Spanish Mastiff

FCI standard Nº 91

Origin
Spain
Translation
Mrs. Peggy Davis
Group
Group 2 Pinscher and Schnauzer- Molossoid breeds- Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs
Section
Section 2.2 Molossoid breeds, Mountain type
Working
Without working trial
Acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI
Saturday 13 November 1954
Publication of the official valid standard
Wednesday 26 May 1982
Last update
Friday 30 August 2002
En français, cette race se dit
Mâtin espagnol
Diese Norm ist in deutscher Sprache sichtbar
Spanischer Mastiff
En español, esta raza se dice
Mastín español
In het Nederlands, wordt dit ras gezegd
Spaanse Mastiff

Usage

Guard and defense. The breed is closely related to the seasonal moving in the livestock, and especially the Merino livestock which he already accompanied at the time of the “Mesta”(association, in the Middle-age, of breeders of the wandering herds) by defending them from wolves and other predators, all along their journey from one location to other and on the grazing pastures, in all seasons and sites. Actually he accompanies numerous herds, whether sedentary or wandering by fulfilling his ancestral task. He performs in the same way the function of guard and protection of farms, people and properties in general.

General appearance

It is a dog of great size, hypermetic, of medium proportions and of sub-long line structure. Well balanced, very powerful and muscular. Compact bone structure. Massive head and a body covered with a semi-long coat. Most important are balance and functional harmony in the dog standing as well on the move. His bark is raucous, low pitched and deep, very sonorous, audible from a considerable distance.

Important proportions

The length of the body exceeds the height at the withers.
The relation between the length of the skull and that of the muzzle must be 3/2.

Behaviour / temperament

It is a very intelligent dog, not without beauty, whose expression manifests both these qualities. Rustic, affectionate, kind and noble, he is very determined when facing dangerous animals and in front of strangers, especially when he has the opportunity to defend and protect farms or cattle. In his behaviour, one can see it is a dog sure of himself, determining his strength because he is aware of his enormous power.

Head

Cranial region

Head
Big, strong and shaped like a truncated pyramid with broad basis. The whole of the skull and muzzle, seen from above, must be square and well linked, without a very marked diminution of width between the base of the muzzle and the temporal bones. The facio-cranial axes are moderately divergent.
Skull
Broad, strong, profile sub-convex. The width of the skull should be equal or superior to its length. Frontal sinus accentuated. Occipital crest marked. 
Stop
Slightly sloping, not very accentuated.

Facial region

Nose
Black, wet, big and broad.
Muzzle
Straight nasal bridge. Seen from above, the muzzle appears moderately rectangular, tapering gradually in width towards the nose, but still keeping an appreciable width. In no case it should be pointed.
Lips
The upper lip largely covering the lower lip; the lower lip with slak mucous membranes forms a very loose labial commissure. The mucous membranes must be black.
Jaws and teeth
Scissor bite. Teeth white, solid and sound. Big, pointed canines assuring a good hold of prey. Molars solid and powerful. Incisors rather small. All premolars should be present. Palate black, with well marked ridges.
Eyes
Small in comparison with the skull, almond shaped, preferably dark, of hazel colour. The look is attentive, noble, soft and intelligent, very hard in front of strangers. Eyelids of thick tissue, with black pigmentation. The lower lid allows a part of the conjunctiva to be seen.
Ears
Of medium size and hanging; triangular shape, flat. Attached above the eye-line. At rest, hanging close to the cheeks, without being too close to the skull. In attention, they come away from the cheeks and are partially pricked in the back part of their top third. They must not be cropt.

Neck

Trunk shaped, broad, solid, muscled, flexible. Skin thick and loose. Double dewlap amply developed.

Body

Body
Rectangular. Stocky and robust, showing great power; yet supple and agile.
Topline
Straight, horizontal including while on the move.
Withers
Well marked.
Back
Powerful, muscled.
Loin
Long, broad and powerful; its dimensions decreasing down towards the flank.
Croup
Broad and solid. Its inclination to the horizontal is of some 45°. The height at the croup is equal to the height at the withers.
Chest
Broad, deep, muscled and powerful. The point of the sternum marked. Ribs with wide intercostal spaces, rounded, not flat. The minimum thoracic perimeter exceeds by about 1/3 the height at the withers.
Underline and belly
Belly very moderately tucked-up; the flank let down and very ample.

Tail

Very thick at its root and set at medium height. Solid, supple and covered with hair longer than that of the rest of the body. At rest it is carried low, distinctly reaching the hock; sometimes forms a curve in its last quarter. When the dog is moving or animated, he will raise it sabre fashion, with a curve at its tip, but never curved in all its length nor carried over the croup.

Limbs

Forequarters

Generality
Forelegs perfectly vertical, straight and parallel seen from the front. The length of the forearm should be the triple of that of the pastern (metacarpus). Bone structure solid, with powerful metacarpus.
Shoulders
Oblique, very muscular, longer than the forearm. The scapular-humeral angle is near the 100°.
Upper arm
Strong, of similar length to that of the shoulderblade.
Elbows
Close to the thorax. Humeral-radial angle close to 125°.
Forearm
Solid, with vertical bone.
Pastern
Seen from the side slightly oblique. Is pratically in the extension of the forearm. Solid bone.
Forefeet
Cat feet. Toes close, solid, well arched. Nails and pads strong and resistant. Interdigital membranes of medium development and covered with hair.

