The English Mastiff is a very large breed of dog. Its ancestor is actually believed to be a very ancient type of dog which has contributed to the development of many modern breeds that we have today. These are all large types of dogs and are commonly called Mastiffs. The English Mastiff is characterized by its great size, massive head, and a short coat which comes in various colors.
The modern version that we have today was established in the 19th century and since then the breed has gone through various fluxes in popularity. The English Mastiff breed went sharply in decline at one point and brought them dangerously close to reaching extinction levels. Luckily today the breed is back on track and the popularity and the need for English Mastiff hounds have risen extremely.
History & Origins
The English Mastiff belongs to the Mastiff group of hounds which are very ancient. This dog breed is believed to be a descendent of the molosser, which is a very old dog breed originating from the mountains of Asia. Its purpose was believed to be to guard flocks from predators and other bigger animals. The molasses hound is also believed to be the descendent of many other contemporary breeds that we have today. The ancient Mastiff dogs were then used in various places of the world with their size being their biggest advantage.
They were used for hunting and war mainly and were even capable of fighting with lions. They served at courts and were also a part of Hannibal’s army when he invaded the Alps. The modern version of the English Mastiff is believed to be a crossbreed from the ancient Alaunt and Pugnaces Britanniae, and also a very big addition from the Alpine Mastiff. The breed was officially recognized and established in the 19th century. They almost died out during WWII, but thanks to Mastiff puppies being imported back from Canada the breed was saved and is pretty stable now.
English Mastiff Characteristics & Temperament
Almost everyone would describe an English Mastiff as a courageous and loyal dog. They are docile and good in nature and they display affection. They are very good with people and will immediately form a bond with the owner and the family. Training them is not so difficult but you still have to be careful how you do it. English Mastiffs do not like harsh language and aggressiveness, so doing this while training a puppy may result in you getting a shy dog and fearful dog.
Socialize the dog and provide it with plenty of space to exercise. Since Mastiffs are so large in size they are better off in a rural area or in a yard where they have a lot of space to round. An English Mastiff also does well with strangers but if a burglar comes along or if the dog notices that the stranger forms a threat to the owner, they will display hostility to the perpetrator. They also dislike arguments in the family and will try to break it off in their own way if they can.
Appearance, Colors, Size
In terms of mass, the English Mastiff is probably the largest dog breed in the world. They are characterized by having a massive blocky head. They have a large body with great depth and breadth. According to the standards, a male English Mastiff should reach a height of 30 inches while females are usually 27.5 inches. The English Mastiff average weight of a full-grown male is about 150–250 pounds and a female weighs between 120 and 200 pounds. This breed also has a short and close-lying coat.
Sometimes you can occasionally see long heard Mastiffs who are nicknamed fluffies, but this type of dog is not recognized by any Kennel. The usual types of colors that they may have are apricot-fawn, silver-fawn, fawn, or dark fawn-brindle. They carry a mask on their face which is usually colored in black around their muzzle, ears, eyes, and nose.
English Mastiff Health
Due to the size of an English Mastiff, there are certain issues in regards to its health that you have to watch for. First of all, the dog will need a fair amount of exercise as it develops and grows, but it is not recommended for the dog to run when they are young or at least until they weigh about 5 lbs. Their joints need to form properly so they are able to handle their massive bodies. You also need to balance their diet and make sure to feed them properly as it is also going to affect its health.
Also makes sure that you provide a soft spot for the dog to sleep so they do not get soars. An average English Mastiff will reach 7 years as that is their life expectancy. But it is not uncommon for some to have a lifespan of 10 to 11 years. Health issues that you have to know about include:
- hip dysplasia
- gastric torsion
- cardiomyopathy, allergies
- vaginal hyperplasia
- cruciate ligament rupture
- progressive retinal atrophy
- persistent pupillary membranes.
