Mastiff Guide

Working Dog Breeds

The massive mastiff is heavy-boned with a powerful musculature, being slightly longer than tall. It combines great strength with endurance. Its power and strength are evident in its gait, which should have good reach and drive. Its double coat consists of a dense undercoat and a straight, coarse, outer coat of moderately short length. Its expression is alert but kindly. The overall impression should be one of grandeur and dignity.

The mastiff is innately good-natured, calm, easygoing and surprisingly gentle. It is a well-mannered house pet, but it needs sufficient room to stretch out. This is an extremely loyal breed, and though not excessively demonstrative, it is devoted to its family and good with children.

AKC RANKING 33

FAMILY livestock dog, sheepdog, mastiff

AREA OF ORIGIN England

DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times

ORIGINAL FUNCTION guardian

TODAY'S FUNCTION guardian

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 30 Weight: 175-190

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 27.5 Weight: 175-190

OTHER NAME English mastiff

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Energy level Low energy

Exercise needs Low

Playfullness Not very playful

Affection level Very affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Shy

Ease of training Moderately easy to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Very protective

Grooming needs Low maintenance

Cold tolerance Medium tolerance

Heat tolerance Low tolerance

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The adult mastiff needs daily moderate exercise, consisting of either a good walk or game. It does not enjoy hot weather. It can live outdoors in temperate or cool weather, but it does not do well in warm weather; in fact, even though it may be physically able to live outside, it is a breed that should live inside with its family so that it will be inclined to fulfill its role of devoted guardian. It tends to drool. Coat care is minimal.
• Major concerns: CHD, gastric torsion
• Minor concerns: ectropion, PPM, vaginal hyperplasia, elbow dysplasia, PRA
• Occasionally seen: cardiomyopathy
• Suggested tests: hip, elbow, eye
• Life span: 8 &150; 10 years
• Note: Obesity can be a problem.
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The mastiff is the prototypical breed of the ancient mastiff group of dogs. The confusion between the mastiff breed and the mastiff family makes it very difficult to trace the history of the breed. Even though the mastiff family is one of the oldest and most influential, the breed is undoubtedly of more recent, though still ancient, origin. By the time of Caesar, mastiffs were used as war dogs and gladiators. In medieval times, they were used as guard dogs and hunting dogs and became so widespread as to become commonplace. Mastiffs later stepped into the arena of dog fighting, bull-baiting and bearbaiting. Even when these cruel sports were banned in England in 1835, they continued to be popular events. The modern mastiff descends not only from these pit dogs but also from more noble lines, being descendants of one of the most famous mastiffs of all time: the mastiff of Sir Peers Legh. When Legh was wounded in the battle of Agincourt, his mastiff stood over him and protected him for many hours through the battle. Although Legh later died, the mastiff returned to his home and was the foundation of the Lyme Hall mastiffs. Five centuries later the Lyme Hall mastiffs figured prominently in founding the modern breed. Some evidence exists that the mastiff came to America on the Mayflower, but the breed's documented entry to America did not occur until the late 1800s. The breed was nearly decimated in England by World War II, but sufficient numbers had been brought to America by that time to keep the breed going. Since that time, it has gradually risen in popularity.
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