Spanish Mastiff

Once a military dog and fighter, this breed has proven to be a devoted companion and household dog.

As its name implies, this breed is indigenous to the hills of Spain where it has long been beloved for its vigorous fighting ability. Today, its enormous stamina is well shown in a variety of tasks.


The Spanish Mastiff has many names in its homeland, including Mastin Espanol, Mastin de Espanol and Mastin de Leon. Its traditional role is guarding livestock, hut it has also been co-opted for hoar hunting and, in recent times, has occasionally been employed to protect the home.

This impressive breed, with powerful jaws, broad head, large dewlaps, a strong neck and a massive body, has been in service in Spain for many centuries. The Spanish Mastiff was first brought there by the Phoenicians back in the 1st millennium BC. From early records we know that in the 15th century AD its main function was to protect the flocks of sheep from marauding wolves, which were apparently no match for it. Because of its ingrained animosity towards its wild relatives, it had the reputation of being a danger in the presence of unfamiliar dogs. Despite this, the mighty Spanish Mastiff was said to be gentle with its human family and particularly ‘gracious’ with children.

In Spain today this great dog is still used as a guardian of flocks of sheep and herds of cattle in the more remote, hilly districts. It is claimed that these modern examples of the breed are no longer aggressive and satisfy themselves with barking an alarm and leaving the rest to their human owners. They are even said to have become friendly towards other animals, and small numbers have been exported to enthusiasts in Switzerland, Germany and the United States. Whether the Spanish Mastiff had been ‘mellowed’ genetically, or whether its change of character has been exaggerated, is not clear.


This strong, muscular breed has a relatively long muzzle; well-developed lips and powerful jaws; dewlaps on the neck; small eyes; triangular drop ears; and a long, bushy tail.

The height at the withers should be over 30 inches/77 cm in males and 28 inches/72 cm in females, but heights over 31 1/2 inches/80 cm and 29 1/2 inches/75 cm respectively are preferred. The head should be massive, with a long, deep muzzle, pendulous lips and well-pronounced dewlaps.


The Spanish Mastiff is loving, loyal, reliable, and obedient.

Care and Exercise

Although brushing once a month is sufficient, daily exercise for at least half an hour is necessary, and is best done by someone able to handle this dog's powerful pulling tendencies.

Puppies and Training

The five to ten puppies per litter should have early contact with strangers, to later take obedience training easily.

Gallery of Spanish Mastiff