The English Mastiff has tremendous physical strength. Yet it is not the muscles, but his calm, calm nature that is his strongest point. The large, massive dog looks at situations very precisely and reacts expectantly at first when changes are made. Impulsive or even aggressive behavior is not in his nature.
The English mastiff excels because he will not be easily irritated. Noise, stress, or other animals do not easily upset him. Due to his enviable resignation, his calm restraint, and high sensitivity, the English mastiff has been nicknamed the “gentle giant” in his native England. It makes an ideal family dog and has also had some success as a therapy dog.
Unlike its ancestors, who impressed the ancient arenas with their fearlessness in the fight against bears and bulls, the modern English mastiff has almost no combative features. The dog is still a brave dog today. That goes against the layman’s assumption, who attributes the dog’s reticent nature to fear. In situations where his owner is seriously threatened, he would not hesitate for a moment to attack the attacker. The big strong dog would do that in a controlled manner – really attacking so that the attacker would be sword wounded, he would really only do it in an emergency.
His respectful appearance, his strong nerves, and his careful handling make him a suitable watchdog. He often fulfills this task in his native England.
The dog is also seen as a good-natured and friendly family dog.
Mastiffs have a very close bond with their owner. His enormous body weight and size don’t stop him from hugging his owner.
Thanks to their character, English mastiffs are easy to raise. They usually do everything they can to please their owner. However, these intelligent four-legged friends are a bit willful – so don’t expect absolute obedience. However, since this disobedience never results in aggressive behavior, it is not a problem for the owner.
Living together with a mastiff is very harmonious, because of his imperturbable resignation and his love for people. When dealing with small children or older people, he often proves to be an empathetic playmate and companion. He is also remarkably tolerant towards his conspecifics and other animals. However, it takes a while before the bond with his boss is as close and intimate as described here.
Towards strangers, he adopts a resigned but distant attitude.
Love issues the English mastiff deals with in the following way: he observes people first and makes an assessment before giving a person his love.
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Despite its good-natured and loving nature, the English mastiff is on the breed list in some European countries. That means keeping an English Mastiff is only allowed if certain rules are followed. This is not so much due to his nature, but more to his imposing appearance. The “potential danger” is linked to its size and strength. There is no doubt that his mighty skull with wide jaws commands respect. There is no need to be afraid of him, but jumping up enthusiastically can still have unwanted consequences. Therefore, without a doubt, a loving, consistent upbringing and extensive socialization are necessary to teach the dog to estimate and dose its strength.
With a height of up to 90 cm and a weight of up to 100 kg, the English Mastiff is, after all, one of the largest and heaviest dogs in the world. The mastiff male „Aicama Zorba La-Susa“ weighed 155.58 kg in November 1989 and had a shoulder height of 95 cm. He was, therefore, the heaviest dog in the world and was in the “Guinness World Records”.
On the FCI breed list, the mastiff is ranked number 264 (Group 2, Section 2: Molossers and Mountain Dogs), but no exact weight is given for the dog. A certain size is desirable, but only if it does not affect health. According to the standard, size and weight must be in a “good ratio”. The body of the large, massive four-legged friend must be well-shaped, and under no circumstances should he be overweight. The ideal English mastiff is large, massive, and powerful and makes a harmonious impression.
The short and smooth coat of the English Mastiff is sleek and shows off the muscles well. He owes his characteristic quadratic appearance to the drooping lips, drooping ears, and wrinkles that appear on his forehead when he is given attention. The strongly muscular neck, which is almost as large in size as the head, enhances the massive appearance. The mastiff has different coat colors: apricot, fawn, or brindle. A dark color around the nose, mouth, and ears is desirable. This forms the typical mask of the mastiff. Excessive white spots on the body, chest, or legs, on the other hand, are not accepted.
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The color of the mastiff has in the past – among other external characteristics – caused discord among professionals. This probably has to do with the fact that the pedigree of the mastiff is not unambiguous.
In the Roman Empire, heavy dogs, resembling today’s mastiffs, served as war dogs. The Celts and Normans would eventually have brought the dog to Great Britain, the country of origin. Another theory holds that the mastiff is a descendant of the molasses, which arrived in England from Epirus and Macedonia via trading ships. Still others, on the other hand, claim that the mastiff is descended from the Tibetan mastiff. Earlier sources see the mastiff as an autochthonous dog breed. In other words, this dog breed would have evolved on its own and without purposeful breeding. In any case, the connection with the Tibetan mastiff could be refuted.
