Good for Novice Owners:
- Average Size: Large
- Average Lifespan: 7-9 years
- Registered?: aca, akc
Bullmastiff Dog Breed Information
Did You Know?
The Bullmastiff originated in England in the mid- to late 19th century and was known as both a world-class guardian and a valued family companion. They were bred by crossing Bulldogs and Mastiffs to create an excellent guardian that would protect the vast lands of English aristocracy from poachers. They were prized as noble gamekeepers.
As competitions between the aristocracy rose to determine who had the best Bullmastiffs, the breed made the jump from being solely a working dog to being both a working dog and a show dog. By 1924, the breed joined the Kennel Club in England. The American Kennel Club recognized the Bullmastiff in 1934 as a member of the Working Group. Although they can still be found as a working dog, the modern Bullmastiff is most commonly found as a family pet and companion.
Although their size may make them intimidating, the Bullmastiff is known for being a docile, warm, loyal, and loving family dog. They are focused and determined while working and relaxed and affectionate while at home.
They tend to get along well with children and other dogs in the family. Although they get along with children, their large size means they can easily knock over small children in their excitement. So, any playtime with children should be closely supervised.
Because of their protective instincts, they are wary of strangers and strange dogs at first. Proper socialization and training early and often can help make a Bullmastiff more comfortable with strangers. A well-socialized, well-trained Bullmastiff may be initially suspicious of strangers, but they will warm up quickly.
The Bullmastiff is a moderately adaptable dog breed. They are best suited to larger homes with securely fenced yards. They do tend to be mellow dogs, so they can adapt to apartment living as long as they are given the exercise, mental stimulation, and attention they need.
They do well in most climates, but are very sensitive to heat and sensitive to extreme cold. Although they can handle some alone time, they are devoted to their families and should not be left alone for long periods of time. Also, due to their territorial instincts, they should only be let off-leash in securely fenced areas.
Although the Bullmastiff is a relatively healthy dog breed, there are some potential health concerns to be aware of. These issues include heart problems, eye issues, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and hypothyroidism.
Reputable breeders will screen their stock to avoid passing on issues like this to puppies. So, don’t be afraid to talk to the breeder about the genetic and health history of both parents. You can also ask to see any relevant health clearances or test results.
As with many large dog breeds, the Bullmastiff is at a higher risk for bloat. Because bloat in dogs can become dangerous quickly, it’s important to know how to reduce risk and to know the symptoms so you can catch it early and get to the vet as soon as possible.
Although a Bullmastiff tends to excel at consistent training, they tend to be strong-willed, which makes them a better fit for more experienced dog owners. Their stubborn streak paired with their guardian background, territorial instincts, and large size make good training and socialization essential.
Puppy training classes are recommended for both early training as well as opportunities to socialize a puppy. This will help to establish rules and routines early on and help keep things consistent as your puppy grows into a dog. As a working dog, you can also train your Bullmastiff for dog sports to help give them a job to do. They tend to excel at rally, tracking, scent work, obedience, and even agility.
The Bullmastiff has a short coat that will shed a little year-round and a little more during seasonal changes. Brushing their coat a few times a week and the occasional bath as needed is usually sufficient to keep this dog’s coat healthy and looking great.
Because they have a wrinkly face, you will also need to regularly check and wipe down wrinkles to make sure they are clean and dry. Bullmastiffs will also drool, so you may want to keep a drool cloth on hand to wipe their mouth periodically.
In addition to coat and wrinkle care, you will also need to care for your Bullmastiff’s nails, ears, and teeth. Cutting your dog’s nails monthly is usually sufficient, but you may need to trim nails more often if they grow quickly or aren’t wearing down as much naturally.
Checking ears on a weekly basis and carefully cleaning your dog’s ears as needed can help prevent ear infections. You want to make sure ears are clean, dry, free of debris and pests, and aren’t showing signs of irritation or redness.
Practicing good dental care for dogs is essential for preventing painful dental diseases later in life. Brushing your Bullmastiff’s teeth or using an enzyme toothpaste every day is ideal for preventing gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss as your dog ages.
Because your Bullmastiff puppy will grow into a large dog, it’s a good idea to get them used to these basic grooming tasks early on. This will make ongoing maintenance and care much easier as your puppy grows.
The Bullmastiff has moderate exercise requirements. They may be couch potatoes at times, but they also still need some activity to be happy and healthy. Daily walks plus some playtime or other activity are usually enough for this big dog.
Although they enjoy outdoor play, it’s important that these dogs are only let off-leash in securely fenced areas because they tend to be territorial. As a large dog breed, it’s also important not to overexercise them until their bones are done developing.
Although puppies finish growing at different rates, most large dog breeds that weigh more than 70 pounds as an adult continue growing until they are 2 years old. Your vet can help you determine when your Bullmastiff is done growing, so you know when you can allow them to do more rigorous activities without potentially causing damage to developing joints and bones.
A fully-grown Bullmastiff usually stands 24-27 inches tall and weighs 100-130 pounds.
A Bullmastiff generally lives 7-9 years.
While the Bullmastiff was protecting the lands of the aristocracy, they were often called the “Gamekeeper’s Night Dog”.