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  • Temperament: Affectionate, Intelligent, Kind
  • Height: Minimum 28-35 inches
  • Weight: 140-200 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
  • Group: Foundation Stock Service

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

FCI Standard
Spanish Mastiff guarding a flock of sheep in a field.
Two Spanish Mastiffs laying side by side.
Spanish Mastiff standing outdoors in the snow.
Spanish Mastiff laying on a park bench outdoors.

About the Spanish Mastiff

The Spanish Mastiff is a dog of great size, well-balanced, very powerful and muscular. He has a massive head and a body covered with a medium-length coat. His bark is raucous, low pitched and deep, very sonorous and audible from a considerable distance. The Spanish Mastiff comes in a range of coat colors, including black, fawn, red, gray, and yellow, and can be seen with brindle or white markings.

Used for guarding and defense, the breed is closely related to the seasonal moving of livestock, especially the Merino livestock, which he accompanied at the time of the “Mesta.” In the Middle Ages, this was an association of sheep ranchers who journeyed seasonally to distant locations to find grazing pastures. The Spanish Mastiff was in charge of defending them against wolves and other predators throughout their travels. Either sedentary or wandering, he performs in the same way for farms, people and properties in general.


Club Contact Details

Name: Anne Goetz
Phone: (828) 803-5087

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Spanish Mastiff puppy

Find a Puppy: Spanish Mastiff

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.



The Spanish Mastiff should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.


Beyond regular weekly grooming, the occasional bath will keep your Spanish Mastiff clean and looking his best. Grooming can be a wonderful bonding experience for you and your dog. The strong, fast-growing nails should be trimmed regularly with a nail clipper or grinder to avoid overgrowth, splitting, and cracking. Their ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris, which can result in infection. Teeth should be brushed regularly.




Though a relatively calm breed, the Spanish Mastiff should have some daily exercise to promote his physical and mental health. Options for exercise could include play time in the backyard, preferably fenced, or being taken for walks several times a day. Exercise can also come in the form of indoor activities like chasing a ball rolled along the floor or learning new tricks. Certain outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, or retrieving balls can provide a good outlet for expending energy. Training for dog sports like agility, obedience, and rally can also be a great way to give your dog exercise.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity


Some dogs may be faced with health challenges in their lives, but the majority of Spanish Mastiffs are healthy dogs. Working with a responsible breeder, prospective owners can gain the education they need to learn about specific health concerns within the breed.

Spanish Mastiff head portrait.
Spanish Mastiff puppies outdoors.
Spanish Mastiff puppy laying outdoors.
Spanish Mastiff standing in the snow outdoors.


The Spanish Mastiff is a very old breed. It appeared on the Iberian Peninsula before the Roman invasion, brought by the Greeks and Phoenicians over 2,000 years ago. The first mentions of a mastiff from the region appears in writings by Virgil dated from around 30 A.D. Virgil, in his poem The Georgics, mentions that the Iberian mastiff’s nurturing character would make it the best guardian and defender of the herd. Another mention of the breed dates from the first century. The Roman agronomist and prominent writer, Columella, authored a 12 volume book, Res Rustica, in which he wrote this about mastiffs: “…being suitable to cattle mastiffs are white in colour mostly for to distinguish them better from wolves with which they have to fight in darkness of dawn.”

The role of Mastiffs grew in the 10th century when the best organized and guided farming of animals in Europe became the pedigree of sheep in Spain and the state’s economy was based on production and the elaboration of wool. Development peaked in the 12th century when the breeding of a new genre of sheep, merinos, began. These animals usually spent the winter in the south of Spain and moved at the beginning of the summer to the mountain slopes in the north. The wandering herds of sheep were accompanied by about 40,000 shepherds and for every 100 sheep, there was at least one mastiff for the shepherd’s defense as well as the herd’s.

Such enormous migrations made a mark on Spanish culture. The Spanish Mastiffs can be seen in literary works as well as admired in paintings by the famed Velazquez. By that time, these dogs were characterized by their well-known traits of independence, weather resistance, and defensiveness.

Did You Know?

The Spanish Mastiff has been assigned the Working Group designation.
The Spanish Mastiff has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since August 2008
The Spanish Mastiff is the Mastín Español in its native country of Spain.
The word "mastiff" descends from the Latin word, "mansuetus," meaning gentle, mild, and tame.

The Breed Standard

Colors & Markings


Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
Fawn Check Mark For Standard Color 082
Red Check Mark For Standard Color 140
Wolfgray Check Mark For Standard Color 227
Yellow Check Mark For Standard Color 232


Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Brindle Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 007
White Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 014