Origin and Brief History

Mastiffs are an ancient breed. Very large dogs similar to Mastiffs were depicted on ancient bas-reliefs in Asia, participating in lion hunts along the Tigris river. Mastiffs may have originated in the Middle East and may have been brought to England by the Phonecians. They were brought from Great Britain back to Rome by Caesar. In Rome Mastiffs were fought in arenas, against humans, lions or other dogs. In Great Britain Mastiffs were used as farm dogs. It is possible Mastiffs came to America with settlers on the Mayflower. After World War II, when almost all dogs were near-extinct in England, Mastiffs were brought from Canada and America back to Great Britain, where the breed was re-established. Mastiffs are considered an AKC Working dog.


Mastiffs are powerful but gentle. They are naturally good guard dogs, but they are not barkers. They tend to guard their homes and families silently. Mastiffs have a high will to please and are easy to train. They are excellent with children. They are docile dogs, patient, intelligent and friendly. It is important to establish yourself as pack leader when training a Mastiff, however, since they are large dogs and some of them may naturally want to be somewhat dominant.


Mastiffs shed an average amount. They are short-haired and therefore easy to groom. Bathe and groom your Mastiff as you would any other short-haired dog. Beware Mastiffs are extremely large when full-grown and so bathing your Mastiff or getting him into or out of the tub may be difficult.


Male: Minimum 30 inches from the shoulder. Female: 27.5 inches from the shoulder. Proportion: rectangular, meaning the dog must be longer from shoulder to tail than he is tall. Substance: Muscular, powerful, heavy boned is preferred. Head: Large size desired, with dark-brown alert eyes and black-tipped ears, short black muzzle. Coat: short, wiry, not wavy, with a fine undercoat. Acceptable colors: brindle, fawn, or apricot, although a small white chest patch permitted.

Buyer Beware

Mastiffs are extremely large dogs. Adult Mastiffs can weigh more than 200 pounds. You must be prepared to care for and discipline such a large dog. Additionally, Mastiffs, like all large dogs, require a significant amount of daily exercise in order to feel happy and calm. You must be prepared to take your Mastiff on daily walks – allowing the dog to run loose in the backyard is not enough to expend this large dog’s energy – and you must be prepared to provide mental challenges to your Mastiff so he will be calm and social and happy. Other concerns related to large dogs are costs: it will cost more to feed this dog, since he eats large quantities. High-quality food will be essential for proper growth and maintanance of his large bones and muscles. Dog toys, cages and beds will all cost significantly more than those for small dogs.


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