Hindquarters

Generality
Powerful, muscular. Lateral view : adequate angulations in form of big articular angles. Correct limbs, seen from behind and from the side; hocks not deviated; they must be capable of transmitting the impulsion of the dog with ease, strength and elegance.
Upper thigh
Solid and muscular. Femoral-coxal angle nearly 100°.
Lower thigh
Long, muscular, solid bone structure.
Stifle
Femoral-tibial angle nearly 120°.
Metatarsus
Well marked, with the Achilles tendon clearly visible.
Hock
The open angle of the hocks is nearly 130°.
Hind feet
Cat feet, very slightly oval. Dewclaws present or not, may be simple or double; their removal is permitted.

Gait and movement

The preferred gait is the trot, which must be harmonious, powerful and without tendency towards lateral rolling. No ambling.

Skin

Elastic, thick, abundant and pink coloured with darker pigmented areas. All mucous membranes must be black.

Coat

Hair
Dense, thick, medium length, smooth, distributed all over the body down to the interdigital spaces. Two types of coat are distinguished : covering coat on the back and an other protecting type on the ribcage and the flanks. Shorter on the legs, longer and silky on the tail.
Colour
Indifferent. The colours most appreciated being the self-coloured like yellow, fawn, red, black, wolf colour and deer-colour; also appreciated are the combined colours like brindle, parti-coloured or dogs with a white collar.

Size and weight

Height at withers
There is no upper limit of size, the subjects of greatest size being the ones most highly thought after providing they are of harmonious proportions.
Height at the withers : Minimum size for males : 77 cm, for bitches : 72 cm.
It is desirable that these measurements be amply exceded; the size in males should be over 80 cm, and in females over 75 cm.

Faults

• Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and its ability to perform its traditional work.
• Faults listed should be in degree of seriousness.

General faults

 Roman nose, without excess.
 Pincer bite; lack of any premolar.
 Weak lumbar-dorsal line, having lost its straight line and ondulating on the move.
 Pasterns, rear-pasterns and feet weak, without excess.
 Timidity, not too accentuated.

Serious faults

 Exaggerated frail or lethargic appearance.
 Pointed muzzle.
 Moderately overshot mouth.
 Absence of various molars or canines, not from traumatic origin.
 Excessive entropion or ectropion.
 Cropping of the ears.
 Tail resting on the croup.
 Sway back.
 Height at the croup noticeably superior to the height at the withers.
 Docking of the tail.
 Incorrect legs, weak or deviated.
 Cow-hocked either standing or moving.
 Lateral displacement of the legs when moving.
 Wavy coat, curly or of excessive length.
 Unbalanced temperament, excessive timidity or exaggerated aggressiveness.

Disqualifying faults

 Aggresive or overly shy.
 Nose or mucous membranes depigmented.
 Split nose.
 Undershot mouth of whatever degree; excessively overshot.
 Light eyes.

NB :

• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
• The above mentioned faults when occurring to a highly marked degree or frequently are disqualifying.
• Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
• Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.

Bibliography

http://www.fci.be/

 

Detailed history

Since the beginning of the eighties, Spanish dog enthusiasts have been working hard to catch up with other European countries. They naturally took care of their national mastiff, the Spanish Mastiff.

"Mastiff" sounds bad for French ears: besides "dog of strong build" (but without definite race), this term means "bastard", "dog crossed". We find ourselves in the same situation as the Neapolitan Mastin, an Italian race; only the Neapolitan Mastiff is a mastiff, while the Spanish Mastiff is a mountain dog.

Despite its short hair, the Spanish mastiff is indeed a cousin of the Mountain of the Pyrenees, St. Bernard and Leonberg, rather than a close relative of the Dogue de Bordeaux and Mastiff.

But leave these considerations on the classification and denominations of the Spanish Mastiff. Like all the dogs mentioned, he would be a descendant of big Tibetan dogs. The specialists of his country give him at least four thousand years of presence in the Iberian Peninsula. We will not seek his ancestors among the dogs brought by the Roman legions. As for the great popularity of the Spanish Mastiff, it coincides with the period of the mesta.

What is mesta? It is the transhumance of sheep flocks, but organized on a truly gigantic scale, unique in the world. Gigantic by its geographical extent: 850 kilometers from the south of Spain to the Center and the North, this is what flocks had to go through which, from the beginning of spring, left the warm regions to reach the mountain pastures. Gigantic by numbers: a census in 1526 counted exactly 3 453 168 sheep, which required a considerable number of shepherds; some 40,000, a traveling city. The mesta, it must be noted, has marked Spain indelibly, if only in its landscapes: little by little, the vast and wild central forest has given way to an arid steppe.

The development of the mesta is undoubtedly linked to the value of the animals that composed it, namely the merino sheep, which provide the best wool in the world, and which Spain had a monopoly until the end of the 18th century.

