Spanish Mastiff Livestock Guardian Dogs
Welcome to our Spanish Mastiff page! In 2001, we got our first Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) when our Great Pyreness, Cleo joined our old collie mix Milo in guarding the farm. During the course of my research into Livestock Guardians, I became fascinated by these working dogs and I soon “discovered” the amazing Spanish Mastiff breed while doing the necessary research to try to determine which of the many different breeds would best suit our situation, livestock, predator load and lifestyle. After another year of research, I decided to add our first Spanish Mastiff to our farm to assist our Great Pyr. In the years since, we haven’t lost a single animal to a predator and I give our Spanish Mastiffs all of the credit!
It was the beginning of a deep love affair with the Spanish Mastiff breed! I have never looked back and will never, ever have any other breed again!
This page is devoted to this very rare breed because there is still little factual information about them in this country – especially in regards to their working ability and style. Because I am extremely dedicated to establishing the breed here in the US in a responsible manner and am serious about the welfare of the breed, I do not and never will cross breed the Spanish Mastiff with any other breed. I will happily offer support or advice to any Spanish Mastiff owner or potential owner, whether you have bought a pup from me or not.
With the exception of our first few dogs (back when there was little information available on the web), all of our imports came from kennels that I had followed closely for years, or were breeding dogs from those kennels. I appreciated the consistency in type, health and working ability that the dogs from those kennels were well known for in Spain.
Isabelle came to the US from the Czech Republic in early 2003.
Moses was imported from Spain in 2004.
Delilah came to us from Poland in 2007.
Zoe (Agora del Viejo Paramo) was imported from Spain in 2010.
Ivan (Iker de Picu Xiana) arrived here from Spain in 2012.
Aislinn, Brisa, Fiona, Jocelyn and Aliya were bred and born here on our farm.
Bruno (Hosco de Tierra de Orbigo) arrived in January 2015
Zelda (Azara de la Majada Los Robles) arrived in January 2016.
Luna (Delta de la Majada Los Robles) arrived in April of 2016.
Silas (Tejano de Los Zumbos) is our latest import from Spain in March of 2018.
Our Spanish Mastiffs are working with our livestock full time. We don’t rotate our dogs in and out of a small pen with a few head of livestock. They range the hills and valleys of our pastures with our herd of goats all day and sleep with them at night between perimeter patrols. Spanish Mastiffs have a close working style with livestock and are not as prone to wandering or expanding their territories as many other LGD breeds. Overall, they are very respectful of fences and will seldom challenge them.
The following is based on the general information I have gleaned through my research into LGD’s, my own observations and experiences with the Spanish Mastiff over the last 15+ years and the official breed standard, as well as the many wonderful owners and breeders in Spain whose support I still appreciate. Unfortunately, there are still many breed information sites that have incorrect information on the breed in regards to historical uses, type, temperament and style.
The temperament of the Spanish Mastiff should be calm and stable, not timid or overly aggressive. Their use throughout their history bears this out. Shepherds in Spain would not been able to use an aggressive or timid dog during the Trashamuncia when they traveled through villages and towns with their sheep and dogs. The breed is highly intelligent and intuitive and will often alert you to any issues with the stock and even attach themselves to you when you are having a bad day. Their intelligence and personality endears them to their owners like no other breed, and few people have been able to stop at just one Spanish Mastiff!
In character and function, the Spanish Mastiff is a classic LGD. Please note that like most LGD’s, they are in general, quite independent. However, Spanish Mastiffs are extremely loyal and would sacrifice their own life to protect you or your livestock. They develop a very strong bond with their owners and charges, and as a rule, are not at all aloof with those they know! I have found the breed to be a fearless and perceptive guard that is very tuned in to what is going on around them. They are generally very tolerant of and patient with children. Other pets should be introduced from a young age.
Though extremely intelligent dogs, they can be very stubborn and have “selective deafness” tendencies that can prove frustrating on occasion! Spanish Mastiffs can be difficult and they will test you – but with patience and consistency on the owners part, it does pass! They respond well to obedience training, but do not always CHOOSE to apply their training!
Though I am completely enthralled by this fascinating and unique breed, it is not the dog for everyone! They are best suited to a firm owner with some experience with LGD’s or mastiff breeds. Though these dogs have phenomenal instincts, a potential owner must be willing to commit their time and effort into training their dog! I strongly recommend off property training for your puppy. They more people, places, situations and sounds that they are introduced to as youngsters, the more well rounded and confident they are, and that makes for an even better working dog and/or companion! It absolutely does not adversely affect how they do their jobs on the farm.
Minimum Height is 29 inches for females & 31 inches for males. There is no height maximum, but function must not be lost! Preference is given to dogs a larger size, but they must remain proportionate. Average weight: Males 165-220 lbs. Females: 145-185 lbs. The Spanish Mastiff is the heaviest of the LGD breeds.
According to the official FCI breed standard, the body should be rectangular, with a powerful frame, well muscled, and have strong bone. Rear legs should have the proper angulation to enable the dog to have the movement and agility necessary to do the job they were bred for. They should not be cow-hocked, and the rump should not have greater height than the shoulder as these are considered “serious faults” according to the FCI standard. Unfortunately, these issues are the most common defects that we see in the breed and one of the more serious threats to the breeds functionality. They are structural faults that WILL impact the mature dogs movement and structural health! Muscle mass can only disguise the problem for a short period of time before the stress of overcompensating wears on the dogs joints and the dog breaks down. If we are to establish the Spanish Mastiff as a working dog here in the US, this situation MUST be taken much more seriously!
This a very fast growing breed in it’s first year and can easily put on over 100 pounds in the first 8 months! Diet must be watched carefully as too much weight can harm growing joints and bones. During this time, they can suffer from growing pains. During their early development, you may see some uneven growth patterns, but that is fairly normal. There is little to no verifiable data in regards to their life expectancy. They can live 10-12 years and I’ve heard of some living up to 14 years. Though not unheard of, this breed seems to have fewer health issues than some of the more common mastiff breeds found here in the US. This is one of the many things that made this a very appealing dog for me.
The Spanish Mastiff has a massive head with a deep muzzle, gradual stop, strong jaws and dewlap on the neck. Their coat is short with a dense under coat that enables them to work well in most any climate. The skin should be loose and abundant on the body and most colors are accepted. Although a heavy breed in both weight and appearance, it’s movement should be athletic and agile. They are a much more active breed than many of the other giant breeds and should have plenty of exercise to help support developing bone.
If you would like more information about this wonderful breed, please feel free to contact me. I am more than willing to talk about these fascinating dogs!