Mastiff Information

Overview

Often referred to as the English Mastiff due to its origins in Britain, the Mastiff is among the largest dog breeds and is considered the single largest breed in terms of body mass. As an equal combination of grandeur and good nature with a docile temperament, it is no surprise that the Mastiff is ranked as the 26th most popular breed in the United States by the American Kennel Club. If you are considering opening your big doors to a Mastiff, read on to find a full breed description to determine whether this “gentle giant” is the ideal companion for your family.

Mastiff
Basic Info
NameMastiff
Other NameMastiff, Old English Mastiff
OriginEngland
Size Type Giant Dog Breeds
Breed Group Working Dog Breeds
Life Span10-12 years
TemperamentCourageous, Calm, Protective, Affectionate, Good-natured, Dignified
HeightFemale: 28–36 inches; Male: 28–36 inches
Weight120 to 230 pounds
ColorsApricot, Fawn, Brindle,
Puppy PriceAverage $1000 - $1500 USD

Mastiff

Physical description

Body Type

As a massive and muscular breed with tremendous amounts of strength, the Mastiff has a large and heavy square-shaped head adorned with a well-defined stop in the center between the eyes. With the muzzle being half the length of the skull, the teeth may meet in a scissors or slightly undershot bite without the teeth showing when the mouth is fully closed. While the nose is normally dark brown or black, the medium-sized eyes may be brown or hazel with the black mask around them setting the eyes wide apart. The dark-colored ears are normally small and V-shaped to be in proportion with the remainder of the head. The high-set tail has a wide base, but tapers to a blunt point at the tip. Male Mastiffs are typically around 30 inches at the shoulder height with a weight ranging from 150 to 250 pounds, but females are slightly smaller at 27 inches and weighing between 120 and 200 pounds.

Color

Always accompanied by a black mask, the coat color for the Mastiff can be light fawn, apricot, silver, brindle, tiger, golden fawn, or red. Some Mastiffs have a heavy amount of shading caused by dark hairs throughout the coat because brindle is the dominant over solid colors. Although not accepted by the breed standard, the dogs can also exhibit black, chocolate brown, and blue brindle colors.

Coat

Mastiffs possess a smooth and soft coat that is comprised of short, dense hairs that gives the dogs a gleaming appearance. Although classified as an average shedder, the breed can shed heavily during the seasonal changes and the hair can accumulate quickly with the sheer size of the Mastiff.

Characteristics
Good with Kids
 
Cat Friendly
 
Dog Friendly
 
Trainability
 
Shedding
 
Watchdog
 
Intelligence
 
Grooming
 
Popularity
 
Adaptability
 
Hypoallergenic  No

Grooming

Despite the fact that the short-haired coat requires minimal grooming requirements, brushing this super-sized breed can be a bit cumbersome due to its enormity. It is recommended that owners brush their Mastiff at least once a week with a stiff bristle brush or slicker brush, but it may be necessary to add extra brushings during the spring and fall as the coat sheds. While brushing will eliminate dirt or debris collected in the coat, the dogs should be bathed every couple of months, mostly likely in a child’s swimming pool. It is also suggested that owners trim their Mastiff’s nails every other week to avoid any discomfort or breaks. Since the nails are normally black, the trick is to trim them where they start to curve to prevent cutting too close. Furthermore, owners must clean the ears once a month with an approved cleanser and cotton ball to reduce the risk of infection.

History

Considered one of the most ancient dog breeds in existence today, the large Mastiffs were depicting in bas-reliefs in Assyria that date back to the sixth century BC during the reign of King Ashurbanipal. Believed to have been used by the Romans to fight lions, tigers, bears, and gladiators in the arenas for sport, the main progenitor for the Mastiff was most likely the Pugnaces, which were the original war-dogs of the Britons. As the calendar flipped from Roman to Medieval times, these dogs were continually utilized for their strength in the blood sports of dog fighting as well as baiting bears, bulls, and lions. Later on, they became popular among the peasants through England for use as a bodyguard, companion, and protector from wolves.

Described “as a lion is to a cat, so is a Mastiff compared to a dog,” experts speculate that the Mastiff was among the dog breeds that were brought to the New World of the Americas on the Mayflower in the 18th century. Since the baiting of animals was subsequently prohibited, the Mastiffs took on a new role for guarding country estates, farms, and businesses. In 1885, the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club, but the number of Mastiffs in the United States steadily declined throughout the early 20th century and nearly becoming extinct outside of England with just 24 registered. After World War I, the breed was restored as more Mastiffs were being exported to the United States and the dogs grew to become more popular.

Temperament

While dominance levels among the breed can vary greatly, the Mastiff is often described as being the “gentle giant” that is intelligent, even-tempered, docile, calm, and self-confident. Watchful by nature and born to be a guard dog, the breed rarely barks, but will silently defend its territory and family from any harm. Considered excellent with children due to their high levels of patience, the dogs are known to respond well to firm and gentle training to avoid any behavioral issues. Although typically lazy when indoors, Mastiffs must be given regular exercise to stay fit and happy with a pleasant temperament. Since it is the dogs’ nature to walk, daily regular walks on a leash in public will help to greatly release the mental and physical energy needed to make this breed an excellent companion.


Interesting Mastiff Facts

  • According to the Guinness Book of Records, the greatest weight ever recorded for a dog was that of a Mastiff from England named Aicama Zorba of La Susa who stood at 35 inches at the shoulder height and tipped the scales at a whopping 343 pounds.

 

  • Due to the breed’s extremely large size, it is common for new mothers to need a whelping or nesting box that will help prevent the dog from accidentally smothering or crushing the puppies during nursing.
  • Rising in popularity over the past decade for their desirable temperament and appearance, the Mastiff has been welcomed into the homes of many famous celebrities, including Marlon Brando, George C. Scott, Bob Dylan, Jon Bon Jobi, Kirstie Alley, and Christina Aguilera.