The Mastiff is best for experienced and physically strong pet parents who can handle a their power and aren't afraid of a lot of drool.
What makes the Mastiff a Mastiff? Let's find out how they stack up.
Extreme loyalty and a courageous nature are the defining characteristics of a Mastiff’s temperament. While a Mastiff’s massive weight and height may put off some potential pet parents, this breed is quite friendly and makes an excellent family pet. If little ones are in your mix, know that with early and consistent training, having a Mastiff with kids is very doable since aggression, barking and biting aren’t common to this breed. Their kindly personality extends to four-legged pals as well, which means you can add this colossal canine to homes with cats and other dogs.
A Mastiff has competency in spades thanks to their innate intelligence and eagerness to please. As a quick learner, the Mastiff thrives on service, perhaps because this working breed has a long history of guarding and fighting alongside soldiers in battle.
It may seem counterintuitive that such a large animal might not have deep energy reserves, but this is actually the case with the Mastiff dog breed. Slow and steady wins the race here, so low-key pup parents are often the best pairing for this majestic creature.
How to Care for a Mastiff
Mastiff exercise needs are moderate and their coats are rather easy to brush—two reasons this most excellent dog breed may be the one for you. But keep in mind that this pup drools—a lot! So, you’ll always need at least one towel on hand for keeping their face (and your furniture) drool-free.
Mastiffs have a lifespan of 6 to 10 years. As with any dog breed, certain conditions are endemic. Potential pet parents should be aware of these health issues, so they can help their pup live the healthiest life possible.
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: These conditions, which may be genetic and occur when the joints form abnormally, can cause pain and lameness in a Mastiff. Weight management and medication may be recommended, as well as surgery in more severe cases.
- Eye Trouble: Multiple dog breeds may be affected by a family of inherited progressive degenerative eye diseases. One in this category is progressive retinal atrophy or PRA, and it strikes the retina, ultimately causing blindness. While there’s no cure for PRA, Mastiffs typically get used to the vision loss and soldier (slowly) on.
- Heart Disease: Pulmonic stenosis, which is a valve malformation that restricts blood flow, may be treated with beta-blockers to stabilize arrhythmias or a balloon catheter to reduce the obstruction. The mitral valve may also be deformed in this breed, and similar beta-blockers can be prescribed, though a low-salt diet and supplements may also be recommended. More advanced cases may need stronger drug therapy to lower blood pressure and strengthen the heart, and surgery may be considered to replace the valve.
- Neurological Disorder: Degenerative myelopathy damages nerve and brainstem fibers in many breeds at 8 years of age and older. While this disease is ultimately fatal, there are some therapeutics that can slow the progression.
- Bloat: Large breeds with deep chests may be affected by this condition, which is suspected of having a genetic link as well as environmental causes such as eating too fast and having only one large meal a day. Bloat can be life-threatening as the stomach fills with air then twists, resulting in gastric torsion. Fortunately, surgery can correct this torsion, and the stomach wall can be tacked down in an effort to prevent repeat cases. To help reduce the chances of getting bloat, feed your pup with a slow bowl and feed them smaller meals throughout the day.
The Mastiff enjoys a proud ancient lineage, though some confusion may erupt over mastiffs generally (as a type of dog) and Britain’s Old English Mastiff, which the American Kennel Club has simply named “Mastiff.” Dogs known as mastiffs have thrived for millennia in Greece, Rome, China and Egypt, with hieroglyphics of Mastiff likenesses showing up on monuments in the Nile region as early as 3000 BC. In fact, today’s Tibetan Mastiff and Neapolitan Mastiff breeds share a gene pool with mastiffs of yore.
Mastiff history is steeped in service as war dogs who fought invaders on many fronts. Caesar himself was apparently in awe of the breed when he ventured onto Britain’s shores in 55 BC. He brought Mastiffs home to Rome to be matched against gladiators and wild animals such as bears, bulls, lions and tigers. Mastiffs also worked as big game hunters, guard dogs and on the battlefield in an important campaign against the French in 1415.
Mastiffs came to the US in the late 1800s and were used to guard plantations. The pup joined the ranks of the American Kennel Club in 1885, making them one of the first recognized breeds in the AKC.
After World War II, the Mastiff nearly died out, with just 14 remaining in England. Fortunately for this noble animal, the Mastiff was brought back from the brink by dedicated breeders. Today, this canine’s combat boots have been hung up in favor of a cushier life in homes as a loyal companion and protector.
Are you thinking about a Mastiff as a pet? Mastiff prices are about $2,500 to $3,500, depending on where you live. But for that price, you’ll likely get a pup who’s been screened for health issues and may come with pedigree papers. The AKC Marketplace is a good place to find reputable breeders for your Mastiff puppy. You can also check with Mastiff rescues or keep an eye out at local animal shelters if you want to adopt a pup.
Do Mastiffs shed?
Mastiff shedding is on the low side, comparatively, which is good news for homeowners (much less sweeping and vacuuming!). Still, a Mastiff does shed once or twice a year when the seasons change, so brush more frequently, even daily, during these periods to whisk away dead fur.
Are Mastiffs aggressive or dangerous?
No, Mastiff characteristics aren’t known to include aggressive or dangerous behavior, and their biting tendencies aren’t high compared with other dog breeds.
Are Mastiffs good with kids?
Yes, Mastiffs are good with kids. As long as their training is consistent and introduced as a puppy, Mastiffs are considered a very good pet to mix with kids.
What does Mastiff mean?
The word mastiff is influenced by an old French word mestif, meaning mongrel. As a type of dog, mastiff refers to large, powerful dogs once used for hunting.
What are the most popular Mastiff names?
The most popular Mastiff names are easy to spitball, in part because of this breed’s enormity (think Zeus, Titan, Bubba and Moose). Or, you could go in the other direction with a tongue-in-cheek moniker such as Tiny, Mouse or Bean. If you’re stumped and need some help, we’ve got great dog names ready for choosing.
What are the most common Mastiff mixes?
The most common Mastiff mixes are:
- Mastiff-Pitbull mix (Pit Mastiff)
- Mastiff-Great Dane mix (Daniff)
- Mastiff-Labrador mix (Mastador)
- Mastiff-German Shepherd mix (Mastiff shepherd)
- Mastiff-Rottweiler mix
- Mastiff-Husky mix
Mastiff facts are easy to digest: This huge dog has left a fierce past behind to become a fan-favorite for easy-going, drool-friendly family homes. Moderate exercise on dirt or grass and a gentle touch with a brush are all that’s needed for this big dog to flourish.
Expert input provided by Dr. Jerry Klein, DVM, American Kennel Club’s Chief Veterinary Officer and Mary R. Burch, PhD, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and AKC Family Dog Director