English Mastiff (Mastiff)

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fawn, brindle, apricot; muzzle, ears and nose should be black
very large
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Good with kids:
Pros Cons

  • wonderful family companion

  • lives peacefully with non-canine pets

  • top-quality watcher and fearless guardian

  • won’t make a good apartment dog

  • heavy seasonal shedder

  • stubborn


The English Mastiff is a calm, steadfast and kind breed, which is widely known for its gigantic size and ancient origin. Originally it was primarily utilised as a war dog but today it partially lost its incredible ferociousness and serves as a property guardian and companion animal. All-around socialisation and lots of living space are essential requirements for the successful keeping of the Mastiff.


The English Mastiff has been the faithful protector and companion of a man for more than 5 000 years. The Molosser, the immediate forefather of the breed, has been developed and perfected in the mountainous area of Asia since time immemorial. Sketches of the canine that is the living image of the modern-day Mastiff were found on ancient Egyptian artworks of 3000 B.C. Written evidences prove that it had already been well-established in China by 1121 B.C. Numerous references of this huge and fierce dog surface throughout the most part of human history, including it in Egyptian, Babylonian and traditional Greek civilizations.

The Romans got to know the English Mastiff in 55 B.C. when their troops invaded British territories. They were impressed by the power and ferociousness of this dog and brought lots of its specimens to their homeland. The Mastiff became famous as a staunch and intrepid combatant in the Collosseum and successfully overcame such dangerous wild beasts as bulls, bears, lions and tigers. The breed’s name originates from the Roman word «mansuetus» that is translated as «tame». It was the only «tamed» animal that was allowed to participate in gladiatorial fights. For the past two centuries this breed was also a popular choice for usage in such inhuman sports as bull-baiting, bear-baiting and dog-fighting.

Nonetheless in its homeland the Mastiff was mostly valued by poor peasants as a multifunctional working dog and by noble people as an outstanding pack hunter. This dog protected homes, livestock and farmer’s families from attacks of wolves and other big predators. English aristocrats revered it for its unshakable loyalty and superb hunting prowess. In most cases this calm and gentle giant was also treated as the best four-legged friend by both impoverished and wealthy Englishmen.

With the prohibition of dog-fighting and animal-baiting in 1835, the number of the Mastiff dwindled very noticeably. Over the next century the population of this breed steadily declined until by 1945 there were only 8 of its members left in all of Great Britain. Fortunately the dogs’ final demise was averted by the efforts of its concerned fanciers so presently the English Mastiff thrives in its native land in the roles of a guard and companion dog. It received recognition of the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1885.


The English Mastiff only seems to be dangerous and vicious animal but in fact this peaceable and mild-tempered dog loves nothing more than to idle for hours on your sofa. People with large houses will find out that this noble breed can make a delightful family pet. If the pup of the Mastiff has plentiful of chances to interact with kids it will treat them very gingerly and patiently afterwards. This dog reacts very painfully to conflicts between its masters and tries to reconcile them in its own unpretentious manner.

The Mastiff demonstrates wary standoffishness towards unfamiliar people but its correctly socialised specimen will resort to aggressive actions only in case of emergency. It would surely prefer to simply deter an intruder until the arrival of the masters than to attack him. This dog is endowed with both great strength and well-developed protective instinct to become an excellent guardian. As a rule it doesn’t bark unreasonably and its booming voice can frighten even a person with strong nerves. So this breed is well-suited for the role of a watcher.

Although the ferociousness of the early English Mastiff made it a perfect candidate for dog fighting, presently this dog treats its counterparts relatively amicably. Of course, it will brook no disrespect from strange canines and can give a fitting rebuff to the opponent of any size. That’s why the master should never let this dog off a leash in a park or other public places. In most cases the breed can be easily trained to tolerate other pets in the house (including cats) but its prey drive may kick in at the sight of a stray cat.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

· bloat;

· elbow dysplasia;

· hip dysplasia;

· cystine urolithiasis;

· eye problems;

· pulmonic stenosis;

· osteosarcoma;

· persistent papillary membrane;

· vaginal hyperplasia;

· seizures.


The English Mastiff can be groomed with reasonable amount efforts. This dog is a perpetual shedder, which changes its entire coat during the spring and fall. In these periods it needs to be brushed every single day but during the most part of the year weekly brushing can keep this process under control.

The folds on the dog’s muzzle should be carefully cleaned and dried on a daily basis otherwise water and the parts of food will create a favourable environment for infections. It’s also important to devote enough attention to regular ear cleaning and teeth brushing of your Mastiff. This breed needs only infrequent bathing.


The English Mastiff is an intelligent but stubborn breed whose training can turn into a true challenge. It’s absolutely crucial to begin this process as early as possible since curious and playful puppy is much more willing to follow your commands than a self-willed adult dog. It’s impossible to succeed in its training if you fail to obtain the dog’s recognition as an unquestionable pack leader.

Early socialisation bears a paramount importance for this breed as it helps to raise always a level-headed and calm canine companion. Remember that screaming or physical punishments are totally ineffective in the work with the Mastiff so encourage your pet’s interest with tasty treats and praise.


The Mastiff has a huge and muscular body that needs moderate amount of exercise to stay in a good shape. Although this dog will be fairly content with a few daily long walks it will certainly feel itself trapped in a small city apartment. It should spend at least one hour a day roaming and frisking in a large but securely enclosed yard.

An under exercised specimen of this breed will choose its own methods to expand its excess energy, which commonly signifies immoderate barking and destructive behaviour.