A Complete Guide to the Spanish Mastiff Dog Breed

Spanish Mastiff lying on the lawn and panting

He is a big old teddy bear! No epitaph could be better for the Spanish Mastiff. He will drool on you, protect you and be your best friend for the rest of his life.

The Spanish Mastiff is a brilliant, beautiful dog who has a character to go with his qualities. Affectionate, kind, and noble, yet very determined and protective when faced with dangers or the unknown (a stranger). He is a rare breed in much of the world except in Spain, where he is very popular. Even so, if this is the dog for you, there are reliable breeders worldwide. However, you can expect this dog to run about $1,500 when you find him. 

Spanish Mastiff History

Some people say the dog has been around since before Christ, and others say that he wasn’t bred until Medieval times. We have no proof of his existence until the middle ages when we see him portrayed in tapestries and books. So, there is no official timeline for the Spanish Mastiff, but we know that he was bred as a guard dog in the Middle Ages. He was used to guarding livestock and flocks of animals against predators like wolves. His function was only protection, and he was not used to driving the herds.  

However, the AKC and other dog organizations did not create the Spanish Mastiff breed standard until 1946. Then later, the Spanish Mastiff association of Spain was formed so breeders would have needed regulations to breed the type of large Mastiff of the olden times. 

For more than a thousand years, the Spanish Mastiff has been respected for his work protecting cattle, sheep, and farm animals, and he is always sure of his abilities and strength. The Spanish Mastiff knows he is like the God of Thunder, a being of enormous power, which he gladly uses to protect the family he loves. 

Spanish Mastiff standing near a flock of sheep

Spanish Mastiff Size

The Spanish Mastiff is a huge dog, but his form is well balanced, with a strong torso and powerful and muscular legs. He has a huge head with a medium-length fur coat that tends to fold at the neck. He is not a barker, but when he does make his voice heard, everyone knows who it is. His bark is low-pitched and deep; you can hear it from far away. 

The males are anywhere from 28 to 33 inches tall at the withers and weigh anywhere from 110 to 150 lb. Females are about 26 inches tall and weigh anywhere from 88 to 132 lb. His figure is quite imposing simply because of his enormous size and muscular build. Like the English Mastiff, he has almond-shaped eyes, perfect and very expressive for such an affectionate dog. Like other Mastiff breeds, the Spanish Mastiff has triangular, floppy ears. But what makes him stand out from other dogs is his neck, the amount of loose skin that folds in this area, and his immense size. These neck folds serve a purpose and protect the Mastiff’s vulnerable internal areas from fence scratching or animal bites. 

In today’s world, though, the Spanish Mastiff no longer has to be a working dog. He can be a gentle giant and a great family companion. However, he does require a skillful owner who can train him to socialize well and prevent him from being too aggressive and protective. 

Spanish Mastiff’s Temperament

The Spanish Mastiff adores his family and will show you by always wanting to be around you. Some dogs even go so far as to follow their owner everywhere around the house. So if privacy is important to you, this breed may not be for you, as he doesn’t understand privacy very well. But remember, this constant following is just his way of showing you how much he loves you, and his affections are the same for every family member, sometimes even other animals. When it comes down to it, the Spanish Mastiff is a gentle giant who loves to show his appreciation and love.

Despite his highly affectionate nature, he does have a calm demeanor and can be quite happy just lying around and watching movies or sleeping all day. Yes, he loves to be lazy when not in a dangerous situation, and it may take some pushing to get him moving. Because he is so calm, he expects the same from his environment. He doesn’t do as well as a big city dog. Instead, he prefers the peaceful countryside. 

The Spanish Mastiff is fiercely protective and will do anything to protect his family from what he thinks is dangerous, even if it comes down to life and death. He will ensure his family is safe, but the downside to this protectiveness is that he distrusts strangers. It is not uncommon for him to bark at your friends or passersby. This quirk is easy to fix, though. To prevent it from happening, you can socialize with him at an early age. 

The downside to owning this breed is that the Spanish Mastiff can become aggressive when trying to protect his family, but this aggressiveness only comes out when the dog is not properly socialized. He can be a bit too feisty when playing with other dogs simply because of his size. So be sure to get him used to other dogs right away. 

Spanish Mastiff puppy playing with a little boy

Spanish Mastiff Puppies

Spanish Mastiff puppies are puppy-like until their third year of life. Although massive animals, they are born small and weigh only about a pound at birth. It takes them longer to develop and grow. Breeders must be careful with small pups as mothers can sometimes inadvertently squash them. 

Because these puppies are born so small, it is essential to feed them with special dog food so they don’t grow too fast, as this can lead to excessive strain on the joints when the Mastiff is older. 


Like all working dogs, The Spanish Mastiff is highly intelligent but can also be quite stubborn. He thinks he knows everything and will act the way he thinks best. It can be quite annoying, especially while training your dog. As such, he needs an owner who understands the and outs of training, someone consistent and confident. This type of owner will allow him to be the best version of a Spanish Mastiff. 

His high level of intelligence will also mean that he needs daily mental challenges, and you must help him get mental exercise, or he will become restless and think of naughty ways to entertain himself. Be sure to give him puzzles and interesting toys to keep him occupied. 

Spanish Mastiff being given the stay command


The Mastiff has a double coat to protect him from inclement weather. His double coat protects him in winter, and he sheds moderately throughout the year. But the Mastiff sheds even more in the spring when he needs his coat to be shorter for the hot summer months. He sheds the summer coat again in the fall to allow for his thicker winter fur. 

If you are looking for a hypoallergenic dog, the Spanish Mastiff is not the dog for you, as he sheds quite profusely. 

