeks used similar dogs in battle because of their strength. During the conquest of the Americas, Spanish conquistadors used Spanish Mastiffs and other Molossers in battle against Native Americans, like the Aztecs or Mayans. These specially trained dogs were feared by the Indians for their strength and ferocity. Today, many Spanish Mastiffs are kept as family companions. Although these dogs are popular at Spanish dog shows, they are still relatively rare outside the Iberian Peninsula. The Spanish Mastiff has been named the national dog breed of Spain, and many dogs of this breed can be found in the country, especially in the mountains. It's also believed that the Spanish Mastiff played an important role in the development of other Mastiff breeds such as the Dogo Argentino, the St. Bernard, and the Asian Shepherd. The Spanish Mastiff has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since August 2008.

General Appearance
The Spanish Mastiff is a very large and powerful dog, similar in appearance to the other Mastiff breeds. The Spanish Mastiff is a stocky, robust, rustic-looking dog. Very large and rather lengthy with a massive chest and the power of a heavyweight contender. The Spanish Mastiff is the largest of all the Spanish native dog breeds and is the heaviest of the LGDs. The body should be rectangular, well muscled and with strong bone. It has a massive, well-proportioned head with a deep muzzle, strong jaws, full lips and a characteristic dewlap on the neck, showing clearly his mastiff type. The Spanish Mastiff has double dewclaws on it's hind feet, a characteristic this breed shares with such breeds as the Great Pyrenees. The short coat is straight with a dense under-layer and an almost wooly texture. The skin should be abundant and loose on the body. Colors include plain yellow, red, black, wolf-grey, and red-brown, or broken colors or spotted. White should not be too dominant. The center of the back and the tail have longer hair. The eyes are small, commonly sporting a relaxed, carefree expression masking his ever watchful eyes. The ears are pointed and pendent. The tail is fringed and carried low. Most important are balance and functional harmony in the dog standing as well on the move. His bark is raucous, low pitched and deep, very sonorous, audible from a considerable distance.

It is a very intelligent dog, not without beauty, whose expression manifests both these qualities. Rustic, affectionate, kind and noble, he is very determined when facing dangerous animals and in front of strangers, especially when he has the opportunity to defend and protect farms or cattle. In his behavior, one can see it is a dog sure of himself, determining his strength because he is aware of his enormous power. In character and function, the Spanish Mastiff is a classic LGD or Livestock Guardian Dog and is very similar in many ways to his cousin; the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. Please note that like most LGD breeds, Spanish Mastiffs are in general, quite independent by nature, not very affectionate dogs in the same way a Golden Retriever, Poodle or Boxer (they could care less most of the time whether they are being petted/cuddled or not and often don't give much in return of affection) and are rather aloof, even to their owners. They are also dignified, noble and not overly demonstrative.


Spanish Mastiff breed drools and slobbers and may snore loudly. Brush the short, dense coat regularly, especially when the dog is shedding. Keep the ear passages clean.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
Beware of hip dysplasia, heart problems and Entropion (inversion of the eye lids). Also pano-ostiosis (growing pains), which occurs when they are growing puppies. This breed is prone to bloat. It is wise to feed the Spanish Mastiff several small meals rather than one big one. Births are difficult in some Spanish Mastiffs and C-sections are often needed.  Spanish Mastiff have a life expectancy of 10-12 years, although some can live as long as 14 years.

Activity Level

While they still need a daily walk, do not allow the Spanish Mastiff to over exert them selves, such as,  jumping, running and going up and down stairs, when it is a puppy. The reason is; this is a very fast growing breed (in a period between 6 and 8 months old, they can easily put on 100 lb.). It needs to save time and energy to develop healthy bones, muscles and tendons. When fully mature, this breed has an average need for exercise.


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