Deciding to get the giant Spanish Mastiff home? This article will be your perfect guide if you have planned for a Spanish Mastiff as your pet and desire to gather information about the same. This article will give you all the information you require about the Spanish Mastiff. This includes their history, temperament, grooming needs, health problems, and more. We have also included pictures of the Spanish Mastiff to help you understand their physical appearance better.[wpdatatable id=125]
The first thing that comes to our mind when we mention the Spanish Mastiff is a mighty breed with an elegant appearance. They were bred as guard dogs and mainly excelled as livestock guardians to protect herds from dangerous predators like wolves.
The Spanish Mastiff of the present times has a sturdy frame and aesthetic appeal. This is the one that is recognized officially by most kennel clubs. However, there is a primitive or traditional variety of this breed as well, which does not conform to the official standards. Their only function is to protect the herds against predators. They don’t fit the bill of family pets or guard dogs.
These unofficial strains are known by several names like Working Spanish Mastiff, Traditional Spanish Mastiff, Wolf Dog, and Leonese Mastiff. This helps to distinguish them from the official breed – the Spanish Mastiff.
More About Spanish Mastiff
These large, powerful dogs appear similar to the other mastiff breeds. They have a strong head with a broad base, closely replicating a truncated pyramid.
Their muzzle and skull are square-shaped, particularly when seen from the top. They have almond-shaped eyes which are small in comparison to their skull, mostly hazel-colored.
These dogs also have medium-sized triangular-shaped hanging ears. Their rectangular-shaped body has a sturdy, robust build. The Spanish Mastiff’s tail is of medium length thick near the root. It has a hairy appearance and is longer than the remaining part of the body.
The Spanish Mastiff is of an ancient origin, brought to Spain by the Phoenicians, and Greeks, around 2000 years ago. The ancient Roman poet Virgil included the mastiff from the Iberian Peninsula area in his poem. During Medieval times, dogs like the Spanish Mastiff functioned as livestock guardians.
The demand for these mastiffs increased during the 12th century when the merino breed of sheep was introduced to Spain. These animals (the merinos) stayed in the southern parts of Spain during winter and in the northern region during summer. The role of the Spanish Mastiff was to herd the merinos as they traveled from north to south Spain, and vice versa. This is why they are alternately called perro merino (sheepdog).
This breed not only herded the cattle but also protector them, saving them from wolves, and other big predators. The ratio of the mastiff and sheep was 1:100 ( hundred sheep being controlled by a single mastiff).
‘The FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) was the first to set a standard for this breed in the year 1946. The AEPME (Asociación Española del Perro Mastín Español) was developed in the year 1981. They organized a breeding program to revive the big, powerful mastiffs of the past. They even desired to keep these dogs’ cattle-herding traits intact, making them an efficient family and guard dogs. These dogs gained entry into the AKC’s FSS (Foundation Stock Service) in 2008.
It’s a big dog with a massive size. These mighty dogs weigh as much as 140 to 200 pounds and are 28 to 35 inches tall.
To be more specific, females are smaller than their male counterparts weighing 140-170 pounds. Males weigh about 150-220 pounds. Heightwise also, the males appear taller than the females.
The Spanish Mastiff is a fierce protector of its family. They display a reserved attitude towards strangers and unknown dogs as well.
When trained on obedience and socialization from their puppy days, these dogs will grow into disciplined dogs.
If you acquaint your dog with different people and situations right from the start, they’ll eventually be able to distinguish the good from the bad. Not all strangers will seem harmful to them.
Their bark is low-pitched but deep and impactful that one could hear from quite afar. Fierce they may look, yet these dogs are a great choice for families with kids. Their sturdy build helps them withstand the cuddles and hugs of the little ones.
The Spanish Mastiff is territorial. This trait makes it rigid in interacting with other dogs of the family. It isn’t good with cats and other smaller pets as well. So, it would be a good idea to keep the Spanish Mastiff as the solo pet of the house.
These dogs are intelligent and eager to please. However, they can get extremely stubborn at times which might come in the way of hassle-free training.
Their gigantic appearance is a contrast to their pleasing personality. Many Spanish Mastiff owners describe their pets as calm and aloof. They are perfect lap dogs in their family circuit, mostly enjoying a lazy cuddle with their owners.
True that their intimidating appearance could make owners a little weary. But the truth remains that the Spanish Mastiff is a wonderful dog to have, especially if trained correctly.
