The Spanish Mastiff is a very old breed that is thought to be related to one of the first mastiff-type dog, a breed that is about 2000 years old. Spanish Mastiffs originate from western Spain after large mastiff breeds were introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by the Greek. These dogs were originally used as livestock guardians and guard dogs since they were large enough to defend against most predators, even wolves. These dogs were particularly known for traveling with flocks of merino sheep. These dogs could accompany the sheep through many climates and over harsh terrain. Today this breed is also kept as a companion dog. They also perform police and military work. They are very numerous throughout the Iberian Peninsula and they are the national breed of Spain. Although these dogs are very common there, throughout the rest of the world they are considered rare. Spanish Mastiffs are not yet officially recognized by the AKC, but they are recorded in the Foundation Stock Service. This is a preliminary step to AKC recognition and the purpose is to keep records of breeds that are rare or still being developed.
The Spanish Mastiff is a large and powerful breed with a stocky build. They stand at about 28 to 35 inches tall at the withers, and they should weigh between 145 and 220 pounds. The males are typically much larger than the females. These dogs can be even larger as long as they are in proportion. The body is rectangular in shape with a large, but well proportioned head. They have a somewhat long muzzle that has a well defined stop. The jaws are very strong with full lips, and these dogs also have the typical mastiff dewlap on the neck. The large nose is black or dark brown, and the eyes are somewhat small and are dark in color. The pendant shaped ears have pointed tips and hang down alongside the head. The long tail is strong and has a slight fringe and is curved at the tip. The Spanish Mastiff has a double coat that is straight and dense, with a wooly undercoat. Coat colors incude red, yellow, black, red-brown, or wolf grey. The coat may have white or brindle markings. These dogs are easy to groom and will need to be brushed regularly, especially during shedding seasons. The ears should also be kept clean and dry.
Spanish Mastiffs that are kept as companions are known to be very calm in the home and loyal to their family. These dogs are naturally protective and are not a playful or affectionate breed. They will be quite protective of their family and they make excellent guard dogs. Owners of this dog should also be prepared for drooling, snoring, and slobbering. It is very important that this large breed begin their obedience training while they are still puppies. The training should be both firm and consistent, and these dogs are intelligent and should be able to learn fairly quickly. Having proper control over this large breed and being a strong pack leader are essential. This is not a dog for the first time or meek owner. They need someone who is naturally authoritative and can properly control this dog. A well trained dog should be very easy to control as an adult, despite their large size. Socializing the Spanish Mastiff while they are still puppies is also very important. This is a process that involves taking them out to expose them to new people, places, and situations. Doing this will help the dog to grow up well adjusted and will keep their protective nature from becoming aggression.
As such a large breed, the Spanish Mastiff is not recommended for apartment life. They have an average need for exercise and they will be happiest living somewhere with at least a large yard. These dogs are inactive indoors, but they need to get out for plenty of exercise every day. Ideally a long walk. Make sure not to exercise these dogs too much while they are still growing. This is not the kind of dog that will jog alongside a bike or play games for long periods of time.
There are some health concerns to be aware of when considering adopting a Spanish Mastiff. Entropion, which is inversion of the eyelids, is somewhat common and can be corrected with surgery. These dogs may also suffer from growing pains while they are young. Hip dysplasia and heart problems may also occur in this breed. A major concern for large breeds like this is bloat and gastric torsion. Bloat happens when the dog takes too much air into the stomach as they eat. When the stomach bloats it can twist and cut off blood flow and air supply. The best way to avoid this is to feed the dog small meals throughout the day from an elevated dish. Healthy Spanish Mastiffs usually live about 10 to 12 years.
Overall the Spanish Mastiff is a large breed that is known to be very protective of its family. They are typically working dogs, but they can be kept as companions as well with the right owner. These dog are not for the first time owner and need someone that has experience with socializing and obedience training.