Mastiff

Table of Contents

mastiff portrait
Meet the Mastiff, the gentle giants of the dog world! Known for their impressive size and heart-melting loyalty, these colossal canines offer a unique blend of teddy bear tenderness and bear-like brawn.

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

Mastiffs are best for those seeking a gentle giant with a heart of gold. Ideal for families with space to spare, these dogs thrive on love and companionship. If you’re someone who enjoys a quiet evening with a warm, furry friend sprawled across your lap, Mastiffs are your perfect match!

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEMastiff
OTHER NAMESEnglish Mastiff
ORIGINEngland
BREED GROUPWorking Group
BREED SIZEGiant
HEIGHT24-30 inches
WEIGHT120-230 lbs
LIFESPAN6-10 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERHigh
GROOMING NEEDSLow
EXERCISE NEEDSModerate
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYLow
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYHigh
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK37th
mastiff dog standing on grass agaisnt blue sky
Photo: AndyWhale/Getty Images

Appearance

Welcome to the world of Mastiffs, where everything is grand and majestic! Standing tall at an average height of 27.5 to 30 inches for males and 24 to 27 inches for females, these dogs are true titans of the canine kingdom. But it’s not just their height that’s impressive – their weight is equally awe-inspiring, with males tipping the scales at 160 to 230 pounds and females at 120 to 170 pounds.

Now, let’s talk about their physique. The Mastiff boasts a muscular, power-packed body that exudes strength and stability. Their broad chest and well-rounded shoulders add to their robust appearance, making them look like the bodybuilders of the dog world. And yet, despite their formidable size, these dogs move with surprising grace and agility.

The head of a Mastiff is nothing short of a masterpiece. It’s large, square-shaped, and perfectly proportioned to their body. Their expressive eyes, generally dark or hazel, sparkle with intelligence and kindness. Nestled between their eyes are their ears, which are medium-sized, V-shaped, and fall gracefully close to their cheeks.

What about their faces, you ask? Well, one look at a Mastiff’s face and you’re bound to fall in love. Their expressive eyebrows, distinctive wrinkles, and gentle, endearing expression make them irresistibly adorable.

But what’s a Mastiff without its iconic tail? Long, tapering, and reaching up to their hocks, their tails are held high when they’re excited and low when they’re relaxed.

And lastly, we can’t forget their beautiful coat. Short, dense, and straight, it serves as the perfect canvas for their stunning color palette, which includes fawn, apricot, or brindle. The coat is also weather-resistant, adding to their rugged charm.

In all, the Mastiff is a magnificent blend of strength, dignity, and tenderness. Despite their intimidating size, they carry themselves with such elegance and gentleness that you can’t help but be drawn to them.

mastiff dog lying on green grass
Photo: Waldek Dąbrowski / 500px/Getty Images

Temperament

Personality-wise, the Mastiff is the perfect balance between being a dignified protector and a loving companion. Their loyalty knows no bounds as they form strong bonds with their family, cherishing each member and safeguarding them with unwavering devotion. When you’re feeling down, they’ll be there with a comforting nuzzle, as if to say, “It’s okay, I’ve got you.”

Despite their imposing appearance, Mastiffs have a heart of gold. They are incredibly gentle and patient, especially with children, whom they often see as their precious little charges to protect. In their eyes, kids are the source of joy and playfulness, and they will gladly participate in games and antics, always making sure to be gentle with their big paws.

The Mastiff is a gentle soul with a calm and composed demeanor. They don’t seek attention or the spotlight, preferring to observe and assess situations from a distance. But don’t be mistaken; beneath their composed exterior lies an inner guardian that’s ready to step up when the need arises. Their protective instincts are unparalleled, and they will fearlessly defend their family and territory.

While they may not be the most exuberant or playful breed, Mastiffs have their moments of playfulness and goofiness that will bring a smile to your face. You might catch them rolling around on the floor or playfully nuzzling your hand, reminding you that even the most serious beings can have a playful side.

Mastiffs are also renowned for their intelligence and intuition. They seem to possess an innate ability to sense emotions, making them exceptional therapy dogs and companions during tough times. Their calming presence and intuitive nature have a way of soothing anxieties and bringing peace to those around them.

With their deep-set expressive eyes and soulful gaze, Mastiffs seem to communicate without words. When they look at you, it’s as if they understand your every thought and feeling. Their eyes speak volumes, expressing warmth, love, and a sense of understanding.

