Are you looking for the bigger and muscular version of the Pug that’s also just as cuddly and affectionate as them? The Mastiff dog breed is the perfect family-sized furry friend for you!
What is a Mastiff?
The Mastiff breed is a gentle giant furball known for their pleasant and amiable personality. At first sight, you might think they are unapproachable because of their physique and size, but they are the complete opposite! These incredibly-sized doggos are one of the most family-friendly dogs you can have in your home. Mastiffs are also loyal and protective of their fur parents. It’s no doubt that you will feel safe and secure at all times with a companion like them.
Origin of the Mastiff
The Mastiff breed originated from England, also known as English Mastiff or Old English Mastiff. They are ancient breeds long existed in many different countries, including Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, and Tibet. Back then, it was believed that they were brought by Phoenecian traders during the early 6th century BC to England, where the Romans found them.
The Romans were greatly impressed by the breed and took the Mastiff dog breeds back to Rome and used them as guard dogs, war dogs, and as entertainment where they participated in dog fighting, bull-baiting, and bear-baiting.
When they served as war dogs, many Mastiffs died as heroes for sacrificing their lives for their masters. You can imagine how much this breed has gone through that they even managed to (barely!) survive Two World Wars and even become almost extinct by the end of World War I due to food shortage. Thankfully, two Mastiff puppies were born and helped save the breed from extinction.
The Mastiff Club of America was first established in 1929, and it was only in 1885 when the Mastiff was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
What Was the Mastiff Bred for?
The Mastiff was originally bred as a guard dog, tracing back to their history. There are different types of Mastiffs, and the one thing they all have in common is that they were born with a natural talent for guarding. Their loyal and protective nature makes them an ideal dog for guarding properties and protecting their own dog owners.
What Does a Mastiff Look Like?
Mastiffs are listed as one of the largest dog breeds in the whole world, according to AKC’S World’s Largest Dog Breeds: 16 Giant Dogs. Their most distinctive features include their massive blocky heads, muscular body, and floppy jowls, which explains their heavy drooling tendencies.
The Mastiff has a straight, coarse coat that runs short in length. AKC recognizes three standard colors of the Mastiff, which are:
And one standard marking, namely the black mask.
Their eye color ranges from dark brown to dark hazel, two of their common eye colors. In some types of Mastiffs like the Neapolitan Mastiff and Cane Corso, they are naturally born with blue eyes. However, their eyes can change into a darker hue as they mature, eventually turning into a dark brown or haze color. The Mastiff’s black mask usually includes their muzzle and eyes.
Mastiffs have small floppy ears that are dark in color. Some Mastiffs such as the Bullmastiff, Cane Corso, or Neapolitan Mastiff have their ears cropped for fashion or practical reasons like preventing ear infections or injuries. Ear cropping is trimming a part of a dog’s ears to make them stand upright. This is usually a decision made by the pet owner for their own reasons and done by a licensed veterinarian.
Face and snout
Aside from the black mask that surrounds their small eyes and short muzzle, the Mastiff breeds tend to also have loose and wrinkly skin. This is especially true for the Neapolitan Mastiff.
Their tails are naturally high, tapered to the end, can be straight or slightly curved, and reaches the hock.
How Big Does a Full Grown Mastiff Get?
The Mastiff is known as one of the world’s largest dog breeds, and their average weight and height are a testament to this. Still, the average weight and height can vary from Mastiff to Mastiff, depending on its type.
Based on American Kennel Club, a fully grown male English Mastiff can grow a minimum of 30 inches tall, while a fully grown female English Mastiff can grow 27.5 inches tall. Meanwhile, male English Mastiffs can weigh between 160 and 230 pounds, while female English Mastiffs can weigh between 120 and 170 pounds on average.
Different Types of Mastiffs
Mastiffs are generally lovely and wonderful pets to have, and if you’re thinking of getting one to make them part of the family, you couldn’t have chosen a better furry companion! But before anything else, you must know the different variations of Mastiff breeds to pick which Mastiff is the most compatible for you.
