Bullmastiff

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bullmastiff portrait
Step aside because the Bullmastiff is here to steal your heart! With their imposing presence and unwavering loyalty, these gentle giants are the ultimate blend of strength and affection. Whether you're seeking a devoted companion or a vigilant guardian, the Bullmastiff has it all, and then some!

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Bullmastiff is the perfect match for a family seeking a loyal, protective, and gentle pet. If you’ve got space to spare, love outdoor activities, and adore an affectionate couch buddy who doubles as your personal bodyguard, then the Bullmastiff is your dream dog breed. Prepare for a life filled with slobbery kisses and heartwarming companionship!

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEBullmastiff
ORIGINEngland
BREED GROUPWorking Group
BREED SIZELarge
HEIGHT24-27 inches
WEIGHT100-130 lbs
LIFESPAN7-9 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSLow
EXERCISE NEEDSModerate
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYLow
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYHigh
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK61st
bullmastiff standing outdoors
Photo: Manivela Suelta/Getty Images

Appearance

The Bullmastiff is a breed that perfectly embodies the phrase “gentle giant.” Standing tall at 24 to 27 inches for males and 24 to 26 inches for females, these dogs are an impressive sight. Despite their formidable size, they’re known for their warm, gentle gaze and friendly demeanor.

Bullmastiffs boast a robust physique, typically weighing between 100 to 130 pounds. Their muscular bodies speak volumes about their strength and agility, yet it’s their unique features that make them truly stand out.

Starting from the top, Bullmastiffs have a broad, wrinkled head which is both powerful and endearing. Their dark, expressive eyes reflect their loving nature, often melting hearts with a single glance. The medium-sized, V-shaped ears hang close to their cheeks, adding to their overall appeal.

Their short, straight tails are set high, reaching to the hocks and tapering to a point. When alert or in motion, their tails become an animated flag, enthusiastically communicating their mood.

Bullmastiffs carry a distinctive expression – one of alertness coupled with kindness. They wear a natural look of curiosity and intelligence that reflects their eager-to-please attitude.

Their coat is another highlight. It’s dense, short, and weather-resistant, making them well-suited for outdoor adventures. Bullmastiffs come in a beautiful palette of colors including fawn, red, or brindle, often with black markings on the face.

Despite their imposing appearance, Bullmastiffs are softies at heart. Their physical attributes may scream ‘bodyguard,’ but their expressions tell a different story. One look into their eyes and you’ll see a loyal friend, a protective companion, and a lovable family member.

In essence, Bullmastiffs are a striking blend of power and gentleness. Their physical characteristics are a testament to their strength and agility, but it’s their kind-hearted nature that wins people over. So don’t let their size intimidate you. Beneath their robust exterior lies a heart that’s brimming with love and loyalty.

bullmastiff standing on leaves
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Temperament

If you’re considering welcoming a Bullmastiff into your home, prepare for a loyal, affectionate, and protective companion. Despite their imposing size and muscular build, Bullmastiffs are renowned for their gentle nature and big hearts.

At first glance, a Bullmastiff might seem intimidating, but behind that powerful exterior lies an incredibly sweet temperament. These dogs are known to be docile and calm, making them excellent companions for families. Their loving nature is complemented by an innate desire to protect their loved ones, which stems from their history as guard dogs.

Bullmastiffs are incredibly loyal. Once they form a bond with their family, it’s unbreakable. They’re not just pets; they become an integral part of the family, sharing in your joys, comforting you in sorrow, and standing by your side no matter what.

One of the most endearing aspects of Bullmastiffs’ personalities is their sensitivity. They’re very perceptive and can pick up on their owner’s emotions. If you’re feeling down, don’t be surprised if your Bullmastiff comes over to offer some comfort, maybe even resting their head on your lap or giving you a gentle nudge with their nose.

Don’t let their quiet demeanor fool you, though. Bullmastiffs have a playful side too. They love to engage in fun activities with their families. Whether it’s a game of fetch in the backyard or simply romping around, these dogs know how to have a good time. They can be quite goofy and their antics are sure to bring a smile to your face.

Despite their playful nature, Bullmastiffs are generally relaxed dogs. They enjoy lounging around just as much as they enjoy playtime. So, if you’re looking for a dog that’s equally happy to join you on a lazy afternoon on the couch as they are to play in the yard, a Bullmastiff could be your perfect match.

Bullmastiffs are also known for their patience, particularly with children. They’re gentle and careful around kids, making them wonderful family pets. However, due to their size, supervision is always recommended when they’re interacting with smaller children.

