Spanish Mastiff

The Spanish Mastiff is a magnificently large breed with a loving personality. In today’s guide, find out all about this beautiful dog’s background and what makes them so well loved!

Spanish Mastiff dog standing in snow

Height: Female 28-35 inches, males 30-35 inches
Weight: Female 52-77 kilos, male 90-100 kilos
Spanish Mastiff Lifespan: 10-12 years
Pedigree (registered with the KC?): No, this breed is not registered with the Kennel Club

Positives and Negatives

Find out the positive and negative traits of the Spanish Mastiff below:

Pros

  • Excellent watch and guard dog
  • Doesn’t bark often
  • Highly intelligent and easy to train
  • Child and pet friendly

Cons

  • They will drool and snore
  • More prone to negative health conditions
  • Not an apartment friendly dog
  • Can gain weight much quicker than other dogs

Overview

The Spanish Mastiff is a giant breed known well for its protective nature. They make excellent guard and watch dogs, providing Spanish livestock owners with security and safety.

Most mastiffs won’t fully mature until around the age of 2.5-3 years. Whereas smaller dog breeds will become fully matured by 18 months. The puppy stage is a playful but important one. If your dog hasn’t been trained or socialized correctly, undesirable traits may begin to show themselves.

Spanish Mastiff dog standing on snow

Spanish Mastiffs like to be the Alpha, which is why they aren’t the best choice for a first-time owner. They need to be shown clear leadership as this is a dominant breed. With the right owner, they will become submissive and obedient.

The breed originates from Spain and is used in extreme conditions. Their thick coats make them an ideal outdoors dog, but they do prefer to live indoors with the family. They are extremely loving and affectionate dogs and will make a perfect companion for an experienced owner.

The Spanish Shepherds Association has been recording this breed’s protective skills against wolves and other predators, since the 1400s. They have since developed into service dogs. You may see them working with the police or as a therapy dog for both adults and children.

History

One of the most Ancient breeds that are still around today, the Spanish Mastiff is at least 2,000 years old. It is believed they were brought by the Greeks and Phoenicians from Syria or India. They were then taken to the Iberian Peninsula before the Roman invasion.

This breed has been used as a protector and defense mechanism since 29 B.C.E. It was also in this year that Latin poet Virgil published a piece called The Georgics. The poem included the Mastiff’s prime role within agriculture and rural life.

Villagers would breed the Spanish Mastiff as a working dog. They would help herd livestock such as sheep and cattle, whilst looking out for predators. It was common for this dog to enter brutal fights against wolves, lynx and bears. A single Spanish Mastiff could guard up to 100 livestock animals.

In the 10th century, agriculture began to boom, creating a demand for the Spanish Mastiff. There would sometimes be around 40,000 sheep to a herd that would require 40 Spanish Mastiffs for protection. Due to their important role, this breed has been deeply incorporated into Spanish history via literature and paintings.

One of the most famous images of the Spanish Mastiff is in the 1610 painting by Diego Velázquez. It is featured in the Museo del Prado in Madrid. The painting is called Las Meninas which translates to ‘The Ladies-in-waiting’. It is known to be one of the most famous pieces of Western Art.

Recommended: Don’t miss our guide to the Old English Sheepdog. We discuss their history, personality, and health needs. Read it here!

Personality

Spanish Mastiff Temperament:

A Spanish Mastiff can easily be described as a ‘Gentle Giant’. These dogs have a well natured personality and are calm in the home. Their two best traits would be their loyalty and obedience.

Spanish Mastiff dog standing

This breed excels at being the leader of a pack, which is why a Spanish Mastiff can be a little stubborn. They are completely loyal and will protect you with their life.

Are Spanish Mastiffs Good With Strangers?

This dog has been bred to protect so will often have their guard up. Training and socialization will be needed to prevent this breed from becoming hostile, or even aggressive with strangers.

Are Spanish Mastiffs Good With Children?

