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Spanish Mastiff: Dog Breed Info, Pictures, Care, Traits, & More

Written by: Sarah Psaradelis

Last Updated on April 18, 2024 by Dogster Team

spanish mastiff

Spanish Mastiff: Dog Breed Info, Pictures, Care, Traits, & More

The Spanish Mastiff is a large, powerful dog breed with an ancient history. This breed first appeared around the Middle Ages and was originally bred to protect livestock. Spanish Mastiffs have been used for working and guarding purposes throughout the centuries. Their determination and endless loyalty towards their family are unmatched, making them the perfect family-orientated companions.

Keep reading to find out more about the noble Spanish Mastiff.

Breed Overview


28–35 inches


140–200 pounds


10–12 years


Black, fawn, red, wolf gray, and yellow

Suitable for:

Active families looking for an intelligent and protective dog


Loyal, intelligent, determined, protective, loving

Spanish Mastiffs are one of the largest dog breeds in the world. The average Spanish Mastiff stands between 28 to 35 inches tall. Adult Spanish Mastiffs can easily weigh up to 200 pounds. Their size came in handy when they were guarding livestock against bears and wolves on the Iberian Peninsula.

You will also notice that this breed has noticeable wrinkles and loose skin, which helps to protect them against predators. Furthermore, Spanish Mastiffs have all the desirable traits of a fierce guard dog and a loving companion.

Spanish Mastiff Breed Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Spanish Mastiff Puppies

Puppy of the Spanish mastiff on a green grass
Image Credit: alarich, Shutterstock

Spanish Mastiffs are a relatively rare dog breed, especially outside of Spain. This would mean that they are difficult to find up for adoption, as they are hardly seen in shelters or rescues. Your best bet for finding a Spanish Mastiff puppy would be from a reputable breeder who specializes in the breed. The breeder should be exceptionally knowledgeable about Spanish Mastiffs and the health and temperaments of the parents and litters.

So, what is it like to own a Spanish Mastiff puppy? Spanish Mastiff puppies are equally adorable, active, and stubborn. They will already be medium-sized by the time you bring them home from the breeder! Their puppy size doesn’t last forever, and Spanish Mastiff puppies will grow into their large paws soon enough.

You can expect Spanish Mastiff puppies to be stubborn during training and playtime. This is why early training and socialization is essential for the breed. Getting them to adjust to training from a young age can help them become well-mannered adults.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Spanish Mastiff

Spanish Mastiffs have desirable temperaments which you want to see in a working or guard dog. These dogs are loyal, determined, and protective. They are always eager to please their owners and excel at various tasks they are given.

Although guarding is somewhat instinctive for the breed because of their history, they still benefit from proper training. Spanish Mastiffs are highly intelligent, so they can quickly adjust to training and learn to fit in with their family and other dogs or cats in the home.

Cute Spanish Mastiff
Image Credit: Liliya Kulianionak, Shutterstock

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Spanish Mastiffs can be a great addition to active families or those with older children. They make wonderful companions if you are prepared to care for, work with, and train them. Spanish Mastiffs are not the right fit for every family, despite all their desirable traits. This breed is usually recommended for people who have experience with Mastiff breeds and can accommodate their exercise needs.

Spanish Mastiffs enjoy plenty of secure space to explore, along with daily exercise, a healthy diet, and activities that engage their working instincts.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?🐶 😽

Spanish Mastiffs generally get along well with other dogs or cats if they have been socialized properly. It’s not difficult to introduce other well-mannered dogs to the Spanish Mastiff. However, they may need more training and socialization with cats to prevent barking and chasing behaviors. Spanish Mastiffs are also quite laid-back around livestock such as sheep and cattle.

They are not good with small animals like rabbits, hamsters, or guinea pigs. You should always secure these animals away from your Spanish Mastiff in a room they cannot access. Plus, most small animals are too stressed around dogs to take the risk of allowing them to interact with each other.

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Things to Know When Owning a Spanish Mastiff

Here’s what you should know when owning a Spanish Mastiff.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

A healthy diet is essential for Spanish Mastiffs. Their diet should contain all the nutrients they need to be healthy, along with a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Spanish Mastiffs will benefit from food for large dog breeds.