Grooming & Shedding
An English Mastiff sheds at least two times a year. During the spring and fall seasons you may expect heavy shedding and you should brush your dog to prevent any hairs from flying around. But some dogs shed all year round. Either way daily brushings of hair are necessary or you may also use a shedding blade to remove the excess hair.
As far as other forms of grooming you will have to inspect and clean out the wrinkles from time to time as bacteria might get in. Wash your dog’s mouth twice or three times a week. Inspect the ears as bacteria may get in and cause problems as well. As far as their nails and paws go, you have to trim them from time to time as well and make sure to care about their paws as these dogs are extremely sensitive when it comes to them.
English Mastiff Price and Breeders
An English Mastiff is not cheap to buy at all. The price span can start from 500 dollars and even reach 5,000 dollars for certain types of dogs. But if you visiting a respectable breeder that you are sure has a large reputation you can expect to be given a price between 1,800 dollars and 2,500 dollars. Breeders are found all around and except the UK, there are some in Canada and the US.
Rescue groups have also become popular and there are numerous ones that you are able to try out. Visit Great Lakes Mastiff Rescue, Mastiff Club of America Rescue, or Mountain States Mastiff Rescue. Here you will do well to find a puppy or a bigger dog to adopt and rescue.
Are These Dogs Aggressive?
English Mastiffs are typically even-tempered and very gentle by nature. However, Mastiffs are protective and wary of strangers, and if they feel threatened or scared, they may become aggressive.
Nevertheless, an English Mastiff that has been properly socialized and trained from a young age, while will always feel the need to be protective, will never lash out.
How Many Puppies Do English Mastiffs Have?
An English Mastiff’s litter size can vary greatly. Some English Mastiffs give birth to just one or two puppies, but others give birth to more than a dozen. That being said, English Mastiffs generally tend to have large litters, and the English Mastiff’s average litter size is around eight puppies.
What to Feed my Puppy?
An English Mastiff puppy grows very quickly because they are a giant breed. For this reason, it is vital they are provided proper nourishment during puppyhood. If an English Mastiff puppy is not given the right nutrition, they will be at higher risk of developing health issues later on in their life.
Due to their rapid growth, an English Mastiff puppy needs more protein compared to an adult English Mastiff. English Mastiff puppies should have food that contains approximately 25% to 30% protein and 13% to 15% fat.
Below are a couple of high-quality dry foods suitable for English Mastiff puppies:
Fromm Family Foods Gold Large Breed Puppy Dry Food. The protein amount is 26% and the fat content is 14%.
Taste of the Wild Lamb Dry Puppy Food. Grain-free and the protein amount is 25% and the fat content is 15%.
An English Mastiff puppy’s daily food intake should be based on their age, appearance, and appetite. Mastiffs are more susceptible to bloating than other dog breeds, so it is crucial that their daily food intake is broken down into smaller meals throughout the day instead of one large meal. To further help prevent bloating, try to discourage your Mastiff from eating too quickly, and consider elevating their food bowl to help them eat more comfortably.
Be careful not to overfeed your puppy. A too high-calorie intake can cause accelerated growth which can lead to bone problems.
Will My English Mastiff Protect Me?
English Mastiffs have a natural protective instinct and will defend their owners if they perceive a threat. However, English Mastiffs will not defend their owners by being physically aggressive. Instead, they opt for more defensive tactics such as standing between their owners and the danger.
Due to their protective nature, you should not train an English Mastiff to guard or defend, as this could make them more aggressive and cause other behavioral problems.
Are English Mastiffs Good Family Dogs?
English Mastiffs have a gentle temperament and are laid-back. They are loyal, love spending time with their owners, and are very relaxed in a home environment. Mastiffs form close bonds with people they have grown up with.
Despite their kind and caring qualities, they are still giant dogs, and they may unintentionally cause harm to small children when playing, usually by accidentally knocking them over. English Mastiffs are therefore not recommended for families with babies or very young children.
However, English Mastiffs do get along extremely well with children in general and are very patient. If you have older children who know how to behave around large dogs, an English Mastiff can be a great addition to your family.