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The bullmastiff was bred in 19th century England to protect large game estates from poachers. Poachers were quite dangerous at the time as they were armed, and not afraid to maim or kill the game warden if they were caught.
The bullmastiff was bred to be 60% English mastiff and 40% bulldog. The idea was to create a dog who would be big, fast and aggressive enough to subdue a poacher, without killing him.
The bullmastiff was recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1924 as a pure-bred. They were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1933, and the first breed standard was approved in 1935.
What’s the bullmastiff like?
The bullmastiff, in spite of his size, is sweet and loving around family members. He can be territorial though, and possibly aggressive if he ever feels that his family or property are in danger.
He’s intelligent and can be difficult to train because he’s an independent thinker and doesn’t like to perform repetitive activities. A bullmastiff will enjoy training, but only if you mix it up. Challenge him with obedience, agility, tracking and carting.
The bullmastiff is confident and will be great with strangers so long as he feels they’re welcome. He might not do so well with other dogs, especially dogs of the same sex. He’s not the best choice if you frequent dog parks.
The bullmastiff is low maintenance, and does not require much exercise or grooming. He can live happily in a big back yard or a small apartment. He doesn’t bark much as he was bred to be silent and stealthy.
Remember that he’s fearless and you might need to identify what he would perceive as a danger before he goes charging headlong into it.
As a larger dog, the bullmastiff has a shorter life span than smaller dogs would. He might be particularly susceptible to several conditions:
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
The Bullmastiff is physically imposing, but incredibly patient and loving. Here are seven things you probably didn't know about this gentle giant:
1. They Were Bred To Be Guard Dogs
The Bullmastiff was created in England in the 1860s by crossing a Mastiff with a Bulldog. The goal was to create a guard dog that would defend wealthy properties from poachers trying to steal game, like deer. The Bulldog-Mastiff-cross provided the Bullmastiff with the perfect balance of aggression and speed necessary to apprehend the thieves.
2. They Don't Bark… or Bite
The Bullmastiff is different from a traditional guard dog. He was trained not to bark or bite intruders. Rather, his job was to track quietly, pin and hold poachers without mauling them. Wealthy landowners did not want their Bullmastiffs to scare away or injure the thieves — only to apprehend them. These instincts have remained with the Bullmastiff, as his role has shifted from game guard dog to family companion.
3. They Don't Need As Much Exercise as You Would Think
The Bullmastiff is large and muscular and has a moderate energy level. He can be perfectly content with just a few short walks each day and dislikes hot weather.
4. John D. Rockefeller Brought Them to the United States
Wealthy oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller imported Bullmastiffs to the United States in the 1920s to guard his country estate in Tarrytown, N.Y.
Photo courtesy of Cheryl Pike, AKC Breeder of Merit
5. Appeared in “Rocky”
The most famous Bullmastiff in Hollywood was not a trained movie dog, but a beloved family pet. Sylvester Stallone adopted his Bullmastiff, Butkus, when the pup was six weeks old and decided to use him in “Rocky” because he couldn't afford a trained movie dog. Stallone actually had to sell Butkus at one point because his finances were so dire, but he went back for Butkus as soon as he had the money. As he was begging to get his dog back, Stallone said, “This dog belongs in the movie.”
6. Other Celebs Have Owned Bullmastiffs
Marlon Brando, Christina Aguilera, Michael Bay, and Jon Bon Jovi have all owned Bullmastiffs. Bob Dylan had a Bullmastiff named Brutus, who would use Katharine Hepburn's garden as a personal bathroom when Dylan and Hepburn lived next door to each other. Hepburn apparently didn't mind.
