1) When was the affix recognised (a little bit of history), why the choice of such a name, how is it structured, how many subjects have you got at present?
First of all I have to say that since I was child I have always been very fond of dogs like Molossian type; also our business of dog breeders started, after going through various phases, about 25 years ago, with the selection of the San Bernard dog. After a break of a few years the passion, never cooled, turned in a "overpowering" way to this extraordinary race, the Spanish Mastiff.
At the beginning I was surprised, impressed and fascinated by this Molossian. Surprised because I did not think that there was a mastiff with such harmonies between size, balance and power; impressed of course by the large size. The first image that came to my mind the first time I saw a Spanish Mastiff, was the representation engraved on a Assyrian seal of sandstone, where there is engraved the figure of a worrier accompanied by an enormous dog, which is the exact copy of the Spanish Mastiff; fascinated by its noble expression, that is also severe and sweet at the same time.
I can say that these are the main reasons that have attracted me towards this noble Molossian. Between the minor reasons, but not less important, is the desire to introduce and give value to this breed of dog in Italy, which to my opinion has got extraordinary qualities and I do believe that if it was more popular it would be considered an incomparable breed in the Molossian kingdom. One more reason is my love for challenges that urges me to select and produce Spanish Mastiff of high quality, in size as well as character. This passion and love for dog which started more than fifty years ago, came true through the decision of a bigger commitment, in the research and selection of Molossian breed of dog. Then asking in 1986, together with the member of the staff, for the acknowledgement of the affix "del Dharmapuri" and continuing that journey not always easy, that only what I call "the dog-loving passion disease" allows you to travel. The name of the "del Dharmapuri" dog breeding originates from another of our passions: a deep interest in the Oriental culture.
In Sanskrit language dharma is what supports and nourishes life, is the moral and biological law of life; and puri means place or also city. Therefore, dharmapuri is that place where life is nourished, in this case of course it is the life of the dog. To make it brief a true dog breeding is where the life of the reared subjects is protected and treated in the best possible way, in order to produce healthy, beautiful and efficient subjects. This is also one of our ethical and moral duty. At today we have got more than 50 specimen of outstanding tipicality. The number will definitely still increase. Besides, it is not possible to gain an efficient selection only with four or five specimen.
2) How many champions come from your dog breeding and is there a particular specimen that most remained in the heart?
We have the pride of having produced specimen that have obtained excellent national and international acknowledgements. We have Spanish, Italian, French, International, European and World Champions. They are all dear to us. Concerning achievements Rubi is certainly an outstanding specimen, at present he is the most titled Spanish Mastiff, from a morphological point of view he is the ideal representation of the standard. Even though I have to say that some of his offspring are getting close to equal him.
3) What is at present the spread of the Spanish Mastiff breed in Italy?
In Italy this breed is becoming more popular only now. It has not been present in the show rings for many years and therefore it is not yet very well-known. As for us we are doing our best in order that this beautiful Spanish Mastiff will be appreciated for its right value as really it is an extraordinary breed.
4) Which characteristic cannot definitely the Spanish Mastiff lack to be called with this name?
The Spanish Mastiff is an imposing dog, with a beautiful and proud head, dewlap must be double and abundant like wrinkledness and the skin folds on the head and around the eyes. Unfortunately, sometimes there are light dogs with flat ribs and dry skin that want to be considered real Spanish Mastiff or labour dog. Well we must say once and for all that there are not two types of Spanish Mastiff, light and heavy, but that the real Spanish Mastiff is a big, powerful dog with plenty of loose skin. The light dog is always been an upset, the result of improper mating. However, it is enough to read the standard of the breed to understand that the Spanish Mastiff is a dog of outstanding impressiveness.
5) Did you gather information before buying or you simply followed your own instinct?
Of course, all the members of the staff and myself have carried out a long and scrupulous work of both, study and research on the Iberian territory. We are closely in touch with scholars and breeders of this Molossian in order to find the best procedures of breeding and we can say of being very satisfied for what we have gained till today.
6) In your selection, which method of reproduction do you use to have in type subjects?