The English Mastiff is first on the list, often referred to as the Mastiff, who has faced many foes centuries ago, including bears, lions, bulls, human gladiators, other dogs, and more. This brazen Mastiff dog is known for its strength, courage, loyalty, and intelligence. English Mastiffs fought as war and guard dogs for the majority of their lives and, up until now, retained their reputation as excellent guard dogs.
The Bullmastiff is a crossbreed between a Mastiff and Bulldog. Like the English Mastiff, the Bullmastiff is incredibly loyal, intelligent, protective, and devoted fur companion. They were also originally bred in England during the 19th century to guard estates and farms against poachers.
When it comes to differences with the Mastiff, the Bullmastiff is less heavy, more territorial, and more active. However, much like English Mastiff dog breeds, Bullmastiffs are also affectionate towards their fur parents and reserved with strangers or other breeds.
Neapolitan Mastiffs are hard to miss, especially with their wrinkly skin and droopy jowls. With a massive jowl like theirs, you can expect that Neapolitan Mastiffs drool a lot. The Neapolitan Mastiff’s origin also dates back to Ancient Rome, where they were known as powerful guard dogs.
This majestic Italian beast is an affectionate, protective, and fearless pooch that’s also very family-friendly. They are actually more gentle and laid-back compared to the Bullmastiff and, with proper socialization, can be great with kids.
Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff)
The Dogue de Bordeaux, also known as French Mastiff, is a gentle giant with a powerful and muscular appearance that can fool many people into thinking that they are scary. The giant furballs are more of a teddy bear than a wild bear. They are gentle, friendly, and calm on most occasions, but like the rest of the Mastiff family, they have a protective and reserved nature.
The French Mastiff holds some similarities with the Neapolitan Mastiff, with their loose skin, wrinkles, and folds in their body. They also have that almost grumpy look and hold the record for the proportionally largest head in all of the canine population.
Boerboel (South African Mastiff)
Boerboel is a Mastiff breed that originated in South Africa. The term ‘Boer’ is a direct translation of the Afrikaan word farmer, which correlates to their history of working farm dogs in charge of protecting the farmers’ lands and homes.
The Boerboel will thrive better with an experienced dog owner. They are extremely territorial, intelligent, protective, and easily trainable dogs. If threatened, they can be aggressive. On the other hand, their aggression can be managed with proper training and early socialization.
Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff)
Cane Corso is also a Mastiff breed born of Italian origin and is often closely associated with the Neapolitan Mastiff. The Cane Corso can easily beat the rest of the Mastiff family in dog sports as they are more athletic, energetic, and agile.
The Italian Mastiff works effectively as a working breed, especially when assigned duties like guarding, protecting, and hunting. Other qualities that best describe them are loyal, obedient, affectionate, protective, and eagerness to please. Since they carry the Mastiff bloodline, their territorial and reserved nature with a stranger and other dogs of the same sex comes of no surprise.
Dogo Argentino, also known by other names like Argentine Mastiff, Argentine Dogo, or Dogo, is a working breed that originated from Argentina. This particular Mastiff dog does better with children than all the other Mastiffs in the family. They can be tolerant, friendly, playful, affectionate, and protective, making them good with children.
Moreover, the Dogo Argentino is also a smart and athletic dog that requires frequent exercise. If you’re a first-time fur parent, this dog may not be your best option.
Another dog breed named Tibetan Mastiff is often mistaken as part of the Mastiff family. However, despite the name, Tibetan Mastiffs are not considered a true Mastiff, and up to this day, their location of origin is still unknown.
How to Take Care of a Mastiff?
Mastiffs are laid-back dogs and don’t need much special attention in pet care. They’re very low maintenance and thrive well under a calm environment.
The Mastiff only needs moderate exercise. Since they are giant breeds, keep in mind that they are prone to developing joint problems, which you want to avoid as much as possible. Don’t engage them in strenuous activities or heavy exercises like excessive running, jumping, or long walks. You’d want to keep their daily exercise short and light to prevent future bone or joint injuries.
