The Spanish Mastiff: Origin | Breeds | Characteristics| Fun Facts | How To Care | Health – Surely the Spanish Mastiff does not lack self-esteem, as evidenced by its powerful bark.
Once used as a guard dog, it could even collide with wolves, bears or cattle thieves. But despite its enormous strength and dominance, the Spanish Mastiff exhibits unparalleled self-control at its core.
The Spanish Mastiff, or Spanish Mastiff, is particularly strong and self-aware. The heavy weight, coupled with the rough “voice” instills a sense of intimidating respect in many humans and animals. One reason is that he doesn’t have to prove his strength at all costs, even though, thanks to his innate protective instinct and natural sense of distrust, he’s the ideal watchdog, and he never attacks for no reason. Surely the Spanish Mastiffs want to defend and protect their family, but thanks to their strong intelligence they are able to understand when their intervention is required and when it is not.
They are basically very balanced and good-natured: they have a high threshold of stimuli and with other dogs they keep calm easily. Their lively and happy temperament, coupled with their sweet and tender demeanor with their own family, make this guard breed a suitable breed for family or companion. It is within the family that the Spanish Mastiff feels truly happy: it loves to play with children and, depending on how it is raised, it can also be kept in families with small children. He is aware of his enormous strength and uses it only partially, however it is necessary never to leave small children alone with the dog.
Hounds are very prone to learning, however humans need to be aware that they have a head of their own and even though they enjoy being with the family, they sometimes act stubborn when something is wrong with them. They are very rude in daily behavior when too much pressure has been placed on them during training. In these cases it happens that the dog trains the owner and not the other way around. This is why a lot of calm and confidence is required during training.
The self-confident and sometimes dominant spirit of the Spanish Mastiff is also manifested in its presence. Shyness, as well as unnecessary aggression are foreign to this breed. Its muscular body with compact bone gives off a feeling of strength: with a minimum height of 77 cm in males and 72 cm in females, some specimens can reach up to 100 cm in height at the withers with a weight of 110 kg. By the standards of the FCI it comes to a weight of 70 kg. The smooth and not very long coat is very well proportioned, as well as the build.
The Spanish Mastiff sheds its fur twice a year; its coat is very thick and resistant to bad weather. This comes from the genetic heritage of the Spanish Sheepdog, which lived in the mountains. The color of the Spanish mastiff can be very different. According to the FCI, however, a single color is preferred, which can be yellow, falbo, red and cherry red up to black and dark gray. However, color combinations are also allowed: striped or leopard spots. White color along the neck is also allowed.
The mastiff’s long tail is distinctly different than its short, dangling ears. The short and powerful throat is characterized by a double chin. His chest is deep and broad. Despite its body mass, the Spanish Mastiff is an active dog, respecting the standard of the category.
Resistance to work and the need for movement characterized the ancestors of Mastín Español. The origin of the breed is little known, but it is thought that its ancestors are to be found in those large dogs, brought by Greeks and Phoenicians about 2000 years ago on the Iberian Peninsula. These strong and courageous dogs soon gained notoriety for their ability to watch over grazing sheep. As early as the 12th century, these Mastiffs diligently defended the sheep from wolves, bears and cattle thieves. An 18th century Castilian legend tells that 5 mastiffs could control 1000 sheep. Each dog therefore corresponded to 200 sheep, which he was able to control alone, almost without indications from the shepherd. Thanks to its peculiar characteristics as a guard dog, the Spanish Mastiff was highly appreciated. Furthermore, anyone who wounded a Mastiff incurred fines from the Mesta, the medieval Spanish organization of sheep farmers. Only owning this excellent dog had to be approved by Mesta.
With the exception of the Pyrenees, Aragon, Naverra and the Monegro area, where the Pyrenean Mastiff developed, the Mastín Español can be found throughout the state, especially in Asturias and Leon, together with the Cantabrian mountains, the Entremadura, and other minor high pastures. Thanks to its spread in Spain, the mastiff is also called in some regions Mastín Leonés, Mastín Extremeño and Mastín Manchego. This breed is rarely found in other European states.
Breeding and health of the Spanish Mastiff
The number of Spanish Mastiff breeders outside Spain is easily identifiable: the regional FCI associations keep specific registers. For the FCI the Spanish Mastiff is indicated with the number 91 in group 2 (Pincher and Schnauzer, Molosso, Grande Bovaro Svizzero) and in section 2.2 (mountain dogs). If you were interested in purchasing a copy of this canine breed like dog for the family or companion, you must check that the breeder complies with the standards indicated by the FCI and that he has the certificates that can attest to it: only in this way will you be sure that the right attention has been paid to his breeding.
Given that in some European states the Spanish Mastiff is referred to as a potentially dangerous breed and can only be adopted under certain conditions, for many breeders in recent years it has been difficult to find owners who would buy their puppies. Some breeders have ceased their activity for this very reason.
So finding breeders near your area can be very difficult. If you have found it, make sure you can adopt this dog. Your trusted breeder will still be able to answer all questions in this regard. If you can’t find any breeder, it may be worth a visit to the kennel: maybe there you can find another big four-legged looking for a home.
If you can find a Spanish Mastiff puppy, bred to FCI standards, you shouldn’t worry about breed-specific diseases. The Mastín Español is a robust canine breed, thanks to its constitution it is little subject to the most common canine pathologies. Like all large dogs it obviously tends to hip dysplasia, which can be avoided with the right prevention. Dog bone and joint problems are often linked to too fast growth and weight gain, which is why breeders and owners must be careful not to feed dogs of this breed too much. Veterinarians recommend giving a high quality food, which normally needs to be split into three meals a day. To reduce the risk of gastric volvils, raging immediately after meals must also be reduced.
Care and Wellness
The Spanish Mastiff is easy to care for, at least as far as the coat is concerned, which should be brushed from time to time. The ears should be cleaned often. However, the care of the coat must be more frequent during the moult, which normally takes place in spring and autumn. Training is a little more difficult. For those people expecting an obedient dog or impatiently waiting to be asked to do something, the Spanish Mastiff is not the best breed to adopt. Self-awareness and his intelligence make him very special. Especially in case of strong pressure or excessive hardness during the training, the mastiff is stubborn and can become a challenge for its master. This does not mean that this breed cannot be trained. If the owner is aware of his dog’s charisma, then there will be more patience and love in the training. A mastiff raised in this way enjoys the tranquility in the house and the cuddles of his master after a walk. To stimulate his balanced consciousness, a lot of movement is recommended. Activities like fetching also make him happy.
A Spanish Mastiff definitely cannot be kept in a small house, being a large breed dog – a house with a garden, at best with a view of the surroundings, is your best bet. This is also to stimulate his origins as a guard dog, being able to observe everything around him, and exercising his instinct for protection and control, while at the same time feeling useful to the family. If you’re not a shepherd and want a Spanish Mastiff as a family dog, you can rest assured: there doesn’t have to be a flock of sheep to make him happy.