For the selection, we of course promote in type subjects, avoiding light dogs, with articular problems and with evident possibilities of transmitting undesired recessive traits. Our aim is to obtain Spanish Mastiff of big size with harmony of movements and character. We are trying to obtain the ideal equation: size+power+movement+character. The Spanish Mastiff is a big size dog, most probably the heaviest, therefore all the efforts which are needed must be made in order to maintain its powerfulness without modifying its functionality.
7) What are the problems of this dog breed and how do you face them?
From my personal experience I honestly believe that the Spanish Mastiff has got less problems than many others Molossian dogs, for examples types of dysplasia, skin problem, callus, teeth or other, which are very evident in other Molossian dog breed. Of course with the Spanish Mastiff, being a dog of big size, it is important to place great attention on the skeletal development of the puppy, but this is a must towards any dog of giant breed. Maybe a problem, but it can also be an advantage depending on the point of view from which the evaluation is made, is that this breed is quite heterogeneous. To obtain homogeneous dogs concerning quality and type it will be necessary to limit the heterozygotic conditions. Our efforts are made to select, increase and optimise the tipicality of the giant type.
8) What is the ideal size for an excellent Spanih Mastiff?
As you know, the standard of the Spanish Mastiff establishes the minimum size but not the maximum one. As far as I am concerned I am a lover of the big dog. Of course the size has to go along with the functionality: a dog 75 cm to withers and 75 kg heavy is better than a dog of 100 kg but not functional. However, respecting the proportion, the size and the functionality, my personal ideal vision of the Spanish Mastiff is without limits, in practice I would say a minimum size of more than85 cm to withers and more than 90 kg of weight.
9) Is it possible to obtain big size subjects with excellent movement?
Certainly yes, we have the pride of owing specimens over 110 kg with perfect functionality and movement. The subjects must always be followed very carefully. during their muscular and skeleton development
10) How much importance do you give to head?
Primary importance as the head shows the tipicality, nobility and also the nature of the dog; at first impact what attract the observer are the expressive characteristics of the Molossian dog. The breed standard itself prescribes: a big head shaped as a truncated pyramid, expressive..
11) Which one are your present lines of blood?
We have in our dog breeding more than 10 lines of blood, certainly the most valuable result of a long research and selection of the characters (ideal phenotype) and hereditary factors (genotypical) present in the different lines.
12) What are the difficulties in breeding this type of dog-breed?
Being a type of country Molossian dog, strong and basically healthy, it is not a breed that requires big efforts in the breeding. We should rather talk of large scale difficulties, that is making some characteristics of the breed more homogenous (the wrinkledness and the looseness of the skin, the volume of the head, the size etc,). Therefore the selection of the breed does not follow regular methods.
13) Would you consider the Spanish Mastiff an active dog in its function of guard dog?
Or does it limit itself to a simple barking?
It is our opinion that the Spanish Mastiff is a perfect guard always alert and protective, but also extremely balanced, never aggressive when not need it, it is not the type of dog that saves surprises, as for being, or becoming, dangerous, it actually shows to the owner and every member of the family an infinite kindness.
14) Sometimes we see shy and timorous subjects, don't you believe that it is a mistake of the selection?
Of course, mistakes in a selection without paying attention to the temperament and the nature of the dog may determine shy and timorous subjects, but this is a problem that every dog breeder should consider. I have to say that often a bad or wrong socialisation of the puppy may seriously affect the forming of its character. Between the different cases of shyness that occur to us to observe only one had parents with the same problem and, something not negligible, it had been bred and brought up alone in the breeding centre. However, it is important not to mix up the natural suspiciousness towards foreign with shyness.
15) What type of people ask for a Spanish Mastiff?
Of course people keen on the Molossian dogs, who are fascinated by this huge dog, by the very sweet look, or people who is looking for a guard dog, but that is at the same time an excellent family dog. Hence people who desire a mastiff that does not save "surprises" as for being aggressive and not manageable, which are definitely not characteristics of the Spanish Mastiff.
16) How much space is it needed for a subject of this size?
It is a dog who loves so much its owner that it would stay anywhere, or it would reduce itself to the minimum size in order to stay beside him. Of course, a garden, space in accordance with it, would be the ideal condition. But what is really important is the healthy habit , for the dog and its owner, of going regularly for a walk.