Mastiff breeds have low grooming needs, and although their short coat still requires some brushing from time to time, this breed is fairly easy to groom. During shedding season, daily brushing is required, while you only need to brush their coat weekly for the rest of the year.
Your Mastiff’s wrinkles and folds also need to be cleaned and dried as any damp area in their body can be susceptible to infections. Also, regularly clean their ears and trim their nails to avoid all possible skin infections.
The most crucial stage of a Mastiff’s development is during their puppy stage until they reach the age of 2. During this time, it’s important that they receive the proper nutrition they need to grow healthy and happy.
Mastiffs are quite large furry fellas, and to maintain their weight, they need a diet that’s appropriate for their breed size. You can feed them dog foods for large breeds with the perfect protein-carb ratio and the right calcium and phosphorous content, suitable for their growing needs.
Also check out: Best Dog Food For Mastiffs in 2022
1. How much to feed
Mastiff puppies typically require more daily food intake, depending on how many months they are. The most appropriate for them would be a large breed puppy food with all the right nutrients a growing puppy needs.
According to SpiritDog Training, here’s how much you should feed your Mastiff puppy depending on their age:
- 8-12 weeks: 2-4 cups
- 3-4 months: 3-6 cups
- 5-6 months: 5-8 cups
- 7-10 months: 6-9 cups
- 11 months and up: 6-10 cups
Meanwhile, a full-grown Mastiff needs about 7 to 9 cups of dry kibble a day, split into at least two meals. Finally, 5 to 7 cups of dry kibble a day would suffice for a senior Mastiff with a lower metabolism. Their dog food should also be age-specific, explicitly formulated for large breeds.
2. How often to feed
Typically, you’ll want to feed your Mastiff puppy 3 to 4 times a day and at least 2 to 3 meals a day for an adult Mastiff.
3. Common food allergies
Like humans, any dog can develop food sensitivities to certain food ingredients. For dogs, the most common triggers of food allergies include animal protein (chicken, beef, lamb), animal by-products, fillers, dairy, eggs, corn, wheat, soy, and artificial or chemical additives.
If your pooch is showing any of these signs, they most likely have food allergies:
- Irritated skin like itching, rash, or skin sores
- Skin inflammation
- Hair loss
- Dry and dull coat
- Glassy eyes
- Teary eyes
- Bloodshot eyes
- Chronic ear infection
- Upset stomach or diarrhea
- Coughing or wheezing
- Biting or scratching of their own skin
Are Mastiffs Easy to Train?
Mastiffs love to please their masters, making them quite easy to train as long as done correctly. They’re also intelligent breeds that thrive well with mental stimulation and positive reinforcement training. Remember that Mastiffs can also be stubborn and sensitive, and if you’re going to take a ‘bad cop’ approach with their training, they’re most likely to clash with you.
When training them, you must keep a positive attitude as they work better in pleasant environments. Start their training at an early age, preferably 8 to 12 weeks, with proper socialization and obedience training, so they can grow up as well-mannered adult dogs.
Are they easy to potty train?
Potty training Mastiffs is so easy you can do it with your eyes closed. Again, these are puppers who are smart and eager to please, and getting them potty trained won’t break you a sweat. The best way to potty train puppies is to establish a good daily routine to follow, familiarize yourself with their habits once they need to potty, and assign them a place specifically designed for them to pee or poo in.
In every part of their training, the most important thing you need to have with you is patience. Never turn to harsh methods when training them, as these can significantly affect your Mastiff’s behavior towards you. You can throw them a training treat from time to time to remind your pooch they’re doing a good job!
Mastiff breeds are protective, good-natured, courageous, dignified, affectionate, and a little calmer than others. Your Mastiff’s temperament will still depend on what type of Mastiff they are. Still, their most common denominator is their protectiveness and loyalty to their family.
Does this breed do well with children?
Mastiffs generally do well with children or other family members, especially when properly socialized and introduced early on. However, since the Mastiff is a giant-sized pooch, there may be a chance where children can find them scary and fear them. Raise your children with your Mastiff and it shouldn’t be a problem.
