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Spanish Mastiff: nature and diseases [Lek wet Małgorzata Miłosz

Spanish Mastiff (Spanish Mastiff) is a very old breed, and the first documented mentions of its representatives appeared as early as 30 AD.e. in the works of Virgil, where he describes their character as being ideal for guarding and defending herds.

Spanish Mastiff

The role of Spanish Mastiffs increased significantly in the 10th century, when sheep breeding began to develop intensively in Spain and the entire economy continued to produce wool and its products.

When merinoes, whose fleece was extremely valuable, reached the Iberian peninsula in the 12th century, the presence of mastiffs during seasonal migrations from here, i.e. mestas (from the name of the breeders' organization - Mesta) turned out to be invaluable.

During these forays, in which tens of thousands of shepherds and even several million sheep took part, dogs were supposed to protect animals and people from lurking predators, mainly wolves, and thieves.

They were valued primarily for their courage, self-confidence, determination and ability to work in all conditions. The image of a powerful and a bit weary mastiff can also be admired on the canvas of the famous Spanish artist Diego Velázquez entitled. "Court Maidens ".

Officially, these dogs began appearing at shows in the early 20th century, with the first standard approved in 1946. Today, Spanish Mastiffs are used for work in the military and police, as well as guard dogs.

According to the FCI classification, the Spanish Mastiff belongs to group 2.

  • Spanish Mastiff in nature
  • Spanish Mastiff breed description
  • Grooming a dog
  • Disease Spanish Mastiff
    • Congenital dislocation of the elbow
    • Hip dysplasia
    • Dilation and torsion of the stomach
    • Ectropium
    • Entropium
    • Cystine urolithiasis
  • For whom the Spanish Mastiff will be an ideal breed of dog?

Spanish Mastiff in nature

Giant Spanish Mastiffs undoubtedly inspire respect with their huge stature and deep barking.

They can also freeze the opponent with a sharp and ice cold look.

They are very balanced and calm dogs, but when provoked they can move to the rescue quickly and agile.

They are considered to be the dogs of one master, but are loyal to all household members, treating them as a herd, which they must defend if necessary. Thanks to this instinct, they are perfect as watchmen, carefully observing the surroundings around the house, lying refined on the porch.

Due to their large size, they need a lot of space and are not suitable for apartments in blocks.

Besides, they drool intensively, which can be a nuisance, especially if we love order.

Of course, leaving the dog alone for the whole day in a pen or garden is not a good solution, because seemingly independent pets also need a lot of contact with their relatives, i.e. the aforementioned human "herd ".

They also require a lot of movement, which will not be replaced by the possibility of running out onto the property, because we have to activate them in some way. These dogs like swimming, retrieving, mountain trekking or just long walks.

Early socialization and training is essential for mastiffs as they can become potentially dangerous in the hands of the wrong person. They are gentle towards children, but games with the youngest should be supervised.

Spanish mastiff breed description

The Spanish Mastiff is a dog of massive build with a harmonious and proportional figure.

Spanish Mastiff weight and size

The height at the withers for male dogs is at least 77 cm (preferably more than 80 cm) and for bitches 72 cm (more than 75 cm preferably). There is no upper limit to height. The body weight of an adult individual is approx. 50 - 65 kg.

What a Spanish Mastiff looks like?

  • The head is large and strong, with a broad base, with a poorly defined stop and a visible occipital tumor.
  • The muzzle is almost rectangular in shape and tapers towards the black truffle of the nose.
  • Fleshy lips with very loose corners, pigmented black.
  • Teeth strong, set in a scissor bite.
  • Almond-shaped eyes, dark hazel color with intelligent expression, framed by dark rims of the eyelids.
  • Triangular ears, set high, drooping, raised 1/3 of their length when aroused.
  • The neck is strong and broad, well-muscled with a pronounced dewlap.
  • The torso is rectangular in shape, strong and stocky with a distinct withers.
  • Chest deep and broad with a well-defined sternum and arched ribs.
  • Long loins, tapering towards the waist, turning into a wide croup, sloping at an angle of 45 degrees.
  • Belly slightly tucked up.
  • The tail is thick at the base and covered with hair slightly longer than the rest of the body. When at rest it is carried low, and in action it is raised, bent or curled.
  • Limbs straight and muscular with good bone.
  • Feet tightly closed with well arched toes and hard pads. There may be single or double dewclaws on the hind legs.
  • Thick and elastic skin, pink with dark pigmentation.


The hair is smooth and dense, of medium length, slightly different in structure on the chest and sides.

All colors are allowed, but the most desirable are solid yellow, fawn, black, red, wolf and deer red, and combinations of these colors.

Grooming a dog

Spanish Mastiff care is quite simple and limited to basic procedures such as brushing the coat 1-2 times a week and periodic bathing of the dog.

