Breed GroupWorking group
Life Span6-10 years
HeightMales: 30 inches and up; Females: 27.5” and up
WeightMales:160-230 pounds; Females: 120-170 pounds
OriginEngland
Best ForExperienced dog owners

English Mastiff Overview

Dog Breed:
English Mastiff
Breed Group:
Working group
Characteristics:
Loyal, affectionate, docile, brave, powerful
Height:
Males: 30 inches and up; Females: 27.5” and up
Weight:
Males:160-230 pounds; Females: 120-170 pounds
Life Span:
6-10 years
Coat Colors:
Apricot, brindle, or fawn. May have black face markings.
Area of Origin:
England
Best For:
Experienced dog owners

English Mastiff Characteristics

Friendliness
Intelligence
Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The English Mastiff

  • Considered to be a giant breed

  • Loyal and affectionate with family

  • Naturally suspicious of strangers

The English Mastiff is a giant breed with an intimidating appearance. Typically seen with a black mask, the English Mastiff stands at an impressive height and has the heft to back up its stature. This dog breed’s body displays a rectangular profile when viewed from the side and is rippled with strong muscles. 

A dog breed with a short coat, the English Mastiff sheds moderately and has relatively low grooming requirements. The English Mastiff has an endearingly wrinkled forehead which draws attention to the breed’s kind, sweet nature.

In general, English Mastiffs are gentle and affectionate. A breed that was developed to serve as a guardian of its family’s estate, the English Mastiff excels at its job.  A dog that can be a challenge to train, the English Mastiff responds best to positive reinforcement training. Though the Mastiff can be taught new things, the breed is not renowned for its intelligence. 

This dog type is characterized by its intense devotion to those it loves. The English Mastiff will willingly protect its family and approaches strangers with suspicion. A dog that is known to be excellent with children, the Mastiff enjoys their company and is both patient and tolerant during play sessions with them. 

Because the English Mastiff is a giant breed with immense power and strength, this dog is best suited to experienced dog owners. Not a dog breed known for excessive energy, the English Mastiff still requires daily vigorous activity to remain physically and mentally content. Due to their sheer size, the breed is ill-suited to apartment living, preferring a home with a fully fenced yard in which to roam. 

The English Mastiff is a breed that craves the companionship of the people it loves. Though the breed will tolerate alone time when necessary, it is important to ensure the dog has something to occupy its mind and jaws to keep the Mastiff from resorting to nuisance behaviours for entertainment. 

English Mastiff Breed History

  • An ancient breed

  • Also referred to as Mastiff or Old English Mastiff

  • A popular breed for use in war, gladiator-like battles, bull baiting, bear baiting, dog fighting, and work as a watchdog

english-mastiff-on-the-stairs

Mastiff-type dogs have been in existence throughout the globe for several thousand years. The breed has been detected in ancient artwork from such countries as Egypt, Rome, China, Tibet, and Greece. Each of the dogs from these regions of the world were giant in size and considered to be fierce. 

The English Mastiff, a breed simply referred to as Mastiff by the American Kennel Club, is considered to be one of the world’s oldest dog breeds. In 55 B.C, Julius Caesar first spotted this dog type when invading Britain. The prominent Roman dictator was awed by the strength and tenacity of the breed that valiantly fought to defend its country alongside the British soldiers. Later, Mastiffs were transported to Rome to compete in gladiator-like fights against both men and animals in Roman arenas as was the custom of the day.  

The English Mastiff is the product of England during the medieval period. The breed was originally developed to hunt large game as well as to provide watch over the homes of their owners at night. The dogs fought alongside soldiers during times of war. In Chaucer’s famed Canterbury Tales, Mastiffs were referred to as “Alaunts,” a title bestowed upon the breed by the French. One of the breed’s most famous battles was the Battle of Agincourt which occurred in 1415. 

In 1835, the breed neared extinction. The English Mastiff was once used in such sports as bear baiting, bull baiting, and even dog fighting. When these sports became illegal, the future of the breed became in jeopardy. 

Following World War II, Mastiffs were in even shorter supply. It is estimated that only fourteen English Mastiffs still stood at the end of the war. The United States assisted with helping to sustain the breed by bringing breeding stock back to their country for careful breeding. Though the Mastiff of today is sweeter and more approachable than the fierce beasts of old, the dog is still known for its great bravery and fearlessness in the face of danger. 

