Mastiff-type dogs appear on the artifacts of ancient civilizations such as Babylon and parts of Asia.
Trade most likely brought the Mastiff to Britain, where they were valued for their size and strength.
Those characteristics were exploited by the ancients, who bred these dogs for protection and as attack animals, using them for dog fights, bear-, lion- and bull- exhibitions. Their fearlessness and ferocity made them ideal companions for the battlefield, where they dutifully accompanied soldiers in combat. In fact, the name “Mastiff” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word masty, which means “powerful.”
After the Romans’ invasion of Britain, they were impressed with the dogs after seeing them fight alongside British warriors, so much so that they exported some of them home. In Rome, these dogs were once again used in blood sports, fighting other animals and even gladiators in the Coliseum. They were also used to protect property and guard prisoners.
Over the years in England, Mastiffs were bred more for their protective qualities instead of for their fighting abilities. They served as guard dogs for landowners, protecting property and livestock from poachers.
Today, the fighting instincts have been completely bred out of the Mastiffs, to the point that they’re docile creatures with sensitive souls. They make excellent family pets and get along well with all family members, young and old. Because of their sheer size, they may be a little too much dog for some families to handle, but their temperaments are sound.
Mastiffs are content to spend their days lounging and soaking up love from their humans and will likely have to be prompted to get up and exercise. They have retained their intense loyalty and even their protectiveness — a trait that should not be misinterpreted as aggression. They will alert pet parents to a possible danger or even place themselves between their families and a threat.
Mastiffs are remarkably gentle, especially when taking their size into consideration
They are dignified and calm
Completely devoted to their families
Mastiffs are natural guard dogs and will place themselves between their parents and strangers if they sense danger
Mastiffs are what’s known as a “giant” breed
Mastiffs are one of the heaviest of all dog breeds
Males can weigh anywhere from 150-250 pounds
Females can weigh from 120-200 pounds
30 inches minimum for males at the withers (shoulders)
27-1/2 inches minimum for females at the withers (shoulders)
Mastiff Family & Home
Because they are generally docile, they are considered good family pets (because of their enormous size, though, they may be too much dog for some families to handle)
They are exceptionally loyal and this is especially true with their families
If you’re afraid of a little drool, look elsewhere
Mastiffs tend to snore
Mastiffs lean toward laziness if not prompted to walk and exercise daily
They are protective but not aggressive
Pet parents need to walk and exercise their Mastiffs daily
Instead of one large meal per day, feed Mastiffs a few small meals throughout the day to help prevent bloat
Resist the temptation to overfeed these massive animals — they tend to gain weight easily
Bathe and comb when necessary to remove dead hair
Keep ears clean and nails trimmed
Like many puppies, Mastiff babies sometimes bark when excited during play
Adults rarely bark, but may if they feel like there is a threat or something needs investigating
Mastiffs require firm but gentle training methods
Positive reinforcement training works best for these sensitive dogs
Mastiff coats are typically short and close-lying to the body
Mastiffs come in the colors fawn, apricot or brindle
Mastiffs always have a “mask,” or black around their muzzles and eyes
They always have black ears
About 10 years
To adopt or rescue a Mastiff, visit the Mastiff Club of America’s website to learn more.
PHOTO: ocean yamaha