Observations from an owner & breeder…
Let me start by saying that I became completely enamored of the Spanish Mastiff when I got my
first one many years ago, and have been a strong advocate and “believer” in the breed ever since.
There are issues that we are facing in the US that concerned me then and still do today…
Establishing the Spanish Mastiff in North America has presented a number of challenges and though
we are beginning to make headway, we still have a long road ahead of us to ensure that the breed
is promoted honestly and bred only with integrity.
For some of us, the difficulty began in importing puppies that turned out to be less than the best
of the breed. Historically, over-seas breeders have sold/sent pups that had genetic defects or
did little to further establish a quality breeding program in the USA. Unfortunately, it is still happening
from time to time. While some owners chose/choose not to breed these dogs, others did,
and the less than excellent dogs were bred and pups sold across the country from these imports.
Fortunately, a few wonderful Spanish mastiffs that are true to type, temperament and function
HAVE reached American soil, and hope remains alive that this breed can become recognized for
all the fascinating attributes they possess. Responsible and careful breeding with an emphasis on
health, temperament and the breed standard can only lead to better representatives of the breed
across this nation. There is a growing group of owners who are devoting themselves to this goal.
Unfortunately, there are also a very few individuals who take great pride in thumbing
their noses at those whose focus is the betterment of the breed…
Though many breed info sites still have incorrect data concerning the Spanish Mastiff, more
accurate information has become available now than there was even 5-10 years ago and people have
more opportunities to truly educate themselves about this breed and breeders BEFORE they take
the gigantic first step to importing or even buying “local” in the USA.
For those with a passion for this breed, or those just beginning to learn about them, there are
some insights to be considered in looking at the way the breed is represented here, specifically in
the United States. Promoting the best interest of this dog takes precedence over breeding for the
sheer fact that you may happen to own one of these “rare breed” dogs.
It is disappointing to receive a dog that you have pinned your hopes and dreams on, poured your
heart into and made a member of your family, or spent time and resources training to become a
valuable and integral part of your farm operation, only to lose it prematurely to a grave genetic health
defect OR face up to the fact that your dog is not work or breeding material due to structural faults
or weaknesses. It has happened to me with my first import as well as too many others here in the US.
Not all rare breed puppies grow into adult dogs that are suitable for breeding.
Contrast the difference between the puppy that arrives with the full grown adult dog that develops…
over the course of three-plus years… and the changes can be monumental. Face it: all puppies are cute.
When they arrive to this continent in their crate and they are peering out at you,
it is easy to instantly fall in love and lose your ability to be impartial. Breeding a dog that has poor
back legs, defective hips, genetic defects or obvious faults -some of which may not be apparent
until maturity- is not doing a favor to anyone… especially for the good of establishing the breed in the
USA or for the people who’ve spent their hard earned money to purchase such a dog.
No animal is perfect and some less than desirable traits can be selectively improved upon with the
proper genetic and linear knowledge, but you can’t take two animals with poor legs or hips, breed
them to each other and hope for the best!
Breeding with the intention of recouping expenses involved in importing your dog is not a good enough
reason to breed. To the “average Joe”, importing a dog takes considerable expense. The shipping costs,
and fees involved in registering your dog, will usually amount to more than the price of the pup. Vetting a
giant breed dog is another out-of-pocket expense to be faced along with the costs of premium dog food.
While tempting to trade-in on the “rare-breed” marketability feature, there are too many liabilities to
face in doing so.
Line breeding vs inbreeding:
Tho we are finally beginning to see more Spanish imports enter the US, the majority of the
Spanish Mastiffs in the United States early on had one thing in common: the same
Eastern European kennel. The successful breeding and marketing of this line of dogs combined
with the ease in importing from an experienced exporter has lead to a predominance of
Spanish mastiffs in the USA that trace back to basically one line. Clearly it is extremely important and
critical that some new -unrelated- bloodlines are brought over with which to work. This is a huge
consideration when you discover someone that wants to breed Spanish mastiffs. Are the dogs related
to each other? Examine the extended pedigrees carefully and question the party who fails to make
readily available or produce this key element for pups they may market. This is where transparency
becomes critical. Before line-breeding is undertaken it’s essential to be aware of the potential
risks vs benefits and to have a very clear health lineage on the dam and sire as well as having the
experience to know what to look for in temperament and structure.
You will often see the catch-all word “typey” used to describe the Spanish Mastiff.
Too often a breeder can use that phrase to describe an average or less than average dog that happens
to have lots of skin or size as opposed to a dog that actually meets the AEPME standard for the breed.
For those looking for a superior working LGD:
The Spanish Mastiff has what it takes to do an exceptional job guarding livestock or the farm from
coyote, wolves, bear or lion – as is. They’ve been doing it for centuries and are quite good at it!
They function and perform their tasks just fine if given the proper, experienced training and support.
It is extremely important to maintain the purity of the breed here, not cross it with other LGD breeds.
No good can come of crossing a magnificent breed such as the Spanish Mastiff with a more
aggressive LGD breed and few people would be capable of handling the results of such a breeding.
In my own personal opinion, if someone were to feel a need to cross the Spanish Mastiff with another LGD
breed to “create” a better functioning LGD, I would have to question their knowledge of their own dogs!
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Please do not copy ANYTHING on these pages (or variations of) without my express written permission.