Also known as the Old English Mastiff, these dogs are one of the heaviest breeds. Male Mastiffs can exceed 200 lbs. and stand as tall as 34"-36" at the shoulder. The females are usually somewhat smaller. They are very powerful, massive and muscular. Mastiffs are gentle giants, intelligent, confident and watchful but patient with a sweet nature towards family and children. Coat colors are varying shades of fawn, brindle or apricot. The grooming of a Mastiff is minimal. Contact the dog breeders below for your next family friend.
English Mastiff Puppies for Sale
The English Mastiff appears foreboding because of its size, but in fact, it is called the "gentle giant" because of its personality. The modern English Mastiff goes back to the 19th century, with lineage stabilized in the 1880s. It has a large head, and can be of a few colors, but it always has a black mask over its face. It experienced a decline in popularity some years ago, but now is undergoing a resurgence. Although not certain, the term "mastiff" may have come from the Anglo-Saxon word "masty," which means "powerful." The Oxford English dictionary says that the word came from the French word "mastin," derived from the Latin "mansuetus," meaning "mild," "gentle," or "tame." One of the first references to the English Mastiff occurred in 1570, when author Conrad Heresbach, in his work Rei Rusticae Libri Quatuor, referenced "the Mastie that keepeth the house." He was writing in Latin, but an English translation of his work was done a few years later by Barnabe Googe in his work, Foure- Bookes of Husbandrie.
It is speculated that the English Mastiff's descendants were dogs that were brought to Britain by the Phoenicians in the sixth century BC. The Romans apparently used English Mastiff descendants in blood sports like dogfighting, lionbating and bullbaiting, an interesting phenomenon considering the dogs’ extremely gentle, patient, peaceful temperaments. Its predecessors, called the Bandogs, were tied closely to houses. Throughout its own development as a breed, it has also contributed to a number of other dog breeds.
It is not quite known when the English Mastiff came to America, but it may have been on the Mayflower. Its first documented entrance into America occurred in the late 19th century.
Historically, although the English Mastiff's predecessors were used for baiting sports as described above, this was explicitly prohibited when the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835. The English Mastiff nonetheless continued as a highly valued guard dog, with organized breeding beginning in the 19th century. A man named John Wigglesworth Thompson acquired Dora, a bitch mastiff, and a stud, Hector, for the first recorded English Mastiff breeding, although neither dog had a pedigree. Between 1830 and 1850, Thompson bred dogs specifically to produce a species with broad, short heads and massive bodies.
In 1835, a man named V.H. Lukey began to breed his own mastiffs, although these were not as massive in build and were taller than those Thompson produced. After 1850, Lukey and Thompson worked together, ultimately producing the modern English Mastiff. Until the 20th century, many of these dogs were officially without pedigree.
Beginning in the 1880s, the English Mastiff briefly lost popularity because of a drop in determination to go for "type" in breeding principles. A subsequent rationing of meat during wars also led to its decline. (The English Mastiff is a breed that requires a specialized, high protein diet to support its rapid growth.) Distemper further weakened the breed, so that after World War II, a single puppy in the British Isles reached maturity, Nydia of Frithend. The stud used to produce her puppies had to be declared a mastiff by the Kennel Club. Despite this difficult circumstance, however, the breed has been restored in Britain, and is now the 26th most popular dog in the United States and is currently a member of the AKC's Working Group.
The English Mastiff is the largest dog breed in terms of sheer mass. It has a very large head with a broad skull and a body that is generally square, solid and robust. With a sturdy solidity to match its large head, its substantial torso is very wide and long, especially with a massive chest between the forelegs. It stands 30 inches high at the shoulder on average and can weigh between 150 to 200 pounds. Although dogs like the Great Dane and Irish Wolfhound are taller, their build is sleek and much more streamlined.
The largest mastiff in history also has the greatest recorded weight for a dog, 343 pounds. In 1989, the Guinness Book of World Records recorded that the English Mastiff Zorba, seven years old at the time, stood 35 inches tall at the shoulder and measured 8.25 feet long from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail.
The mastiff's hair is short and lies close, although there are a few long-haired mastiffs around. Grooming is generally very easy, with a simple schedule of daily brushing. The underlying color is fawn, with accompanying colors of apricot, silver, or a dark brindle, although the face is always covered with black on the ears, nose and eyes. Occasionally, blue brindle and black are the accompanying colors to the standard fawn-colored coat, or other colors will take precedence over the fawn, such as apricot or brindle.
