The Bullmastiff was bred to aid gamekeepers in protecting the game on large English estates. Poaching on the estates was an expensive problem for the landowners, and it was the gamekeeper’s duty to catch the thieves. Gamekeepers needed a dog that could track quietly, cover short distances quickly, and pin and hold poachers without mauling them. Gamekeepers experimented with several breeds, looking to the mastiff, who was too slow, and then the bulldog, who was at the time a more ferocious dog than he is today too ferocious. Out of these breeds, the bullmastiff was born He combined the best of both breeds for the job required of him. He is now primarily a family companion with a calm, dependable disposition when properly trained and socialized.
The known history of the Bullmastiff begins about the year 1860 in England. It is probable that the story of the breed is really centuries old.The Bullmastiff was accepted as a recognized breed of the American Kennel Club in October, 1933. Bullmastiffs are large, powerfully built, but agile dogs. They have short coats that come in fawn, red, or brindle shades, and have a black mask. Their large heads are a striking feature, with keen, alert, intelligent expressions. Males measure 25 to 27” at the withers, and weigh up to 130 lbs. Females are 24 to 26’ at the withers and weight up to 120 lbs.
Fearless and confident, yet docile, the dog combines the reliability, intelligence, and willingness to please required in a dependable family companion and protector.
Bullmastiffs are strong-willed, but sensitive dogs who need a firm but loving hand. Consistency is the key word when dealing with this breed. They back their will with a tremendous physical strength, so early training and socialization is vital to a wellbehaved family companion. That being said a Bullmastiff is not for everyone. The commitment to training and socializing a Bullmastiff puppy is great and will require an honest effort and understanding of or willingness to learn accepted training methods.
Bullmastiffs Guarding Instincts
Most bullmastiffs are natural guardians of their home and families. No guard training is necessary for a bullmastiff to react appropriately if his family is threatened. However, unless that threat occurs, you may never see that side of your bullmastiff. Because silence was a virtue for bullmastiffs guarding estates, most bullmastiffs are not big barkers.
Bullmastiffs and children
In general, bullmastiffs do very well with children. They have a high pain tolerance, and are not likely to snap in reaction to a pulled tail or tugged ear. It is imperative, however, that bullmastiffs be taught to respect children, and that children be taught to respect bullmastiffs. Remember that these are large dogs, and what is meant to be a playful swat with a paw could knock a small child over easily. Never leave a child unattended with your bullmastiff, or any dog. A Bullmastiff’s size should certainly be considered when children are involved. Accidents can and do happen.
A Bullmastiff simply turning their head quickly to one side can produce a fall or damage to a small child. It is also important to keep in mind that all dogs are individuals, and no blanket statement applies to all Bullmastiffs. Raise your dog appropriately, and use common sense. A Bullmastiff is not a Golden Retriever or a Beagle. You cannot allow them to raise themselves. They are pack animals and will find their natural place in the pack if left to natural processes. That place may be at the top of the pecking order instead of below younger family members if left unchecked.
Bullmastiffs and other animals
Most bullmastiffs can be taught to share a home with cats, though some with a high prey drive never seem to lose the temptation to give chase. Other dogs are another matter. Because the breed was developed to work independently, and to be wary of canine intruders, bullmastiffs are frequently aggressive toward other dogs. In most cases, males and females will get along, but a bullmastiff with another dog of the same gender (any
size/breed of dog) can spell trouble. The dogs may do well with one another for years and then some small trigger sets them off and they will be enemies for life.
If you share your home with a bullmastiff and another dog of the same gender, you must be prepared to possibly deal with a fight breaking out among them. A fight involving a bullmastiff almost always involves extensive, expensive veterinary care, and you must separate the dogs from one another for the remainder of their lives as a precautionary measure. Some dogs can be socialized to a degree of cohabitation after an incident but, this is the exception to the rule and not easily or generally accepted by the bullmastiff.
Bullmastiffs It is often said that the bullmastiff is a “wash and wear” breed. Their short coats don’t require a lot of care, though they will certainly benefit from a quick daily brushing to remove dead hair and keep their coats shiny. Like all dogs, their ears and teeth must be cleaned regularly, and their toenails should be kept short. Neglect in these areas can and often produce ear infections, flattened pasterns, splayed feet and expensive tooth removal.
Bullmastiffs Health and Longevity
Dogs are subject to health problems, and Bullmastiffs are no exception. Common health issues are cancer, hip and elbow dysphasia, torn anterior cruciate ligaments, bloat, subaortic stenosis, skin and coat problems, thyroid problems and entropian. You can learn more about those issues and what the American Bullmastiff Association Health and Research Committee is doing to learn about these problems on the ABA webpage .
Bullmastiffs are best as family companions who live indoors with their loved ones. Despite their large size and tough-guy good looks, a bullmastiff can have a very soft temperament where loved ones are concerned. They are happiest when they are spending time with their family, and are best suited as indoor pets. Most bullmastiffs don’t require a lot of exercise, and a brief walk or two, or a romp in the yard may be all they need. You do not have to have a large yard to keep a bullmastiff; they can live happily in an apartment with a few daily walks. Be aware that bullmastiffs are very intolerant of extreme heat. Because of their shortened muzzles, you must take care to be sure they do no overheat on warm days, and restrict activities to the coolest hours of the day. Bullmastiffs should never be allowed to roam the neighborhood or surrounding areas
unattended. They are guard dogs and as their territory expands so will there commitment to protecting that area from other dogs and people.