Photo courtesy of Bill Moskaluk, AKC Breeder of Merit
7. One Bullmastiff Is an NFL Mascot
The Cleveland Browns have a live mascot — a Bullmastiff named Swagger. You might see him on the sidelines during a game or “giving interviews” afterwards. According to his website, Swagger's favorite food is “fried Raven.”
|Country of origin:||Great Britain|
|Registries:||AKC, UKC, CKC|
|Occupation:||Guardian, companion |
|Size:||24 to 27 in tall 100 to |
|Longevity:||8 to 10 years |
|Training:||Moderate can be |
This unique British breed was produced by crossing the English Mastiff with old-fashioned Bulldogs. A powerful gamekeeper’s assistant, its speed and strength enabled it to chase and subdue poachers without causing them lasting injury. While it is roughly the same size as the Rottweiler, its relative lack of popularity can be attributed to its boisterous stubbornness. Head halters work well to control the rather headstrong behaviour of males in particular. This is a breed suitable for experienced dog handlers only.
The Bullmastiff is a relatively modern breed, developed in the mid 19th century, probably somewhere around 1860, by English gamekeepers. They needed a large, quiet, fearless dog with adequate speed to track down poachers and proper strength to hold them.
Gamekeepers probably experimented with a number of breeds in an attempt to create the perfect dog for their needs, but the one that paid off was the 60% English Mastiff and 40% English Bulldog cross. The Mastiff was large but not aggressive enough, while the Bulldog, brave and tenacious, lacked the size needed to knock down and hold a man.
The popular cross became known as the Gamekeeper’s Night-Dog and worked and lived alongside the gamekeeper and his family. The dogs were bred for utility and temperament with little thought put into looks, the exception being a preference for a dark brindle coat, which provided camouflage at night.
As poaching eventually declined, the Bullmastiff took on a new role as a guard dog.
Today, however, the Bullmastiff is more likely to be an easygoing, loyal and loving family pet than a poacher’s worst enemy. “The gamekeeper’s night dog” can now be found lounging in family homes and competing in show rings.
Breed name synonyms: Gamekeeper’s Night Dog
The Bullmastiff was originally developed in England somewhere around the 1860’s, by gamekeepers. They needed a large, quiet and fearless dog which would possess the adequate speed and ability to track down poachers and the proper strength to hold them. As the name itself suggests, the Bullmastiff is a result of a cross between the courageous English Mastiff and the tenacious English Bulldog. While the Mastiff was large but not aggressive enough, the Bulldog was brave but lacked the size needed to overpower a man. The 60% English Mastiff and 40% English Bulldog combination proved to be just perfect.
While breeding these dogs little thought was put into their looks, with the exception of a dark brindle coat preference, which provided better camouflage at night. As the poaching declined, the Bullmastiff took a new role as guarding dog.
Unlike the former image of the ‘’poacher’s worst enemy’’, today the Bullmastiff is a loving companion capable of boundless love and devotion.
The Bullmastiff is a dual type of dog. At the same time he is confident and fearless, but yet obedient to his people wishes. He is an independent thinker, but yet he wants to please his owner. The ideal Bullmastiff can be described as smart, self-assured, quiet, gentle, courageous, overprotective, loyal and reliable.
The Bullmastiff’s laid-back attitude changes drastically when a stranger enters the picture. He is quite suspicious of people outside the family. He will not think twice if needed to show his overprotective side.
Bullmastiffs show great tolerance towards children and are capable of learning to get along with other dogs or household pets if raised together.
Bullmastiffs expression can be described as a powerful combination of strength and endurance. According to the standard, this alert dog is square-proportioned which means he is about as long as tall. A male Bullmastiff ranges in height from 25-27’’ (63.5-68.5cm) and weighs between 110-130Ib (50-59kg). Females range in height from 24-26’’ (61-66cm) and weigh between 100-120Ib (45-54kg).
Bullmastiffs have very short and very dense hair coat, which comes in either fawn, red or brindle color. A small white marking on the chest is acceptable, while the muzzle and the ears are dark.
Bullmastiffs are slow developers – both physically and mentally. Because they are not quick learners, owners should be very patient. Another thing, owners must be prepared for is that Bullmastiffs have a tendency to misbehave. All in all, it can be concluded that they are not recommended for first time owners.
It is very important to allow the Bullmastiff to socialize with other dogs while he is still a puppy. Proper socialization is also important in order to prevent food aggression and territoriality. If properly trained they can learn to be tolerant towards children and can get along with other household pets.
Bullmastiffs want to be active, and if their activity schedules do not include exercising or playing, out of boredom, they will turn to destructive behavior.