Health Overview 

Unlike other large dogs, the Spanish Mastiff is not vulnerable to any particular dog diseases, although, like other large breeds, he is predisposed to bloating and heart problems. However, this doesn't mean he won’t have these or other health issues. Every dog is vulnerable to: 

As an owner, you need to understand the above issues and know what you can do to prevent them. 

The good news is that you can prevent many of these issues or minimize the consequences with a regular vet visit. A regular checkup will keep you knowledgeable about your dog's health. 

Psychological Health

The Spanish Mastiff is a very calm dog but is secure in his strength. He is extremely confident and does not usually suffer from stress or anxiety. But he may not like living in a small city apartment, and the inability to roam freely in wide-open spaces can make him nervous. 

In addition, Spanish Mastiffs that are not socialized may suffer from over-aggressiveness, but only in rare cases. In general, this dog does not have any psychological issues. Because of his size, it does take longer for him to mature, usually at the two to three-year mark.

Spanish Mastiff puppy running through grass


A Spanish Mastiff is a brilliant dog, and while he doesn’t necessarily get anxious, he will go off and find something interesting to do if you don’t stimulate his brain. Of course, whatever he finds interesting to do may not be what you had in mind. For instance, he may go off looking for something interesting in the yard and end up digging a lot of holes. In the living room, he may be sitting quietly, and you think he is being lazy, but in reality, he is thinking about what lies inside your sofa. The solution is to find him puzzles and games that keep him occupied and keep his mind thinking about ways he can solve good things. 

To some owners, his obstinate nature may seem a psychological issue, but it isn’t. The Mastiff is very obstinate. He believes he knows best and will go off and do things his way. The easiest way to deal with this issue is to practice constant training as early as possible. Remember, it is easier to train a young dog than an older one. 


Although not prone to this breed, the Spanish Mastiff can experience epilepsy as it is the most common neurological problem in dogs and appears in about 1% of the overall population. Epilepsy is a cognitive health disorder of the brain but affects the dog's entire body. It is an abnormality in the brain and can cause repetitive and random seizures in some dogs. The condition is not linked to a particular breed, though. Vets can now control epilepsy to lessen the number of seizures and make the attacks less damaging. 


Nearly all dogs, when not cared for, can develop an allergy. Many of these allergies can relate to food, skin, or coat, and many things or many other illnesses can trigger them. 

The Spanish Mastiff is a huge and muscular dog, so he needs a high-quality protein diet. When you feed him unhealthy dog food or snacks, it can lead to allergic reactions. Despite being strong and powerful, the digestive system of your Spanish Mastiff can suffer when you give him the wrong food. Some symptoms of a food allergy are dry skin, itchy fur, gas problems, loose stools, and vomiting. 

Other types of allergies the Spanish Mastiff could experience include skin allergies or inhalation allergies. If your dog experiences breathing or skin irritation when you change his dog food or when he comes into contact with other animals, you should talk to a veterinarian. 


The Spanish Mastiff has a double coat, and while he doesn’t have excessively long fur, he does need some maintenance. His double coat sheds even more in spring and fall, so this could cause some issues in your home. You should also be aware that his coat could cause allergies because the Mastiff is not hypoallergenic.

Weekly brushings can keep the shedding under control and prevent so much hair loss around your home. Preferably you want to use a good pin brush and a metal comb to detangle his coat. You may also need a de-shedder when he is shedding a lot. 

Bathing your Spanish Mastiff can also help eliminate the excessive hair fall. Good pet grooming should also include trimming the hair between his foot pads. Otherwise, knots will form and trap dirt in his paws. 

Monthly, your Mastiff will need bathing, his nails trimmed, and his ears checked.

Beautiful Spanish Mastiff Breed with yellow color on the grass

Ear Health 

While grooming your Mastiff, it is always a good idea to check his ears for mites, ticks, fleas, and buildup. Some dogs, even mastiffs, suffer from hereditary deafness. It is a condition that is not preventable, but some medications can prevent it from developing. The good news is that deaf dogs can have a normal life. 

Oral Health 

The Spanish Mastiff is a drooler, so you want to pay close attention to his oral health. The breed is also prone to poor oral health, leading to many other health conditions like heart, kidney, and lung disease. If left unchecked, periodontal disease can occur. 

Periodontal disease causes inflammation, bad breath, and tooth loss and can affect the heart and lungs, causing heart inflammation. The good news is that many products are on the market to protect your Spanish Mastiff's oral health and prevent periodontal disease. Several dog toothpaste options and chewing sticks protect your dog’s oral hygiene. 

Chewing is another good habit to prevent periodontal disease. Just be sure to give your Spanish Mastiff the right dental chews and toys, so he doesn’t go after your furniture. 

Dog Food

The Spanish Mastiff eats about four cups of dog food daily, but it must be high in protein and of good quality. It is best to feed him at least twice a day. If you feed him once a day, he gets too hungry and tends to wolf down his food. Eating too fast can cause digestive issues for this dog. 

Because he is prone to dental issues, you should also opt for dry dog food as opposed to canned. 

Spanish Mastiff lying on grass

Is the Spanish Mastiff the Right Dog for Your Family? 

If you are looking for a dog to be a good home guard dog, the temperament of the Spanish Mastiff is a perfect fit for your family. He will guard your home and protect you to his dying day. He will also be an excellent companion and your best friend throughout his life. Just remember, he will drool all over you ⁠— but it is a friendly drool. 

However, if you are a city dweller or a first-time dog owner, you might want to think of another breed, as the Spanish Mastiff needs exercise and space to go out and about. Remember that this dog will require constant training in the beginning. He is obstinant and requires a firm but friendly hand. 

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