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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Spanish Mastiff Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Spanish Mastiff Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Spanish Mastiff

The Spanish Mastiff is an impressive type of large dog breed. These dogs have been around for thousands of years, and they’ve been loyal companions for humans all throughout history.

Breed Overview


28-35 inches


140-200 pounds


10-12 years


Black, fawn, red, wolf-gray, yellow, brindle

Suitable for:

Families with kids, single-family homes, suburban or rural neighborhoods, experienced dog owners


Affectionate, intelligent, loyal, protective

Spanish Mastiffs are brave and intelligent, and they make great guard dogs and working dogs. However, they can be strong-willed and independent, and insufficient training can lead to unwanted behaviors. With this dog breed’s massive size, these behaviors can end with significant consequences.

Therefore, these dogs require their owners to be well-informed and equipped to provide adequate training. With this in mind, we’ve created this comprehensive guide that gives you all the information you need to know about raising a Spanish Mastiff.

If you’re interested in bringing home a Spanish Mastiff, keep reading to discover if this breed is right for you.

Spanish Mastiff 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 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 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 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.

divider-paw Spanish Mastiff Puppies

Spanish mastiff puppy
Image Credit: alarich, Shutterstock

Puppies coming from champion lines can be significantly more expensive. Therefore, regular dog owners can do well with bringing home a Spanish Mastiff bred for companion purposes. These dogs won’t meet all the American Kennel Club’s breed requirements, but they’ll still be healthy with temperaments that don’t stray too far from the breed standards.

These gentle giants are generally healthy, but it’s important to prevent any health issues that larger dogs are prone to. Keep reading the Spanish Mastiff’s full care guide to know what type of care they need in terms of diet, grooming, exercise, and more!

Spanish Mastiff side view
Image Credit: Seregraff, Shutterstock

Temperament & Intelligence of the Spanish Mastiff

Taking care of a Spanish Mastiff can go both ways. On the one hand, they’re extremely intelligent dogs with survival and protective instincts that exceed many dog breeds. They’re also very self-sufficient and trustworthy and love playing with children in the family.

On the other hand, this dog breed can be very strong-willed and resistant. Spanish Mastiffs’ wonderful traits are often hard-earned, and they need confident and consistent owners that they can trust and respect. These large dogs can quickly out-master their owners if they feel that their owner isn’t a strong leader.

Spanish Mastiffs will also do best in quieter areas like suburban and rural neighborhoods. Since this dog breed has guarding in its DNA, these dogs might not do well in busier environments where they constantly feel like they must be on guard. They also have a loud bark, which can become an issue in shared living spaces, like apartments and condominiums.

Spanish Mastiffs are also naturally stand-offish with strangers. So, make sure to socialize them and let them meet different people at an early age to get them used to having guests in the home.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Consistent training and early socialization are essential for successfully raising a Spanish Mastiff puppy. In general, these dogs do well in families with young children, and despite their size, they can be very patient and docile.

When introducing Spanish Mastiff puppies to children, make sure to supervise these interactions at all times. Young puppies can be more rambunctious and not realize their own size and strength. They may be friendly towards other children, but they could also play a little too rough.

Make sure also to teach children how to interact with dogs appropriately. They should learn not to touch the dogs’ faces, swat at them, or do anything else that would cause the dog discomfort. When children know how to handle dogs properly, it will speed up the socialization process, and they’ll become fast friends with a Spanish Mastiff.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

These dogs tend to be very territorial and protective, and they don’t typically do well with living with other pets. Spanish Mastiffs often prefer being the only dog and only pet in the home. They don’t tend to be very social dogs and prefer to spend time with just their families.

If you have other kinds of pets in the house, you can try slowly introducing your Spanish Mastiff to them and closely monitor their interactions. However, there’s a good chance that Spanish Mastiffs can’t ever be fully trusted to be alone with cats and small pets.

Spanish Mastiffs
Image Credit: Marcelino Pozo Ruiz, Shutterstock

divider-multiprint Things to Know When Owning a Spanish Mastiff:

Although Spanish Mastiffs are generally healthy dogs, they have specific care needs as a large dog breed and working dog. Before you bring a Spanish Mastiff home, make sure that you’re able to meet all their primary care requirements.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Spanish Mastiffs are prone to obesity, bloat, and hip dysplasia. Therefore, a sufficient diet is crucial to reduce their risk of developing these health concerns.

A common culprit of bloat is food that contains too much fat. Check the dog food’s ingredient list to ensure that your Spanish Mastiff doesn’t consume too much fat. Fats and oils, such as sunflower oil, shouldn’t be listed within the first four ingredients on the list.