Bullmastiffs are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they can be subject to certain health issues such as cardiovascular conditions (pulmonic stenosis), dermatological conditions (muzzle folliculitis and furunculosis, pododermatitis), gastrointestinal conditions (gastric dilatation-volvulus), musculoskeletal conditions (congenital elbow luxation, hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament rupture), neoplastic conditions (lymphosarcoma), neurological conditions (cerebellar degeneration), ocular conditions (entropion , ectropion, distichiasis, persistent pupillary membranes, glaucoma, multifocal retinal dysplasia), renal and urinary conditions (cystine urolithiasis), reproductive conditions (vaginal hyperplasia).
If not regularly and properly exercised, Bullmastiffs are prone to obesity. Their lifespan is estimated to be 9-10 years.
Kept by gameskeepers in the late 19 th century, the Bullmastiff was used to scare off poachers in England. In 1924, English Kennel Club standardized and officially recognized the Bullmastiff as a purebred breed, followed in 1933 by the American Kennel Club. The Diamond Society of South Africa has used Bullmastiffs as watchdogs, and worldwide, this fierce, intelligent breed have helped in police and army work, and been used as assistance animals and hunting guards. Reliable, smart family guardians and companions, the Bullmastiff loves comforting, playing, and living with families, and will make a great addition to most lifestyles.
In 1901, a Mr. Burton of Thorneywood Kennels challenged a group of spectators at a dog show to take on the task of escaping a muzzled dog he had brought with him, the prize being one pound--a large sum of money at the time.
The volunteer was a man experienced with dogs, but he must have soon regretted his act. Despite being given a head start, he was pursued, caught, and knocked down by the dog three times.
Anyone who knew the dog was a Bullmastiff wouldn't have been surprised. Developed by gamekeepers on England's great estates, the dogs served as guardians of the grounds and were bred to be courageous, confident, strong, and fast.
Large and powerfully built, the Bullmastiff has a formidable appearance that's a wonderful deterrent to would-be attackers or intruders. They're a determined protector when needed and a loving family companion the rest of the time.
When well-trained and well-socialized, the Bullmastiff is a confident, trustworthy, and noble credit to the breed and to dogs in general.
In one sense, this is a clean breed, with a short coat that's easy to groom and doesn't shed excessively. On the other, they're droolers. With this breed it's advisable to keep a hand towel with you at all times.
Despite their size, the Bullmastiff isn't a high-energy dog. A couple of short walks or playtimes a day will meet their needs. They're mellow enough to live comfortably in an apartment or condo, as long as they get their daily outings.
Of course, a puppy will have more energy than an adult dog, but they should settle down by the time they're two years old. Being low-key doesn't mean they're lazy. The breed can excel in dog sports such as agility, conformation, obedience and tracking. Bullmastiffs are also super therapy dogs, thanks to their calm nature and comical expression.
When it comes to training, they're an independent thinker. Guide them with firmness, fairness, and consistency from an early age, and they'll look to you as head of the household.
Let them go their own way, and they'll soon be running things, so don't let that happen. Early socialization--exposure to many different people, places, sights, sounds, and experiences--is essential.
With this breed's history of being a guardian dog, the Bullmastiff can do well in homes where both people work as long as he gets plenty of human interaction during at-home hours.
It's okay for them to spend time in a fenced yard or kennel run, but primarily these dogs should live in the home. After all, you want a guardian dog to be Johnny-on-the-spot in the event of an intruder as well as to be emotionally close to you so he'll want to protect you. The Bullmastiff is a silent watchdog who detains unwelcome visitors with his size and presence, biting only as needed.
Bullmastiffs do very well with children and show amazing patience with them. Their size can be overwhelming to toddlers, however. Nor is the Bullmastiff meant to be a baby sitter. No dog should be left unattended with young children.
Bullmastiffs can reach a weight of 130 pounds, and most of that is muscle. Living with a Bullmastiff brings the responsibility of ensuring that you have a well-trained and socialized dog. When that's the case, you'll find yourself in possession of a wonderful dog who is loving, faithful, and courageous, a huggable lug who's your best friend.
