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The Mastiff is an impressive large dog from Great Britain that can be traced back to the Molosser group. The large, powerful dog served as a guard dog and faithful guardian of house and yard. In Germany, the breed is now on the list of dangerous dogs in some federal states, although there is no inherent aggression in the large dogs. In other countries, they are family dogs and are even used to protect herds in some villages. In the FCI standard, the Mastiff can be found in the following group: FCI Group 2 Pinschers and Schnauzers – Molossers – Swiss Mountain Dogs and other breeds, Section 2.1 Molossoids, mastiff-like dogs without a working trial with the standard number 264.

Mastiff Dog Breed Information

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Size: 70-91cm
Weight: Males: 72-104 kg, females: 54-77 kg
FCI Group: 2: Pinscher and Schnauzer – Molosser – Swiss Mountain Dogs and other breeds
Section: 2.1: Molosser, mastiff-like dogs
Country of origin: Great Britain
Colours: fawn, brindle, apricot
Life expectancy: 10-12 years
Suitable as: guard, companion and family dog
Sports: –
Character: Dignified, affectionate, good-natured, courageous, calm, caring
Exercise requirements: rather high
Drooling potential: high
Thickness of hair: medium
Maintenance effort: medium
Coat structure: short, close fitting, harsh
Child friendly: yes
Family dog: yes
Social: rather no

Origin and breed history

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The Mastiff is a representative of the very original type of dog, the Molosser. The first Molossers were already highly valued protection and watchdogs in antiquity, who also went into battle with their masters as war dogs in times of war. The Babylonians immortalized their highly valued Molossians on granite, and the Romans also decorated many vases and buildings with images of the imposing dogs. This shows that the Molossians have always lived closely with humans.

For a very long time, the Molossians hardly changed, they were spread throughout Europe by the nobility and slowly formed the dog breeds known today, which are still reminiscent of Molossians due to their strength and physique. Including the bulldogs and the mastiffs. The pure breeding of the mastiff took place in England, where the strong breed of dog was also called the English mastiff because of its size. Over the centuries the Mastiff has been modified into its current form, larger than the original Molosser and also significantly heavier, yet the heritage of the former war dogs is still clearly to be cherished.

The first club for the English Mastiff was founded in 1872, a little later in 1883 the Old English Mastiff Club was founded. This shows that the breed was still in flux. The old Mastiff was much more athletic and had a longer life expectancy than today’s Mastiffs. For the last time in 2009, the standard was adapted to today’s form of the mastiff. In Germany, the breed can only be found very rarely, because the Mastiff is counted among the dangerous dogs in Germany and keeping it is only possible under strict conditions.

What does mastiff mean?

The name Mastiff was initially an umbrella term for all dogs that correspond to the original type of the Molosser. From this, the Mastiff has developed over time as a separate dog breed, as have the Bullmastiff and many other dog breeds that can be traced back to the ancient Molossians.

Nature & Temperament of the Mastiff

At first glance, the mastiff looks very impressive and radiates a lot of power and strength, while the mastiff is a very calm and good-natured dog. He has a very strong nervous system and almost nothing can faze him. His high stimulus threshold is particularly evident when dealing with people. He doesn’t let strangers upset him and usually reacts neutrally but friendly to new people. He is aware of his strength and uses it in a very controlled manner when interacting with others of his own kind without being aggressive. On the contrary, because he has his strength under control, he can also interact well with smaller dogs.

The good-natured dog is fairly easy to keep and train as long as its owner makes the effort to socialize and train the dog well. He is very affectionate with the people in his family and can be very affectionate and cuddly. Despite his size, he is more of a relaxed guy and likes to lie around almost lazily. However, he can also be surprisingly fast, with the ancient form of the breed being significantly more athletic than today’s Mastiffs. However, the character has hardly changed, they are still absolutely loyal to their owners and would defend them with their bodies in an emergency.

