Spanish Mastiff (Mastín Español): Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Spanish Mastiff (Mastín Español)

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The Spanish Mastiff (Mastín Español) is a flock guardian dog breed. The Spanish Mastiff is very rare, especially in North America. Though very muscular, powerful, and massive, the kind and noble Spanish Mastiff is a gentle giant. They are affectionate with their human family, including well-mannered children, and accepting of approved visitors. Spanish Mastiffs are loyal and protective, and will defend their property and people without fail. 

Many Spanish Mastiffs don’t get along with other dogs, and they cannot generally be trusted as safe around cats and other small pets. They usually do best as the only pet in the household. They do, however, get along great with farm animals like sheep and cattle, which they will guard from predators. Though not known to bark without good cause, the Spanish Mastiff’s bark is low pitched, deep, and very loud. 

The Spanish Mastiff is an expert-level dog breed and should be paired with someone who has extensive experience with guardian breeds. It is not suited to novice dog owners. They are not apartments dogs, and do best situation living on substantial property like a farm or ranch, preferably with a flock or herd to look after. Though Spanish Mastiffs should never be aggressive, they are territorial and naturally wary of strangers, especially unknown people entering their property. Extensive socialization starting early in puppyhood is necessary to prevent the Spanish Mastiff from becoming overprotective.  

Breed Overview

Group: Guardian (UKC)

Weight: About 140 to 200 pounds

Height: 28 to 35 inches tall at the shoulder minimum 

Coat: The dense, thick, medium-length smooth coat is shorter on the legs and longer and silky on the tail

Color: All colors are permitted, with yellow, fawn, red, black, wolf, brindle, and parti-colored being preferred

Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Characteristics of the Spanish Mastiff

 Affection Level  Medium
 Friendliness  Medium
 Kid-Friendly  Medium
 Pet-Friendly  Low
 Exercise Needs  Medium
 Playfulness  Low
 Energy Level  Low
 Trainability  Low
 Intelligence  High
 Tendency to Bark  Low
 Amount of Shedding  Low

History of the Spanish Mastiff

The Spanish Mastiff comes from Spain, where it has been used to guard and defend livestock from wolves and other predators since the Middle Ages. Spanish Mastiffs are especially known for watching over Merino sheep, which are prized for their exceptional wool that’s used to make fine garments. Highly protective, the Spanish Mastiff is also used on farms to guard people and property. In the face of animal predators or human aggressors, the Spanish Mastiff is self-assured and unwavering. 

In North America, the Spanish Mastiff is recognized by the United Kennel Club, where it is part of its Guardian Dog Group. The breed is also recognized internationally by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI). The Spanish Mastiff is not yet fully recognized by the American Kennel Club, however, it is part of the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service, which is the puts the breed on the path toward eventual full recognition.

Spanish Mastiff (Mastín Español)

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Spanish Mastiff (Mastín Español)

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Spanish Mastiff (Mastín Español)

marcelinopozo / Getty Images

Spanish Mastiff Care

The Spanish Mastiff’s coat is easy to care for, requiring just occasional brushing to remove loose and shedding hair, as well as to brush out dried dirt or mud. The medium-length coat sheds moderately year-round. Bathe your Spanish Mastiff occasionally, only when dirty. Be sure to trim the nails every few weeks and look inside the ears at least once a week. If the ears seem dirty, clean them with a pet-safe ear cleaner. Call your vet if you notice excessive debris, redness, irritation, or foul odor. 

The Spanish Mastiff is a massive, powerful dog. Though intelligent, Spanish Mastiffs are strong-willed and independent, so they can be a challenge to train. The Spanish Mastiff does best with a confident owner who can act as an authoritative yet kind leader. For the best results, keep training consistent and fair, using positive-reinforcement methods. Avoid too much repetition. Spanish Mastiffs do better with short, frequent training sessions. Start intensive socialization efforts early so your Spanish Mastiff learns to accept non-threatening strangers. Although Spanish Mastiffs are large, they are not terribly active. They do however, need sufficient space to roam and for mental stimulation. The Spanish Mastiff is excellent at its job of protecting and guarding flock and farm. In the right situation, the breed is a noble, kind and devoted guardian and companion. 

Spanish Mastiff (Mastín Español)

alarich / Getty Images

Spanish Mastiff (Mastín Español)

Dixi_ / Getty Images

Spanish Mastiff (Mastín Español)

marcelinopozo / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

Most purebred dogs are prone to certain genetically inherited health conditions, however, the Spanish Mastiff is known to be healthy and hardy, with few health concerns. Reputable breeders test their breeding stock to ensure they are healthy prior to breeding them.  

Diet and Nutrition

Spanish Mastiffs are massive, with some males weighing upwards of 200 pounds, so they eat a larger amount of food than most dogs. However, Spanish Mastiffs are not especially active, so it’s important to avoid overfeeding. Excess weight can contribute to many health issues, including hip and elbow dysplasia, and diabetes. Feed measured meals twice a day to avoid weight gain and keep an eye on your Spanish Mastiff’s weight to make sure it’s staying lean. Spanish Mastiff puppies may benefit from a diet formulated for large and giant breeds. Such diets encourage slow and steady growth so as not to put excess stress on developing joints. If you’re not sure what type of food to feed or how much food to feed your Spanish Mastiff, reach out to your breeder or ask your veterinarian for advice.

Pros
  • Loyal and protective 

  • Gentle and loving with family

  • Doesn’t need a lot of exercise

Cons
  • Needs extensive socialization

  • Requires an expert-level owner

  • Not good with other dogs and cats

Where to Adopt or Buy

The Spanish Mastiff is not the best breed of choice for most dog owners. For those expert-level handlers, finding a Spanish Mastiff in the United States can be a difficult task as the breed is extremely rare and there are few breeders in North America. Similarly, few Spanish Mastiffs are likely to end up in an animal shelter or with a rescue group. 

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you like the Spanish Mastiff, you might also like these breeds: 

Otherwise, check out all of our other dog breed articles to help you find the perfect dog for you and your family.