Top 11 Dog Breeds from Spain Some You May Know, Some You May Not!

We can thank Spain for their influence in our culture when it comes to food and music, but did you know some dog breeds also call Spain their “birthplace?” Although you may not recognize all of them you are sure to fall in love with their wonderful qualities.

Read on for the top 11 dog breeds from Spain.

1. Spanish Mastiff

puppy spanish mastiff

The Spanish Mastiff dates its lineage back 2,000 years and is native to the Estremadura region of Spain. It was brought to this area by the Phoenicians and Greeks.

The Spanish Mastiff was primarily used to herd and protect sheep - it’s snowy white coat made it the perfect guardian to blend in with these animals - and one dog could protect 100 sheep!


The sheer size of the Spanish Mastiff gave it the ability to also protect people and it was trained to attack when given a command to do so.

Today in Spain the Spanish Mastiff numbers around 24,000 and has also become their national dog breed.

  • Weight: Up to 220 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: 28 to 35 inches
  • Temperament: kind, loyal, and protective
  • Lifespan: 10 to 11 years

Fun Fact: This dog has a deep bark that can be heard for long distances.

2. Ibizan Hound

ibizan hound

This long, lean “Sighthound” originates from Ibiza (Balearic Islands), Spain and was developed from the “pariah dogs." These canines were brought from Ancient Egypt a few thousand years ago by the Phoenician traders. This breed has changed very little over the years due to the seclusion of its native island.

The breed is an agile hunting dog that was and still is used to hunt small game in its native region. The Ibizan Hound is very intelligent, yet still playful.

  • Weight: Up to 55 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: Up to 29 inches
  • Temperament: Quiet, patient, cunning, strong prey-drive, and agile
  • Lifespan: 11 to 14 years

Fun Fact: The Ibizan makes an excellent watchdog and can jump incredibly high, so a tall fence is a must-have.

3. Pyrenean Shepherd

a long haired pyrenean shepherd dog

The Pyrenean Shepherd (Pyr Sheps) is one of the oldest herding dogs around. They have been helping farmers with their livestock in the Pyrenees Mountains of both Spain and France for centuries.

The medium-sized pooch comes in two styles; Smooth-Faced and Rough-Faced. However, both types are lean but muscular and possess the ability for great speed. The Pyrenean Shepherd is an affectionate canine that loves children and family. But it will need a job to do whether its herding or participating in agility, flyball, or obedience work.

  • Weight: 15 to 30 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: 15 to 21 inches
  • Temperament: Intelligent, alert, active, lively, and always up for a challenge.
  • Lifespan: 15 to 17 years

Fun Fact: The Pyr Sheps' natural distrust of strangers makes him an excellent watchdog.

4. Catalonian Sheepdog

catalonian sheepdog

You may know this breed by its other names Gos d’Atura Catala. Perros de Pastor Catalan, and the Catalan Sheepdogs. It hails from Catalonia, Spain, where it was most likely bred from an ancient Pyrenees dog in the Pyrenean Valley. Here they served as a messenger and guard dog in several wars including the Spanish Civil War.


Today, this working dog is still used in search-and-rescue and as police dogs in Spain.

  • Weight: Up to 55 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: Up to 22 inches
  • Temperament: Trainable, intelligent, agile, and protective
  • Lifespan: 12 to 14 years

Fun Fact: The Catalonian Sheepdog is still a rare breed despite the efforts of dedicated Catalan Sheepdog-lovers who started a group in the 1970s.

5. The Galgo


This dog breed can trace its roots back as far as 8 A.D. to Ancient Asia, Egypt, and Celtic Europeans. The Galgo has been documented in Spain back to the 10th century for its hunting and hare coursing abilities. Due to its stamina and tenacity, this breed is still used today in Spain for hunting. Unfortunately, the Galgo is also being misused and tends to be discarded after it has outlived its usefulness - the lucky ones end up in rescues and are then placed in loving homes.

Even though it may look similar to the Greyhound, the Galgo is thinner and more streamlined, and not quite so deep-chested. The breed is very calm and gentle, and make wonderful pets.

  • Weight: 50 to 65 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: 24 to 27.5 inches
  • Temperament: Affectionate, gentle, shy with strangers, great with children
  • Lifespan: 10 to 13 years

Fun Fact: The Galgo was so popular it was even mentioned in the 7th-century novel 'Don Quijote de La Mancha'.

6. Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz

ratonero bodeguero andaluz

This Spanish dog is similar to the Jack Russell Terrier in both temperament and appearance. The breed developed in the South of Spain when English visitors brought with them Fox Terriers, which later crossed with the region's ratting canines.