Since Spanish Mastiffs can also become overweight quickly, they can benefit from low-calorie dog food and dog treats. As these dogs age, they may develop hip dysplasia. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that they consume nutrients that support hip and joint health. You can find dog food formulas specifically for hip and joint health, or you can also add supplements to your dog’s diet.

Exercise 🐕

Selective breeding developed Spanish Mastiffs into robust working dogs. Therefore, they need daily exercise and mental stimulation. Bored Spanish Mastiffs will inevitably develop destructive habits because they don’t have healthy outlets to release their energy.

These dogs don’t necessarily need strenuous or particularly challenging exercise, such as steep hikes and agility courses. A daily 45 to 60-minute walk will suffice. They will also benefit from roaming around a large, fenced yard. Just keep in mind that they still need daily walks and that time in the backyard is supplemental exercise.

Since these dogs are also very intelligent, they’ll greatly appreciate enrichment activities. When going on walks, make sure to allow them enough time to stop and sniff around to keep their senses and mind engaged. You can also teach them to play with puzzle toys or treat-dispensing toys that activate their foraging instincts. As working dogs, Spanish Mastiffs will also appreciate having a job. You can teach them to carry things, fetch, or become therapy dogs.

Training 🎾

This dog breed requires a strong, experienced dog owner. They can have a stubborn streak and be unwilling to learn if they sense that their owner can’t lead them. Training for Spanish Mastiff puppies has to start right away, and it has to be consistent.

Spanish Mastiff owners should be firm and consistent. Keep training sessions short, manageable, and fun. Always make sure to reward your Spanish Mastiff for positive behavior by using praise, treats, or playing with their favorite toy.

They’ll also benefit from puppy socialization and group obedience training classes. This will help them learn to interact with other dogs and prevent acting aggressively towards them.

Spanish Mastiff_Marcelino Pozo Ruiz_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Marcelino Pozo Ruiz, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

Spanish Mastiffs aren’t hypoallergenic. They have a short double coat that sheds seasonally in the spring and fall. Owners must brush their coats weekly or else there will be loose hairs all over the home and furniture. The best brushes for Spanish Mastiffs are pin brushes, metal combs, and de-shedding tools. Bathing Spanish Mastiffs every 6 to 8 weeks will also help with the shedding. You can use shampoo and conditioner with de-shedding formulas to help control the shedding.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Spanish Mastiffs are generally healthy dogs. However, they can develop some common issues with large dog breeds. These issues include hip dysplasia, arthritis, and bloat.

Minor Conditions
  • Obesity
  • Arthritis
  • Panosteitis
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Entropion
  • Bloat

Male vs Female

One of the main differences between male and female Spanish Mastiffs is size. Males tend to be larger and heavier than females.

Currently, there isn’t consistent data that proves temperamental differences between male and female Spanish Mastiffs. However, neutered males may be calmer and less aggressive and territorial than intact males.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Spanish Mastiff

1. Spanish Mastiffs are an ancient breed with records dating back to 30 AD.

The Spanish Mastiff has been around for thousands of years, and records of their existence predate the years of the Roman Conquest. Famous writers, Virgil and Columella, mentioned this dog breed in their writings. Virgil praised and wrote about the Spanish Mastiff’s loving and protective temperament, while Columella mentioned these dogs in his novel, Res Rustica.

2. Spanish Mastiffs were bred to protect livestock from wolves.

There’s a reason why Spanish Mastiffs are so large. One of their primary responsibilities as herding dogs was to protect sheep from hungry wolves, and they were a formidable foe against wolves.

Spanish Mastiffs have strong watchdog tendencies and used to be responsible for herding and protecting large flocks that could contain 100 sheep. Their mostly white coats helped them blend in with sheep and surprise wolves when they hunted. Some Spanish Mastiffs were so skilled that they were trusted to herd flocks on their own without a human shepherd.

3. Spanish Mastiffs are gentle giants with their loved ones.

This dog breed appears intimidating, and you definitely don’t want to get on their bad side. They’re very protective of their families and will even risk their lives to keep family members safe from threats.

However, these very same dogs with strong protective instincts also have docile and gentle sides. Despite their large size, these dogs can be patient playmates for young children.

divider-paw Final Thoughts

Spanish Mastiffs are one of the most loyal and loving dog breeds. However, you can only uncover these great qualities if they receive consistent and reliable training that helps to develop a strong bond between owner and dog.

These intimidating dogs aren’t for the faint of heart, but they can grow into gentle giants once you earn their trust. All the investment in training will be worth it because you’ll have a brave, devoted, doting companion who will inevitably become a beloved member of the family.

Featured Image Credit: Seregraff, Shutterstock

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