Temperament: Courageous, Dignified, Good-Nature
- Height: 30 inches & up (male), 27.5 inches & up (female)
- Weight: 160-230 pounds (male), 120-170 pounds (female)
- Life Expectancy: 6-10 years
- Group: Working Group
The colossal Mastiff belongs to a canine clan as ancient as civilisation itself. A massive, heavy-boned dog of courage and prodigious strength, the Mastiff is docile and dignified but also a formidable protector of those they hold dear.
The Mastiff is a large, massive, symmetrical dog with a well-knit frame. The impression is one of grandeur and dignity. Dogs are more massive throughout. Bitches should not be faulted for being somewhat smaller in all dimensions while maintaining a proportionally powerful structure. A good evaluation considers positive qualities of type and soundness with equal weight.
About the Mastiff
For the uninitiated, a face-to-face encounter with these black-masked giants can be startling. A male stands at least 30 inches at the shoulder and can outweigh many a full-grown man. The rectangular body is deep and thickly muscled, covered by a short double coat of fawn, apricot, or brindle stripes. The head is broad and massive, and a wrinkled forehead accentuates an alert, kindly expression. Mastiffs are patient, lovable companions and guardians who take best to gentle training. Eternally loyal Mastiffs are protective of family, and a natural wariness of strangers makes early training and socialisation essential. Mastiffs are magnificent pets, but acquiring a powerful giant-breed dog is commitment not to be taken lightly.
NUTRITION For rapidly growing giant breeds such as the Mastiff, proper nutrition is critical through puppy-hood and up to 2 years of age. Slow and steady growth is optimal. If fed a densely caloric diet lacking an appropriate calcium/phosphorous ratio, Mastiff puppies and young adults are prone to skeletal disorders. Most breed experts recommend that puppies start on an adult dog food formulation with a protein percentage no higher than 26 percent, and a calcium/phosphorous ratio of approx.1.2:1. Feeding scheduled meals is recommended, rather than free-feeding, to avoid excessive weight gain.
GROOMING The Mastiff’s short, dense coat is easy to groom, usually requiring only a quick brushing every few days. During periods of heavy shedding once or twice a year, more frequent sessions with a strong, toothed comb are recommended to remove dead hair. The ears and the deep wrinkles around the Mastiff’s head, eyes, and muzzle should be regularly inspected and cleaned, and the nails trimmed short. Finally, Mastiffs drool! Most owners keep cloths at hand to wipe “slingers” off their Mastiff’s face and their own and visitors’ clothing.
EXERCISE Bred to be guardians of “hearth and home,” Mastiffs have comparatively low exercise requirements and can live happily in an apartment. They benefit physically and psychologically from free play and daily walks—a mile or two for adult Mastiffs. However, owners must be careful not to overtax growing puppies and young adults: Don’t allow them to run up and down stairs, jump from heights, or engage in long walks. Begin with no more than half a block for a 2- to 3-month-old puppy. Additionally, Mastiffs are notorious for plopping down during walks when they are tired or overheated. Therefore, a rule of thumb is to not walk them farther than you can carry them back!
TRAINING Obedience training and early socialisation are “musts” for Mastiffs. Mastiffs learn quickly and want to please. However, the repetitions in a typical training class will quickly bore them, at which point they may lie down, snoring. Make eye contact with your Mastiff; they communicate a great deal with their eyes, and they are excellent at reading your expressions and body language. Use praise and positive rewards—you can easily hurt their feelings by raising your voice. Hold several short sessions during the day, keeping it fun and varied. When treated with love, inclusion, and respect, Mastiffs can be trained to excel in almost any sphere.
HEALTH The Mastiff Club of America (MCOA) provides in-depth information on breed health. Responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as seasonal allergies, eye anomalies, heart disease, cancer, eye and hip dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease, degenerative myelopathy, and epilepsy. Hygromas—harmless natural “cushions” that protect the elbow joints when the Mastiff is lying on hard surfaces—are common. Do not allow the vet to drain them. Finally, Mastiffs can experience bloat, a life-threatening condition where the stomach suddenly distends and often twists as well. Owners should educate themselves as to what symptoms indicate this is occurring and what to do should it occur.