The Mastiff, also called the English Mastiff, is an ancient breed believed to have descended from Molassers. Weighing 118 to 250 pounds and standing 70 to 90 centimetres at the withers, it is a gentle giant that has guarding capabilities. It is a sensitive dog that builds a strong bond with its owners. It has a short, close-lying coat that is easy to maintain.
Do you think an English Mastiff will fit your lifestyle and personality? Get to know this dog before taking the big leap.
The Mastiff is one of the most ancient breeds, believed to have come from Molassers. In fact, Mastiff-type dogs were seen in ancient bas-reliefs and other artefacts uncovered by archaeologists from different ages such as Babylonian, Egyptian and classical Greek civilizations. They were used as guard and war dogs and for entertainment, made to fight against lions and other wild animals.
It is believed that the modern Mastiff breed we see today came from the huge dogs that were used as guard dogs in estates during the 15th century, particularly Lyme Hall. The breed’s numbers significantly dropped during the two World Wars and during the time when bullbaiting, bearbaiting and dog fighting were banned.
Mastiffs were saved from extinction thanks to the breeding efforts of enthusiasts and breeders around the world. Through careful selective programmes, the breed’s numbers gradually increased and the quality of the Mastiffs produced improved in the process. The Mastiff is recognised by major registries worldwide, including The Kennel Club under the Working Group.
Appearance and Grooming
Weighing 118 to 250 pounds and standing 70 to 90 centimetres at the withers, the Mastiff is a large dog with a powerful and well-knit frame, which gives off an imposing appearance. Its head is large and square and its skull is broad. Its flat forehead becomes wrinkled when it is alert or curious. It also has well-developed cheeks, dark hazel eyes, small and thin ears that are set wide apart, a broad nose with open nostrils, an extremely strong jaw, and powerful teeth.
The Mastiff’s coat is close lying, with a coarser texture in the shoulder and neck. According to KC standards, the accepted colours are apricot, brindle and fawn. Grooming-wise, this breed is pretty low maintenance, only requiring weekly brushing with a rubber hound glove and wiping using a chamois cloth. Its wrinkles must also be cleaned to avoid bacterial infections. Bathing can be done as needed when it is physically dirty and starting to have that doggy smell. It is worth noting that the Mastiff sheds continually throughout the year, quite heavily during spring and autumn so prepare for more frequent brushing. Also get ready to clean the furniture and sweep the floor more often because there will be more hair during this time.
Other grooming aspects that get overlooked are tooth brushing, nail clipping and ear cleaning. Because they are often disregarded, a lot of dogs suffer from preventable health issues such as tooth and gum disease and ear infections.
Temperament and Intelligence
The Mastiff’s general appearance is enough to scare away intruders especially those that are unfamiliar with the breed. However, it is actually a gentle giant that is a great family companion. It is affectionate towards family members and builds strong bonds with them. As such, it cannot be left alone as it craves for human interaction. It is better off in households where one family member always stays at home.
Mastiffs often demonstrate polite aloofness since they would rather keep their distance around strangers than show aggression. However, as sensitive dogs, they are quick to come to their owner’s rescue when the need arises. Aside from being great guard dogs, they are also alert watchdogs.
Although it is laidback by nature, the Mastiff is not recommended for families with very young children and first-time owners because it can prove to be challenging considering its size, as well as the work needed to train and socialise this imposing dog. Regardless of the age of children, adults should always supervise interactions and teach them to treat dogs with kindness and respect. When it comes to other pets, Mastiffs can get on well with other dogs, cats and small pets especially those they grow up with. However, be cautious with the neighbour’s cats and small animals to be safe.
Mastiffs are intelligent dogs that would want nothing but to please their owners so they are highly trainable. However, they are best suited for experienced owners that are familiar with the needs of these types of dogs. As soon as the Mastiff puppy arrives in the home, trainings should immediately start, beginning with basic and obedience commands. As soon as it is fully vaccinated, it must be socialised and exposed to different people, animals and situations so it grows to become well rounded.
Nutrition and Feeding
A typical serving for an adult Mastiff is 6 to 8 cups of excellent quality dry dog food per day. However, this only serves as a guide because feeding depends on various factors such as the dog’s age, size, build, activity level, and metabolism. As your dog grows, it is better to work hand in hand with a trustworthy veterinarian so it gets the right amount and type of food in the different stages of its life.
Typical calorie needs of an adult 185-pound Mastiff per day:
- Senior and less active: up to 3,100 calories daily
- Typical adults: up to 3,500 calories daily
- Physically active/working dogs: up to 3,900 calories daily
Prospective owners need to understand that dogs have varying nutritional needs. For Mastiffs, they should be given high quality dog food formulated for large breeds. Ensuring healthy joints and maintaining a proper weight are vital to keep them healthy. They thrive on a diet rich in protein, paired with the right amount of carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
Health and Exercise
The Mastiff is a generally healthy dog with an average life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. It is predisposed to certain heath conditions including allergies, eye issues, kidney stones, bloat, obesity, Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, and Bone Cancer.
Mastiffs may be large dogs but since they are not high-energy dogs, they don’t require too much exercise. At least 1 hour’s worth of physical and mental activities daily will suffice. This could be in the form of short walks, interactive games and free time at a back garden. Not being able to release its energy could cause unwanted behaviour such as being noisy and destructive.
Cost of Ownership
If you have set your eyes on buying a Mastiff, prepare to pay around £400 to £1,000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. When it comes to feeding, you will need to spend £80 to £90 a month on high-quality dog food. You also need to factor in the initial cost for dog accessories and equipment such as eating bowls, leads, collars, and beds, which will likely be about £200 altogether depending on the brand.
As to healthcare you need to be prepared in case your dog suddenly falls ill or gets into an accident. You can offset some bills if you get a pet insurance, which can range from £62 for a time-limited cover up to £128 for a lifetime one. These prices vary depending on your dog’s health and age, the type of cover you choose, and whether it has pre-existing conditions.
Other outgoings to consider are veterinary expenses that may not be included in a pet insurance coverage such as vaccinations, routine checks, neutering or spaying, and annual boosters, which can have a combined cost of £1500 annually. In a rough estimation, you will be setting aside £150-£200 a month for recurring expenses, depending on the type of insurance cover you choose for your dog. This estimate does not include the rates for other services such as walking and grooming.
Are you sure the Mastiff is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.
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