The history of the ancestors of the mastiff in ancient times cannot be completely traced, but at least from the Middle Ages, it can be traced. Mastiff first emerged in the 14 century in a treatise by the first Duke of York, Edmund of Langley. It should be noted that all massive dogs with wide mouths and square skulls in England were labeled as mastiffs. It is well established that mastiff-type dogs were widely used, especially in Great Britain. They are referred to as war dogs, guard dogs, hunting dogs, and fighting dogs.
The first evidence of a mastiff as a “war dog” can be found in the story of the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, where one of the massive dogs assisted his badly wounded owner and protected him from further enemy attacks. In the upper class, the powerful dogs were popular as hunting dogs when hunting bears or wild boars. In the Middle Ages, however, they mainly served as entertainment for public bears and bullfights. E-century arenas built. In so-called “Bear- und Bullbaiting” mastiffs (and other large dogs) had to act against bears, lions, bulls, and other predators. The brutal fighting dog career didn’t end until 1835 when these bloody events were banned by the British government. At about the same time, the breeding of the Old English Mastiff began in England.
The first mastiff club was founded in 1872 and it was deliberately crossed with smooth-haired St. Bernards, which brought more gentleness and balance to the mastiff’s character. However, this does not change the fact that the mastiff breed disappeared from the scene after the animal fighting was banned.
During the two world wars, the breed even threatened to die out completely, because hardly anyone could feed these giant dogs during the war years. A few specimens survived in Canada and the US and as a result, breeding was resumed in Great Britain after the end of the war.
Today, the Old English Mastiff is not only one of the largest and oldest dog breeds in the world but is also the starting point for a whole host of large dog breeds such as the Great Dane, Newfoundland, Bullmastiff, and St. Bernard. Unlike its family, the mastiff (aside from its native England) is a very rare breed today.
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Health and care
The size prevents some dog lovers from buying a mastiff. After all, such a giant needs not only a lot of space but also a lot of feed. In any case, the coat does not require much care. Simply brushing is enough to keep the smooth, short coat clean. The dog will enjoy this to the fullest. Pay particular attention to the folds of the skin, where parasites like to nest and where dirt can accumulate.
To prevent infections it is necessary to check this regularly and keep it clean. Furthermore, the mastiff is a very robust dog breed with few hereditary diseases. Yet many dogs of this breed, like other dogs of their size, suffer from hip problems. In some cases, heart disease is also known.
Mastiffs can also get gastric torsi. To prevent this, it is better to give small portions throughout the day rather than a large meal. Balanced nutrition contributes – just like with humans – to the health of the animal. Because mastiffs carry enough pounds with them, care must be taken not to make them too fat. Being overweight makes them slow. In addition, it also puts a strain on the structure of the bones, which can lead to other health problems.back to menu ↑
Keeping a Mastiff and Upbringing
Just like a healthy diet and regular visits to the vet, sufficient exercise is absolutely necessary for the health of the mastiff. To keep a dog of his size, a house with a large garden in which he can indulge himself is ideal. It is of course no substitute for daily walks.
For the mastiff, the proximity of its owner is the most important. The affectionate dog always wants to be there and is therefore not suitable for keeping in a kennel.
Mastiffs have a great need for love. That is why it is important that his educator always treats him calmly and lovingly and that he is much praised. Loud, shouted commands scare off the harmonious four-legged friend.
Despite his good-natured nature, a mastiff needs a consistent upbringing, which makes it clear to him what is expected of him. Inconsistent behavior confuses the dog. Extensive socialization of the puppy encourages the dog’s calm nature. As a buyer, one should therefore pay attention that the young mastiff quickly comes into contact with cats, children, joggers, and cyclists. If he has already gained a lot of experience as a puppy, he will not be easily startled or react unexpectedly.
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In any case, despite its size, a well-socialized and well-behaved dog is easy to keep. His unflappable composure, friendliness towards children, and peaceful protective instincts make him suitable as a watchdog and therapy dog and a loyal family dog with an incredibly big heart.