Mastiff dog breeds have a gentle and affectionate side that bodes well for children. Plus, their protective nature is a bonus as you know they will be capable of taking care of kids. Additionally, they are reserved with strangers but are very playful towards their families.
Does it do well with other pets?
Yes and no. This particular breed can do well with other breeds or pets as long as properly trained and socialized. We keep going back to early training and socialization because this is an important aspect that will shape a dog’s relationship with other people and animals.
Although Mastiffs are friendly and well-mannered dogs, I would still keep an eye on them, especially around other dogs of the same sex. The Mastiff has a dominant and territorial side that can get triggered if they feel threatened by another dog of the same sex.
Are Mastiffs aggressive?
These gentle giants are not born with aggressive instincts, as this opposes their calm temperament. However, there may be situations that can trigger aggressive behavior from them. Mastiffs are naturally protective, especially of their owners, and if they sense a threat, they may react negatively.
What Environment Is Ideal for a Mastiff?
Mastiffs are pretty adaptable dogs, and they can grow well in the city or country. However, their ideal environment is in a house with a large backyard where a dog their size can thrive. They’re not much of an active breed, so a play area is unnecessary, but a large living space where they can lay back and chill to hang out is ideal for a giant breed.
As much as possible, you’d want to keep your Mastiff in places with cold climates and avoid locations with extremely hot temperatures at all costs. They also can’t spend a long time outdoors and prefer living indoors more, much like an introvert.
What Is the Average Life Span of Mastiffs
The American Kennel Club (AKC) states that the average lifespan of a Mastiff is about 6 to 10 years. Your Mastiff’s life expectancy also depends on their type. It’s also speculated that larger dog breeds typically have shorter life expectancies, but the reason behind that is still unknown.
Here is the life expectancy for the different types of Mastiffs:
- English Mastiff – 6 to 10 years
- Bullmastiff – 8 to 10 years
- Neapolitan Mastiff – 8 to 10 years
- Tibetan Mastiff – 12 to 15 years
- Spanish Mastiff – 10 to 12 years
- French Mastiff – 5 to 8 years
- Italian Mastiff – 10 to 11 years
- Boerboel – 10 to 12 years
- Dogo Argentina – 10 to 12 years
Remember that certain health conditions can still determine your dog’s total lifespan.
Related Review: How Long Do Mastiffs Live?
Mastiff Common Health Issues
Speaking of health conditions, these are the certain health problems that you should concern yourself with when taking care of a Mastiff.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Canine Hip and Elbow Dysplasia are common genetic diseases in large breed dogs characterized by the abnormal development of the hip and elbow joints. Hip Dysplasia is a degenerative condition caused by the malformation of the hip ball to the socket, which results in pain and lameness on the affected leg.
This is almost similar to Elbow Dysplasia, except the front legs are affected this time. As your dog ages, this can eventually lead to arthritis which puts your dog in more pain. Today, the primary treatment for this disease is surgery for hip replacement. However, a natural alternative was introduced using CBD to alleviate some symptoms of joint issues.
Gastric Torsion (Bloat)
More commonly known as Bloat, Gastric Torsion is a life-threatening condition that most large breeds are prone to. This condition occurs when the stomach expands excessively due to gas, food, or liquid. The bloating is usually a result of overfeeding, drinking or eating large amounts of water or food, or exercising after a big meal.
Gastric Torsion causes the stomach to twist, blocking the passageways where gas or food could exit. This is a condition that needs immediate action. Otherwise, it can also block the heart’s blood flow, causing sudden death.
The signs and symptoms of Bloat are:
- Difficulty breathing
- Enlargement of abdomen
- Lack of appetite
- Dry heaving
- Sudden collapse
- Failed attempt at pooping
- Looking at their belly
- Stomach appears to be hard
Here are the common eye problems that can affect a Mastiff:
- Entropion and Ectropion – These are eyelid deformities that cause pain and inflammation in the eye. Entropion is when the eyelids fold inwards, where the eyelashes scratch the eyeballs, causing pain and discomfort. Meanwhile, Ectropion is when the lower eyelid rolls outward, exposing some of the tissues in the eye, which then causes dryness and pain.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy – PRA is another degenerative disease that causes blindness in dogs due to the degeneration of the photoreceptor cells in the eye.
