Spanish Mastiff

Illustration courtesy of the Swedish Kennel Club

The Spanish Mastiff is a large, noble livestock guardian dog from Spain, bred to defend and protect farms and cattle.

Fun Fact

The 1656 painting entitled “Las Meninas” (or, “The Ladies- in -Waiting”) by Diega Velazquez features a Spanish Mastiff.

  • About the Spanish Mastiff

    The Spanish Mastiff is a powerful and imposing Spanish dog, whose origins go back thousands of years. Evidence of similar dogs has been found in human settlements dating back to the Iron Age- so that’s pretty ancient! These large and powerful dogs were used for many purposes in ancient times- they were both guardians of livestock and the home as well as dogs used in battle. They accompanied carriages through the woods on long journeys, protecting their master and their possessions, and were frequently dressed up in various garbs, such as metal collars with spikes, both to appear more intimidating and to protect them from attack.

    In more modern times, however, the Spanish Mastiff was used primarily to protect livestock from predators, particularly wolves, and also proved to be very effective guard dogs for the home. They are also kept as pets, but are definitely not recommended for inexperienced owners.

    Spanish Mastiffs are truly enormous and powerful dogs. So, as you can probably imagine, they aren’t ideal pets for first-time dog owners. Their size and particular temperament render them formidable pets, so only people with experience owning large and powerful dogs should consider a Spanish Mastiff for their home. They are not well-suited to apartment living, both because they are so large and because they have a very loud and deep bark, which they will definitely utilize to warn you of intruders (or, in the case of an apartment building, someone walking in the hallway). They are much better suited to living in the suburbs, or even better, the countryside. They love their family and are extremely loyal and devoted to them. They are very tolerant of children and will protect children just as they would protect their flock.

    Spanish Mastiffs are gentle giants with people who they love. They can be trained to accept strangers, as long as they are properly socialized as puppies. If you do not socialize your Spanish Mastiff, they can grow up to be a little bit paranoid and will not be welcoming if you have guests in the house. They require early training and should be exposed to all sorts of external stimuli as young as possible. You will need to establish yourself as the leader of the household, as Spanish Mastiffs must respect you in order to make good household pets. This does not translate into physical aggression or abuse, but simply means that you should train the dog early and be consistent with your expectations and commands.

    Because they have a tendency to be dog aggressive, Spanish Mastiffs are better as “only dogs.” They can be very territorial and might not appreciate having to share their family with a second dog, so consider very carefully and consider the personalities of your current dogs if you want to bring a Spanish Mastiff into the mix.
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