We also check the cleanliness of the ears and the length of the claws, which we shorten if necessary. Since the dog is big and strong, if we don't get him used to all these activities from a small age, it can be very difficult for us to win this unequal fight afterwards.

When it comes to nutrition, we can give the dog both ready-made food intended for dogs of giant breeds or cook their own meals.

Due to the (again) large size, we must be aware that the dog will consume large amounts of food and therefore its maintenance will not be the cheapest.

In order to protect the articular cartilage, the animal may be given preparations containing glucosamine and chondroitin.

Disease Spanish Mastiff

Congenital dislocation of the elbow

Congenital elbow dislocation is a developmental defect that comes in two forms:

  • type I - dislocation of the proximal epiphysis of the ulna,
  • type II - posterolateral radial head dislocation.

In the case of mastiffs, we observe symptoms related to the occurrence of the second type dislocation, where the elbow takes a varus position. This deformity is usually visible after 4 months of age and diagnosed by palpation and X-ray.

In incomplete dislocation, observation of the animal is usually recommended, and in complete dislocation - surgery.

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia in the Spanish Mastiff is a genetic defect, and its formation is also caused by numerous external factors, such as e.g. improper feeding or too intense movement during the puppy's growth period.

Due to the imbalance between the development of soft and hard tissues, the functioning of the stabilizing mechanisms of the hip joint is disturbed.

The head of the femur is deformed as a result of chronic inflammation and damage, and the acetabulum becomes shallow.

The first visible symptoms of dysplasia are:

  • reluctance to move,
  • frequent lying down,
  • rabbit jumping,
  • decrease in the muscle mass of the pelvic limbs,
  • pain in the hip joints when manipulated.

For diagnostics, a clinical examination in the form of Bardens, Barlow and Ortolani tests as well as X-ray in sedation is used.

As various surgical methods can be used in young dogs, which will not be effective in older animals, it is recommended to take a prophylactic X-ray image even in the absence of any orthopedic symptoms.

Symptomatic treatment - anti-inflammatory and analgesic - is the most common treatment in older dogs.

Dilation and torsion of the stomach

Gastric dilatation is most commonly seen in large breed dogs. It happens as a result of:

  • an excessive build-up of gas released from food in the stomach,
  • delayed gastric emptying,
  • eating a lot of food at once,
  • physical activity performed shortly after eating

Acute dilation is characterized primarily by enlargement of the abdominal outline, shortness of breath, lethargy, and vomiting.

When a complication of the condition in the form of gastric torsion around its axis occurs, we most often observe drooling and unsuccessful attempts to vomit.

The animal may also become unconscious as a result of developing shock.

In the case of uncomplicated SCR, gastric lavage or trocarrying is the most commonly used procedure. If a twist occurs, an immediate surgical procedure with a careful prognosis is required.


Ectropion is an eyelid defect in which a part of the eyelid curls outwards, which leads to the exposure of a part of the conjunctiva.

It may be accompanied by lacrimation and conjunctivitis and keratitis.

Some cases do not require treatment, but only rinsing the eye area with saline and the use of moisturizing preparations.

Surgical correction is recommended for recurrent symptoms.


Entropion is a defect of the eyelids in that a part or the entire rim of the eyelids hangs inside.

The hair and eyelashes growing on the eyelid rub against the surface of the cornea, irritating or damaging it.

Lacrimation, blepharospasm, conjunctivitis and chronic superficial corneal ulcers are observed with this defect.

Entropium is treated by proper eyelid surgery.

Cystine urolithiasis

Cystine stones are the formation of cystine stones in the bladder as a result of a congenital defect in the kidney tubules.

The crystals themselves can precipitate in the urine for a long time without causing any symptoms, while they form into stones, the bladder mucosa is irritated, which is manifested by haematuria and frequent urination.

In the case of obstruction of the urethra, micturition may be difficult or completely impossible.

Urine sedimentation and ultrasound are used for diagnostics. Cystine stones can be dissolved with mild symptoms using appropriate medications and diet, or removed surgically.

For whom the Spanish Mastiff will be an ideal breed of dog?

The Spanish Mastiff is definitely not recommended for everyone and only experienced, self-confident and charismatic people can afford (or at least should) have it, which are the qualities necessary to properly arrange and raise a dog.

Mastiffs undoubtedly have many advantages - they are calm, balanced, quick-witted, independent, brave, they like children and despite their threatening appearance, they are full of tenderness and delicacy towards their.

Nevertheless, no one is perfect, so the future owner must also be aware that these dogs can be overly suspicious of strangers, require a lot of movement and space, and early and intensive socialization.

As puppies, Spanish Mastiffs are often noisy and unruly and mature late.

And as mentioned they drool a lot, which can also be embarrassing for some. The breed is not very popular in Poland, so the availability of puppies is low, and the price of the Spanish Mastiff from breeding is high.

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