- Activity Level: moderate
- Grooming Level: low
- Trainability: moderate
- Adaptability: moderate
- Kid/Pet Friendly: often
- Average Size: Giant
- Average Lifespan: 6-10 years
- Prey Drive: low
- Watchdog: very alert
- Registered?: aca, akc
English Mastiff Breed Profile
- Owner Experience
- Activity Level
- Life Span
- Did You Know?
The English Mastiff, also referred to simply as a Mastiff, belongs to the Mastiff breed type. It’s one of the most ancient dog breed types. Its ancient ancestor, the Molosser, was a ferocious war dog that lived over 5,000 years ago. It likely originated in the mountains of Tibet and was also used as a guard dog and protector of herds and flocks.
The English Mastiff, Tibetan Mastiff, Saint Bernard, Dogue de Bordeaux, Rottweiler, and many other modern dog breeds share the Molosser ancestry. Throughout history, the Mastiff has been used as a guard dog, watch dog, and protector. Though it still has a protective nature, the English Mastiff we know today as a gentle giant is a far cry from its war dog ancestor. Although the first Mastiff club formed in the United States in 1879, the American Kennel Club did not recognize the breed until 1885.
This dog breed is known for being loyal, fearless, intelligent, and reliable. They are very loving and docile with friends and family and get along great with children. Due to their size, they may not be the best fit for families with very young children or elderly family members as they can easily knock them over and accidentally cause injury.
They do have a protective nature, so they can be wary of strangers and may be suspicious of other dogs. This makes them good watchdogs, but they can be prone to barking. Training and socialization early and often will curb some of this natural suspicion and cut down on unnecessary barking. They tend to bark less than some other dog breeds, especially when properly socialized and well-trained. The English Mastiff will drool a bit and will be a very big dog. They make great companions for anyone who can handle their size.
The English Mastiff is moderately adaptable. Due to their size, they are generally not a good fit for apartment living. However, they can adapt as long as they get plenty of exercise. They tend to do best in a house with some room to run. They are okay being on their own for a bit, but certainly should not be left alone for long periods of time. Due to their double coat and larger size, they can handle colder climates better than some smaller dog breeds. However, they are very sensitive to the heat, so warmer climates may not be a good fit unless there is plenty of indoor space and air conditioning available to keep them cool.
As with all giant breeds, hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are a concern. Other health issues to be aware of include progressive retinal atrophy, bloat (also called gastric torsion), cystinuria, seizures, and cancer. Much of these health concerns can be allayed by checking the genetic history of the parents and also checking health clearances on the hips, elbows, and eyes from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and the Canine Eye Registry Foundation.
Not so much a health issue as it is part and parcel of the dog, you will want to be prepared for plenty of drool with this dog breed. They also tend to be quite gassy and are prone to loud snoring. A good, balanced diet can sometimes help with the flatulence, but there is probably nothing that will stop the drool or the snoring, snorting, and grunting. It’s just a normal part of having an English Mastiff!
English Mastiffs are classified as a giant dog breed. This means they are big and can be a lot to handle! It’s important to start training and socialization early to ensure your large puppy is well-rounded and well-behaved as they grow into an even larger dog. They respond best to training with positive reinforcement and rewards and require a gentle, but firm hand during training. Obedience and training classes are always a plus. Although they are not generally recommended for novice or timid dog owners, they can be a good fit as long as the owner is willing to learn and enlist the help of a professional dog trainer early on.
The English Mastiff has a double coat. The undercoat is dense and lies close to the body while the overcoat is short and straight. Common coat colors are apricot, brindle, or fawn with a dark muzzle, nose, eye rims, and ears. They may also have a small patch of white on their chest. Their grooming needs are minimal. They just need a good brush-down every once and a while and a bath when necessary. They are moderate shedders though, so brushing them on a weekly basis or more frequently can help cut down on the amount of fur they leave around your house.
In addition to grooming their coat, you will also want to trim their nails monthly, check and clean their ears regularly, and brush their teeth. Brushing your dog’s teeth daily will cut down on tartar buildup and reduce the risk for serious dental problems like tooth decay and periodontal disease. Since the English Mastiff has facial folds, you will also want to check and clean these areas regularly as well. Due to their size, you will want to get your English Mastiff puppy used to having their paws, ears, and mouth handled early. This will make maintenance and care of your giant dog much easier throughout their life.
This dog breed has a low to moderate activity level. They tend to be lazy, but are prone to weight gain. So, they need plenty of daily exercise to remain happy and healthy. However, it’s important to be wary of overexertion as English Mastiffs can overheat very easily. Although they may seem like an outdoor dog, English Mastiffs very much appreciate the comforts of home and enjoy being around their family. If left to their own devices for too long, this dog breed can become destructive as they pine for their family.
It’s important to monitor your puppy’s playtime until they are about 18 months old. Their bones, muscles, and tendons are still developing before that time. So, you want to limit the number of long walks, jumping, or running until after they are fully developed. After 18 months, you can start increasing exercise to a moderate level. As a note, your English Mastiff will not be a good jogging companion. They tire easily and overheat quickly. Due to their size, the stress of running can damage their joints.
An English Mastiff usually stands 27.5-36 inches tall at the shoulder. They can weigh 120-220 pounds. Females tend to stand 27.5-36 inches in height, while males stand 28-36 inches. Females tend to weigh between 120 and 170 pounds while males tend to weigh between 160 and 230 pounds. These are average ranges and there are certainly outliers. Some Mastiffs have come in weighing 250 pounds or more!
English Mastiffs generally live 6-10 years. As a giant dog breed, their life span is usually shorter, but some have been known to live for up to 18 years!
The heaviest dog recorded was an English Mastiff named Aicama Zorba. He weighed 343 pounds and appeared in the 1989 Guinness Book of World Records. He stood 37 inches tall at the shoulder and measured 99 inches from nose to tail. That’s over 8 feet and also made him the longest dog on record!