You can either feed them a kibble, wet, raw, or freeze-dried diet depending on what works best for their lifestyle and overall health. It’s best to speak with a veterinarian or certified canine nutritionist about which diet is suitable for your Spanish Mastiff.

Keep in mind that Spanish Mastiffs shouldn’t have too many treats or table scraps to avoid excessive weight gain. Obesity can put strain on their joints and negatively affect their mobility.

Exercise 🐕

Spanish Mastiffs do not have high energy needs, but they still require daily exercise for their overall well-being. These dogs need both physical and mental stimulation during exercise. This includes going for a walk or run, along with interactive toys or activities to prevent boredom. Try to exercise your Spanish Mastiff for at least 45 minutes to an hour every day. You could exercise Spanish Mastiffs throughout the day.

You could take them for a morning walk and then another walk later in the day. You can let them play in a secure yard or dog park in the afternoon and give them toys to play with throughout the day.

Beautiful Spanish Mastiff Breed wtih yellow colour on the grass
Image Credit: Marcelino Pozo Ruiz, Shutterstock

Training 🎾

The Spanish Mastiff’s high intelligence and eagerness to work make them relatively easy to train with the proper methods. However, this breed can be stubborn at times and resistant to training methods that don’t engage their interest. Early socialization and training should begin once a Spanish Mastiff is at least 8 weeks old.

You don’t want to put off training these dogs and wait until they are already adults. This is because Spanish Mastiffs don’t easily break habits they have grown up doing before they began training. High-value rewards will be your best friend when training Spanish Mastiffs.

Grooming ✂️

Spanish Mastiffs have thick coats with moderate grooming requirements. They also shed a moderate amount of fur throughout the day, so grooming can help maintain the amount of shed hair in your home.

Their hair is short, so brushing them is a breeze. Bristle brushes are great for the Spanish Mastiffs short coat. You can also use a deshedding rake for more effective shedding control. Spanish Mastiffs don’t need to be bathed too often, usually only when their coat becomes dirty. A cleansing shampoo followed by a non-greasy conditioner will help keep their coat looking fresh and manageable.

Furthermore, Spanish Mastiffs also need their nails trimmed and ears cleaned once or twice a month.

Health and Conditions🏥

Although Spanish Mastiffs are a relatively healthy breed, they can still be affected by several health conditions.

Minor Conditions:
  • Obesity
  • Arthritis
Serious Conditions:
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Heart problems
  • Bloat
  • Entropion
  • Panosteitis

Male vs Female

The main differences between male and female Spanish Mastiffs are their hormonal behaviors. Both sexes have similar temperaments and working abilities. The only difference in their appearance would be that females tend to be more barrel-shaped than males, who are usually taller.

Neutering your Spanish Mastiff may help prevent unwanted hormonal behaviors while preventing accidental litters or certain reproductive problems.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Spanish Mastiff

1. Spanish Mastiffs were used to protect and herd Merino livestock in Europe.

Raising livestock was no easy feat. There are animals that pose a threat to livestock; however, the size and bravery of the Spanish Mastiff helped keep predators at bay.

2. This breed is not much of a barker.

Some people think that “the bigger the dog, the bigger the bark”. However, the Spanish Mastiff is not much of a barker. When they do bark (and it is a deep bark!), it is mostly to alert people about something unknown or suspicious.

3. The Spanish Mastiff is featured in art.

In Diego Velázquez’s 1656 painting, Las Meninas, features a Spanish Mastiff lounging with King Philip IV of Spain’s court. It is a very influential piece of Western art.

Serious spanish mastiff is sitting on the green grass in the summer park
Image Credit: Tikhomirov Sergey, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Spanish Mastiffs are large canines with a history as working and guard dogs. They were developed to protect livestock, which they excelled at even in harsh conditions. Spanish Mastiffs retain these working instincts even as companions, so they require plenty of exercise and engaging playtime to stay happy.

This breed isn’t a good fit for those looking for a laid-back dog that doesn’t need much space or training. They can make perfect family dogs if you have the space, time, and knowledge to work with this breed.

Featured Image Credit: LFRabanedo, Shutterstock

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