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Spanish Mastiff: Everything You Need to Know

The Spanish Mastiff hides a good-natured character under the appearance of a sullen giant and demonstrates it only to close people. A dog will make not only an excellent watchman but also a friend for many years. The main thing is to find an approach to the animal and enjoy its company!

The Spanish Mastiff is one of the largest dog breeds. Despite their impressive size, the animals are quite agile: their strength, attention, and quick reaction are admired and respected. No less spectacular traits of mastiffs are courage and colossal self-confidence. The “Spaniard” does not spend a long time on barking and a warning roar: in his interests – a nimble attack of the enemy, be it a man or a kindred. In most cases, the mastiff wins, so he is the perfect candidate for the role of the guard. However, if you are in need of a loyal and gentle companion, don’t write off these dogs either!

The past of the Spanish Molossians is rooted in transcendental antiquity. The first literary mention of the breed dates back to the second half of the 4th century BC. It was Virgil’s didactic poem “Georgica” – a colorful story about cattle breeding, agriculture, and viticulture of that time.

There are versions that mastiffs appeared much earlier: long before the Romans invaded the Iberian Peninsula. One theory connects dogs with Phoenician merchants, the second with nomads from Asia. The “Spaniards” have an external resemblance to the Tibetan Mastiffs, Caucasian and Sharplanin Sheepdogs, which suggests that these breeds have a common ancestor.

The first Spanish mastiffs were more modest in size, but they were enough to protect livestock during the drives. So the representatives of the breed became hardworking shepherds. They were appreciated for their professional qualities – poise, courage, and independence. The latter was extremely important since at night the dogs were left without a master’s escort and single-handedly played the role of a watchman.

If necessary, the “Spaniards” could protect livestock from attacks by wild animals: wild boars, wolves, and even bears. During the drive, the mastiffs led the herd for several days, perfectly doing without food and not allowing themselves to attack their “wards”.

Basically, the Spanish breed was used for grazing sheep. The dog was assigned to a flock of one thousand heads. Mastiffs were subjected to strict selection, evaluating not only their working qualities but also their external characteristics. First of all, pastoralists paid attention to the size of the head and the depth of the body of the animal.

For a long time, the “Spaniards” played the role of purely working dogs and did not attract the attention of canine organizations. The first registration of representatives of the breed took place at the beginning of the 20th century. The lucky one was a piebald male named Machako – a participant in an international dog show in Madrid. At the same time, active urbanization has led to a decrease in pastoralists and, as a consequence, the number of mastiffs. The existence of the breed was negatively affected by the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent crisis.

The breed was preserved thanks to the shepherds, who continued to keep the sheep. It was they who provided the dogs for further selection. The first standard appeared in 1946 through the efforts of the breeder Luis del Portillo. He traveled extensively in the province of Leon in search of the largest specimens to breed. After 20 years, another breeder, Amodel Alejandro, began to work on the development of the breed. His pets became the progenitors of the modern lines of the “Spaniards”: El Pinotara, Salaries Pieta, Amino Tuscona, and Manalo Martina.

The final breed standard appeared in the 1970s, but the official recognition of the mastiff took place only in 1982. At the same time, breeder Carlos Solas developed a new breeding program for dogs. Today there are about 10 official kennels where you can get a faithful friend of the Spanish Mastiff breed.

“Spaniards” refer to Molossian breeds. Majestic and powerful animals maintain their dignity in all situations. Spanish Mastiffs deserve the title of Hercules in the canine world!

The breed standard determines the growth of animals: for males – from 77 cm, for bitches – from 72 cm. Sexual dimorphism is traced: males look stronger and stronger than females. In addition, they are more attentive and observant. Bodyweight varies between 70-120 kg.

The head of the mastiff is strong and large, but in comparison with the body, its dimensions are harmonious. It has the shape of a truncated pyramid with a wide base, when viewed from above it looks square. The skull is strong and well proportioned, with a convex profile. Its length corresponds to the width or slightly exceeds it. A bump is clearly visible on the back of the head.

