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Breed Notes

The term mastiff has been used for centuries to describe both a group of giant varieties of dogs as well as a specific breed. Large, powerful dogs that resemble the breed as we know it today were already in England when the Romans arrived in 55 B.C. How they got to England is unknown. Many were taken to Rome to fight in the arenas. In England, they were used for the sport of bear and bull baiting until that sport was outlawed in the nineteenth century. The breed almost died out but was revived to again almost disappear during World War I due to lack of food for such large animals. Following World War I, another attempt was made to revive the breed and this is the Mastiff as we know it today. The Mastiff was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1941.
The Mastiff is a highly intelligent dog that is not very excitable. He is even-tempered, gentle and loyal but retains his ability to guard. A large dog, he needs plenty of room to exercise and plenty of food to maintain his size.
The skull of the Mastiff is broad and rounded between the ears. The forehead is slightly curved with marked wrinkles of skin and a furrow up the center. The brow ridges are moderately raised. The eyes are set wide apart, medium in size and brown in color. The cheeks and jaws are powerful. The muzzle is short and broad. A scissors bite is preferred. The lips hang low enough to show a square muzzle in profile. The muzzle is dark and half the length of the skull. The neck is powerful and muscular. The chest is wide and deep, extending at least to the elbow. The shoulder is slightly sloping, heavy and muscular. The legs are straight, strong and set wide apart. The back is muscular, powerful and straight. The tail is set moderately high and long enough to reach the hocks. Wide at the root, it tapers to the end and is carried in a slight curve. The coat is double with a dense, short undercoat and a moderately coarse outercoat. Coat colors include apricot, silver fawn or dark fawn-brindle. The muzzle, ears, and nose are dark in color. Minimum size is 30 inches for males and 27 inches for females. Average weight is between 170 and 180 pounds. of U.S. writes:

A loyal companion.
There is no other dog more loyal and loving than a Mastiff. Yes, they do have their quirks. You have to be there for them when they are puppies so they can get the proper guidance. I thought I would end up with a problem dog, but I was very glad that I was patient with my friend. He had a thing about chewing on electrical cords. Thankfully he stopped that. Then there was a book and a chair that were also casualties from when he was a pup, but I would not trade him for the world. He lets me know if there is a stranger in the area. I do not have to worry about him hurting someone, because I have taught him to come to me first if there is danger in the area. Mastiffs do not need to be trained to attack because they are naturally protective. I think with any large breed it is better to keep them gentle than have them always on the prowl, ready to pounce and bite.We live in a large forested area and I rely on his keen senses when I am looking for sick or wounded animals; he always accompanies me. He even knows how to herd and hold an animal if it is dangerous or just needs help. He also is gentle and loves children.
People think Mastiffs are happy just to be left alone, but this is not true. They love their people and crave attention. My dog howls if I am not there, but I miss him just the same in truth when I am away. He always keeps me company or is there to warm my feet. His loyalty is steadfast and never wavers. He is truly a loyal companion. If you have time to devote to such a noble animal then this is the breed for you, but if not, maybe you should look elsewhere for companionship. Mastiffs without a doubt are the most loyal and noble of all the breeds. of Southern California writes:

God must have been in a really good mood the day He created Mastiffs.
Being raised with a Basset Hound and then later on owning five German Shepherds, I had never had ANY exposure to the Mastiff breed other than occasionally seeing them on the cover of a magazine. Then, when I started a new job three years ago, I was introduced to the most wonderful dog in the whole world. He and I seemed to connect in a way that was something very dear and special. They treat you like you are the only thing in their lives. They know your moods and are sensitive to changes in your behavior. They make you feel like a movie star when you walk in the door, even if you've just taken out the trash! I can honestly say that they are the most amazing of breeds. They are a lot of work. Mastiffs are not for the faint of heart. But the energy that you expend on them, will come back to you 100-fold.

Name withheld by request of Corvallis, OR writes on 8/24/01:

Extremely addictive...
There are so many reasons to love Mastiffs. They are gentle, quiet, loyal, protective, smart, decorative, and when they get a good lip of drool going they can water most of the lawn in one shake. Getting a Mastiff was one of the best decisions I ever made, and she is one of the few types of dogs my husband can put up with. Ours is easy to train, very outgoing, she turns heads everywhere because of her size and personality. She loves hiking but is always ready to lay around as well. They can also be huge clowns, although you would never guess it from their mournful, drooping faces. Mastiffs thrive on being one of the family. They need closness and love to cuddle, htey are not happy as totally outside dogs. However, they rarely experience separation anxiety, preferring instead to sleep away the hours that you are gone.
It must be said, that a Mastiff is not the dog for everyone. If you want to play frisbee or go jogging, this is not your dog. If your furniture, car, house, etc. cannot stand a few tooth marks, this is not your dog. If drool is the most disgusting thing ever, this is not your dog. If you are not willing to take the time to socialize, train, and control a dog that will outweigh you at some point, this is not your dog. Mastiffs are VERY protective, it is what they were bred for. As such, they require a responsible owner who will take the time to raise them right. They also, as a giant breed, can be prone to health problems and their life span can be quite short. With all these things in mind, I can honestly say that my dog's good qualities far outweigh the bad. She is very patient with puppies (we foster quite a few), she is tolerant of her cats. She vigorously defends us from coyotes, stays off the furniture, leans on anyone who holds still (Mastiffs love to lean), leaps around like a huge, clumsy clown with her much more agile housemate, and manages to retain that mastiff dignity that is unique to the breed. I would not trade her for the world. of Detroit, MI writes on 7/23/00:

For my family there is no comparison with other breeds...
We love this breed so much that we have heavily involved ourselves in a rescue service and happily get to rehome these beautiful babies knowing they will live the rest of their lives with people who understand their special needs and lovingly provide for them. We are owned by two Mastiffs and life has not been the same since, nor would we want it to be. of Southern California writes on 3/11/00:

Gentle giants - but not for everyone.
This is the noblest of all dogs. They are very gentle and MUST be included as part of the family. They are known as "lawn furniture" because they would rather watch you work in the garden than actually run around. They do like activity as long as they get to decide how much is enough. When a Mastiff gets tired they will lie down to rest and there is no moving them until they are good and ready. I truly believe that someone who is considering a Mastiff should do LOTS of homework. Talk to more than one breeder, other owners, get on the internet and really find out what you are in for. They are the biggest loves and deserve to live with people who understand them.

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