Independence is a primary characteristic of livestock guardian breeds, and while they
enjoy your company, Spanish Mastiffs are not as attuned to your wishes in the way that
many other breeds are; they are happy if you are pleased with their behavior, but they certainly don't go out of their way trying to do things to please you! This does not mean
that they cannot be sweet dogs, but they will take advantage of any situation where it
seems that an Alpha character has not taken over. The personality and stable temperament
of the Spanish Mastiff is somewhat addictive and most who come in contact with the
breed do tend to be quickly smitten!
Spanish Mastiffs are generally best suited to a firm, but fair owner with some experience
with independent minded breeds. Obedience training for the working or companion dog
is very strongly recommended. Having an extremely powerful dog, or one that weighs
from 150 to 200 pounds is not for a person who is not prepared to do a lot of obedience
work and socialization. Off-property training does not adversely affect the dogs
Near the home, the dog will announce the arrival of any visitors and will expect to be
able to inspect/greet them. They are generally curious with guests. After greeting the
visitor, the dogs will usually stay between or close to the owner or will watch them
from a polite distance. If, after an introduction, a guest wants to walk toward the owner's home, the dog may block that person's path until the guest is escorted by the owner.
Like most livestock guardian breeds, Spanish Mastiffs have been bred for generations,
spanning thousands of years, to make decisions regarding their guarding duties on their
own. This means that they are a very independent minded breed. The large size is
necessary to provide visual intimidation to predators as large as the wolves, bears, and
other predators of different regions. Large predators tend to be timid, as injury to
themselves will decrease their abilities to survive; thus, a large guarding dog does not necessarily have to fight, yet is quite capable of inflicting serious injury if challenged.
In character, Spanish Mastiffs are serious about what they do. They tend to be less bouncy than other breeds, even as pups. On the other hand, they are more agile than many of the other giant breed dogs and are capable of quick, flexible movement. They necessarily
have a lower prey drive than most breeds and generally adapt well to whatever livestock
(or pets) that are intended for them to protect.
The Spanish Mastiff is first and foremost a guarding breed, not a herding dog that is
easily trained to work by direction. The Spanish Mastiff was developed to work
independently of man. Stalking, chasing and killing are all prey drives commonly seen
in hunting and herding breeds, not LGD’s. He is extremely loyal and can be fiercely
possessive and protective of his family, flock and territory. The Spanish Mastiff bonds
strongly with animals or people that it is raised with. He can be aloof and suspicious of
anything or anyone unfamiliar that enters his domain.
The Spanish Mastiff is bold and confident without aggression. They will determine on
their own whether aggression is warranted and will use a graduated display of
increasingly assertive behaviors to control a given situation. The reliability of a working livestock guardian depends on their ability to independently judge a situation. A
Spanish Mastiff will evaluate a situation to assess its potential threat and will act
accordingly. If the predator will leave the territory when the dog gives the first warning
or simply rises to full height from a reclining position, the guardian will generally cease
the progressive displays of threat. If the first warning is ignored, the Spanish Mastiff will
use a graduated display of increasingly assertive behaviors until the trespasser is driven
off or subdued. Killing of predators such as a coyote, may occur only after all other
warnings have failed, or if the dog has been agitated by the predator at length.
The Spanish Mastiff will occasionally walk the boundaries of his domain to mark his
territory throughout the day. Based on how much territory he can oversee, he will
establish a protective zone and will settle down in an area that he perceives to have
the best vantage point and will appear to lie around doing nothing. If something appears
in the outer perimeter, the dog will bark to announce that he has something under
observation. If the potential threat commences toward the protective zone, the dog will progress to a rapid alarm bark that may then progress to a threatening snarl-bark when something very threatening is about to be stopped. It would require considerable agitation
to get the Spanish Mastiff to attack, and it may choose not to attack, depending on its
perception of threat. Aggression in the Spanish Mastiff is generally limited to the lowest
level that provides the desired response from the rival. They could not effectively
protect the rest of their flock or territory if they were to hunt down and kill predators.
The Spanish Mastiff is a bold, confident dog that does not become overstimulated easily.
They are calm and observant of their surroundings. The Spanish Mastiff may not go
looking for trouble, but he will seldom back down if challenged.
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