Until you come nose to nose with one of these canines, it is difficult to imagine their size. The Spanish Mastiff (mastín español) is GINORMOUS. These fellas have been defending cattle and sheep against wolves and other varmints on the Iberian peninsula for a long time.
The Spanish Mastiff is one of the oldest members of the Molosser family, a heavyweight class of dog.* It is possible that they were brought to the region by Phoenician or Greek traders. They were well established by the time of Christ.
Much later, the mastiff accompanied Spanish explorers to the New World as war dogs. They terrified the native Americans. And for good reason.
Some of the big boys go over 200 pounds and stand 36 inches tall at the shoulder. They are smart, powerful and loyal.
They are also loud. When they bark you should put your fingers in your ears (notice the young man on the left in the photograph above).
I met this amiable fellow while lunching at a café/bar in Alto do Poio. I'm glad he didn't take interest in my sandwich. I'm not sure I could have said no.
*The term Molosser hails from the rugged mountains between modern Greece and Albania. It is derived from Molossus, an eponymous ancestor of an ancient tribal group located there. Molossus was the grandchild of Achilles, a famous character from the Trojan War.
Want to start 2019 in a unique way? Join us for a walk across Galilee! Hike the Jesus Trail and do some additional sightseeing in Israel-Palestine. This trip is facilitated by the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies and is priced at $2,588 from New York. Dates are Jan 8-16, 2019. For more details click here or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.