Spanish Mastiffs are patient, which is why they are a great match for children. They are calm and relaxed in the home and will protect their family at whatever costs. They will of course be more playful as puppies, but will still enjoy a ball game as an adult every now and again.

Although the Spanish Mastiff is an intelligent breed, it is still advised to supervise toddlers around this dog. Their large size can increase the likelihood of an accident.

Puppy breed of Spanish mastiff playing in the grass

Are Spanish Mastiffs Ok With Other Dogs?

These dogs were known to work around livestock, protecting the herd with other Spanish Mastiffs. They do have the ability to be ‘Gentle Giants’ with other dogs, so long as they receive the right training.

If they haven’t been regularly introduced to other animals and dogs, their protective side will come across more frequently.

Exercise

The Spanish Mastiff is prone to obesity and health issues which is why exercise is important. They aren’t very active and some adults could sleep all day if they’re allowed too! But they do enjoy long walks every now and again and generally need one hour of exercise each day.

Spanish Mastiff puppies should be taken out for longer, around 1.5-2 hours a day. Once they mature, you will notice the difference in their activity levels. Mastiffs are not suited to apartment lifestyles and must have access to a garden, preferably a large one.

Beautiful big spanish mastiff dogs

This breed should be exercised off leash in an enclosed area. If you have a friendly pooch with great recall, then you can let your Spanish Mastiff off the lead. They are known to be territorial, so it is important this dog can’t escape from your garden.

Health

The following health conditions are related to the Spanish Mastiff. Generally speaking, these larger breeds are prone to more health problems.

  • Hip Dysplasia- An abnormality of the hip socket that can cause pain and eventually arthritis.
  • Elbow Dysplasia- An abnormality of the elbow joint causing pain, leading to arthritis.
  • Entropion- The eyelid rolls inwards causing the hair on the surface to scratch the cornea. This can cause pain, ulcers or vision interference.
  • Panosteitis Often referred to as growing pains, Pano-ostiosis is an inflammation of the leg bone/s. It can cause the leg/s to become temporarily floppy.
  • Cardiac Disease- Depending on your dog’s condition, heart disease can become serious. Symptoms include coughing, breathing difficulty, swelling of the abdomen, loss of consciousness, and a lack of exercise.
  • Bloat- This is another name for Gastric Dilatation and Gastric Dilatation Volvulus. GD is where the gas fills the stomach. GDV is when the stomach twists causing the food and gases to become trapped. You need to seek immediate veterinary attention.

Intelligence & Training

This breed is highly intelligent and independent. With the right owner, a Spanish Mastiff will make an excellent companion and well-natured pet. They are people pleasers and will pick up on commands fairly quickly, but their stubbornness can let them down.

You must be patient, yet firm when training this dog. Food treats should be avoided and replaced with affection where possible. A Spanish Mastiff is prone to weight gain which can lead to health issues. It is especially important to show clear leadership from an early age.

With giant breeds, things can go wrong very quickly if they haven’t been socialized correctly. As soon as your pooch is ready for the great outdoors, they should be introduced to other dogs and environments on a regular basis.

Blonde girl playing with puppy spanish mastiff in a field

Recommended: They may be small in size, but a Pomchi has a very large personality.

Grooming

When it comes to shedding this breed isn’t the greatest! They will shed heavily twice a year and will also blow their coat in Spring. Grooming maintenance will increase seasonally but you will notice this breed does lightly shed all year round.

This dog can have a tendency to become smellier than others. You should aim to wash them once every month to two months. Grooming rakes, pin brushes, and slick brushes are all good choices when it comes to removing excess fur.

Their long floppy ears can make them more prone to ear infections, especially if wax or debris builds up. Aim to clean these once a week. The nails are also rather strong and grow quickly, so these need to be trimmed monthly.

A massive drooler, the Spanish Mastiff may occasionally cover you or your home in slobber. A wet cloth may be needed to clean their face every once in a while.

Grooming your pooch is the best way for you both to bond. You must include dental hygiene in your daily grooming routine. Vets recommend daily teeth brushing from as early as possible.

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