Country of Origin: Great Britain
Height: Males 30 inches minimum, females 27.5 inches minimum
Weight: 175 to 200 pounds
Colors: Fawn, apricot, brindle
Other Names: English Mastiff; Old English Mastiff
Registries (With Group): AKC (Working); UKC (Guardian)
Origin and History
The Mastiff is an ancient breed type. Bas reliefs from the Babylonian era circa 2200 BCE show dogs who resemble Mastiffs, and it is thought that these were descendents of the mighty Tibetan Mastiff. When the Romans arrived in England, the Mastiff had already preceded them, likely brought by ancient dog traders. The dogs’ courage and power so impressed the Romans that they took examples of the breed back to Rome to fight in the arenas with gladiators, bulls, bears, and other fierce opponents.
The dogs did not go out of favor with the passing of the Roman Empire, however. Mastiffs served time fighting in the pits facing large, tough opponents during the Elizabethan era. Following the decline of the forbidden matches, these dogs entered a downward trend. From 63 Mastiffs at an 1871 English show, the entry dropped to zero just a few years later. The war years of the 20th century took further tolls on the breed. In 1945, only eight Mastiffs of breeding age were left in all of Britain! But a pair of fine pups, donated by a top Canadian kennel, helped restore the breed in its homeland, where it is now firmly entrenched.
Despite his giant size and forbidding appearance, the Mastiff is a good family companion. He is an exceptional watchdog and protector—self-confident, patient, steady, and docile. He is great with children although defensive of them, which can lead to an exaggerated sense of protectiveness. He gets along well enough with other dogs and pets if he is socialized to them.
Care should be taken not to overexercise the Mastiff as he is growing, as this can put too much pressure on his bones and joints. Long walks and play sessions are best, and these can certainly be continued into adulthood. The Mastiff excels at weight pulling, at search-and-rescue work, and as a therapy dog when properly trained.
The Mastiff’s short, smooth coat needs only occasional brushing to keep it looking its best. The wrinkles all over his head must be kept clean and dry to prevent infection.
The average life span of the Mastiff is 9 to 11 years.
The Mastiff is generally an easygoing dog who understands what is asked of him and is fairly compliant. He is naturally wary, however, and will respond badly to harsh words or methods.
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