The Spanish Mastiff has excellent guarding and watching skills. Aggression isn’t a prominent trait of these dogs. However, they’ll never hold themselves back when they sense their family is in trouble. They will then get into an attacking mode to ward off any impending danger.
The Spanish Mastiff is a healthy breed. Yet, like any other dog, they, too, have their share of ailments. Let’s look at some of the health issues this breed will likely suffer.
Big dogs are at an increased risk of bloating. The Spanish Mastiff isn’t an exception in this regard. If your dog is bloated, he will have a distended abdomen. He will even appear restless, drool excessively, and pant a lot. When you notice symptoms of bloating in your dog, it is essential to take your dog to the vet immediately. A little delay may be life-threatening for your pet.
To minimize chances of bloating, it is advisable to feed your dog two to three small meals instead of one big meal. Also, avoid exercising them for at least two hours before and after meals.
Hip dysplasia is genetic and more common in bigger breeds. So, it’s quite evident that a dog as mighty as the Spanish Mastiff is more likely to suffer from this condition. That’s why breeders should screen their dogs for hip dysplasia to ensure that it doesn’t pass on to the next generation. The symptoms mostly gain prominence when the dogs are 1-2 years old.
Dogs with hip dysplasia will experience pain and weakness in their hind legs. The discomfort will be evident in their movement. They will have trouble getting up from a seated posture or climbing the stairs. When a dog’s hip is faulty, he will prefer to sit most of the time.
In this condition, the dog’s eyelid would mostly roll inwards, so they rub their eyelid against the cornea. This results in intense pain, alongside other symptoms. Dogs with entropion will have a squinted vision. They’ll even prefer keeping their eyes closed and will have watery eyes.
Alternately called growing pains, this is an orthopedic disorder mostly observed in big dogs. They acquire this condition in their puppy stage. The humerus, or the bone of the upper arm is mostly affected. However, panosteitis can even affect the bones of the upper arm, forelegs, thigh, and lower legs.
The Spanish Mastiff is not a highly active breed and will suffice with moderate exercise. 30-45 minutes of exercise would give them the physical and mental stimulation needed to stay happy and healthy.
You could take them for 2-3 short walks throughout the day. Ample playtime within a fenced yard would be fair enough as well. If going out is challenging, you can plan for indoor games as well, like rolling a ball, playing a game of fetch, and so on. Activities like hiking or swimming will also help channel their energy positively.
Their floppy ears need to be regularly checked for any wax buildup. Trimming their nails at least two times a month is needed. If the nails click on the floor when your dog walks, it’s an indication that they’ve grown long.
Like all other breeds, the Spanish Mastiff needs high-quality food, store-bought or homemade. If contemplating on whether to cook your dog’s food at home or put him on a commercially-manufactured diet, it’s better to know the pros and cons of both.
In the case of a homemade diet, your dog gets fresh food. Whereas when you give him kibble, his nutritional needs are looked after. Whatever you plan, it’s always important to consult a vet before making any dietary changes.
Coat Color And Grooming
Fawn is the commonest color of this breed. But they also come in other colors, like black, red, brindle, wolf gray, and yellow. As per the AKC breed standards, markings of brindle and white are permissible.
This breed has a double coat that is thick, smooth, and dense of a medium length. These dogs are seasonal shedders and would do well when their coat is brushed once a week. However, you should increase it to two to three times a day during the shedding season. Bathe them occasionally or at times when they get dirty.
They are great protectors of their families. These dogs will become loyal, affectionate, and friendly when socialized from their puppy days. They’ll even learn to develop a good rapport with the kids.
Though they have a mighty stature, these dogs do well in apartments if their exercise needs are met well. When they are physically and mentally stimulated, the Spanish Mastiff will adjust to any environment you keep them in.
When purchased from a reputable breeder, the Spanish Mastiff puppies would cost between $1200-$1800.
The Spanish Mastiff isn’t a regular breed that you’ll encounter in the USA. In fact, outside their country of origin, these dogs are rare. Yet, if you decide to get one of these dogs home, you will have the pleasure of being acquainted with a mighty breed with a gentle but protective demeanor.[wpdatatable id=4 responsive= stack responsive_breakpoint=”phone”/]
Hi, I’m Walter,
I live in Oklahoma City, USA, and have extensive dog caring and grooming expertise. In addition, I provide dog training tips and tricks through my blogs in Canine Weekly. I have a Dog Behavior and Training diploma and have previously worked as a Dog Trainer at ROC Animal Training and Behavior and Tip Top K9 of OKC Dog Training.
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