THE MASTIFF

The Mastiff, also known as the Old English Mastiff is believed to have originated from the Tibetan Mastiff. This is an ancient dog breed that was developed for guarding and fighting. The Tibetan Mastiff and Neapolitan Mastiff are examples of the ancient breeds.

Brief History

The British Mastiff, known as the AKC Mastiff, is also an ancient breed. This breed originated from Mastiff-type dogs called draft animals, known as tinker dogs. Their ancestor, the Molossus, was recognized 5,000 years ago. They were commonly used for pulling heavy tools on their backs for their owners.

The ancient dogs were muscular dogs used to turn wheels to draw well water as well as herd cattle and oxen. The most important task of the ancient day Mastiff was to guard and protect family, a role that remains unchanged today. This breed is dedicated to being the best family guard dog!

Other aggressive breeds were used for hunting and baiting large animals. But these puppies were typically raised amongst cows and cattle in order to train them to protect them from wolves and other prey. They have been used in South African farms for protection against wildlife, and terrorism. Today this breed is a popular choice for families living in rural areas. They are wonderfully sweet family dogs.

Physical Features

This is a large, powerful dog breed in both height and build. This breed combines grandeur with good nature. They are intelligent, not excitable, but affectionate towards their pet parents. This breed requires plenty of human contact and a high–quality diet. They’re best suited to a home where there are opportunities for exercise.

Their heads are rectangular-shaped, with short muzzles and small, V-shaped drop ears. This breed has a broad, dark, nose, and brown eyes with a smooth, short coat. Their coloring is typically fawn-colored, apricot, or brindle, with fawn or apricot as the main color. They have dark facial masks.

Average Height:

27.5 – 30 inches

Average Weight:

Males: 160-230 pounds

Females: 120-170 pounds

Life Expectancy:

8-10 years

Temperament

This breed is best described as heroic, calm and very loyal. They’re also extremely confident and easy-going. They make great protectors and are kind with children.

Mastiffs seem to assess every situation before acting. They know how powerful they are and don’t act without reason. They make great family dogs and love to feel like part of the brood. This breed should never be left to live outdoors, but instead pet parents should enjoy and involve their dogs in as many family activities possible. By doing so, these dogs become serene and docile, yet still make great family guard dogs.

Mastiffs need to feel that they belong to a family and will only protect and defend those that they respect and have bonded with. 

They do well with positive training starting at puppyhood. Owners should start socializing them around 4 weeks old. They do best if they’re introduced to different people, other animals and children from puppyhood. They enjoy dog parks, dog beaches, long hikes and some organized canine sporting activities.

Special Needs

These dogs aren’t satisfied if left at home with nothing to do. This breed will need to have a job like protecting your cattle, children, or home; or going to dog training classes and shows.

The Mastiff is born with a guarding instinct, and a truly sensitive nature. It’s recommended not to use the traditional training methods like Schutzhund, as they will destroy a Mastiff’s mellow temperament, turning them into aggressive dogs that will become impossible to live with.

This breed needs plenty of socialization, training, and needs to keep busy. They need to stay fit and healthy, because they have a tendency to become overweight. Apartment living is not recommended.

Possible Health Concerns

The Mastiff is an active dog breed that may be susceptible to:

  • Hip Dysplasia is a hereditary developmental disease. HD occurs when the hip joint fails to develop properly. In Mastiffs with HD, the head of the thigh bone does not fall into the hip socket. The imperfect fit results in the joint becoming loose and unstable. This leads to osteoarthritis.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is the name for a group of diseases that cause degeneration of the retina. This will include inherited abnormalities of the light-sensitive cells.
  • Hypothyroidism a deficiency of the thyroid hormone, and can cause weight gain in Mastiffs, as well as constipation, and cold sensitivity.

Exercise

This dog breed needs regular exercise and plenty of off-leash runs.

When they’re younger they shouldn’t play with larger dogs. As puppies, they enjoy playing so much that they may forget how big the other dog really is. Make sure to protect your Mastiff puppy from injury when he is playing with other dogs.

Because this breed goes through growth spurts, they often become out of balance. Their hindquarters may grow higher than their front, thus shifting their weight load. They may place their front feet down incorrectly trying to compensate for being out of balance, putting them at risk for numerous injuries.

Nutrition

Since this dog is prone to obesity, owners will need to keep portion control in mind. Veterinarians can help determine how many calories this dog needs each day, and will help address any weight issues they may have. It’s important not to elimiate vial nutrition in the process. 

This breed needs encouragement to eat slowly, which will also help to reduce digestive problems and bloat. It’s a good idea to use a Slow Feeder, which comes in different sizes. 

Grooming

The Mastiff’s short coat is easy to groom. During heavy shedding that occurs twice yearly, extra grooming will be needed. Daily brushing with a rubber mitt or medium bristle brush will aid in removing loose hair, and in keeping their coats healthy and shiny. Nails need to be trimmed regularly.
Because this is a low energy breed, they make a great addition to any home. Socialization, positive dog training, and maintaining the correct diet with plenty of exercise will keep your Mastiff happy and healthy.

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