American Mastiff

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fawn, apricot, brindle. White markings acceptable on feet, chest and chin, nose
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Good with kids:
Pros Cons
  • forms strong bonds with its master
  • healthy
  • loves children
  • good watch and guard dog
  • dominant
  • doesn't get on well with other dogs
  • its owner must be a leader


The American Mastiff is a powerful and calm dog of imposing size with its homeland in the United States. The breed is famous for its splendid guarding talents although it also does very well in the role of a family dog. It hasn’t yet gained recognition of any reputable canine organisation since its development is still under way.

According to official records the first English Mastiffs were imported to America in the late XVIII century. Since then this massive and strong dog won thousands of hearts of dog lovers in this country. Unfortunately the number of its specimens dwindled catastrophically after the Second World War so inbreeding became the only way to save the breed from final demise. These bad breeding practices inevitably led to appearance of the bloodlines with serious genetic health issues.

The breeder Fredericka Wagner of Piketon Ohio was deeply concerned with this situation and hit upon an idea of creating a mastiff-type breed, which would be deprived of excessive drooling, canine hip dysplasia, too short life span and other health concerns, which are common for the English Mastiff. In order to achieve this goal she resorted to crossing this breed to the Anatolian Shepherd, an old herding dog that came from central Turkey. Thanks to the meticulous approach to breeding process Fredericka Wagner finally developed the breed, which she named the American Mastiff. Its genetic pool is composed of 1/8 Anatolian Shepherd and 7/8 English Mastiff. Outwardly the breed is as like as two peas to the English Mastiff but it has much less health problems and it’s less predisposed to excessive drooling.

Currently two bloodlines are competing for the right to use the name “American Mastiff” for their dogs. Except for Fredericka Wagner the Panja Kennels is presently working on the improvement of the old-style Mastiff and it adopted for their canine variety the name Panja American Mastiff. Both lines haven’t yet attained the recognition of any major canine registry but the American Mastiff of Fredericka Wagner was formally accepted by the Continental Kennel Club. This breed is currently used as a companion and guard dog in the United States as well as in European countries.

The American Mastiff is a massive even-tempered dog with intimidating appearance but kind and gentle heart. Perhaps it lacks vivacity and prefers to express its affection in more subtle way but it’s still extremely staunch to its masters. This dog is well-known for its patient and careful attitude towards children and it’s especially tender with small kids. Nonetheless the breed member may become dangerous and unpredictable in behaviour without deep socialisation and obedience training so this dog is certainly not for everyone.

Courteous American Mastiff is relatively good with unfamiliar people although it always stays on alert and ready to take action if something or someone threatens its owner. Be mindful though that some of these dogs may be outright belligerent towards all strangers and only extensive training will help to eliminate this streak. On the other hand this human aggressiveness makes it a highly effective guard dog. The breed is also suited for the role of a watchdog because of its strong territorial instinct.

The American Mastiff has pretty nasty reputation with other dogs. This powerful and confident animal believes that it must take a dominative stance among other canines and it can resort to violence in order to assert its pack leader status. At the same time it will be quite content to co-exist with one or several other dogs. This breed will also tolerate other types of pets (including cats) only if it has had an opportunity to interact with them since a young age.
Health Problems

The American Mastiff is a very healthy breed though the canine hip dysplasia can be a problem for some species.

The American Mastiff needs very little grooming. Its short and sleek coat will preserve its natural shine and healthy look if you brush it couple times a week with a firm bristled brush. This dog should be bathed rather infrequently since it doesn’t tend to run and roam while being walked.

The master should trim nails of this dog every 10-14 days and periodically examine its ears for the signs of redness or unpleasant smell, which usually indicate infection. Clean the dogs’ ears with a soft damp cloth if they look dirty. The American Mastiff is a moderate shedder.

The training of the American Mastiff is a task of an average difficulty. Although it possesses the natural canine eagerness to oblige its master its complete obedience is very hard to win. The point is that this dog gets used to dominate over other creatures so the trainer must become an unquestionable leader for it and constantly hold control over the situation.

This dog responds best to firm and confident handling during the lesson but excessive harshness should be avoided since it may provoke the dog to reciprocal aggression. In order to speed up the learning it’s recommended to use tasty treats and praise in training of the American Mastiff.

The American Mastiff is known for its laid-back and idle attitude but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need physical stimulation. In fact, insufficient physical activity is one of the main reasons of obesity in more venerable age. At the very least this dog needs a long daily walk although it will appreciate a regular chance to play and explore in the securely fenced area.

The breed member must always wear a leash and a muzzle when taken in public places. Remember that without essential minimum of exercises your dog will never feel itself completely at peace with its life.