Other names: Spanish Mastin, Leon’s Shepherd Dog, Channel Shepherd Dog, Extremadura Shepherd Dog
The Spanish Mastiff is a giant dog, mainly used as a guard dog. Calm and balanced, they prove to be formidable when their master, or whoever is accompanying them, is in danger. The problems encountered, during the redevelopment of the breed, have had a predominant impact on the character of this dog: some subjects are too aggressive, others (the majority) too shy. Selective breeding will undoubtedly eliminate these problems because the Spanish Mastiff is now well monitored and well brought up in their country of origin.
Key facts about the Spanish Mastiff
Life expectancy :
Temperament :Affectionate Calm
Origins and history
The Spanish Mastiff is a very old dog that descends, like all Molosser types, from the Molosser of Tibet who arrived in Europe through Asia Minor. It is believed that the Spanish Mastiff was first used by Spanish shepherds 4,000 years ago and is considered to be the oldest breed in the country. The nature and climate of Spain have always forced shepherds to practice transhumance, i.e. to move their herds to areas of pasture that are sometimes very far away. For centuries, the Spanish Mastiff has been the protector of livestock, especially merino sheep, whose history is closely linked to that of this dog. In modern times, with the gradual disappearance of shepherd activity, the breed almost died out. The breed has now been rebuilt but with many difficulties and a good homogeneity of the type has not yet been found.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 2 - Pinscher and Schnauzer - Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs
Section 2 : Molossian type
Physical characteristics of the Spanish Mastiff
Female : Between 28 and 30 in
Male : Between 30 and 31 in
Female : Between 132 and 198 lb
Male : Between 132 and 198 lb
All coat colours are acknowledged but the most widespread are yellow, fawn, red or black or even brindle or magpie tones.
Type of coat
The coat is semi-long.
The coat is thick, hard to the touch and soft. A protective coat is present on the sides and flanks.
They are a hazelnut colour, tending towards dark.
The Spanish Mastiff is a well-proportioned, large and heavy dog, mesomorphic, with a compact skeleton. The head is large: the ratio between the skull and the muzzle is 6/4. The skull and muzzle, seen from above, is square and uniform. The skull and face axes are slightly divergent. The eyes are small in relation to the skull, almond-shaped. The ears are of medium size, triangular, flat and hanging. The legs are straight, strong and muscular. The tail is very large at the base, medium height, strong and flexible. It goes down to the hocks.
Good to know
This dog has the unique feature of elastic skin. One can easily spot the folds under their throat which allow them to be better protected from the bites of their enemies, who were mainly bears and wolves at the time.
The Spanish Mastiff is very attached to their social group and they are particularly loyal. They know how to show affection despite their sometimes detached look.
Games that require too much physical effort are not adapted to this colossus; on the other hand, playful activities that stimulate their intellect and/or sense of smell are most welcome for this dog who particularly enjoys interacting with members of their social group.
The Leon's Shepherd Dog, as they can also be called, is a dog with a placid character that, mainly from the age of 15 months onwards, becomes very calm. Before that, the Spanish Mastiff puppy can paradoxically be very turbulent and agitated.
They are smart dogs who put their skills at the service of the members of their adoptive family for whom they have great respect and incredible loyalty.
Much more of a guardian than a predator, the only prey this giant watchdog is focused on are malicious intruders who seek to intrude upon their home environment.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Although they are balanced dogs, there are some particularly reserved subjects and this shyness sometimes turns into aggressiveness if the Spanish Mastiff puppy does not benefit from quality socialisation.
As a natural guardian, they will always be suspicious of a stranger who approaches and will express their disapproval if they sense a threat.
Never clingy, this dog is very affectionate with the members of their social group but always carries a strong sense of independence.
However, even when they stay out of the way, they always keep an eye on their humans because they need to keep a connection with them.
Behaviour of the Spanish Mastiff
Although they are capable of being alone without any problems, especially if they have been accustomed to the progressive and positive absences of their owners from an early age, this dog still needs human contact. They dislike having their masters far away from them.
Easy to train / obedience
When they are puppies, the Spanish Mastin, as they are called in their country of origin, must adopt the rules of life and educational principles to integrate as well as possible within their families and, more generally, within society.
Sometimes stubborn, it is not always easy to motivate them, but a good relationship between a master and his dog always achieves good results.
For cooperation to be effective, no brutality must come into play in the education of this soft-hearted colossus. Even if they are imposing, it is the gentle methods that allow them to become the balanced dog they deserve to be.
In consideration of their size, it is primarily the basic orders as well as socialisation that must be prioritised to maintain control over them, in any situation.
As they are very vigilant dogs, if they live in a "lively" place, their loud voice may often be heard, caused by the slightest movement or sound that they consider suspicious. A good education and socialisation help to control this instinct and limit unwanted barking.