Occasionally called the Old English Mastiff, the breed’s name traces its roots to the Latin term “mansuetus” which translates to tame or domesticated. Over time, the name was adapted to reflect Old and Middle English, becoming Mastiff. The first documented use of this name in reference to the dog breed is in a published volume estimated to date back to 1387. 

The English Mastiff was owned by many different prominent warriors throughout its history. Kubla Khan was a proponent of the breed and was an influential breeder, operating a kennel which housed up to 5,000 of the breed. It has also been recorded that Mastiffs accompanied famed general Hannibal on his journey through the Alps. 

English Mastiff Size & Weight

  • Males stand at a minimum of 30”

  • Females heights start at 27.5”

  • The Mastiff’s weight ranges from 120 to up to 230 pounds

english-mastiff-on-green-grass

The adult male English Mastiff stands at a minimum of 30 inches at the shoulder. The breed weighs between 160 and 230 pounds. By comparison, mature female Mastiffs can reach heights of 27.5 inches and higher. Their weights range from 120 to 170 pounds. 

The English Mastiff is a giant breed dog. Giant breeds are more costly to own than their smaller counterparts. The amount of high-quality food required for this breed’s nutritional needs comes with an extremely high price tag. In addition to this, potential owners must be prepared for the added expense of the larger versions of everything this dog breed will need including beds, crates, collars, leashes, and medications. 

English Mastiff Personality & Temperament

  • Sweet, brave, and courageous

  • Wary of strangers

  • Excellent with children but best suited to homes with older ones

english-mastiff-with-her-girl

The English Mastiff is well-renowned for its sweet, brave nature. Though once a fierce dog of old, the Mastiff of today is confident, gentle, and kind. The breed can be reserved with strangers and happily assumes its role as guardian of its family. A breed not known for aggression towards humans, the Mastiff will respond menacingly only if the dog perceives its family to be in danger. 

English Mastiffs bond so deeply to their families that even minor family disputes cause them anguish. By nature, the Mastiff is a sensitive soul that requires gentle handling. For this reason, positive reinforcement techniques are the best training methods for this breed. 

The Mastiff can be prone to dog aggression if not socialized with other dogs from a young age. Puppy socialization classes are highly recommended for this dog breed. To introduce a Mastiff puppy into a home with established pets, it is best to do so in a neutral setting to avoid any potential resource guarding. If adding a second Mastiff to a home, choose one of the opposite gender to prevent same sex aggression which can be common in the breed. 

Though the English Mastiff loves children, the breed is extremely powerful and can be clumsy. This means that the dog can accidentally knock down a child, causing injury. For this reason, the breed is recommended for homes with older children. All interactions between Mastiffs and kids should be carefully supervised. 

The Mastiff is very friendly and affectionate with those it loves. However, care must be taken to introduce this dog breed to new people as the dog is naturally wary of strangers. 

English Mastiffs require room to roam, and thus, are not suited to apartment living. The breed should be housed indoors with its family. A breed that bonds deeply to its people, the Mastiff will tolerate some time alone if kept productively engaged. Otherwise, the breed can become quite destructive. 

The Mastiff has a short coat which makes him ill-suited to time spent outdoors in extreme cold. However, the breed does fine outside in warm weather conditions. 

English Mastiff Health & Grooming

  • A heavy drooler

  • Sheds a fair amount

  • Brow wrinkles and jowls must be cleaned and dried regularly to prevent infection

english-mastiff-in-the-lake

The English Mastiff typically enjoys excellent health, though as a giant breed, its longevity is quite short at only 6-10 years of age. Still, the breed can be predisposed to a number of health issues. To help prevent the spread of inherited disease, all breeding pairs should be health tested prior to mating. Among the problems which can plague the English Mastiff are hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, seizures, cystinuria, gastric torsion (bloat), and cancer. 

The English Mastiff has a short, thick coat, and thus, has very low grooming requirements. Experts in the breed recommend brushing the dog a few times each week to maintain good coat condition. The breed does shed quite a bit, but regular brushing will help to curtail this. The English Mastiff will blow its coat several times each year, and during this time, brushing will need to be increased. 

