The (English) Mastiff

descriptive textDog breed info
Mastiff (English)
Weight: 175 — 190 lbs
Height: 28” — 30”
AKC Rank 2008 #28
Lifespan: 9—11 yrs
Group Working
Origin England

Dog Breed Info - The Mastiff (English)>

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Breed Overview

Original function was that of guard dog. Today it is still a guard dog but also companion and household pet.

By the time of Caesar, this breed was used as a war dog. In medieval times, they were used as guard dogs and became widespread. The Mestiff later got into dog fighting, bull baiting and bear baiting. Even when these cruel sports were banned in England in 1835, the continued to be popular events. The breed has been adored by many for many centuries for his strength and abilities. The breed originally came here on the Mayflower according to some reports. Later, the Mastiff found work in two World Wars pulling carts and guarding munition dumps for the military, and has gained popularity here in the States ever since. The AKC finally registered the breed in 1929.

If buying this breed, make sure the PUPPY was well socialized and handled extremely well and that training started early on. Early social skills for this dog are a MUST! You won’t regret your research. The Mastiff drools quite a lot.


This breed MUST be trained in obedience from day one as a puppy. He is big and very strong with guarding instincts. Obedience needs to be worked on all his life. The Mastiff is trainable and must be worked with until he understands exactly what he is to do. Training should be friendly, fun and with no harsh reprimands. Use clicker training along with positive reinforcement. The Mastiff will respond to this training and it's simple to do.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your English Mastiff puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

The Mastiff puppy is somewhat easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.

The Mastiff
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The Mastiff is calm, easy-going and amazingly gentle. This is a well-mannered house dog that needs adequate space to stretch out. The English Mastiff is an extremely loyal breed and though not excessively demonstrative, it is devoted to it’s family and relatively good with children. This is a natural guard dog and must be socialized starting at a very young age and continued on. The dog needs a firm but kind owner who can display dominance, a consistent pack-leader relationship with the Mastiff. With strong leadership and a kind, quiet hand, this is a wonderful house pet.

If you happen to get a dog with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

The Mastiff will pick his dog friends. Be careful, they can be aggressive if they don’t like the other dog.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Relatively good with household pets, especially if introduced on common ground such as in a park. If they start out as a puppy and grow up with the other pets there should be no problem.


Friendly Toward Strangers

No. Not very. A Mastiff is wary of strangers.


No. But this guy is gentle and loves tummy rubs.


Very! This dog may look sad, but he’s a big, happy 190 pound MUSH. He’s friendly, a best friend, loyal and will roll on his back for endless tummy rubs… he enjoys family attention.

Good With Children?

Pretty good with older kids, 6 and up, and very protective of them.

Good with Seniors over 65?

No. Too heavy. How would a senior get him to a vet?

Living environment

Mastiff’s do not get along in hot weather. They need air conditioning. Do NOT leave them in the yard on warm days. This breed needs to be indoors with it’s family so it can fulfill it’s role of guardian.

Well suited to farms and homes with small fenced backyards. No need for a big fenced yard because the Mastiff just doesn't move around much.

Energy level

Low energy. Big dog that just hangs out and guards things.


Exercise needs, daily

A good walk around the block and a game of fetch in the yard.

This dog drools.



Guard dog

Guarding is his THING.




Brushing three times a week or more to keep dead hair out.



Suggested Reading For The Mastiff
Click on the cover photos for more book information and reviews.

  • 3rd from left - Parking sign. "Area patrolled by English Mastiff" Makes an interesting gift for someone!

  • The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners. Vol 2, 2008 and includes a DVD.

Mastiff Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Mastiff puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that REALLY know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been VERY well socialized and started in obedience training. It's not often that Mastiff puppies turn up in dog pounds and shelters but you might check anyway.
English Mastiff Breeders with puppies for sale.

Mastiff Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of a Mastiff and are looking for a Mastiff Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Mastiff Rescue - (Nationwide) If you adopt one, try to locate the dog health information for possible future use.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site that may give you some ideas. Mastiff Rescue can include any of 12 different Mastiff breeds including the Neapolitan and Bull varieties. Check them out in the Dog Breeds section. Then go surfing or check your local kennels, dog pound or breed rescue groups.

Dog Health Issues For The Mastiff
Below: The dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the breed by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical problems this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain and difficulty walking. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Gastric Torsion—Sometimes called Dog Bloat or “Twisted stomach.” Mainly in larger, deep-cheated dogs. Here's a brief description of the problem:
    Symptoms include excessive drooling, nervous pacing, agitation, weakness, attempt to vomit, bulging stomach area, heavy breathing, retching and gagging, shock or total collapse.

  • Skin fold dermatitis—Infection normally affects the folds on the face of the Mastiff where moisture and dirt are trapped in the skin folds causing inflammation. The vet will give you a cleansing shampoo to fight the infection and an antibiotic cream of some kind. In severe cases where the problem won’t subside, surgery might be the last resort to remove a few folds. Commonly found in bulldogs, Mastiff’s, Pekingese and Pugs.

