The Bullmastiff originates from England and is a cross of the English Mastiff and the Olde English Bulldog (this is not the wheezing, waddling Winston Churchill Bulldog, but the original, agile bear-baiting / pit-fighting bulldog). Bull Mastiffs are approximately 60% English Mastiff and 40% Olde English Bulldog and were recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1924. They were not recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1933. It is required that three generations of Mastiff – fighting bulldog mixes be registered as purebreds before a dog could enter to be judged. They were known for size, strength, and loyalty. The lineage of the Bull Mastiff can be traced back as early as 1795. These canines were originally bred to be gamekeepers and to guard the estates of their owners. Mastiffs could easily track and hold poachers on the property. They were used to guard diamonds for the “Diamond Society of South Africa”. Today they still used as guard and attack dogs and as companion animals.
The Bull Mastiff enjoys living with a family and usually seems docile and affectionate. They bark much less than other breeds of dogs but will alert to warn the family of danger. They are known to salivate and drool which can be a bit messy. For the most part, they are calm dogs that can be tolerant of children. Despite often doing well with children, all interactions should be supervised due to their size and strength. There are cases where Bullmastiff breed dogs have killed children that they have lived with and tolerated until they suddenly attacked the child, or they have suddenly attacked children passing on the street2,3,4,5.
Because of their guardian instincts they will strive to protect their families and territory and may not welcome strangers. Unfamiliar guests should be introduced carefully. They often will not do well with other pets, even if they are raised with them and cautiously socialized. Interactions with other animals should be strictly monitored for safety. Interactions with unfamiliar animals can be risky and extreme caution and observation should be taken. Bullmastiffs do not get along with other dogs, in particular dogs of the same sex. It is not recommended to try to keep a Bullmastiff with other same-sex dogs of any breed1. They do not belong at dog parks, where they can viciously attack other dogs. Bull Mastiffs are usually good natured, but can become fearless and aggressive if provoked or threatened6.
Bull Mastiff’s are extremely powerful dogs and training and socialization is an absolute necessity to manage them effectively. Bull Mastiffs are more dominant and assertive than other Mastiff breeds. They need assertive, but not overly harsh leaders. They can be extremely sensitive to the tone of the human voice. Passive or meek owners can quickly lose control of the dog and that can create highly dangerous situations. The same goes for people who are physically small – it is simply not possible to control a dog that weighs almost as much as or more than the owner.
Bullmastiffs require a minimal amount of exercise. They enjoy daily walks and do not require large yards to play in. While indoors, they usually remain inactive. Minimal activity will help them stay healthy. They cannot tolerate extreme temperatures and should not be exercised in the heat.
The Bullmastiff requires minimal grooming and does not shed excessively. An occasional brushing and bath will suffice. They are highly prone to hereditary diseases and conditions such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, entropion, and lymphoma. They are also prone to arthritis and bloat7. They weigh between 100-133 lbs and typically live 7-8 years.
1. http://www.vetstreet.com/dogs/bullmastiff (accessed March 2014)
2. http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/apr/28/first-birthday-ends-tragedy-when-family-dog-attack/ (accessed March 2014)
5. http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local/new_jersey&id=9450077 (accessed March 2014)
6. http://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/reviews/bullmastiffs.html (accessed March 2014)
7. GUIDE TO CONGENITAL AND HERITABLE DISORDERS IN DOGS; Includes Genetic Predisposition to Diseases; W. Jean Dodds DVM, The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, version May 2011. http://www.hsvma.org/assets/pdfs/guide-to-congenital-and-heritable-disorders.pdf (accessed February 2014)