The Alano Español is categorized under the UKC (United Kennel Club) category of Mastiff dogs. This breed is also known as the Spanish Alano, Spanish Bulldog, and simply the Alano. The Alano is an ancient breed, and its history along with its lineage is still debated between many communities.
Alano Españols have a general height range of 22 to 25 inches (55 – 63 centimeters), and an average weight range of 75 to 89 pounds (35 – 40 kilograms), with height and weight being in relative harmony. They have an average lifespan of 11 – 13 years.
Some believe that the Alano is genetically related to the French Mastiff and they both share genetic relations to the ancient Molossers that originated in Central Europe. Some also believe that the Alano is a direct descendent of the now extinct Alant/Alaunt that existed in Central Asia and Europe through to the 17th Century. The Alano is an ancestor to breeds such as the Great Dane and the Dogue de Bordeaux.
This breed served a few purposes – cattle (wild/half-wild) handling, bullfights, hunting (usually big game), guarding and defending, and war. They are never seen in dog shows, as they were not bred for aesthetics. Nowadays, Alanos are used only for cattle handling and hunting.
Part of the Molosser family, the Alano is large and muscular. It has stronger front legs compared to its hind legs, but the muscles in its hindquarters are still well developed. It is a thick-boned breed, and it has an arched rib cage rather than a cylindrical one. Its tail is tapered and it serves as a rudder for the Alano during sharp movements. It has a bulldog-shaped skull, with a square head and a wide muzzle. If its ears are cropped, the shape resembles that of an equilateral triangle. If not, they are of triangular shape and will fold in over the face. Alanos are known for the incredible power of their jaws – they have wide, well-separated teeth with (generally) a scissors or an inverted scissors bite.
The hairs of the Alano’s coat are short and stiff, with softer hair on the head and longer hair on the tail. Their coats come in a range of colors, from black, gray, red, brindle, and different shades of fawn.
Due to its dominant nature, Alanos are not recommended for first-time or passive dog owners. If owned by such an individual, an Alano may develop aggressive behavior in its goal to establish itself as the leader of the household. Under an owner that possesses an alpha personality, however, Alanos will act obediently and submissively. The Alano is affectionate and loyal to its owner and family – known to be very good with children –, but will be suspicious of strangers.
Alanos are fearless, and if commanded to attack, they will usually hold onto their target/prey with their jaws and will not release the individual, regardless of its size or aggressiveness unless told to do so or until it has completed its job. Bred to function in teams, the Alano is friendly with other breeds, but if challenged, it will not back down. Although a good guard dog in terms of strength and obedience, the Alano rarely barks and as such, will provide little warning when intruders are present. The Alano proves to be a difficult breed to housebreak; an apartment life will not be suited for this breed as they can chew and destroy their way through the house. They are best suited to living in a yard and sleeping outside – they are able to withstand both hot and cold temperatures. The yard would provide them with adequate exercise if the Alano is not used as a working dog.
General Care & Health
The coats of Alanos do not require extensive grooming as their hairs are quite short, although regular brushing will help reduce shedding as well as to help spread the oils on their coats. Bathing should be done minimally as excessive bathing will strip their coats of the oils. Their ears should be checked weekly and cleaned with a cotton ball and a cleanser obtained through a vet. Cotton swabs should not be stuck into the ear as it may lead to damage in the ear canal. Teeth should be brushed two to three times a week at the very least, and nails should be trimmed once or twice a month. Check for signs of infection whenever the Alano is groomed, keeping an eye out for redness and inflammation of the skin, eyes, nose and mouth.
The recommended daily amount of food an Alano should be getting is 2 to 2½ cups of dry food, divided into two meals throughout the day. Despite the presence of a guideline, the amounts can be altered if the dog is highly active or otherwise.
The Alano is a breed used to working in harsh conditions, and as such, is a very healthy and disease-resistant breed. There are no known congenital diseases in this breed, but at the Alano is a large breed, its parents should be checked for symptoms of hip dysplasia prior to purchasing or adopting one.
Although domineering and intimidating, the Alano is relatively easy to control as long as its owner possesses the right qualities to own one. They are gentle and protective with their families, and are very patient with kids, which make them great choices for families with young ones. A devoted worker, the Alano will do its very best to adhere to its master’s orders. Easy to care for, all the Alano requires is a space to run around in.
Photo by Ewa Ziemska – CC BY-SA 3.0