The Bullmastiff has been around since the 1860s. It was created with a goal of developing a dog faster than the mastiff and not as fast as the Bulldog then. For lack of a better name, the resultant cross between the Bulldog and the Mastiff was called Gamekeeper’s Night Dog or the Holding Dog. The breed saved many a Gamekeeper’s efforts as these dogs were well trained in attacking and holding (but not mauling) poachers.
Let us study the interesting Bullmastiff of today, its temperament, size, weight and colors.
Fun facts about the Bullmastiff
- The breed’s name has a bit of confusion surrounding it. Some people spell it as Bull Mastiff with a space between bull and mastiff, while others use a hyphen to separate the two words Bull-Mastiff. Today though, at least in the United States, the official name of the breed is Bullmastiff.
- This beautiful, strong breed has a huge following in Europe and America.
- In 1940, Major A. J Dawson wrote this about the Bullmastiff: ‘To the children and honest people, the Bullmastiff is about as dangerous as a London Policeman but to the thieves and criminal fraternity, this is probably the most dangerous dog in the world!’
- In Canada, this breed was almost banned after a series of unrelated dog bites and attacks perpetrated by them, especially on small children. However, the ban proposal measure ultimately failed.
- Bullmastiffs are often crossed with Pitbulls to form the breed called pitbullmastiff. Pitbullmastiffs are extremely strong and make excellent guard dogs. Bullmastiffs are also crossed with Rottweilers to improve trainability.
- Bullmastiff size – In the breed’s early days, there were two clubs dedicated to its progress and upkeep. Both these clubs did not see eye to eye on the physical measurements and bullmastiff size and weight standards. Accordingly, the standard measurements of the Bullmastiff have varied a lot in the past few years. The National Bullmastiff club stipulated a weight between 90-100 lbs while the British Bullmastiff club allowed weight up to 110 lbs. The American Standard today allows a range of 100-130 lbs for the Bullmastiff weight. Bullmastiff female is shorter and lighter.
- This is a powerfully built, muscular dog with a wide, deep chest. They have well boned strong legs and well arched feet.
- Many consider the Bullmastiff as a head breed. This means that the breed’s head, when viewed from any angle, must appear square, muscular and large. Bullmastiff’s head is what imparts magnificence, power and elegance to the breed.
- Colors – Bullmastiffs are available in brindle, fawn or red-brown coat colors.
Where to find a Bullmastiff
Before you begin your search for a bullmastiff puppy, ask your vet or other breeders at dog shows for references to ethical and reputed breeders. You can also visit the official website of the Bullmastiff Club of America. Responsible breeders usually have only one or two breeds of dogs. They also raise only one or two litters per year and hence tend to have long waitlists. Dedicated breeders are also involved with the breed’s club. Good breeders also want to ensure that you will take care of the puppy so you must be prepared to answer a lot of questions about your household. Breeders often release puppies between 7 and 10 weeks of age; any breeder who releases a puppy younger than that may be more concerned with profits than with the welfare of the breed. The price of a Bullmastiff varies from breeder to breeder, its bloodlines, gender, color and several other factors. Be prepared to shell out at least $1000-$2000 for a purebred puppy.
The Bullmastiff is a quiet, gentle, friendly and affectionate breed though it often comes across as aggressive. With its sharp sense of hearing, scenting and fantastic eyesight, this breed makes a great guard dog. They are generally quiet and only bark at strangers. Primarily a guard dog with the sense of pleasing its master, the bullmastiff makes a handsome choice for the right owner. Bullmastiffs are an even tempered breed that enjoys participating in activities with all members of the family. They are highly spirited, reliable and active and have great endurance and alertness. They also have just the right hint of aggressiveness towards strangers and that makes them an efficient watch dog. Members of this breed love children and some Bullmastiffs even get along well with cats! Male dogs are slightly more aggressive than bitches.
Exercise plays a huge role in rearing and maintaining bullmastiffs and must not be ignored. Regularity is of key importance, more than distance covered and time. Allow your bullmastiff to run several times around an enclosed yard. Even an ageing bullmastiff will enjoy a gentle stroll around the block. Walking up and down a gradient is very good for these dogs, especially once they are over the age of 18 months. Until then, care must be taken not to over-exert a puppy as his joints are developing and prone to injury. A combination of exercises on soft and hard surfaces is best for bullmastiffs as they keep their nails trimmed and feet in tight condition. For puppies, keep exercise period limited and do not allow him to engage in jumping. Always let your pet rest for a while after exercise and do not feed him for at least an hour following heavy exercise.
Any bullmastiff, provided he possesses the right temperament, can be schooled into good manners. There is a big difference between training an adult and a puppy. When your pup first comes home, he is like a sponge and is also eager to please you. So start training early. Be gentle and consistent and always use a soft tone of voice. Scolding, punishing or hitting your dog will not work and would only make him shy, fearful and even aggressive. Reward-based, consistent and positive training works best. Once your pet is well versed with basic commands like come, sit etc, then you could consider introducing him to sports, agility courses, flyball etc.
Although a short coated dog, regular grooming is needed to keep Bullmastiff’s coat in healthy condition. Regularly brush your pet so he is free of parasites and also to keep its natural oils stimulated. Every dog thrives on routine and regular grooming routine is a must for your bullmastiff. If your dog gets wet in the rain during training, make sure you wipe him down. Also bathe your pet once a month to keep his coat fresh and clean. Inspect your pet’s ears from time to time. Daily brushing is also needed to keep your pet’s oral health in good condition.
Anasarca or general edema in puppies at birth is reported in this breed. They are also susceptible to heart issues. Other than that, this is a hardy breed. On an average, they live up to 8 to 10 years.