- Corneal Dystrophy – Corneal Dystrophy is an eye condition that results in the clouding of the eye.
- Retinal Dysplasia – Retinal Dysplasia is defined by the abnormal development of clumps or folds within the retina, affecting your dog’s vision.
- Cataract – This is another eye condition that causes cloudiness in your dog’s eyes. It may cause blindness in one eye or, on some occasions, both eyes.
The common heart problems in Mastiff you need to watch out for are:
- Subaortic Stenosis – A congenital heart defect that mostly affects large or giant breeds. This happens when abnormal tissue develops in the aortic valve, constricting blood flow to the heart.
- Cardiomyopathy – Cardiomyopathy or Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a common heart condition in dogs. It’s characterized by the degeneration of the heart muscles and walls. When the muscle and walls become thin, this affects how strong the heart pumps and contracts.
- Pulmonic Stenosis – This is another congenital defect defined by the obstruction of blood flow from the heart to the lungs.
Bone cancer or osteosarcoma is a common type of cancer within large breeds. It’s a very progressive and aggressive cancer that starts within the bone cells and spreads quickly to other body parts. They’re mostly developed genetically, and some of the signs and symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Neurologic signs (wobbly gait)
- Indications of severe pain
- Discharge from the nostrils
- Breathing difficulties
- Swelling in the ribs, spine, legs, or jaw
- Limping or lameness
- Growth of a mass on the dog’s body
How Much Does a Mastiff Cost?
Buying a Mastiff pup can cost you anywhere between $800 to $3500. There are more affordable options, such as adopting from an animal shelter or rescue group. Although this can be rare, it’s still worth considering if you’re looking for a budget-friendly alternative.
More than the actual puppy itself, there are additional expenses to consider, such as registration, food, pet supplies, grooming, training, pet insurance, and much more. Hey, being a parent was really never been easy or cheap anyways. So if you’re a first-time fur parent, make sure that you have the money and resources to take care of your own pupper.
Tips on Finding the Right Breeder
In most cases, the key to having a dog that grows healthy and happy is to make sure that they came from a good breeder.
Signs to look for in a responsible breeder
Responsible breeders should also be natural dog lovers. This is only one of the bare minimum standards you should know when looking for the perfect breeder.
- The breeder is part of parent breed clubs (i.e. Mastiff Club of America or National Breed Club)
- Great background in breeding
- Shows genuine concern for animals
- Creates a high-quality living environment for dogs
- Shows transparency about the history of the dogs
- Provides necessary documents such as Hip Certification, Genetic Testing, Registration, and Bloodline
- Open to answering questions
- Implements health clearances to ensure puppy’s health is in good condition
- Schedules a visit or video call to see the puppy
- They make sure that the puppy will live in a good home with good fur parents
What to avoid when looking for a breeder
Of course, there are also these kinds of breeders that you should avoid at all costs. These are usually people who have little to no regard for the puppies’ well-being and only care about making a profit.
- Backyard breeders and puppy mills… enough said
- They sell two to three litters of puppies at the same time
- Making false undocumented claims about the dog’s character
- Defensive when asked about their breeding practices
- Doesn’t allow visits
- If visits are allowed, the place where the puppies are bred doesn’t satisfy comfortable living conditions
- No pedigree information and registration documents available
- No medical history provided
Finally, we have reached the end of the article. Hopefully, the information you have gathered today is enough to help you decide whether the Mastiff is the right pooch for you. Mastiffs are overall wonderful dogs, and I can’t think of a better breed capable of protecting my home and my family. They can be friendly and affectionate but also has a sense of security. Rest assured that you will have someone to protect and love you with this gentle giant around you.