The Mastiff’s calm and easygoing temperament is only disturbed by his occasional stubbornness. If the strong dog does not see the meaning behind a command, he is happy to be asked several times by his owner. The gentle giant gets along very well with children, is particularly patient and likes to be cuddled. An education is usually possible without problems, you just need the necessary calm and patience. It is advisable to start preparing for the companion dog test very early on, so that he can walk without a muzzle and leash.

The appearance of the Mastiff

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The Mastiff has a distinctive appearance that is very reminiscent of the ancient Molosser. His powerful and large appearance looks imposing and impressive. At the same time, he radiates a sovereign calm and always has his surroundings in view. Typical of the mastiff is its massive head with the black mask and the skin folds on the muzzle and forehead of the dog. The drooping lips are also striking. These also cause some Mastiffs to drool. The eyes have a friendly and at the same time very alert look, in many representatives of the breed the eyelids droop a little, which can lead to dry eyes and conjunctivitis if this phenomenon occurs strongly.

The Mastiff’s coat is short and lies close to the body with a rather smooth texture. The fur has little undercoat, which is very dense. The FCI has a clear color scheme for coat colors. The colors sand, brown and gray are allowed here, as well as a brindle variant. Each colorway comes with the dog’s black face mask. The Mastiff should have a strong physique and be able to move freely.

Unfortunately, until a few years ago, breeders pursued a very unhealthy image of beauty, and dogs that became heavier and larger were sometimes bred. These had only a very short life expectancy and significant problems when walking. Therefore, the cultivation of these exaggerated ideals was forbidden. A reasonable height for the Mastiff is 70-76cm and weighs around 70kg.

What does a mastiff look like?

The Mastiff is a very large and heavy dog that has an impressive appearance. The wrinkles on the dog’s face and its almost sluggish movement are typical of the breed. He belongs to the Molosser group and is one of the largest and heaviest dog breeds in the world. Its fur is short and close-lying, and is usually light in color with a dark or black facial mask.

Training and husbandry of the mastiff – this is important to note

The Mastiff is a very large and powerful dog. Of course, you have to have such a dog under control first. Therefore, good socialization and training of the dogs is essential. Dogs of this breed have a good nature and low demands when it comes to keeping them.

However, before buying a mastiff, the owner should inquire about the keeping conditions in the respective federal state and especially in his city. Because unfortunately the mastiff is on the list of dangerous dogs in many federal states and may either not be kept at all or only under strict conditions.

When keeping it, it is of course an advantage if the dog can live in a house with a garden or yard. However, he does not necessarily need a yard or a garden and also feels comfortable in a rented apartment. However, he should only walk a few flights of stairs, as stair climbing puts stress on the heavy dog’s joints and bones. In general, he is not a sporty dog, but rather the relaxed representative. Dog sport is out of the question for the heavy mastiff. If you want to get your Mastiff moving, you should let him swim, the heavy dogs love water and are good swimmers.

Despite his occasional stubbornness, the Mastiff is very easy to train with a lot of patience and time. He is an obedient dog and in some situations just needs a little motivation and persuasion from his owner. It is very important that the Mastiff gets to know all everyday things and situations very early, so that he can react calmly and calmly to them. The social animals rarely have a problem with other dogs and are not disturbed by other dogs. However, the heavy dog ​​is not suitable for beginners, since its stubborn nature sometimes requires a lot of patience and its protective instinct is often underestimated by dog ​​beginners. In general, dog beginners quickly underestimate the effort and extra costs that such a large and heavy dog ​​can cause.

Is a Mastiff a Fighting Dog?

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The mastiff is on the list of dangerous dogs and is only allowed under strict conditions in many states. However, he does not have increased aggressiveness or react aggressively towards humans in any way. In fact, he has a very high threshold and is a very patient dog.

Diet of the Mastiff

A good Mastiff diet has been shown to help increase the dog’s life expectancy. A mastiff needs quite a large amount of food. A high-quality dog ​​food must primarily contain meat. In addition, the dog food should be suitable for large breeds, as otherwise the mastiff grows too quickly and can have growth problems, especially at a young age. A good breeder can give the new owner good advice on what food is best for the Mastiff while it is growing. Since the mastiff tends to have an upset stomach, there should be silence when eating and the dog needs a rest phase of about an hour immediately after eating before it should become active again.

