(aka: English Mastiff, Old English Mastiff)
The Mastiff is a giant of a dog, and has a muscular and powerful build. These dogs always look alert and keen, but due to their sheer size can come across to some as menacing. The coat of the Mastiff is close fitting, short, and sleek. The coloring can be fawn, apricot, or brindle, with black markings around and between the eyes. He has a short, wrinkled muzzle, and his small ears fold forward to the sides of his head. The weight of the Mastiff is around 120-170 pounds for females, and 165-220 pounds for males. The height of these dogs is 28-32 inches for females, and 30-34 inches for males.
The Mastiff is a dignified and loyal dog, with bags of courage, a pleasant nature, and high intelligence. The gigantic proportions of this breed make the Mastiff an effective deterrent and watchdog. Many Mastiffs are gentle giants, and have an even temper and docile nature. However, there can be aggression in some lines, and timidity in others. Early socialization is important with this breed in order to promote stability and confidence. These dogs require effective training, and although not difficult to train they do require a confident and assertive owner and are best suited to those with experience of dog ownership. This is not a breed for those with little time for a pet, as these dogs thrive on companionship and affection from their families.
The Mastiff is not an overly active dog, but he does need a moderate amount of exercise in order to keep him fit and healthy. Although these dogs do not bark much, he is too large for apartment living, and does need somewhere secure and safe to exercise and enjoy activities, as well as regular walks. The Mastiff gets along well with children that he has been brought up with, and many will get along fine with other pets, although some can be dominant. Many will also be friendly and welcoming toward strangers. In the right environment, and with early socialization and the correct training, these dogs make good family pets.
The Mastiff is a low maintenance dog when it comes to grooming, and occasional brushing along with a wipe down with a damp cloth can help to keep the coat sleek and get rid of dead hair. These dogs do shed constantly, so may not be ideal for severe allergy sufferers; however, the shedding is light, so some allergy sufferers may not have a problem with this breed.
The Pugnaces Britanniae was the progenitor to the Mastiff, however it is extinct now. The Mastiff name was probably came from the Anglo-Saxon word "masty" meaning "powerful." It is recognized as the oldest English breed. It is descended from the Molosser and the Alaunt. It is said to have been brought to Britain in the 6th century B.C. It was used for the blood sports of: bear-baiting, bull-baiting, dog fighting, and lion baiting. Throughout the history of the Mastiff, it has contributed to the development of several other breeds.
There is some evidence that the Mastiff came to America on the Mayflower. However, documentation of the breed's existence in America was not until the late 1800's. However, in 1835 the Cruelty to Animals Act was passed in the United Kingdom and baiting of animals was prohibited. As a result, the Mastiff lost its popularity.
There is a story about the Mastiff that proves its character. It is said that when Sir Peers Legh was wounded in the Battle of Agincourt that his Mastiff stood over him and protected him through the many hours of the battle.
Training the Mastiff can be a somewhat difficult process. They do tend to have a mind of their own and will try to dominate the process. Therefore it is essential to prove to the dog early on that you are the boss and that you mean the things that you say. This is done best through patient, consistent, but firm training.
One of the most essential elements for training the Mastiff is socialization. They are excellent watchdogs and guard dogs and therefore become very protective of their owners or families. It is essential that the dog is socialized from a very young age to try and reduce the tendency to become overly protective against strangers. This can be done by taking the dog to new places and meeting new people. It is essential for the owner to show the dog that the other person is safe and acceptable by being friendly and welcoming.
The Mastiff can be a very dominant dog around other animals, especially dogs of their same sex. However, this too can be minimized through socialization. They are gentle-giants today, but were originally bred to be fighting dogs and therefore those tendencies may come out every now and again. The Mastiff is not an agility dog and does not really like to be playful. However, they do follow obedience training moderately well. Despite their ability to pick up on obedience training, they have a very low to moderate ability for problem solving.
As with many larger dog breeds, the Mastiff has a relatively low life expectancy compared to some breed, and lives for around 5-10 years. There are a number of health problems to look out for with this breed, and this includes: luxating patella, strokes, epilepsy, spinal problems, eye problems, thyroid disorders, OCD, HOD, HD and elbow dysplasia, heart defects, bloat, kidney problems, and sensitivity to drugs and chemicals. They can also suffer heatstroke in very hot conditions. The parents of the Mastiff should have OFA and CERF certificates.