Called the "gentle giant," the English Mastiff will rarely attack, but it will protect its master. It is docile even with strangers, usually, and is an especially good choice as a family pet. This dog is very sensitive and easy to please, and is extremely patient and relaxed even with small children, in spite of its massive size.
It is an excellent guard dog, but this is because of its intimidating size rather than for any inclination to attack. When the English Mastiff senses that its master or another loved one is in danger, it places its vast bulk between its master and the attacker or perceived dangerous person, protectively. It can growl very menacingly, but will only actually attack if provoked directly. Even then, its preferred method of "attack" is to simply lie on the intruder until the master can summon assistance from authorities. It will stay in place and simply pin intruders to the ground until told to release.
Highly respectful of its owners’ wishes, this polite, sweet-tempered, devoted breed will make an excellent family companion. It is well-mannered, easygoing, and very calm. English Mastiffs, however, require daily exercise, and can have a tendency to become fat and lazy if not given some physical stimulation. Yet, it trains very easily especially with kind, persistent, and consistent training methods which are highly recommended. Excessive discipline is not necessary, nor is an overly authoritarian attitude required in the owner. These dogs want nothing more than to please their masters, so they don't need the kind of guidance and direction some other breeds, like the German Shepherd, might require. Harsh discipline is especially discouraged, since this gentle breed can easily be wounded emotionally. In fact, their owners often call the English Mastiff a "giant teddy bear," because it is so mellow, affectionate and good-natured. Although it is very intelligent, unlike some other breeds, it doesn't require a lot of intellectual stimulation and simply wants to "be" with the people it loves. It's equally friendly toward canine companions of other breeds, so it adapts well within a multi-dog household.
This is one area where the English Mastiff can provide some challenges, especially in the early years. English Mastiff puppies grow very rapidly, and will need a specialized diet appropriate for those high-growth needs. While they require regular exercise, they shouldn't run to any great extent for the first two years of life. This is because running is highly stressful to the body especially during such a rapid rate of growth. These dogs tend to be lazy and don't naturally gravitate toward a lot of physical activity, so you as the owner should take special care to make sure your pet gets enough exercise on a daily basis.
Because of the English Mastiff's massive size, sleep surfaces must also be somewhat specialized. The dog's sheer weight can cause problems with the musculoskeletal system in general, causing stress on the joints, when the dog lies down. To prevent difficulties, a soft, cushioned but supportive, very sturdy dog bed of adequate size should be provided. Without this type of sleeping surface, the English Mastiff can develop arthritis, calluses, and a condition called hygroma, which is inflammatory swelling caused by the pressure of its weight. Gastric torsion and hypothyroidism are also common conditions affecting this breed, with fewer frequent incidents of persistent pupillary membranes, progressive retinal atrophy, allergies, and cardiomyopathy.
If your household includes an adult female English Mastiff, be advised that although rare, nursing puppies can occasionally be crushed by the mother's massive size. To help prevent this unfortunate tragedy, use of a whelping box and careful monitoring of the puppies while nursing is recommended.
Finally, and unfortunately, this gentle, loving "teddy bear" of a family pet does have a relatively short life span because of its massive size. It lives an average of seven years, although it can reach 11 or 12 years of age. Despite this sad fact, it remains a popular choice for families in the U.S. and around the world, a testament to its patient temperament and status as a highly lovable pet.
Retrieved December 15, 2011.
Retrieved December 15, 2011.
Group Classification: Working
Country of Origin: N/A
Date of Origin: 15th Century
Shedding: Heavy Shed
Body Size: N/A
Weight M: 150-250 pounds
Height M: 30 inches
Weight F: 120-200
Height F: 27.5 inches
Litter Size: 2-5 puppies.
Life Expectancy: 10-12 years.
Recognized By: CKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR
fawn, apricot, or brindle
The English Mastiff needs a minimal amount of exercise. A small fenced yard is sufficient. They are relatively inactive indoors and therefore a small living space is fine. However, they are large animals and the comfort of both the dog and the family should be taken into consideration. A larger living space may be more comfortable for both. If there is no yard for the animal, they should be exercised daily. Another thing to consider with the English Mastiff is that they drool excessively after eating and drinking and also just throughout the day. They will shake their heads and the saliva will go flying in all directions. This can make for an untidy living space where furniture, walls, and clothing are constantly being covered in drool. This dog can live outdoors in temperate climate, but prefers to be indoors with the family. They do not easily tolerate warm, hot, or humid climates. They prefer cooler weather. This makes them excellent dogs for locations where temperatures do not fluctuate much and remain moderately cool to warm.