The muzzle of the Spanish Mastiff is moderately broad. Its length is in the ratio of 2: 3 to the length of the skull. It has a square shape, tapering smoothly from base to tip. The forehead is flat; the foot is slightly sloping, but weakly expressed. The straight back of the nose is lowered, passing to the lobe with wide-open nostrils. The upper lip hangs over the lower lip to form flies. Small pockets are visible in the corners of the mouth. The mucous membrane is naked, pigmented black.

The ears of the dog are medium in size, flattened. They have the shape of a triangle with a rounded top. Set above the line of the outer corners of the eyes. Hanging, close to the cheeks. When the dog is alert, the tips of the ears are slightly raised and tilted forward.

The eyes of a mastiff appear small in comparison to the size of the head. They are almond-shaped, oblique. Color – hazel or hazel; the darker the better. The fleshy eyelids have a black border. The lower eyelid sags, slightly exposing the conjunctiva. Although the gaze seems melancholic and calm, closer contact with the dog shows firmness and severity.

Strong and wide jaws form a scissor bite. A complete dental formula is required: small incisors, sharp canines, premolars, and powerful molars. This arrangement of the teeth provides a firm grip and retention of prey. This was used by the ancestors of the mastiffs, protecting the herd from predators.

The neck is powerful and strong, although rather short. Set on high and oblique, well muscled. The elastic leather forms a double dewlap at the bottom.

The Spanish Mastiff has a rectangular and sturdy body. The withers are well marked. The back is long and muscular, keeping the horizontal position even when moving. It passes into a wide and slightly convex loin, and that into a croup sloping at an angle of 45 °. The height of the mastiff in this part of the body corresponds to its height at the withers. The belly and groin lines are moderately tucked up.

The tail has a medium set, tapering from a wide base to the tip. At rest, it hangs down to the hock joints, during movement it rises in the manner of a saber, but is not thrown onto the back or croup.

The forelegs are set straight and parallel to each other. Strong bones and well-developed muscles are noticeable. Long shoulders set at 100 ° to the ground. The elbows, tightly pressed to the sides of the “Spaniard”, are directed back. The forearms are vertical, forming an angle of 125 ° with the elbows. Their length should be three times the length of the pasterns. Massive wrist joints turn into slightly sloping and strong pasterns. The arched paws are collected in a lump, have elastic and hard pads. The fingers end in short claws.

The hind legs are straight and parallel. The strong bones are emphasized by the musculature, the angles of the articulations are pronounced. The wide hips extend from the croup at an angle of 100 °. The legs are lean and long, the muscles are better developed only in the upper third. Achilles tendon is strong. The hock joints are parallel to each other, deflected back. The tarsus and metatarsus are massive, turning into arched paws. Dewclaws are acceptable regardless of their type.

The Spanish Mastiff is characterized by a heavy trot without swaying to the sides. The higher the speed, the more the dog’s limbs are brought under the body, closer to the center of gravity. The movements are elegant and strong.

Animals have a very thick coat of medium length, which fits snugly to the body. Shoulders, chest, and tail are adorned with longer hair. The shortest coat covers the interdigital spaces.

The color of the Spanish Mastiff is not strictly regulated. Solid sable, wolf, black, red, yellow, and deer colors are preferred. All possible combinations of them, as well as markings in the form of spots or a white “collar”, are permissible.

Among the main defects of the breed are:

  • slight deviations from the gender type;
  • lack of canines, premolars, or molars;
  • excessive ectropy or entropy;
  • Wobbling of the hind limbs;
  • wavy or long hair;
  • unbalanced temperament;
  • straight or tucked up belly;
  • weak lines of the back and lower back;
  • cropped ears or tail;
  • tail threw over the back;
  • pointed muzzle;
  • weak limbs;
  • “Roman nose;
  • a straight bite.

