Mastiffs are some of the largest dogs on earth. Experts describe them as mighty, mammoth, massive and... mellow? You might not expect a dog this GINORMOUS to have such a sweet disposition, but they do.
This ancient breed is also dignified and powerful. Originally bred for military service and guardian duties, Mastiffs remain among the favorite breeds for protection work to this day. But it's their calm, gentle natures that make us love these dogs.
Originally from England, this large-sized and medium-energy breed can grow to between 175-190 pounds and lives an average of 9-11 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Working group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Guardian
Breed Group: Working
Average Lifespan: 9-11 years
Size: Extra Large
Bark Factor: Moderate
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
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
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A MASTIFF'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
You might consider a Mastiff the “Hagrid” of dogs: giant, loyal, affectionate, and sensitive. It's in their nature to be protective, particularly toward any children they view as “theirs.” Because they're so large, it's important to supervise them when they're playing with little ones and to socialize them early and often.
WHAT IS MASTIFF BEHAVIOR LIKE?
This is a somewhat active breed. They won't need to run for miles every day, but plan for rigorous romps and long walks.
We might have already mentioned that Mastiffs are very protective. Their thunderous bark will always let you know if someone is at the door. But if they've had enough exercise and they're not on the job, Mastiffs typically make polite and tranquil housedogs.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A MASTIFF?
Training a Mastiff is a bit challenging—they have a stubborn streak, and have you tried talking a 190-pound dog out of anything?—but absolutely essential. The good news is that they're fast learners. This breed can be destructive; it's important to set limits early and often. There's no bullying this big gal (and they're so sweet — how could you stand to?), so plan to use lots of positive reinforcement and be consistent while training.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO MASTIFFS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
A Mastiff's short, coarse coat definitely sheds, but doesn't need much in the way of grooming. Plan for weekly brushing and bathe your pup as needed.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO MASTIFFS HAVE?
As a breed, Mastiffs are generally healthy. Some are prone to hip and joint problems, which is to be expected in such a large dog. Others suffer from cancer, eye disease, or kidney stones. Be sure to keep their head wrinkles dry and clean to discourage irritation and infection.
Feeding your baby Mastiff a growth food for large-breed puppies will slow their rate of growth but not diminish their adult stature which may help prevent or reduce the impact of adult-onset hip dysplasia. Some adult Mastiffs also tend toward tubbiness, so be mindful about meals and snacks.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE MASTIFFS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Mastiffs among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and allergy-aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, so they produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as large as a Mastiff! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT IS A MASTIFF'S BEST DAY?
Mastiffs don't ask for much, just the chance to run around a bit, play with you, and hang out somewhere she can be sure you're safe.
SHOULD I ADOPT A MASTIFF?
This breed is better in cold weather than in the heat, but realistically speaking, climate is not the deciding factor in whether or not you want to bring this dog home with you. Folks looking for a tidy, low cost dog who will fit on their lap (or their bed for that matter, if they still want to fit in it too) are probably not looking for a Mastiff. They're huge, they're droolers and farters, and their appetite for life will eat you out of house and home. On the other hand, folks who want—or need—a large, imposing dog who will also be devoted and gentle toward its chosen people would have to go a long way to find a better fit than this gentle giant.
Have you decided that a Mastiff is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.