17) Is it advised to put a Spanish Mastiff inside a garage to live?
No, if it does not have any other space at its disposal. Any type of dog, not only the Spanish Mastiff, if kept in enclosed or limited spaces will alter its psychic condition and it may get depressed, disheartened and sad, or even worse it may develop aggressiveness. A dog, if we want and we can afford it, must be part of a family that loves it and takes care of it in the most suitable way. A dog rely completely on the person who takes care of it and it always gives much more than what receives, it enriches our emotional life and we can learn a lot from it about the meaning of "the offer of ourselves".
18) How does it behave with the other dogs like it?
He can live very well together with other animals: dogs, cats, etc.. it is very patient, and immediately establishes the hierarchic relationship. Of course, this happens more easily if accustomed to it when it is a puppy. However, it lives well in group, respects the others and knows how to make the other dogs to respect itself. I would like to say again that it is never aggressive uselessly.
19) How does it behave with children?
It is extremely patient and sweet. We consider the Spanish Mastiff a perfect mate for our children. Size permitting, it would also be an excellent pet-therapy dog.
20) Honestly, from one to three, what is the level of tolerance towards a spiteful kid?
(except those of the family it lives with).
It depends on the type of "spite" that the dog suffers. Of course, as I have already mentioned the Spanish Mastiff is a dog very sweet with everybody and especially with the little one. If the dog does not know the spiteful child then tent to go away and escape from the "agony" of the naughty kid, of course after having tolerated till the limit. It is difficult to classify the tolerance; it would rather be appropriate to "educate" children to relate themselves properly with the dog and not to use it as a toy to which they can do anything. After all even the Spanish Mastiffs have got their own dignity.
21) At what month do you give the puppy?
We usually give the puppy not before two months after the weaning, vaccinations and after having subjected the dog to the early type of socialisation with "humans". We prefer not to send them away too early from the mother and selfishly also from us. If we thought only with the heart we would not give away any of them, we would keep all of them. Of course this is not the mentality of the dog breeder, well at least in this we are not like that.
22) Are you in favour of mail order selling?
No, unless it is really necessary we prefer to avoid selling puppies by mail orders. We prefer to talk and meet the person interested in buying the dog in order to value the type of person, his/her passion and the ability to take care of the puppy. If the person does not meet our conditions and the impression we get is not good, then of course we don't give the dog. We breed dogs for passion and not for money, also because considering our methods of breeding that would not be possible
23) Do you let the new owner choose the puppy or you already make a pre-selection?
Let's say that not considering the possible puppy that we may decide to keep for ourselves, we do prefer that the new owner choose the puppy. This is also for that important sympathetic attraction that generates at the moment of the choice. It is a new creature that is going to be one of the family and therefore it is very important that both "choose each other", I am saying "choose each other" because often it is the puppy itself to attract the attention for its liking or for its initiative or for the provoked affection.
24) Are you very selective when choosing the future owners of your puppies?
Very much! As I have already answered before, it is really very important for us to know where and with who our puppy is going to live. Therefore it is very important to consider, as much as possible, the reasons, the interest, the ability to rise the puppy and the love for animals of the new owner. For us a dog is not simply a dog, but a living being which deserves the greatest respect and that is under our responsibility. A wrong decision will determine its future life.
25) What is your ideal type of Mastiff and how do you think of obtain it?
As mentioned before, according to our taste the ideal Spanish Mastiff should be of maximum size, of course with excellent relations between size-movement-character. Our efforts are directed towards the completion of this aim. Of course it is not always easy and, as we say, not everything turns out as it should, but the present results encourage and stimulate us to get on. This requires a careful selection of the subjects more for the type and genotypic analysis of the subjects and their ancestors.
26) Are you co-operating with other dog breeders for the selection of the type?
Yes, with some other breeder from foreign countries. We are trying to do a good job, even though sometimes it is made fruitless by individualism. In Italy, as far as I know, there are not any other real Spanish Mastiff dog breeders apart from our. I use the word "real" because who affirms to make a selection of this breed with only 3 or 4 dogs does not know what is talking about.