Since the English Mastiff has brow wrinkles and jowls where dirt, debris, and bacteria can accumulate, they will need to be cleaned and dried regularly. The Mastiff is also a profuse drooler. Families that do not want to deal with immense amounts of drool should consider another dog breed. 

Mastiffs can be prone to anal gland impactions. If the dog is rubbing its rear against soft surfaces, is licking the area regularly, or has an unpleasant smell, it is wise to schedule a trip to the veterinarian to have the glands properly released. 

Nails should be trimmed several times per month to promote excellent foot health. In addition to this, regular ear cleaning and dental care are an important part of the Mastiff health and wellness strategy. 

Other common things seen in English Mastiffs include snoring and excessive gas. 

The English Mastiff is extremely prone to weight gain, particularly because the breed is known for being lazy. Regular exercise should play an important part of this dog breed’s daily routine. Carefully measure and monitor all food intake to maintain a good body condition. 

English Mastiff Training

  • A very mouthy breed

  • Not prone to wandering

  • Not much of a barker

English-mastiff-playing-baseball

The English Mastiff puppy is a lot of fun to have around the house. Busy little creatures, they happily get up to mischief, and thus, require a firm commitment to socialization and training. Not a breed of high intelligence, the Mastiff can and will learn if sufficiently motivated. A dog breed that is very sensitive, positive reinforcement training is a must

The average Mastiff can learn the basic obedience commands in approximately two months. Consistency and regular practice are the two key components of learning for this breed. 

Once maturity has been reached, the English Mastiff can easily reach things left on kitchen counters. Exercise caution by placing things out of the dog’s reach that could harm it. 

The English Mastiff is an extremely mouthy breed, and thus, must be taught to use its mouth appropriately. Redirect any attempts at nipping by giving the dog a toy, bone, or ball to chew instead. 

Not typically a prey driven breed, the Mastiff has little desire to roam. The Mastiff is not a particularly vocal breed. 

English Mastiff Exercise Requirements

  • A very mouthy breed

  • Not prone to wandering

  • Not much of a barker

English-mastiff-race-dog-show

Though a giant dog breed, the English Mastiff is not particularly energetic and does not require a lot of activity. However, since this dog breed is quite prone to weight gain, regular daily exercise is a must

Care must be taken to only engage in activity that is appropriate to the dog’s age since giant breeds take far longer to develop than their smaller counterparts. The best exercise for a Mastiff puppy is simply play time with its family and gentle walks. Running, jumping, and vigorous exercise should be avoided for a Mastiff puppy. 

Mastiffs are not a breed that enjoys lengthy bouts of activity. Many will simply refuse to go if they lose interest or feel they are have walked far enough. A daily walk of 20 to 30 minutes in length is generally sufficient to keep this dog breed happy and healthy. It is important to note that Mastiffs are prone to overheating, so be sure to only take this breed for a walk at a time of day when the temperature is moderate. 

The Mastiff is a playful breed that greatly enjoys engaging in fun activities with its family. 

English Mastiff Diet & Feeding

  • Consult a veterinarian for advice

  • Feed a puppy food until age 2

  • Clean bowls and replenish water frequently

english-mastiff-drinking-water

To ensure the English Mastiff receives a diet appropriate to its needs, it is always a good idea to consult the advice of a veterinarian. Giant breeds require a specialized diet until they reach the end of their developmental period at approximately two years of age. Because this breed is prone to overeating, free feeding is strongly discouraged. 

The English Mastiff is extremely sloppy when drinking and leaves lots of drool in its wake. For this reason, their water bowls should be cleaned and replenished with fresh water often

Due to their immense size, the English Mastiff is predisposed to gastric torsion. Though it is not known what causes this condition to occur, there are several precautions that veterinarians recommend. These include no exercise before or after eating and avoiding giving food in raised dishes. 

As with all dog breeds, portion sizes for meals should be adjusted according to the dog’s activity level. The bag of food selected will give basic guidelines as a starting point. These can be modified to meet the needs of the dog. The dog’s weight and appetite can be a helpful guide in this process. 

English Mastiff Rescue Groups

English-mastiff-with-its-owner

For more information about English Mastiffs available for adoption near you, we recommend consulting this comprehensive resource:

 

Mastiff Club of America

https://mastiff.org/

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