History & Overview
Sometimes referred to as English Bullmastiff, the Bullmastiff is a large working dog that originated in Britain in the mid 1800’s as an estate guardian to ward off poachers. The breed was created by gamekeepers and was originally known as the Gamekeeper’s Night Dog.
The tough, heavy and aggressive Bulldog of the 19th century was crossed with the large, strong, less aggressive Mastiff. The Bullmastiff breed was deemed pure by the Kennel Club in 1924, with a genetic background of approximately 60% Mastiff and 40% Bulldog, hence his name.
Bullmastiffs are an excellent choice for a guard dog; however, a stubborn streak makes the animal resistant to obedience training and overly protective of his human family. He is not easily alarmed, but if he feels threatened, the Bullmastiff is fearless. Keep a towel handy because the Bullmastiff is quite a drooler.
At A Glance:
Country of Origin:
FCI Classification: Group 2 – Pinschers, Schnauzers, Molossoid breeds, Swiss Mountain- and Cattle Dogs and other breeds. Section 2.1 – Molossoid breeds, Mastiff type
AKC Classification: Working Group
Large (24 – 27 inches at shoulders)
Any shade of brindle, fawn or red; color to be pure and clear. A slight white marking on chest permissible. Other white markings are undesirable. A black muzzle is essential.
8 – 10 years
Stubborn, alert and very suspicious of strangers, yet has a calm and dependable disposition. Loyal and fearless. Craves human attention.
Early socialization is required. Should get along with other household pets.
Suitability for Children:
The Bullmastiff tolerates children rather well.
Until 12 months old, limit exercise. Too much at an early age may cause bone and joint problems later in life. After 12 months on light exercise is necessary.
Begin obedience training early. Consistency and patience required. The Bullmastiff responds well to a sensitive but firm owner.
Health & Behavioral Issues:
Overall, recent study shows evidence of ancestral inbreeding in Bullmastiffs, and unequal founder contributions during breed establishment. A relatively small effective population size may be improved by systematically utilizing the available genetic diversity. Health concerns within the breed include:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
- Gastric Dilation Volvulus (Bloat)
- Cancer with a relatively high incidence of lymphoma and mast cell tumors
- Mortlock et al. – Comparative Analysis of Genome Diversity in Bullmastiff Dogs