Do English Mastiffs Make Good Family Pets?

While researching English Mastiffs (commonly called, simply, Mastiffs) as a potential new dog, you’ll find plenty of information about them. Everything can be found regarding their temperament, breed standard, potential weight, and anecdotes.

Yes, they are large dogs that are brave and gentle. So large that the largest recorded dog was an English Mastiff named Zorba that weighed 343 lbs.

However, the question you are likely wanting an answer to is seldom addressed directly. Are English Mastiffs good family dogs? The answer is a resounding yes, English Mastiffs are excellent family pets.

Why English Mastiffs Are Good Family Dogs

English Mastiffs are a giant breed, and some families may be hesitant to add a potentially 150+ lb animal to their home. However, Mastiffs are the embodiment of the phrase “gentle giant.” These large, wrinkly pups have a sweet and loving temperament to match their kindly expression.

English Mastiffs are patient with children, slow to anger, protective of their families, and happy to lay at their masters’ feet (or couch) for hours on end. While happy to explore the woods, English Mastiffs are the ultimate Netflix binge companion and indoor speed bump.


English Mastiff Care

A large, slow-growing breed like an English Mastiff requires some special care, which should be considered before choosing one as a family pet. Giant breeds like Mastiffs require a special diet, otherwise, they can be prone to skeletal disorders. Consult your veterinarian for the best diet for a giant breed.

Nutrition science is always evolving as we learn more about dogs and their needs, so your vet is the best source for accurate and up-to-date information. English Mastiffs are happy with a walk or some playtime once a day, and otherwise content to laze away the day.

However, they require socialization to ensure that they don’t develop reactivity or aggression to strangers, as they are a guardian breed. Training is helpful for living with these Molossers, to ensure that their size does not cause any issues in daily life.

Where to get an English Mastiff: Adopt or Buy

The options for acquiring an English Mastiff are obvious: you can adopt or purchase. However, ensure that you’re getting a Mastiff from a reputable source, and one that works best for you and your family. Adoption is a popular and charitable choice. After all, what’s better than giving a home to a dog that doesn’t have one? Purchasing an English Mastiff is also a valid option for families that have needs or preferences that can’t be accommodated by a rescued Mastiff.

If adoption is the best option for your family, consider a foster-based rescue for your English Mastiff. Foster families can give potential adopters insight into their foster Mastiffs that facility-based rescues may not. A reputable rescue will screen adopters to ensure that future families are a good fit for the dog. Responsible rescues will be willing to support their alumni dogs for the entirety of the dogs’ lives.

As a bonus, if anything should happen to your family, your English Mastiff will always have somewhere to land. However, there are some risks that come with adoption. Frequently rescue dogs come from poorly bred stock, which sets them up for a lifetime of genetic health issues themselves. This is incredibly crucial for an English Mastiff; whose lifespan is only 8-10 years even when healthy.

Adopters also cannot be certain of the entirety of their new dogs’ history, and so may find that their new pup has an unexpected fear of tall men or children in hats. These are usually not dealbreakers but may take a lifetime of management or training.

Often, buying an English Mastiff from a responsible breeder is the right choice for families. A responsible, reputable breeder will only breed proven, health-tested dogs with correct temperaments and sound structure. This ensures that puppies have the best chance of long, healthy lives. Further, a future Mastiff owner should look for a breeder that raises their puppies with socialization in mind – an example would be a breeder that uses Puppy Culture or a similar puppy raising protocol.

Usually, an English Mastiff from a breeder like those mentioned will have met and had positive experiences with children of all ages. A good breeder of English Mastiffs will also offer lifetime support and take their puppies back at any time in their life.

Is an English Mastiff Right for Your Family?


An English Mastiff is a great choice for just about any family, barring those most active or urban. If you enjoy quiet nights in, an occasional walk, and don’t mind stepping over an eternal doggy speed bump, a Mastiff will fit into your lifestyle. You must be willing to dedicate time and training to socialization and teach children not to ride their pony-like dog.

Otherwise, these are an easy dog to handle and care for. Moderately trainable, affectionate without being clingy, patient and gentle; English Mastiffs are sure to fit into most dog-loving families.

Written by Chloe Weasley