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Alano Español

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alano Español
Other names
  • Spanish Alaunt
  • Spanish Bulldog[1]: 92 [2]: 62 
  • Spanish Alano
Height Males
58–63 cm (23–25 in)
55–60 cm (22–24 in)
Weight Males
30–40 kg (66–88 lb)
25–35 kg (55–77 lb)
Coat short and thick
  • any shade of brindle, including grey or blue
  • any shade of fawn, from sand-coloured to red
  • black-and-brindle
Kennel club standards
Real Sociedad Canina de España standard
Notesrecognised in Spanish legislation[3]: 13430 
Dog (domestic dog)

The Alano Español or Spanish Bulldog is a Spanish breed of medium to large sized dog of alaunt-bulldog type. It has at various times been used as a war dog, for bullfighting, for the management of cattle, for hunting and as a guard dog.[4]: 498 [5]

In the later twentieth century it became an endangered breed; a recovery project was launched, and numbers have since recovered. It was officially recognised under national law in 2004.



The origins of the Alano Español are unknown. One hypothesis is that it derives from dogs brought to Spain in the Migration Period in the fifth century by the Alani, a nomadic pastoralist people from Central Europe.[4]: 498 

The first written reference to the breed in Spain is in a chapter of the fourteenth-century Libro de la Montería de Alfonso XI ("Book of the Hunt of Alfonso XI"), in which hunting dogs called Alani are described as having beautiful colours.[6] Dogs of this type travelled with Spanish explorers and were used as war dogs in the subjugation of Native American peoples, as well as in the re-capture of slaves.[7]: 23  Becerrillo, a ferocious war-dog owned by Juan Ponce de León, may have been of this type.[8][9]: 18 [10]: 77 

Dogs in the bull-ring, etching from La Tauromaquia, Francisco Goya, 1816

Dogs of this type are shown in the bullfighting ring in an etching by Francisco de Goya in his series La Tauromaquia of 1816.[11]

From the late nineteenth century the Alano began to decline, for a variety of reasons: in 1880, the use of dogs in the bull-ring was prohibited,[12] and the new practice of bullfighting on foot became more widespread; the manner of hunting changed, and more use was made of imported hunting dogs of foreign breeds;[4]: 499  extensive management of livestock became less common in parts of the country; and the handling of livestock in slaughterhouses was modernised and no longer made use of dogs.[12] The Alano was no longer needed for its traditional tasks, and numbers fell rapidly,[12] almost to the point of the disappearance or extinction of the breed.[4]: 499 

A surviving breeding population was identified in the mountains of Enkarterri/Las Encartaciones in the Basque Country in the 1980s.[5] A breed standard was drawn up and a stud-book was started.[13] In collaboration with the Real Sociedad Canina de España and municipal administrations including those of Alanís de la Sierra, Archidona, Cazalla and El Ronquillo, a recovery project was launched.[13] There are two breed societies, the Asociación Nacional de Criadores de Alano Español (formed in 1995), and the Sociedad Española de Fomento y Cría del Alano Español.[4]: 500 [13]

The Alano Español was officially recognised by the Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación, the Spanish ministry of agriculture, in 2004; together with the Pastor Garafiano, the Ratonero Valenciano, the Ratonero Mallorquín and the Ca Mè Mallorquí, it was added to the list of indigenous Spanish breeds.[3] It is not recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale.

It has been suggested that the Cimarrón Uruguayo of Uruguay derives principally from the Alano Español.[14]: 25 


With cropped ears

The Alano Español is a large dog of alaunt or bulldog type. Bitches stand some 55–60 cm at the withers, and weigh about 25–30 kg; dogs are on average about 3 cm taller and 5 kg heavier.[5]

The coat is short and thick but never velvety, and is most often a brindle; this may be of any colour, including grey or blue, with or without black. Other colours are fawn in any shade from sand-coloured to red, with or without black; and black-and-brindle – a black-and-tan in which the tan areas are brindled. The face may or may not have a black mask; the nose is pigmented black.[3]: 13430 [4]: 500 [5] White markings to the neck, chest or paws are acceptable, but excessive white is discouraged.[5]

The head is large, strong, squarish and brachycephalic.[5] The muzzle is short, ideally approximately 37% of the length of the head, with the lower jaw slightly concave; mild prognathism is tolerated.[15]: 121 [5] The ears are set high and are pendent if not cropped. The skin is very thick, with neck folds and some wrinkles on the face.[5]

Since the breed was used for hunting in packs, it is sociable with other dogs.[12]



The Alano was used from Mediaeval times as a war dog. It has since been used for hunting of boar and deer, as a guard dog, and in the management of cattle, both at pasture and at slaughterhouses.[4]: 499  Until about the end of the nineteenth century it was used in the bull-ring; this use declined with the development of bullfighting on foot.[4]: 499 


  1. ^ The Bully Breeds by David Harris
  2. ^ John Beusterien (2016). Canines in Cervantes and Velázquez: An Animal Studies Reading of Early Modern Spain. London: Routledge. ISBN 9781317169963.
  3. ^ a b c Arias Cañete (2004). 5652. Orden APA/807/2004, de 24 de marzo, por la que se actualiza el anexo del Real Decreto 558/2001, de 25 de mayo, por el que se regula el reconocimiento oficial de las organizaciones o asociaciones de criadores de perros de raza pura (in Spanish). Boletín Oficial del Estado 77: 13430–13435.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Miguel Fernández Rodríguez, Mariano Gómez Fernández, Juan Vicente Delgado Bermejo, Silvia Adán Belmonte, Miguel Jiménez Cabras (eds.) (2009). Guía de campo de las razas autóctonas españolas (in Spanish). Madrid: Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Medio Rural y Marino. ISBN 9788449109461.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Spanish Alano: RSCE Standard No. 406 (Not Accepted FCI). Real Sociedad Canina de España. Archived 10 August 2019.
  6. ^ Alano Español in El Mundo del Perro Magazine, retrieved 23 February 2009
  7. ^ Mark Derr (2004). A Dog's History of America. New York: North Point Press. ISBN 9780865476318.
  8. ^ Selección de Leyendas puertorriqueñas - Becerrillo (in Spanish). University of Florida Digital Library.
  9. ^ Bryan Cummins (2003). Colonel Richardson's Airedales: the making of the British War Dog School, 1900-1918. Calgary: Detselig. ISBN 9781550592481.
  10. ^ Stanley Coren (2002). The Pawprints of History: Dogs in the Course of Human Events. New York; London; Toronto; Sydney: Free Press. ISBN 9780743227704.
  11. ^ [s.n.] (18 December 2001). Prints in the Goya Exhibit. SMU Meadows School of the Arts. Archived 6 March 2002.
  12. ^ a b c d "Alano Español". El Mundo del Perro. 22 October 2014.
  13. ^ a b c Nosotros (in Spanish}. Asociación Nacional de Criadores de Alano Español. Archived 25 April 2018.
  14. ^ Gabriel E. Fernández de Sierra, Beatriz E. Mernies Falcone (2013). Caracterización racial del perro cimarrón (in Spanish). In: Silvia Llambí Dellacasa, Rosa Gagliardi Berenguer (editors) (2013). Conociendo al perro cimarrón uruguayo. Montevideo: Comisión Sectorial de Investigación Científica, Universidad de la República Uruguay. ISBN 9789974009967, pages 21–30.
  15. ^ Manuel Jarén Nebot (2001). Alano Español (in Spanish). Torredonjimeno: Editorial Jabalcuz. ISBN 849523324X.