At times, their protective instincts may manifest in a watchful and reserved manner around strangers. They take their time to assess new faces, always ready to defend if they sense any danger. But once they know someone is a friend, they extend their welcoming nature and gentleness.

mastiff dog walking in a field
Photo: JenniferPotter/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The Mastiff is a gentle giant who loves nothing more than being part of the family’s daily activities. But what’s the ideal environment for these big-hearted canines? Let’s dive in.

Physical Environment

First off, Mastiffs need space. Their large size makes small apartments less than ideal. They’re better suited to homes with yards where they can stretch their legs and enjoy a bit of fresh air. However, they’re not outdoor dogs. They thrive on companionship and prefer spending most of their time indoors with their human family.

One specific precaution to keep in mind is that Mastiffs, like all large breeds, can be prone to joint issues. Therefore, living environments with lots of stairs might not be the best fit for them.

Climate Adaptability

As for climate adaptability, Mastiffs have a short, dense coat that provides some protection against the cold. However, they’re not built for extreme cold conditions and should be kept indoors during harsh winters.

On the flip side, their tolerance for heat is low. In hot weather, it’s crucial to provide them with plenty of shade and water, and avoid excessive exercise.

Ideal Owner

Mastiffs are best suited to pet parents who are home most of the time. These dogs form deep bonds with their families and don’t do well when left alone for long periods. They love being involved in family activities, whether it’s watching TV together or simply lazing around in the same room.

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, Mastiffs are usually quite sociable. They get along well with other dogs, especially if they’ve been raised together. They’re also generally tolerant of cats, making them a great choice for multi-pet households.

mastiff walking in water
Photo: Tamara528/Getty Images

Grooming

Mastiffs are relatively low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. But let’s break it down step by step.

Coat Care

Firstly, let’s talk about their coat. Mastiffs have a short, dense coat that sheds moderately throughout the year. During shedding season, which usually happens twice a year, expect a bit more fur around the house.

A weekly brush with a firm bristle brush or a grooming mitt will help keep their coat healthy and reduce shedding. This is also a great bonding activity – who doesn’t love a good pampering session?

Bathing your Mastiff doesn’t need to be a frequent affair. Given their short coats, a bath every couple of months is usually enough unless they get particularly dirty. Make sure to use a dog-friendly shampoo to maintain the natural oils in their skin and coat. After a bath, dry them thoroughly to avoid any skin infections.

Dental Care

Now, let’s move on to dental care. Like all dogs, Mastiffs need regular teeth cleaning to prevent plaque buildup and oral diseases. Brushing their teeth at least two to three times a week is recommended. You can use a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste for this. Regular dental check-ups with the vet are also a good idea.

Nail Trimming

Next up are those big paws. Mastiffs don’t usually wear their nails down naturally, so you’ll need to trim them every few weeks. If you hear their nails clicking on the floor, it’s time for a trim. Use a dog nail clipper or grinder for this task. If you’re unsure about doing it yourself, a professional groomer or vet can help.

Ear Care

Don’t forget those floppy ears! Mastiffs have medium-sized ears that hang close to their cheeks, making them prone to infections. Check their ears weekly for any signs of redness, bad odor, or unusual discharge. A gentle clean with a dog-specific ear cleaner and a cotton ball can help keep their ears healthy.

Additional Grooming Tips

Lastly, remember those adorable wrinkles on their face? They need some attention too. Wipe them regularly with a soft, damp cloth and dry them properly to prevent any bacterial growth.

mastiff's face up close
Photo: Tamara528/Getty Images

Exercise

Despite their large size, Mastiffs are not high-energy dogs. They’re more like gentle giants who prefer a leisurely lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need exercise – they do, just not as much as some other breeds.

Exercise Amount & Types

So what should you expect when it comes to exercising your Mastiff? Well, a healthy adult Mastiff will be content with a couple of 20- to 30-minute walks daily. These walks serve multiple purposes – they help keep your Mastiff’s weight in check, provide mental stimulation, and offer a great opportunity for socialization.

But walking isn’t the only form of exercise for these dogs. Mastiffs, despite their laid-back demeanor, can enjoy play sessions. A game of fetch in the backyard or a fun puzzle toy can provide both physical exercise and mental stimulation. Just remember not to overdo it – Mastiffs are prone to joint issues and excessive running or jumping is not recommended.