Lastly, Bullmastiffs are intelligent dogs with a mind of their own. They can be a bit stubborn at times, but this is often seen as part of their charm. They’re not overly demanding for attention, but they do appreciate being included in family activities.

bullmastiff behind flowers
Photo: Astakhova/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

If you’re considering a Bullmastiff as your new furry friend, it’s important to understand their ideal environment. These gentle giants thrive in environments where they can be part of the family activities, feeling included and loved.

Physical Environment

Firstly, let’s talk about the physical environment. Although Bullmastiffs are sizable dogs, they’re not overly active which means they can adapt well to living in apartments or houses with small yards, as long as their mental and emotional needs are met. However, given their size, they do appreciate some space to stretch out and move around comfortably.

Climate Adaptability

When it comes to climate, Bullmastiffs are quite adaptable. Their dense, short coat provides some protection against the cold, but they’re not designed for extremely chilly climates. They can handle a bit of chill, but don’t fare well when left outside in freezing temperatures.

On the flip side, Bullmastiffs can struggle in hot weather due to their short snouts. It’s essential to provide them with plenty of shade and water in hotter months, and air conditioning is a bonus.

Ideal Owner

Now, onto the social environment. Bullmastiffs are known for their loyalty and love of family. They thrive in homes where they’re considered a member of the family and are included in daily activities. They need owners who can provide consistent, kind leadership. They respond best to positive reinforcement and gentle guidance.

Other Pets

In terms of other pets, Bullmastiffs are generally sociable and can get along well with other dogs and cats, especially if they’re introduced at a young age. However, their protective instinct might kick in if they perceive another animal as a threat to their family, so introductions should always be done carefully.

bullmastiff sitting by the sea
Photo: Eleni Mac Synodinos/Getty Images

Grooming

Bullmastiffs may be large, but their grooming needs are surprisingly manageable. They’re not high-maintenance dogs, but they do require a certain level of care to keep them looking their best and feeling comfortable.

Coat Care

Let’s start with their coat. Bullmastiffs have a short, dense coat that sheds moderately. Regular brushing is key to keeping their coat healthy and reducing shedding.

A weekly brush with a firm bristle brush or a rubber grooming mitt should suffice. This will help remove dead hair and distribute the natural oils in their skin, giving their coat a healthy shine. During shedding seasons, you might need to increase the frequency of brushing.

Bullmastiffs are known for their distinctive wrinkles. These folds of skin add to their charm, but they also require special care. It’s important to regularly check these areas and clean them gently with a soft, damp cloth to prevent the buildup of dirt and bacteria. Make sure to dry them thoroughly afterward to avoid irritation.

Bathing your Bullmastiff doesn’t need to be a frequent affair. These dogs don’t have a strong odor and a bath every few months should be enough, unless they get particularly dirty during an outdoor adventure. When bathing, make sure to use dog-friendly shampoo to keep their skin and coat healthy.

Ear Care

Now, let’s talk about their ears. Bullmastiffs have floppy ears that can be prone to infections if not kept clean. Check their ears weekly for any signs of redness, bad odor, or discomfort. Clean them gently using a cotton ball and a vet-approved ear cleaner. Remember, never insert anything into their ear canal.

Dental Care

Dental care is another important aspect of grooming. Bullmastiffs, like all breeds, are susceptible to gum disease and bad breath. Regular brushing of their teeth with dog-specific toothpaste can help prevent these issues. Ideally, aim to brush your Bullmastiff’s teeth daily, but if that’s not possible, even a few times a week can make a big difference.

Nail Trimming

Don’t forget about their nails. Bullmastiffs have strong nails that grow quickly. Regular trimming is necessary to prevent overgrowth, splitting, and cracking. How often you’ll need to trim will depend on how fast your dog’s nails grow and how much they wear them down naturally. As a general rule, if you can hear their nails clicking on the floor, it’s time for a trim.

bullmastiff sitting on the sofa
Photo: Astakhova/Getty Images

Exercise

Bullmastiffs may look like powerhouses, but when it comes to exercise needs, they’re more laid back than you’d expect. These gentle giants don’t require extensive workouts to stay happy and healthy.

Exercise Amount & Types

Typically, a Bullmastiff will be content with a daily walk of about 30 minutes to an hour. This breed is not built for vigorous or extended exercise, so a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood or a romp in the backyard should suffice.

Remember, Bullmastiffs love company, so these walks are not just about physical exercise, but also about spending quality time with their favorite humans.

In addition to walks, Bullmastiffs enjoy playtime. A game of fetch or tug-of-war can be a great way to engage their mind and body. However, it’s important to remember that Bullmastiffs can get overheated easily due to their short snouts, so always monitor them during play and ensure they have access to plenty of water.

