Juan Pedro Domecq Solis's fighting bulls helped define the evolution of the bullfight in the late 20th century, adding artistry and then muscle to the ancient breed.
Domecq, who died in a car crash on Monday, was one of Spain's foremost breeders. He first developed what became known as the "artist bull," bred to enhance sleek yet muscular lines, and later the "athlete bull," aimed at giving a more thrilling performance while facing matadors in the bullring.
Known within bullfighting circles simply as Juan Pedro, Domecq had inherited Spain's oldest breeding estate _ Veragua, founded in the 18th century _ which his grandfather Juan Pedro Domecq y Nunez de Villavicencio had bought in 1939.
Initially his bulls were criticized for visibly changing an ancient blood sport, but later many other breeders turned to him to buy prize breeding studs and cows.
He had helped develop bulls with broader shoulders and slender waist that came to define the beasts seen on many bullrings.
"He was the creator of the modern fighting bull," said fellow breeder Victoriano del Rio. "Within bullfighting history he will always retain a foremost position as all of today's breeding farms contain 30-40 percent of his bloodlines. His death is a tragedy to us."
Domecq, who was a qualified agronomical engineer and descended from a famous sherry producing family, had in recent years also launched a company selling some of Spain's finest "jamon" or salt-cured ham.
His company said that Domecq died Monday in Higuera de la Sierra when his vehicle crashed head-on with a truck very close to his Lo Alvaro estate in southwest Spain. He was 69.
His company website still bears a quote from Domecq. "We are a family that began making sherry in the 18th century," Domecq says. "But we always had a second passion, the breeding and selection of livestock."