skip to content

English Mastiff

English Mastiff


Mastiffs derive from ancient dogs of the Old World. One of the earliest references comes from the Roman poet Virgil in 39 BC. Even the great Aristotle mentioned them in his work. During the reign of England’s King Henry II, Mastiffs were considered superior dogs for guarding the castle and fighting other beasts. Later in history when dog fighting was banned in England, their numbers began to dwindle. World War I made matters worse for the Mastiff, and many were put down due to food shortages. But some at that time were exported to the US, where there was a growing interest in the breed. In fact, there are references to Mastiffs arriving in the US on board the Mayflower in 1620. Settlers used the Mastiffs to defend themselves against attacks by Native Americans. And by the end of the 19th century, the first Mastiffs were being exhibited at shows. But World War II brought more disaster for the Mastiff both in the US and in England. Due to the efforts of a very small few, the breed was preserved and today the United States is leading the world in Mastiff breeding.


Beneath the Mastiff’s impressive exterior is a tender, sensitive being who is serene and quiet. They are confident dogs that understand their strength and power, and generally do not act without provocation or reason. Mastiffs seem to assess a given situation before acting, carefully evaluating all the factors. They can seem stubborn, taking their time to “decide” if they want to follow a command. But they are a great family dog, with a particular liking toward children, of whom they are usually keenly protective. They do not, and SHOULD NOT, be trained for guarding and defense in the traditional methods. A Mastiff instinctively guards, and any training aimed at making them more aggressive is very destructive to their calm temperament. The Mastiff is as powerful and deliberate as they are intuitive and profound.

Breed Standards:

  • Working Group
  • Males are a minimum 30 inches at withers, 160 – 230 pounds
  • Females are a minimum 27 inches at withers, 120 – 170 pounds
  • Full body maturity is reached at 2 - 3 years
  • Average litter = 6 - 12 puppies
  • Average life span is 9 - 11 years
  • Short, mildly coarse outer coat with a dense, short undercoat
  • Colors = Apricot, Fawn, or Brindle

Everyday Care:

  • Exercise: Young Mastiffs should not be over-exercised, as this could harm their growth. Walks should not last more than 5-10 minutes. One recommended exercise for Mastiffs is supervised swimming.
  • Feeding: It is best to feed two or three meals a day instead of only feeding once. A Mastiff should never be exercised one hour before feeding or for two hours afterwards. And they should never be allowed to gulp water. Be sure not to overfeed, as obesity can be a problem with Mastiffs.
  • Grooming: Brush your Mastiff twice weekly. Bathing is completely discouraged for this breed, as they are prone to develop skin problems if their skin gets too dry. Ears should be checked weekly and cleaned if needed. And nails should be trimmed when you can hear them clicking as the dog walks across the floor. Mastiffs need to have their anal glands checked monthly and expressed when needed.
  • Attention: It is vital that you make a Mastiff feel like an integral part of your family. They are not independent, but instead prefer to be in the company of their family and spend most their time indoors. Physical contact means a lot to a Mastiff, hence it is cruel to relegate them to lengthy isolation in a backyard.

Health Considerations:

  • Because of their extreme growth rate, Mastiff puppies should she a vet every 15 days throughout their first year.
  • Acne
  • Acral Lick Granuloma
  • Gastric Torsion (Bloat)

Am I Right for You?

  • I tend to drool and snore
  • Do you own an SUV or larger vehicle? Because of my size and clumsiness, you will need a large vehicle and a ramp to help me get in and out.
  • An apartment and/or small yard are okay as long as you can provide me with daily exercise.
  • Because of my size, substance and strength, you will need to be careful that I don’t succeed in ruling the household.
  • Every family member must adhere to the same way of training and instructing me, so that I understand my place in the family.
  • Harsh words, threats, shouts and punishment only make me lose interest and respect for you. My owner must be patient enough to train me calmly and positively, in a gentle manner.