Dog Sports

When it comes to dog competitions, Mastiffs can participate in events like obedience trials, rally, and carting. While they’re not typically seen in agility or flyball competitions due to their size, they can excel in events that tap into their intelligence and natural guardian instincts.

Exercise Precautions

As Mastiffs grow older, their exercise needs decrease. Older Mastiffs might be content with a short walk around the block and some gentle playtime at home. It’s important to adjust the exercise routine based on your dog’s age and health condition.

mastiff's profile
Photo: Fur-Fetched/Getty Images

Training

Training a Mastiff is a journey filled with fun, challenges, and lots of rewarding moments! Mastiffs, with their intelligence and eagerness to please, are fairly trainable dogs. But like any other breed, they have their quirks and specifics when it comes to training.

First off, it’s important to start training your Mastiff early. These dogs grow quickly and before you know it, you’ll have a large, strong dog on your hands. Early training ensures they learn good manners while they’re still manageable in size.

When it comes to the type of training, socialization should be high on your list. Given their protective instincts, Mastiffs need to learn to differentiate between friend and foe. Expose them to different people, places, sounds, and experiences as early as possible to help them grow into well-rounded dogs.

Obedience training is another crucial aspect. Teaching your Mastiff basic commands like sit, stay, come, and leave it can go a long way in managing their behavior. Remember, Mastiffs are big dogs and having control over them is essential for everyone’s safety.

Now, let’s talk about the how. Mastiffs respond best to positive reinforcement methods. They’re sensitive dogs and harsh corrections or punishments can do more harm than good. Instead, use treats, praises, and petting to reward good behavior. Consistency and patience are key – don’t expect your Mastiff to learn everything overnight.

One specific thing to keep in mind is that Mastiffs can be a bit stubborn at times. If you encounter a stubborn streak during training, remain calm and patient. Never force them into doing something they’re uncomfortable with. Instead, motivate them with positive reinforcements.

mastiff lying on grass
Photo: 3bugsmom/Getty Images Signature

Diet & Nutrition 

Feeding a Mastiff is not just about filling their bowl with dog food. It’s about providing them with a balanced diet that meets their unique nutritional needs.

What to Feed & How Much

Let’s start with what to feed your Mastiff. Dry kibble, wet food, or raw diet – which one should you choose? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. The best choice depends on your Mastiff’s age, health condition, and personal preferences. Regardless of the type of food, make sure it follows the AAFCO guidelines for complete and balanced nutrition.

When it comes to how much to feed, again, there’s no fixed rule. The amount of food your Mastiff needs depends on their age, weight, and activity level. Puppies usually require more food than adults due to their rapid growth.

An adult Mastiff might need anywhere between 6 to 8 cups of high-quality dry food per day, divided into two meals. However, it’s always best to consult with your vet to determine the right portion size for your dog.

Treats

Treats are another important part of your Mastiff’s diet. They can be a great training aid and a way to show your love. But remember, treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. Too many treats can lead to weight gain and other health issues.

Water

Hydration is crucial too. Ensure your Mastiff has access to fresh water at all times. Their large size means they’ll need more water than smaller breeds, especially during hot weather or after exercise.

Additional Feeding Tips

Lastly, remember that every Mastiff is unique. What works for one might not work for another. Monitor your dog’s weight and overall health regularly and adjust their diet as needed. With a balanced diet and proper feeding routine, your Mastiff can enjoy a healthy, happy life. So let the culinary adventure begin!

mastiff dog in a park
Photo: DevidDO/Getty Images

Health

Mastiffs typically have a life expectancy of 6 to 10 years. Like all breeds, they are prone to certain health conditions. But fear not, with proper care and regular vet checks, your Mastiff can lead a healthy, happy life.

Here are common health issues associated with Mastiffs:

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit snugly into the hip socket, leading to discomfort and mobility issues.

Elbow Dysplasia: Similar to hip dysplasia, this involves malformation and degeneration of the elbow joint.

Gastric Torsion (Bloat): This is a serious condition that can cause the stomach to twist, preventing gas from escaping. It requires immediate veterinary attention.

Heart Disease: Mastiffs are prone to certain types of heart conditions, including cardiomyopathy and mitral valve disease.

Obesity: Given their laid-back nature, Mastiffs can easily gain weight, leading to various health problems.

To keep your Mastiff in the best health, a balanced diet is key. Feed them high-quality dog food that meets their nutritional needs. Avoid overfeeding and monitor their weight regularly to prevent obesity.