Dog Sports

While Bullmastiffs aren’t typically seen in high-energy dog sports like agility, they can excel in activities that tap into their natural abilities. Competitions like obedience trials or cart-pulling can be a good fit for this breed. Not only do these activities provide physical exercise, but they also offer mental stimulation which is key for a well-rounded, content Bullmastiff.

Exercise Precautions

One thing to note is that Bullmastiff puppies and young dogs should avoid strenuous exercise to protect their developing joints. Gentle play and short walks are enough until they’re fully grown.

two bullmastiff puppies playing with toys
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Training

Training a Bullmastiff can be a rewarding experience as they’re intelligent and eager to please. However, they’re also known for their independent streak, which means they require a specific approach to training.

Firstly, start training early. As puppies, Bullmastiffs are impressionable and can quickly pick up on house rules. Basic commands like sit, stay, and come are a great place to start. Socialization is also crucial at this stage. Introduce them to a variety of people, places, and situations to ensure they grow up to be well-adjusted adults.

Despite their size, Bullmastiffs are sensitive dogs. They respond best to positive reinforcement methods. This means rewarding good behavior with treats, praise, or playtime. Harsh corrections or heavy-handed tactics won’t work with these dogs. Instead, patience, consistency, and kindness are key to successful training.

Bullmastiffs can be a bit stubborn at times. They’re smart dogs and often like to do things in their own time. If your Bullmastiff seems uninterested in a training session, don’t push it. Short, regular training sessions are more effective than long ones.

Remember, mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise for this breed. Training sessions, puzzle toys, and games that challenge their mind can help keep them engaged and content.

It’s also worth noting that Bullmastiffs were originally bred to guard estates, which means they have a natural instinct to protect. Training should include teaching them to distinguish between normal and threatening behavior. A well-socialized Bullmastiff who’s been properly trained will be protective, but not aggressive.

bullmastiff sitting on grass
Photo: Laures/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

Feeding a Bullmastiff is an important aspect of their overall care. These large dogs have specific dietary needs to support their growth, health, and well-being.

What to Feed & How Much

Bullmastiffs do well on high-quality commercial dog food that follows the AAFCO guidelines. Whether you choose dry kibble, wet food, or a raw diet, the key is to ensure it’s formulated for large breeds and meets their nutritional needs. Look for foods with high-quality proteins as the first ingredient, and a good balance of carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

The amount of food a Bullmastiff needs varies depending on their age, weight, and activity level. Puppies generally require more food than adults due to their rapid growth. Adult Bullmastiffs, being less active, need a balanced diet to maintain a healthy weight.

A general guideline is 2 to 4 cups of good-quality dry food per day, divided into two meals. However, it’s always best to consult your vet for personalized feeding advice.

Treats

Treats can be a great training aid, but remember they should only make up about 10% of your Bullmastiff’s daily calorie intake. Opt for healthy treats like carrots or apples, and avoid anything high in sugar or fat.

Water

Water is crucial for all dogs, including Bullmastiffs. Always ensure your pet has access to fresh, clean water, especially after exercise or in hot weather.

Additional Feeding Tips

One thing to note is that Bullmastiffs, like other large breeds, can be prone to a condition called bloat, where the stomach fills with gas and can twist. To help prevent this, avoid feeding your Bullmastiff large meals, and ensure they don’t exercise vigorously right after eating.

bullmastiff's face
Photo: Mindaugas Dulinskas/Getty Images

Health

Bullmastiffs are robust dogs, but like all breeds, they have their share of health concerns. With an average life expectancy of 7 to 9 years, Bullmastiffs can lead happy, healthy lives with the right care and attention.

Here are common health issues associated with this breed:

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: These are developmental disorders that affect the joints, causing pain and mobility issues. Regular vet checks and a healthy diet can help manage these conditions.

Hypothyroidism: This is a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, leading to weight gain, lethargy, and skin problems. It’s manageable with medication.

Bloat: Also known as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, bloat is a life-threatening condition common in large, deep-chested breeds. Feeding smaller meals and avoiding vigorous exercise around meal times can help prevent it.

Cancer: Bullmastiffs are prone to certain types of cancer, including lymphoma and mast cell tumors. Early detection is key, so regular vet checks are crucial.

Heart Disease: Bullmastiffs can be susceptible to a variety of heart conditions, including aortic stenosis and cardiomyopathy. Regular heart screenings can help detect any issues early.

Despite these potential health issues, there’s no reason why your Bullmastiff can’t live a healthy, happy life. A balanced, nutritious diet can help maintain their overall health and prevent weight-related issues. Regular exercise will keep them fit and active.