The Spanish Jack Russell is a focused hunter and was used for catching vineyard vermin that liked to lurk between the wine barrels, in the horse stables, and Andalusian cave homes. But when "off duty" it is playful, comical, and friendly with an upbeat temperament.

  • Weight: 12 to 22 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: 14 to 17 inches
  • Temperament: Intelligent, affectionate, dedicated, good watchdog
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years

Fun Fact: This breed is always tri-color. The body is a white smooth coat with a black and tan head.

7. Bichon Frise

bichon frize on nature background

This snow-white canine is a descendant of the Water Spaniel and can trace its lineage back to the Mediterranean area in the Middle Ages. They make great companion dogs and were very popular with European nobility.

Today this happy-go-lucky breed is great with children and loves to be cuddled. The powder-puff coat is low-shedding and easy to maintain with a silky curly topcoat and a soft undercoat.

  • Weight: 7 to 12 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: 9 to 11 inches
  • Temperament: Social, playful, gentle, and affectionate.
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years

Fun Fact: Despite the Bichon's Spanish roots, it was the French that developed the breed into what it is today.

8. Perro de Presa Canario

perro de presa canario

This large muscular dog hails from the Canary Islands (the most southerly area of Spain). It is thought to have descended from Mastiff-type dogs as far back as the 15th and 16th centuries and brought to the Canary Islands by Spanish conquistadors (conquerors). The Perro de Presa Canario was used to guard farms, help wrangle cattle, and to drive off or even kill stray dogs.

This breed is not for the novice pet parent, as its strong-willed personality and muscular, powerful stature can make it a difficult dog to handle. It is also suspicious of strangers and will guard your home and family with a firm and vigilant stance.

  • Weight: 84 to 110 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: 22 to 26 inches
  • Temperament: Strong-willed, confident, calm, and devoted
  • Lifespan: 9 to 11 years

Fun Fact: This canine is also known as "The Canary Dog of Prey."

9. The Great Pyrenees

the great pyrenees

This large fluffy canine originated in the Pyrenees Mountains (a natural border between France and Spain). The dog’s ancestors were thought to have been brought to the region around 3,000 B.C. Although, the Pyrenees was initially used as a herding dog by peasants, it’s amazing qualities could not be kept a secret. In 1675, the Great Pyrenees was declared the Royal Dog of France by Dauphin in the court of King Louis XIV. After this happened, the French nobility acquired the breed and used them as estate guards.

  • Weight: Up to 160 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: 27 to 32 inches
  • Temperament: Affectionate, devoted, great guard dog, stubborn, independent thinker.
  • Lifespan: 10 to 12 years

Fun Fact: Fossils of the Great Pyrenees have been found dating back from 1,800 to 1,000 B.C.

10. The Spanish Water Dog

spanish water dog

This curly-coated-cutie is from the Iberian Peninsula and has been there for a very long time, so long, in fact, that historians are not really sure how it landed there in the first place. One theory suggests it was West African Moors who introduced the pooch to Spain, while others believe it may have had more to do with the Turkish Traders. Either way, the Spanish Water Dog was used for both a herding dog and a waterfowl retriever.

Today this lovable pet makes a great companion for active, outdoorsy families, who want to spend a lot of time with a rambunctious pooch.

  • Weight: Up to 49 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: Up to 19.75 inches
  • Temperament: Active, upbeat, work-orientated, and active.
  • Lifespan: 12 to 14 years

Fun Fact: Despite its name, the Spanish Water Dog is in the "herding" category of the AKC, not the "sporting" category as other water dogs.

11. Podenco Maneto

podenco maneto

This short-legged breed originated in Andalusia in southern Spain (mostly the regions around Cadiz and Malaga). They were used for an alert dog in hunting, as their short legs made them the perfect choice to run through dense bush and narrow canyons where the larger dogs couldn't fit. Even though the Maneto is not a fast pooch, the breed barks when it has detected prey, to alert the other dogs to give chase.

In the home, the Maneto is a great family pet that loves to curl at your feet and snooze the night away.

  • Weight: 18 to 25 pounds
  • Height at Shoulder: 14 inches
  • Temperament: Loyal, affectionate, intelligent, and strong-willed.
  • Lifespan: 15 to 17 years

Fun Fact: The Maneto is depicted in 19th-century paintings in Spain.

Spain's Top Dog Breeds

If you are looking for a dog that hails from the region of Spain, then one of these dogs may be the right pet for you. As with any animal, before you bring it home, do your research to ensure you are ready for all the breed entails.

Further reading and resources:

  1. Border Collie Museum
  2. Wikipedia. Dog breeds originating in Spain
  3. Spain hunting dogs


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