Regular veterinary check-ups are also essential. Your vet can conduct routine physical examinations, administer necessary vaccinations, and catch any potential health issues early.

Exercise is another important aspect of a Mastiff’s health. Though they’re not high-energy dogs, regular moderate exercise helps keep them physically fit and mentally stimulated.

mastiff dog lying on the floor
Photo: jaqy/Getty Images Signature

History

Mastiffs are believed to have ancient roots, with their ancestors appearing in bas-reliefs from the Babylonian era circa 2200 BCE. These early depictions show dogs who bear a striking resemblance to modern Mastiffs, suggesting that they may be one of the oldest breeds we know.

The breed’s journey continued into Britain, where they were appreciated by the Romans and later established by the time of Julius Caesar. They played significant roles throughout history, serving as war dogs, guard dogs, and companions to nobility. One famous story from the early 1400s tells of an English knight, Sir Piers Legh, who was saved by his faithful Mastiff during the Battle of Agincourt.

Fast forward to the mid-1800s, when dog shows became popular in England. Wealthy people began keeping and breeding Mastiffs, establishing the first recorded pedigrees. These dogs were then brought to America, where they quickly gained popularity for their size, strength, and noble disposition.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the Mastiff breed in 1885. Since then, the Mastiff has secured its place in the hearts of dog lovers across the country. The Mastiff currently holds the 37th spot on the AKC’s list of Most Popular Dog Breeds.

Beyond their historical significance, Mastiffs have also made a name for themselves in popular culture. They’ve appeared in numerous films and TV shows, often cast as guard dogs due to their imposing size and protective instincts. From “The Sandlot” to “Transformers”, these dogs have shown their star power on the silver screen.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Mastiff breed in the United States is the Mastiff Club of America. It was founded on March 13, 1929, making it one of the oldest breed clubs in the U.S. The club is dedicated to the well-being of the Mastiff breed, promoting responsible ownership and breeding practices.

For more information about the Mastiff Club of America, you can visit their official website.

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 out the Mastiff’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

mastiff puppy playing in the park
Photo: crisserbug/Getty Images Signature

Acquiring

So, you’ve decided to invite a Mastiff into your life? That’s exciting! Before you bring home your gentle giant, it’s important to prepare. Ensure you have enough space for them and be ready for lots of slobbery kisses!

If you’re buying, always choose reputable breeders. They prioritize the health and temperament of their dogs over profits. The Mastiff Club of America can provide a list of trusted breeders.

But have you considered rescuing? There are many Mastiffs in shelters waiting for a loving home. Rescuing not only gives a dog a second chance at happiness, but it’s also a rewarding experience for you. The American Kennel Club and the Mastiff Club of America can help you navigate the rescue process.

Remember, whether you buy or rescue, bringing home a Mastiff means welcoming a loyal, loving companion who’ll fill your life with joy. So get ready for this wonderful journey!

FAQs

Are Mastiffs friendly dogs?

Yes, Mastiffs are known for their gentle and friendly nature. They’re often referred to as “gentle giants” because of their big size and bigger hearts. They’re affectionate with their families and generally get along well with children and other pets.

Is the Mastiff the strongest dog?

While strength can vary among individual dogs, Mastiffs are considered one of the strongest breeds due to their size and muscular build. However, they’re typically calm and gentle rather than aggressive.

Are Mastiffs stronger than wolves?

It’s hard to say, as strength can depend on many factors including size, training, and individual temperament. However, it’s important to remember that domestic dogs, including Mastiffs, are not wild animals and should not be compared to or expected to behave like wolves.

Are Mastiffs gentle?

Absolutely! Despite their imposing size, Mastiffs are known for their gentle and calm demeanor. They’re affectionate, loyal, and enjoy being around their human family.

Do Mastiffs require a lot of exercise?

Mastiffs are not as high-energy as some other breeds, but they still require regular exercise to keep them healthy and happy. Expect to give them 45-60 minutes of exercise each day.

Are Mastiffs easy to train?

Mastiffs are fairly trainable dogs, thanks to their intelligence and eagerness to please. However, they can also be a bit stubborn at times, so patience and consistency are key in their training.

Can Mastiffs live in apartments?

While Mastiffs are large dogs, they’re also quite laid-back and can adapt to apartment living as long as they get enough exercise. However, their size should still be considered, especially in smaller spaces.

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