With ancient roots in the old East-European shepherds and Asian mastiffs brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Greek and Phoenician traders some 2000 years ago, many consider the Mastin Espanol to be the living link between the Central Asian Shepherd Dog and the English Mastiff, but while being directly descended from the Hellenic Mastiff of Greece, this powerful breed also has close ties to the original dogs of Molossia, in particular the legendary Epir Mastiff, from which it has inherited the uniform black and black-n-tan colourings still encountered in some modern Spanish lines.
The Spanish Mastiff is also an ancestor of many European breeds, most notably the Mastino Napoletano of Italy, Pyrenean Mastiff of Spain and the Great Pyrenees of France. Throughout its long history, the Mastin Espanol has been used as a flock guardian, livestock herder, large game hunter, cart-pulling dog, cattle control dog, occasional fighting dog, property protector, military dog, farm dog and family companion. Today, this glorious breed is a valued sheepdog, a popular pet and a show dog. This versatility is one of the main reasons it has survived for so long. There is a variety of types found within the breed, even though the modern massive variant is standardized and preferred for Dog Shows. This large mountain type, known as Mastin Pesado, is actually the least common one in Spain, while the lighter working variety called Mastin Ligero, rarely seen at the Shows, is still the most popular type found in rural regions, especially in the South. The hunting variant is known as Mastin Rehalero, but this is considered to be just a working crossdog by some Spanish Mastiff fanciers. With the ever-increasing popularity of the Show type, there is a possibility of eventual separate breed recognition for the Mastin Ligero variety.
A massive breed, the Spanish Mastiff is not suited for living in an apartment, although it's not uncommon to see it in urban environments. This is an intelligent breed, devoted and affectionate with its owners and their children. The head is large and broad, with a strong muzzle, loose lips and noticeable dewlaps on the neck. The body is muscular and well-boned, with a wide chest and sturdy legs.
Although not very long, the coat is very thick and dense, needing reasonable care. The Mastin Espanol comes in all colours, solids and multicolours. The average height is around 32 inches, but taller dogs exist.