Disqualifying faults include:

  • undescended testicles (on one or both sides);
  • excessively low or high tail set;
  • depigmentation of the nose and mucous membranes;
  • excessive shyness or aggressiveness;
  • stockiness or long legs;
  • a sharp transition from the forehead to the muzzle;
  • forked nose;
  • underdeveloped body;
  • undershot or overshot;
  • loose muscles;
  • humpbacked lower back;
  • cow step;
  • light eyes;
  • fox face;
  • hare paws;

Representatives of the breed inherited a restrained temperament from distant ancestors. These dogs are distinguished by their independence and self-confidence. The “Spaniards” are not burdened with a load of nervousness and cowardice. On the contrary, the courage and dedication of animals deserve sincere respect. The mastiff will rush to attack even an opponent who surpasses him in size, and even more so when it comes to protecting the family!

Despite his boundless loyalty, the Spanish Mastiff does not recognize the owner as a soft and indecisive person. The animal needs an unconditional leader and partner, otherwise, training and correct upbringing of the pet is impossible. If you are an aspiring dog breeder, take a look at more loyal breeds: pug, poodle, golden retriever, or Russian toy terrier. Spanish Molossians are not the best option for beginners.

Mastiffs subtly feel the mood of others. The representative of the breed does not impose his society, calmly refers to the forced loneliness, but always meets the owner with joyful barking and wagging of the tail. The dog does not mind the company of guests. However, feeling the atmosphere heating up in the room, the “Spaniard” will show increased attention to strangers and, if necessary, will defend the owner.

In the family circle, mastiffs seem to turn into huge plush toys! They love to accept affection, respond to it with joyful grunts, lie in someone’s legs, and see dog dreams. Dogs have especially reverent feelings in relation to those who are considered weaker than themselves: children or the elderly.

By the way, families with children can hope for four-legged help from a pet. Mastiff behaves like a nanny in relation to small family members, taking care of them and participating in games. If friends come to your child, do not leave the dog alone with fun company. The Spanish Mastiff may regard screaming and vigorous activity as a threat and will enter into the role of a protector. Considering the size and weight of the body, this show of strength could end in disaster for the participants in the “conflict”.

Representatives of the breed do not like to compete, because they consider it beneath their dignity, so they get along well with other animals. The exception is decorative rodents and birds. At the same time, the greatest threat is not the dog’s instincts, but its impressive size. Do not leave small pets alone with a huge animal: the Spanish Mastiff can involuntarily harm them.

Mastiff owners note: dogs remain puppies in the shower until the age of four. This means that you have to learn how to amuse the fluffy “child” with walks in the fresh air or new toys. A bored animal is a real treat! Back home, you will literally find ruins. In an attempt to entertain itself, the dog will easily turn the sofa over or gnaw the leg of the desk. It is worth noting that at night the instincts of mastiffs are sharpened, so dogs can behave restlessly, especially in the absence of the owner.

Among the positive qualities of the breed include loyalty to the house. The “Spaniards” will not dig undermines and break the fence, wanting to go outside the entrusted territory, thanks to which the mastiffs do well without a leash.

Spanish mastiffs need early socialization but continue to form psychologically until the age of three. From the first month of life, it is necessary to clearly prioritize: in an impromptu pack, the role of alpha is assigned to you. If the animal considers the authority of the owner insufficient, it will have to forget about a fruitful upbringing. The Spaniard will ignore any warning or command from you. Together with an obedient pet, you will get a 70-kilogram problem for the next ten years.

In raising a mastiff, it is important to be calm and consistent. The animal does not perceive shouts and threats in its address. Since the representatives of the breed have historically developed a rather ferocious disposition, it is necessary to abandon unfair punishments and cruel treatment of the dog. Otherwise, the dog will harbor a grudge and will not become your loyal friend.

Socialization is also influenced by the dog’s stay in society – both human and four-legged. Walk with the mastiff often, surrounded by other people and animals. So your pet will understand that the world belongs not only to him, and will not show aggression. For the same purpose, it is necessary to change the walking route so that each time the Spanish Mastiff explores a new area and does not feel like the ruler of the world.