And the Spanish Mastiff, in the midst of such an organization? His role was obviously paramount. It was important that high-value merinos were well protected from predators, as numerous as they were varied in the wilderness they traversed - lynxes, bears, and especially hordes of wolves, not to mention two-legged predators ". The Mastins were therefore carefully selected, both in their physical appearance and their extraordinary courage and vigilance.

Their number must also be impressive. No old statistics or estimates are available, but if we consider that a Mastiff can protect about 200 heads, we obtain, at the time of the maximum prosperity of the mesa, a total of 18 000 dogs. If we now rely on the number of shepherds, and suppose that each of them should have at least one dog near him, we arrive at a dog population of 40,000 subjects. It may be admitted that reality must lie somewhere between these two numbers; Whichever one is chosen, it can be said that the Spanish Mastiff has been one of the most prosperous large breeds in the world.

Really structured from the beginning of the nineteenth century, the mesta declined from the eighteenth century; and the last great transhumance was disorganized by the civil war of 1936-1939. The role of the Mastiff also became less important as wolves became scarce; at the end of the nineteenth century, both because of widespread deforestation and intensive hunting (including the poisoning campaigns), they no longer posed a serious threat to herds. Certainly, the Mastins, at least some of them, have been able to retrain to other tasks: the guard of the houses; beaten hunting of wild boar; as a military dog, guarding ammunition depots; he was also a draft dog. But, of course, he was not selected so carefully: his height at the withers, for example, diminished; the first standard noted a size of 60 to 70 centimeters, whereas today, the ancestral type having been found, it comes out at 75-80 centimeters.

Unfortunately, the Spanish dog, very discreet for decades, could not take over to ensure a serious selection. This explains why this race is so little known.

Between 1912, the date of the creation of the Spanish Book of Origins (LOE), and 1975, when the breeding of the breed finally took a certain momentum, ie a period of 64 years, only 106 Mâtins were registered at the LOE. ; if we add the 126 listed by the RRC (initial register for dogs without known origins), we obtain an average of 3 specimens per year, perhaps one thousand or two thousand times less than in the golden period of mesta. The first standard, imperfect, was only written in November 1946; a new text was published in April 1981.

The modern history of the Spanish Mastiff can be divided into two periods. Until the sixties, the race survived with difficulty. Before 1971, no Spanish Championship title was awarded to a Spanish Mastin; on that date, a male named Peter was the first to receive this award.

The eighties saw the spectacular rise of the breed: creation of a very active breed club, multiplication of breeding, presence in exhibitions (since that of Peter, several titles of champion of Spain were awarded each year ), first performances in major international exhibitions. The numbers also reflect this extension: for example, between 1980 and 1985, in just five years, the number of births increased 3.5 times, reaching more than 700.

Among the most famous breeders are Luis Esquire Bolaiios, Manuel Diaz Navarro and Amadeo Alejandro. Among the dogs, that of Tigre, world champion in Dortmund (1981) then in Madrid (1983), and Best in Show at this same event. It should be noted that in a few years, studies on the history, behavior and health of the Spanish Mastiff have multiplied.

It is difficult to predict an international success at the Spanish mastiff. Indeed, there are already many races of gigantic format, and, considering the maintenance costs of these dogs, the number of their purchasers is necessarily limited. Nevertheless, the breed is established in Germany, where its destiny is taken over by the "Club du Molosse", and some subjects can be counted in Belgium and the Netherlands. In any case, the Spanish Mastiff is sure to prosper in his country.

This dog, by its size and its energy, can tempt lovers of thrills. Its relatively short coat (protecting it from the rigors of weather but not requiring maintenance), the great diversity of its colors (fawn, beige to red, charcoal or not, wolf, brindle gray or tawny, black and fire, more dresses marked with white or white background) are all assets.

In terms of character, the Breed Club is concerned to keep a dog as close as possible to the ancestral type, that is to say calm in the day and kind with his family, but able to a determination and a great courage in case of danger and becoming extremely vigilant as soon as the day goes down. Most of the time, he is therefore discreet, despite his voluminous size, except when he makes his hoarse voice sound, deep, very impressive.

This very rustic dog must live outside all year, with only a rough shelter for the bad season, and have a large enough space. If he can not protect the flocks, he will be the intractable go-between of a vast property.

This is not an aggressive animal and asocial (but it is dominant towards other dogs). An idea commonly received is that he was the bloodthirsty dog that accompanied the conquistadores of the sixteenth century: it is a mistake, because he could not stand the heat; contrary to appearances, he fears more heat than cold; moreover, it only activates when the freshness sets in at nightfall. The dog of the conquistadores was the Dogue de Burgos, sometimes called Alano, who fought the bulls in the arena.

Those who want a very large breed that is free of dysplasia will be disappointed, because the Spanish Mastin is affected, as well as other breeds of comparable weight. That said, its health and rusticity are not open to criticism. It can be noted, however, that some people misunderstand vitamin D3.

Without a doubt, the national Spanish national has enough advantages to establish itself, even modestly, in France: Spain is not the end of the world, and we can meet many breeders very experienced.

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