The owner must be careful not to overweight their mastiff, because the heavier the dog, the more stress it puts on its bones. It makes sense to consult your veterinarian regularly.

When the mastiff gets old, it should slowly be switched to a stomach-friendly senior food, preferably from the age of 7.

Health – life expectancy & common diseases

Unfortunately, the Mastiff is not a particularly healthy breed. He suffers from various hereditary diseases and has a short lifespan. This is primarily due to the breeding associations in the past. Breeders have always wanted to breed their mastiffs larger and heavier. There have been animals over 90 kg that have won prizes at breed shows. The standard was adapted more and more – until the breeding associations realized that the breed was getting more and more problems and the animals could hardly walk. There was therefore an official ban on breeding these strong exaggerations and the dogs should be bred again in a more natural and, above all, healthier form. It is therefore very important when choosing a breeder to look closely at the parents and their health.

Potential hereditary diseases include above all joint diseases such as hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. In addition, the clear wrinkles on the face can lead to inflammation, as well as eye diseases, caused by the hanging eyelids and even some heart diseases in Mastiffs.

Life expectancy depends very much on the breeder. If it is a good breeder who pays particular attention to the health of the animals and does not only want to breed very large and heavy dogs, the mastiff can reach around 12 years. However, most of the animals only live to be 9 or 10 years old, because for a long time breeders only wanted larger and heavier dogs, which often had problems walking normally.

How old can a Mastiff get?

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The age that a Mastiff can reach depends very much on its health. A healthy mastiff from a good breeder can live to be 12 years old. Unfortunately, many of the dogs only live to be 9 or 10 years old and have serious health problems.

Grooming the Mastiff

Although the mastiff has a fairly easy-care coat, the four-legged friend needs more care in other areas. The wrinkles on the dog’s face must be kept clean and checked regularly so that they do not become infected. Mastiffs that have very drooping eyelids sometimes have to be treated with eye ointments. In any case, the eyes should be checked every day for redness or protrusion.

Otherwise, the Mastiff sheds as much hair as other dogs with a similar coat texture, such as a Great Dane, and should simply be brushed every few days.

Mastiff – Activities and Training

The Mastiff is a very easy-going dog that is not suitable for dog sports and is also a very undemanding dog when it comes to exercise. It is enough for him if he goes for a walk twice or three times a day for half an hour each time. He also does not need any further physical exertion. If its owner has the opportunity, he can let the mastiff swim regularly. The big dogs like water very much and swimming is easy on the joints and the musculoskeletal system of the animal.

Good to know: Peculiarities of the Mastiff

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The Mastiff goes back to the very original type of Molossians and is therefore one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. Unfortunately, the appearance and especially the size and weight of the dog has been repeatedly changed, for example by breeding the so-called round head, which is considered to be torture. The Mastiff breed is now on the way to becoming a reasonably healthy dog breed again. However, it still depends heavily on the breeder as to how healthy the dogs are.

Especially in Britain, the mastiff is a very popular dog and in the USA, together with the bull terrier, it is still a popular family dog with a protective instinct. The Mastiff is absolutely friendly with children and his people and can be very affectionate.

Disadvantages of the Mastiff

A clear disadvantage of many Mastiffs is poor health. Even if the Mastiff comes from a very good breed, some problems can develop. The high costs in particular are overwhelming for many owners, because the mastiff usually entails high veterinary costs, as well as enormous feed costs, since the large dog eats a lot. Since the Mastiff is a list dog, there are also higher costs in the area of dog tax and insurance.

Is the Mastiff right for me?

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The Mastiff is a quiet powerhouse. He has a high threshold and needs a very little exercise, but the big dog should not be underestimated. Because of its weight, hardly any owner is able to hold the strong dog when it really pulls.

He’s easy to train, despite his stubbornness. However, its people need patience and must adapt to the pace of the gentle giant and place great value on good basic obedience. The high protective instinct of the mastiff should not be underestimated, the mastiff should never be taken as a status symbol. This breed of dog is less suitable for beginners and seniors.

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