Regular vet checks are a must for early detection and management of any health problems. Vaccinations should be kept up-to-date to protect against various diseases.

bullmastiff lying down at home
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History

The Bullmastiff is a breed with a fascinating history. Its story begins in the mid-19th century in England, during a time when large estates and game preserves were often targeted by poachers.

Gamekeepers needed a dog that was brave, quick, and strong enough to deter these intruders, yet silent enough not to alert them. Enter the Bullmastiff, a breed specifically developed for this purpose.

The Bullmastiff is a blend of two breeds – the agile Bulldog and the powerful Mastiff. This combination resulted in a dog with the strength and size of a Mastiff, coupled with the speed and tenacity of a Bulldog. The Bullmastiff was known as the “Gamekeeper’s Night Dog,” and its job was to track and hold poachers without hurting them.

Fast forward to the 20th century, the need for gamekeeping dogs declined, but the Bullmastiff found new roles. Their courage and loyalty made them excellent guard dogs for homes and estates. Their calm demeanor and affectionate nature also made them beloved family pets.

The Bullmastiff made its way across the Atlantic and was first recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1933. Since then, the breed has gained popularity in the United States, not just as a family and guard dog, but also as a show dog.

In popular culture, Bullmastiffs have made quite a name for themselves. Perhaps the most famous Bullmastiff is “Butkus,” the pet of Sylvester Stallone. Butkus starred alongside Stallone in the first two “Rocky” movies, capturing hearts with his expressive eyes and lovable personality.

Another notable Bullmastiff in pop culture is “Hooch” from the movie “Turner & Hooch.” Although Hooch was portrayed as a Dogue de Bordeaux, the role was played by multiple dogs, one of which was a Bullmastiff.

Despite their fame, Bullmastiffs remain true to their roots. They’re still protective and brave, making them excellent watchdogs. At the same time, they’re loving and loyal, qualities that make them wonderful family pets. The Bullmastiff is a testament to careful breeding, a dog that was created for a specific purpose, and has since found its place in the hearts of many dog lovers around the world.

Parent Club

The official parent club for Bullmastiffs in the United States is the American Bullmastiff Association (ABA). Founded in 1954, the ABA is dedicated to the preservation, protection, and promotion of the Bullmastiff breed.

The association provides resources on Bullmastiff health, welfare, breeding, and training. You can visit their website for more information.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check the Bullmastiff’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

bullmastiff puppy playing in the snow
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Acquiring

If you’ve decided to welcome a Bullmastiff into your life, congratulations! This breed is known for its loyalty and love. But before you bring one home, there are a few things to consider.

If you’re buying a puppy, make sure to choose a reputable breeder. The American Bullmastiff Association can provide a list of reliable breeders who prioritize the health and temperament of their dogs.

Alternatively, consider rescuing a Bullmastiff. Many wonderful dogs are waiting for their forever homes. The American Kennel Club and the American Bullmastiff Association can guide you towards rescue organizations.

Prepare your home for your new friend. Bullmastiffs are large dogs, so they’ll need space. They also enjoy comfort, so a cozy bed is a must. And don’t forget toys for mental stimulation!

Remember, bringing a Bullmastiff home is a long-term commitment. They require love, care, and attention, but in return, they’ll give you a lifetime of companionship and loyalty.

FAQs

Are Bullmastiffs aggressive dogs?

No, Bullmastiffs are not inherently aggressive. They were bred to protect and guard, so they can be aloof with strangers, but with proper socialization and training, they’re typically gentle and good-natured.

Are Bullmastiffs smart dogs?

Yes, Bullmastiffs are intelligent dogs. They were bred to think independently, which is a sign of intelligence. However, this can sometimes come across as stubbornness during training.

Is the Bullmastiff bigger than the Mastiff?

No, the Bullmastiff is smaller than the Mastiff. Bullmastiffs typically weigh between 100-130 pounds, while Mastiffs can weigh up to 230 pounds.

Are Bullmastiffs high-energy dogs?

No, Bullmastiffs are not high-energy dogs. They enjoy a good walk or play session, but they’re also content to lounge around the house.

Are Bullmastiffs good family dogs?

Yes, Bullmastiffs are generally excellent family pets. They’re known for their loyalty and affection towards their families. However, due to their size, they should always be supervised around small children.

How often do Bullmastiffs need to be groomed?

Bullmastiffs have short, dense coats that require minimal grooming. A weekly brush should be enough to keep their coat healthy and shiny.

Can Bullmastiffs live in apartments?

While Bullmastiffs are large dogs, they’re relatively inactive indoors and can adapt to apartment living, provided they get daily exercise. However, they’ll do best in homes with a yard where they can roam freely.

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