Mastiffs are direct descendants of the ancient Molosser dogs that have been known for 5.000 years. The modern version of the Mastiff breed is over 500 years old and has been known from the time the Romans invaded Britain. These dogs are extremely massive, they might not be the tallest, but they certainly are the heaviest. The biggest ever Mastiff recorded in history was a staggering 323 lbs (146,5 kg).
This breed is also known by the name English Mastiff or Old English Mastiff. They might look scary and people who are not familiar with the breed might feel threatened, but the truth is these dogs have a calm and sweet temperament. Like any other puppy, Mastiffs too are playful and active. Most of them grow up to be calm and peaceful dogs that love nothing more than to be around their family. They were used as war dogs and in arenas to fight against lions and gladiators so it is no wonder that modern-day Mastiffs have a protective nature. They will not back down from anything and will try and protect their family no matter the cost.
These dogs do have a strong protective instinct and that is what they have mostly been used for. They were the breed of choice of the English gamekeepers that wanted a strong dog that will help them patrol grounds and keep estates safe and intruder free.
27,5-32 in (70-81 cm)
130-220 lb (59-100 kg)
Mastiff dogs are descendants of Molosser dogs and they were used for guarding purposes against different predators. Mastiff-type dogs appeared in many different civilizations including Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek. These dogs from the beginning served as guard and war dogs and they were prized for their size and courage.
This breed was nearly disappeared after 1835 when bloody sports were outlawed. The rise of the dog show saved these dogs. Mastiff dogs came to the US during colonial times but the first club was formed in 1879.
Today these dogs are mostly used as companions and family dogs.
Dog Breed Characteristics
These dogs are recognized and registered by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) and this massive cynology union has a standard for this breed that they have adapted and molded by the original Mastiff standard. The FCI standard places these dogs in Group 2 (Pinscher and Schnauzer – Molossoid breeds - Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs), Section 2.1 (Molossoid breeds, Mastiff Type). They are described as having a broad body with a deep, long, and a powerful build. These dogs should be longer than they are tall. The latest version of this standard does not specify any height or weight requirements. The Mastiff isn’t required to undergo a working trial.
These dogs have been registered by the FCI on the 5th of November 1964.
The counterpart of the FCI in the United States of America is the American Kennel Club (AKC). The AKC is the governing cynology association and is in charge of all officially bred pureblooded dogs in the US. They too have a standard for the mighty Mastiff and their standard describes these dogs as being large and symmetrical. This standard says that male dogs should have a minimum of 30 in (76,2 cm) at the withers and the minimum for the females is 27,5 in (70 cm).
This breed was one of the first dog breeds registered by the AKC in 1885.
Mastiff has a short outer coat and a dense undercoat. These dogs shed year-round but during shedding season – twice a year these dogs will shed massively. At that period daily brushing is required to keep the amount of hair around the house under control. For the rest of the year, weekly brushing will be enough to keep this dog looking good.
Mastiff coat colors:
They will also need other basic care; brush their teeth at least three times a week. Check their ears for signs of infection and redness, bathe them when needed, and trim their nails if they don’t wear them down naturally.
Mastiffs are not highly active dogs and they need only regular walks to be in shape and to be happy. Every puppy will be energetic and will want to play all the time but you must be careful not to over-exercise your puppy because their bones and joints are still developing and you could easily hurt them if you let them play for too long.
These are good family dogs but they will still need proper training to end up with a well-behaved dog. They are eager to please which makes training them a bit easier. They don’t like repetitive training methods so you will have to be creative. While training never use harsh training methods because you will not get anything done. Always use positive reinforcements full of praises and treats if you want to get the best possible results.
Like any other dog breed, the Mastiffs require early socialization. It is essential to ensure that your dog doesn’t become shy or aggressive. Expose your dog to many different people, dogs, sights, and situations to secure a well-rounded dog.
Mastiff and kids
They are great with children and are extremely calm and careful around them. The only potential problem is that younger, playful Mastiffs aren’t aware of their size and can accidentally knock children over.
Children should never be left alone with any dog, no matter what breed it might be. You should make sure that your children understand how to approach dogs of this breed and understand how to interact and play with them properly.
Mastiff and other animals
These dogs can get along well with other dogs and can enjoy their company. Generally, the Mastiff is a great pet to have if you already have other pets at home. They are extremely friendly and love having company, so your Mastiff won’t mind other pets.
However, every dog, no matter what breed they are, should be socialized and properly introduced to other pets. Take your time and even if your dog doesn’t react well on your first try doesn’t mean they won’t get along. Some dogs require time but Mastiffs are generally very affectionate and gentle towards other pets, especially if they were raised together.
Like any other dog breed, the Mastiff can potentially develop health problems. If you are buying a dog, make sure the breeder can provide you with the necessary health tests and guarantees. Always ask to see the results of tests from the puppy’s parents. The health problems these dogs are associated with are:
- Epilepsy - Brain problem causing mild to severe seizures.
- Hip dysplasia - Genetic problem affecting hips resulting from an improperly formed hip joint.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy - Group of diseases that affect the retina and cause it to deteriorate over time.
- Canine cancer - Just like humans, dogs can get cancer as well. Treatments include chemotherapy, medication, and surgery.
- Gastric Torsion - Also known as bloat. A dangerous condition that causes the stomach to twist (torsion).
- Obesity - The Mastiff is prone to gaining weight if they are not properly exercised.
- Allergies - these dogs are prone to have allergic reactions to specific foods, products, or medications.
The Mastiff is generally considered a very healthy breed that can live 6-10 years
Before you start looking for Mastiff breeders, make sure you are capable of taking care of such a massive breed. Dogs of such size require a lot of space and Mastiffs prefer being around their family. Make sure you have enough time and resources to take care of this dog. If you decide to buy one, make sure that you buy a dog from a registered and reputable breeder that takes care of their dog’s physical and mental health.
These dogs became very popular, and many unethical and bad breeders started to breed these dogs to earn money without worrying about puppy health, temperament, and well-being.
Buying a dog from a responsible breeder will cost you more money, but you can be sure that you will get a healthy puppy. If you are unable to buy a dog, we advise you to search for local animal shelters because there is a chance you can find a Mastiff dog in it.
When you bring your new puppy home start with the training and socialization immediately. By doing so, you will end up with a well-behaved dog whom you can trust.
If you are unsure whether this is the breed for you, check out this FREE GUIDE that will help you decide which dog breed is right for you.
World Dog Finder team