Good for Novice Owners:
- Average Size: Giant
- Average Lifespan: 6-10 years
- Registered?: aca, akc
English Mastiff Dog Breed Information
Did You Know?
The English Mastiff, also referred to simply as a Mastiff, belongs to the Molosser breed type. It’s one of the most ancient dog breed types. The Molosser, its ancient ancestor, 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 and largest dog breeds share the Molosser ancestry. Throughout history, the Mastiff has been used as a guard dog, watchdog, and protector.
Although they still have a protective nature, the English Mastiff we know today is a gentle giant and is a far cry from their war dog ancestor. Although the first Mastiff club was formed in the United States in 1879, the American Kennel Club did not recognize the breed until 1885.
English Mastiffs are one of the dog breeds that make good guard dogs. They are known for being loyal, fearless, intelligent, and reliable. Well-socialized English Mastiffs are also very loving and docile with friends and family and get along great with children. Due to their size, even as puppies, they may not be the best fit for families with very young children or elderly family members as they can easily knock them over in their excitement and accidentally cause injury.
These dogs 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 alert barking. Training and socialization early and often will curb some of this natural suspicion and cut down on unnecessary barking. 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 a better fit for houses with fenced yards and some room to move around. However, they are one of the best large dog breeds for small homes and can adapt well as long as they are given the daily attention and exercise they need.
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 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 potential health concerns to be aware of in English Mastiffs can include eye anomalies, epilepsy, heart disease, degenerative myelopathy, von Willebrand’s disease, and cancer. Good breeding practices reduce the risk of health issues and make a big difference in the health of puppies.
Reputable breeders will screen their dogs to avoid passing preventable issues to puppies. If you are interested in an English Mastiff puppy, make sure you ask about the health and genetic history of the parents. You can also ask about any health tests or clearances that have been done. The national breed club recommends elbow and hip evaluations, an ophthalmologist evaluation, and a cardiac exam at a minimum.
As a giant breed, Mastiffs are also at a higher risk for bloat. Because bloat in dogs quickly becomes dangerous if the stomach flips (gastric torsion), it’s important to know how to reduce the risk and what symptoms to look for so you know when to get help. These dogs can also sometimes have allergies, which can be more miserable as a snub-nosed breed. If your English Mastiff does have allergies, there are ways to help your dog survive seasonal allergies and you can work with your vet for the methods that work best.
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!
One of the facts about English Mastiffs is that they are classified as a giant dog breed. This means they grow into massive dogs that 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. They require a gentle, but firm hand during training. Obedience and puppy training classes are always a plus. Although English Mastiffs 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 trainer early on.
The English Mastiff has a short 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 and will shed heavier as seasons change, so brushing them a few times a week can help cut down on the amount of fur they leave around the house.
In addition to grooming their coat, you will also need to trim your English Mastiff’s nails once or twice monthly, check and clean their ears regularly, and brush their teeth daily. 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 regulating 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. Making it a positive experience early on 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 stay happy and healthy. However, it’s important to be wary of overexertion as English Mastiffs can overheat very easily. Doing activities in short bursts with breaks is one of the safe ways to exercise flat-faced dogs that you can use to keep a Mastiff from overheating.
It’s also important to monitor your puppy’s playtime and keep things low-impact until they are fully grown. Until puppies finish growing, their bones, muscles, and tendons are still developing and high-impact activity can damage developing bones and joints, especially in large and giant breeds.
So, you want to limit the long walks, jumping, or running until after they are fully developed. Once puppies are finished growing, you can start increasing exercise to a moderate level and doing higher-impact activities provided your vet clears your dog for the activities. But, there are some things an English Mastiff isn’t a good fit for. For example, English Mastiffs tend not to be good running partners as they tire easily, overheat quickly, and the stress of running can damage their joints.
Fully-grown English Mastiffs usually stand 27-36 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 120-230 pounds. Female height ranges tend to start around 27 inches or more and average weight ranges between 120-170 pounds.
Male height ranges tend to start around 30 inches or more and average weight ranges between 160-230 pounds. However, these are average ranges and there are certainly outliers. Some Mastiffs have come in weighing 250 pounds or more!
English Mastiffs generally live for 6-10 years on average. As a giant dog breed, their life span is usually shorter, but some English Mastiffs have been known to live for up to 18 years!
One of the heaviest dogs recorded was an English Mastiff named Aicama Zorba. He weighed 330 pounds in 1989 and appeared in the 1989 Guinness Book of World Records; breaking his own record for the heaviest dog. He passed away in 1992.
Although Zorba no longer holds the heaviest dog record, he is still the longest. 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!