With the origin of the sheep-farming system, the mastiff became indispensable and for sure they appeared in such a context. Most probably some external influences, together with the basic structure of the native dogs, gave origin to, through centuries of selection and qualification and also as the result of an ecological quadrilateral present in many countries of the world of man-herd-dog-wolf, a pure specimen with a lovely facial kindness, a dog hundred percent useful: the Spanish Mastiff.
Perhaps, on a journey similar to the one set out by culture and catch dogs that, through the Mediterranean, were taken by merchants from Fenicia to Cadice, the horde of bellicose shepherds and transhumants, the people of leather and wool, the Indo-European, led the big Molossian sheepdogs to the valleys and to areas suitable for pasture. To look for the origin of the Spanish Mastiff outside the Spanish borders is pointless as it is the legitimate son of transhumance and of the environmental and social conditions of the Iberian Peninsula.
"The Spanish Mastiff" is a compendium of our history, of our idiosyncrasy, of our phobia and passion, a totemic animal, enhanced, vituperated, standard of glory and flag of decay...an entire world" writes Eduardo De Benito Ruiz.
The magnetism of this breed, its greatness and its slavery originate mainly from its myth character. The myth originates from the need of establishing a harmony between the two rules: present and past.
What becomes a bridge between these two opposites is a thick plot, rich in history, legends and emotion of pastoral life.
The mastiff will be an indispensable tool for the shepherd, and the natural and spontaneous guardian of the herd.
We could try to define the Spanish Mastiff by analysing its functional efficacy amply shown during the centuries, its fundamental role (to protect the flock from predators), its big structure and its area of action as "the big Iberian Molossian sheepdog".
In its evolution, it represents the transformation from "primitive nomadic sheepdog" to "big Iberian transhumant sheepdog", with such beauty like the old Epirote breed that Aristotele used to describe as big and strong sheepdog.
Some wise comments of Carlos Guinea have shown the mistake of using the Spanish word "Alimanera" meaning "hunting guard employed to kill wild animals". This idea of the Spanish Mastiff as a hunter of wild animals developed especially starting from the eighties. To occur in this mistake means to ignore the breed and its ecology. The Spanish mastiff is neither a hunt dog nor is used to kill wild animals. Julius Klein affirms that it is used to defend the sheep from wolves and thieves wandering around the flock and does not mention the killing of wild animals.