In terms of training, these dogs are interested in learning new commands. Encouragement is an important element. A mastiff will be more willing to demonstrate his skills if you reward him with a treat or gentle stroking. Feeling like the training of the Spanish Mastiff is getting out of hand? Consult a professional dog handler. Under their guidance, the dog will go through a course of basic commands, and you will receive useful advice on the further education of the pet.

Taking care of the Spanish Mastiff is difficult. The thick hair of the animal needs regular brushing no more than three times a week. A metal brush or a wooden comb with sparse teeth is ideal for these purposes. During the period of seasonal molting, you will need a slicker or furminator. Experienced dog owners make the procedure easier by slightly wetting the Spaniard’s coat with water and conditioner diluted in it, then the hairs are less likely to get tangled and combed out without unnecessary hassle.

From time to time, tangles form on the ears, neck, and hind legs of the mastiff. To remove them, you can use a special spray or collar cutter. In advanced cases, go to a hairdresser where they cut your dogs. It is not recommended to trim the coat at home.

Spanish Mastiffs do not need regular bathing. If your pet doesn’t get dirty during the walk, limit yourself to a bath day once every three months. Abuse of water procedures threatens with hypertrophy of the animal’s skin glands and the appearance of a characteristic “doggy” smell. Alternatively, dry shampoo is suitable, which visually “refreshes” the dog’s coat. The product is carefully combed out after rubbing it into the undercoat.

It is recommended to shorten the nails at least once a month. From the tools, you will need a nail clipper for large breeds of dogs and a nail file to help polish sharp edges. To facilitate the procedure, you can hold your pet’s paws in warm water: this will soften the claws. In the cold season, it is worth getting nourishing oil to lubricate the pads of the paws.

Do not forget about caring for the mouth of the mastiff. A dog’s teeth need your attention twice a week. To remove soft plaque, you can use an old brush or a special finger attachment. Insufficient hygiene leads to the formation of tartar, which requires specialist intervention. For prevention, include solid food in the diet of the “Spaniard” and please him with new rodent toys.

The eyes and ears of the dog are blotted with a soft, lint-free cloth. A special lotion or chamomile decoction can be used as an adjunct. Ensure that there are no drafts until the animal is completely dry.

Proper nutrition is the key to the good health of the Spanish Mastiff. Owners of this breed of dogs choose natural food or premium dry food. The regular combination of both options is fraught with problems with the digestive system. In the first months of life, the diet should be based on foods high in calcium. This will strengthen the joints, which are more stressed with age.

Exclude from the dog menu:

  • dairy products in large quantities;
  • yeast dough products;
  • food and drinks with caffeine;
  • large bones;
  • fish in any form;
  • raw meat and eggs;
  • onion and garlic;
  • citrus;
  • smoked meats;
  • potatoes;
  • sweets;
  • mushrooms;

The pet’s bowl should be filled with clean water – bottled or infused for 6-8 hours.

Despite strong immunity and endurance, representatives of the breed are susceptible to certain diseases:

  • dysplasia of the hip joints;
  • volvulus of the stomach or intestines;
  • adenoma of the third century;
  • turn of the century;
  • gonarthrosis;
  • cataract;

Do not forget about timely vaccination – the key to the longevity of your pet. In addition, regular processing of the animal from external and internal parasites is required.

How to choose a puppy?

The Spanish Mastiff is a difficult breed, so don’t miss the first puppy you come across, especially at an attractive price. The choice of a new friend must be approached wisely. Fluffy babies must be up to three months old before being adopted into a family. At this age, the physical and mental health of animals is considered to be quite strong.

When meeting with Spanish mastiffs, you need to pay attention to the conditions of detention. The ideal option is a clean and draft-free enclosure. Those wishing to purchase a puppy with an excellent pedigree can ask the breeder to provide all the necessary information, including information about the parents.

The appearance of the mastiff is no less important: strong bones, thick hair, healthy skin and mucous membranes, eyes, and nose without pathological secretions. The kid should be playful and curious, not hide or run away from an outstretched hand. Moderate fitness is required: thinness is a sure sign that the puppy is unwell.

Rely on your intuition – it will tell you which “Spaniard” the most reverent friendship will be struck up with!

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