Height: 27½-30 in
Weight: 120-250 lbs
Life Span: 7-10 yrs
Coloring: Fawn, apricot, brindle; dark points with all colors
Area of Origin: Great Britain
Similar Breeds: Bullmastiff, English Bulldog, Great Dane, Tibetan Mastiff, St. Bernard, Bernese Mountain Dog, Boerboel, Cane Corso
History and Origin:
A member of the Molosser group of dogs, the English Mastiff has enjoyed a colorful history in Europe. While it is possible that the ancestor of the modern-day Mastiff was the large, heavy type that fought wild animals in Roman gladiator rings, the Mastiff was most certainly established by Caesars reign. During his invasion of Britain in 55 BC, Caesar noted how brave, powerful, and loyal the dogs that fought against his legions were, and described a dog that very closely resembles the modern day Mastiff. This dog continued to be a noble working breed throughout the following centuries; Mastiff is one of the names found in the first list of dog breeds in Britain written in 1465. The Mastiff was used for farm work, estate protection, and blood sport, and when Britain banned animal baiting in 1835, the Mastiff made the transition to home protector and family companion. After World War II, it almost became extinct, but Mastiffs that survived the war in North America were imported back to England to reestablish the breed. It now enjoys popularity in North America and the United Kingdom, and is a favorite breed worldwide.
Personality and Temperament:
The Mastiff, while a fantastic guard dog, is truly a gentle giant at heart. It has a natural ability to protect its family in a non-violent way; the Mastiff is more likely to pin down an intruder until help can arrive than injure him in any way. Proud and calm, it is a great companion for children who are not intimidated by its massive size. Because the Mastiff is a large dog, proper socialization with other dogs and people is essential in order to maintain the breeds natural even temper around strangers. While the Mastiff possesses great qualities, its size and strong instinct to protect its family may be overwhelming for a nervous or first-time owner. It requires confident and patient handling, as behavior problems are likely to occur if mistreated.
Exercise & Training:
Despite its massive size, the Mastiff is happy to live in an apartment if given a decent walk and mental stimulation. It is a fairly intelligent breed, and will learn directions quickly if it finds its handler to be a strong leader. Firm, but gentle handling will ensure the dog becomes a well-adjusted and happy member of the family.
The Mastiff’s short coat makes it an easy keeper; brushing a few times a week will keep the shedding down and the skin healthy. Bathe only when necessary. The Mastiff is a constant drooler, and may need regular wiping around its face to keep it manageable.
The English Mastiff is believed to be the ancestor of most present-day Molosser breeds, such as the Bullmastiff, English Bulldog, Boerboel, and the Cane Corso. It is likely to have influenced mountain dog breeds, like the St. Bernard and the Bernese Mountain Dog; after World War II when the Mastiff was nearly extinct, breeders re-introduced these dogs into the Mastiff lineage to replenish the breed.
Interesting Facts about the Mastiff:
1. It is possible that the massive dogs depicted in 500 BC Assyrian art are ancestors to the modern day Mastiff; figurines from a thousand years earlier suggest an even older origin for the breed.
2. Not only has the English Mastiff influenced other large Mastiff breeds (as listed above), but it can also claim ancestry of tiny dogs such as the Pug, Boston Terrier, and the French Bulldog.
3. Mastiffs are heavy sleepers, and snore loudly.
4. The Mongolian Kublai Khan, a grandson of Ghengis Khan, is recorded to have kept up to 5,000 Mastiffs in his kennel to use for war and for hunting.
5. The Mastiff struck fear in all young boy’s hearts during the 1990’s when it was used to portray “The Beast” in the popular kids movie “The Sandlot”.