  • Elbow Dysplasia—This, as with hip dysplasia, is something some Mastiff's are born with. Wear and time in the front legs (elbow joints) cause lameness by the time the dog is roughly a year old. If you have a dog prone to this disease, have an early x-ray to see if surgery to the joints will stave off further damage to the joints. Typically, there has been no cure, but recently doctors have come up with some ideas. 1) Keep the weight of your dog down. 2) Use anti-inflammatory medication. 3) Look into injections of stem-cells to help regenerate bone-covering cartilage to cause the bones to line up properly again. (This is new research and some vets may not know about it so ask around.)

  • Osteosarcoma—A leg bone cancer in large breed dogs of any age but usually in large, older dogs. Osteosarcoma in the limbs is “appendicular osteosarcoma.” The dog will be in great pain as the disease destroys the bone from the inside out. The dog’s inability to walk will progress over only about 3 months time as the bone is destroyed by the tumor. Unfortunately, surgery to remove the leg is the only way to give your dog the only total relief needed.

  • Cystinuria—Hereditary. Kidney stones. A genetic defect. Kidneys are unable to process a basic amino acid called cystine the right way. It generally takes many years before it is noticeable in the dog. The retained cystine clumps together and forms stones or blockages in the urinary track which is a life-threatening condition that requires quick surgery.

  • Urolithiasis—Excessive crystals (urinary stones or bladder or kidney stones) can form in the urinary tract or kidney, bladder or urethra, blocking the flow of urine. The crystals or stones irritate the lining of the urinary tract. They cause blood in the urine and pain and in severe cases make urination impossible. Symptoms are frequent urination, urinating in odd places, blood in urine, dribbling, depression, weakness, straining, pain, vomiting and loss of appetite. Dogs can be treated by diet, medications and surgery, depending on the dog, severity and other circumstances of the individual case.

  • Cardiomyopathy—Disease of the heart muscle causing the heart to enlarge and not function properly. Cause is unknown. Older, bigger dogs , 4 to 10 years are usually affected. The prognosis is generally about 6 months to 2 years for a dog with this form of heart failure and only a matter of weeks for some severe cases.

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy—A serious heart disease. The muscle of the heart loses it’s ability to pump blood properly causing a backup of blood, an enlarged heart, and an improperly functioning heart. Prognosis is generally 4 weeks to 2 years, depending on the dog and how advanced the problem is. The vet may try medications to alter the heart function, but this one is a killer.

  • Cherry eye—One of a dog’s tear glands is in the third eyelid. The gland contributes a significant amount of fluid to lubricate the eye so it can not be removed. A congenital defect, breed related in some Mastiff's, allows the gland to bulge out because it is not held strongly in place. Thus, the gland prolapses out to a visible position as a reddish mass. Out of position, the gland does not move blood properly and so may swell. Since the gland is needed for lubrication in the eye, vets now do a “tuck and stitch” procedure that pouts the gland back in place and preserves the original function of tear production.

  • Cataracts - Eye problem - Hazy or cloudy vision and if not treated will cause total blindness.

  • Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture—A ruptured Cranial Cruciate ligament affects the hind leg and is very very painful. It will prevent the dog from walking or placing any weight on his rear end. At Best, the dog will limp severely. Lameness will happen immediately after the injury but should might subside in several weeks, only to return later on. A FEW symptoms include sound of bones rubbing together, decreased range of leg motion, rear leg extended when sitting, resists exercise, movement or mobility.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the Mastiff's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Osteochondritis dissecans—A common type of elbow dysplasia except it can occur in any joint. Flaps of cartilage run against tissue causing irritation, pain, lameness and in time, joint degeneration disease. Pieces can break loose and float around limiting movement, or getting lodged or wedged inside the joint itself. Look for lameness, pain and swelling in joints. Treatments include Non-steroid anti-inflammatory meds, weight loss, confinement to rest the joints, and dietary supplements for joint health. Surgery is the last option for very severe cases.

  • Entropion—Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

  • Ectropion—A hereditary medical problem. The lower eyelid grows outward leaving a gap between the eye and the eyelid. Excessive tearing and conjunctivitis are common signs of the disease but some dogs will have no symptoms. Blunt trauma and/or nerve damage can also cause the problem. If the cornea becomes damaged or if the conjunctivitis becomes chronic, surgery will be necessary.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

  • Corneal Dystrophy—An inherited disease of the eye. A fluid buildup causing the outer part of the cornea to appear white and move inward toward the center. A very painful and difficult to treat ulcer will develop.

  • Persistent pupillary membranes—Hereditary. Vision impaired by strands of tissue in the eye left over from before birth. Strands should be gone by 5 weeks age. Strands can bridge from iris to cornea, iris to pupil, iris to lens (causing cataracts) or they can for sheets of tissue. If the Mastiff is young and you see small white spots in the dog’s eyes or the dog seems to have poor vision, see the vet. Forming of cataracts might be the biggest problem but don’t let this slip by. It may be nothing, it may be something.

  • The Mastiff is prone to Arthritis and obesity. Don't overfeed the dog and go easy with the dog as she ages.

Other problems could occur with your Mastiff. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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