Let's talk Mastiffs

Live large: It’s the Mastiff’s calling card. The biggest dog that exists also has one of the most docile temperaments. Mastiffs have a history of being used as guard dogs but possess an even-temperedness that makes them a splendid family pet. Their terribly large limbs and big head – not to mention a face framed in folds of fur – adds up to one charming canine. Be prepared though, as the Mastiff breed is a lot of dog: Males can weigh up to 230 pounds.

Official name: Mastiff

Other names: English Mastiff

Origins: England

Labrador Retriever adult black and white
 Drooling tendencies

Very high

Warm weather? Very low
 Shedding level Medium
Suited to apartment living?  Very low
 Energy level (high, low, medium) *: Medium Family Pet? * 
 Compatibility with other pets Low
Can stay alone? * Medium

* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed’s specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy, healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socialising your pet as well as covering their basic welfare, social and behavioural needs.

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company. However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

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Illustration of a Mastiff
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72 - 104 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight
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54 - 77 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight

 Baby age:  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age:  2 to 8 months
 Adult age: 8  months to 2 years
 Mature age:  2 to 5 years
 Senior age:  From 5 years

Close-up headshot of a Mastiff looking into the distance


Origins of the breed

For many enthusiasts, the Labrador Retriever remains one of the most popular all-round dogs worldwide. It’s thought that Labrador Retrievers originated from the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, where fishermen used dogs of this appearance to retrieve fish. The breed as we know it today, however, was established by the British in the early 1800’s.

The Labrador Retriever Club was founded in 1916 and the first standard followed soon after, predominantly tailored to working Labrador Retrievers who found early fame, having been originally introduced to the U.K. in the late 1800’s by Col Peter Hawker and the Earl of Malmesbury.

Mastiff puppy lying on a rock


2 facts about Mastiffs

1. A nearly extinct breed

Although the Mastiff breed has been in existence for thousands of years, the dog we know as the English Mastiff had almost disappeared in their home country after World War II. It was thanks to some enthusiastic U.S. breeders who started to rejuvenate the dog’s population in England that they prevailed.

2. Shy? You?

Believe it or not, the Mastiff can have a timid temperament. One would think a dog with such a grand legacy and noble presence would be bristling with confidence but the breed can be shy around newcomers until they get to know them. Mastiff puppy training in the way of socialising the dog is immensely important. They’ll get used to the many new people who will eventually cross their path.


History of the breed

As the biggest known breed, the Mastiff can’t be missed. They are not to be confused with the mastiff variety, characterised by a powerful body, hulking head, and broad, short muzzle. 31 separate breeds are considered mastiffs.

The Mastiff proper – referred to as the English Mastiff – has thousands of years of history. Evidence in ancient Europe and Asia show the presence of vicious mastiff dogs. Noticed by Julius Caesar during his invasion of Britain in 55 B.C. for their prowess, the general brought the dogs to Rome to battle gladiators and animals in the arena.

In medieval England, the Mastiff was used for sport and security. Standing firm on British soil throughout the centuries, the Mastiff breed was almost extinct at the end of WWII when an estimated 14 were left. Enthusiastic U.S. breeders stepped in to export dogs hailing from good British stock and the breed was maintained.

Black and white portrait of a Mastiff lying down


From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Mastiffs

1. Ears

V-shaped ears set very wide apart, corresponds to colour of muzzle.

2. Head

Very large head with powerful jaw, defined by folds of skin on side.

3. Body

Giant well-proportioned body characterised by large limbs, paws, thick neck.

4. Tail

Tail tapers to the end, slightly curved.

5. Coat

Coarse and short outer coat, dense short undercoat.

Two Mastiff puppies with their paws hanging over a log


Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Mastiff
Mastiff running through grass


Caring for your Mastiff

Grooming, training and exercise tips

Despite their enormity, grooming the Mastiff isn’t difficult. The breed’s easygoing nature makes them fully cooperative, and their short coat is as simple to groom as any smaller dog with the same. A shedder, use a stiff-toothed comb every few days to remove dead hair. The breed tends to be idle, so exercise is vitally important. The lifespan of a Mastiff is, unfortunately, not as long as many canines – averaging 10 years – so keep them as fit as possible. Training your Mastiff when they are young is also vital as the breed can be wary of strangers, from an unwavering sense of loyalty, so getting them used to people coming and going is important.


All about Mastiffs

Dogs – especially large breeds – lean on people to show their affection. It usually garners an “aww!” from the receiver but is actually a common behaviour and simply a sign that they’d like to be close to you. They’ll even sit on your feet or snuggle close to show they’re true blue. Dogs may also lean on their owner out of fear or insecurity over a newcomer in their midst.

Unflinchingly loyal to their owners, the Mastiff is an affable dog but can be quite wary of strangers. Teaching them good social skills as a puppy should keep them approachable. At an average of 100 pounds – whether male or female – the Mastiff is a big dog for most to handle but they are incredibly good-natured and enjoy being with their human family.

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1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/