The Bullmastiff is a relatively modern breed that was developed in the mid-19th century, probably around 1860, by English gamekeepers who needed a large, quiet, fearless dog with the speed to track down poachers and the strength to hold them.
They probably experimented with a number of breeds in an attempt to create the perfect dog for their needs, but the one that paid off was the Mastiff/Bulldog cross. The Mastiff was large but not aggressive enough, while the Bulldog, brave and tenacious, lacked the size needed to knock down and hold a man.
The popular cross became known as the Gamekeeper's Night-Dog and worked and lived alongside the gamekeeper and his family. The dogs were bred for utility and temperament with little thought put into looks, the exception being a preference for a dark brindle coat, which provided camouflage at night.
Poaching eventually declined, and the Bullmastiff took on a new role as a guard dog. As a result of the Mastiff influence, the fawn coat with a black mask became more common as well.
It wasn't until the early 20th century that the Bullmastiff began to be bred as a distinct type rather than as a crossbreed.
In 1924, England's Kennel Club recognized the breed. The American Kennel Club followed suit in 1933. The first Bullmastiff registered by the AKC was Fascination of Felons Fear in 1934.
Today the Bullmastiff ranks 40th among the 157 breeds and varieties registered by the AKC, a testament to their qualities as a companion.
A Bullmastiff male is 25 to 27 inches in height and weighs 110 to 130 pounds females are 24 to 26 inches and weigh 100 to 120 pounds.
The ideal Bullmastiff is fearless and confident, but obedient to their people's wishes. Smart and reliable, they can be an independent thinker, yet they want to please.
They're a natural guardian of the home and family and will respond instantly if they're threatened. Bullmastiffs were bred to be silent watchdogs, so it's unusual for them to bark.
As with every dog, Bullmastiffs need early socialization--exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences. Socialization helps ensure that your Bullmastiff puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
Enrolling them in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking them to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help them polish their social skills.
Bullmastiffs are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they can be subject to certain health conditions. Not all Bullmastiffs will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.
Because some health problems don't appear until a dog reaches full maturity, health clearances aren't issued to dogs younger than two years old.
Common health problems in this breed include cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, torn anterior cruciate ligaments, bloat, subaortic stenosis, skin and coat problems, hypothyroidism, and entropion.
The Bullmastiff is a low-energy dog who can adapt well to most home environments, although their size makes them best suited to a house with a fenced yard.
Besides keeping them from roaming and protecting them from traffic, a fence prevents the Bullmastiff from expanding their territory beyond their home and yard, which could cause them to try to prevent other people and dogs from entering the surrounding area.
Their short muzzle makes the Bullmastiff prone to heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Avoid exercise during the heat of the day, and keep them indoors during hot or humid weather. Be sure they always have access to shade and fresh water when they're outdoors.
Start training your Bullmastiff puppy as soon as you bring them home, while they're still at a manageable size. Enroll in a puppy socialization class to get them used to being around other dogs and people. This is extremely important for the Bullmastiff, who can be aggressive toward other dogs and people they don't know if they aren't taught manners.
In addition to puppy kindergarten and regular obedience class, take your Bullmastiff to parks, outdoor shopping malls, and other places where they can learn to meet people and become accustomed to new experiences, sights, and sounds.
Although they want to please, the Bullmastiff thinks for themselves and needs a confident trainer. Use positive reinforcement techniques, never physical punishment, but be firm and consistent in what you ask of them. Avoid repetitive training, or your Bullmastiff will get bored and start doing their own thing.
Think beyond puppyhood. If you don't want your Bullmastiff on the furniture when they weigh 130 pounds, don't let them on it when they only weigh 20 pounds. Once a habit is established, it will be difficult to break.
Housetraining shouldn't be a problem as long as you make it a positive experience and provide your pup with a regular potty schedule and plenty of opportunities to go outside. Crate training is a wonderful tool for housetraining and keeping your young puppy from chewing things they shouldn't.
The Bullmastiff needs a firm hand when training, but they also need love and patience. When they're trained, you'll find that they're a wonderful, caring, and loyal companion who will gladly risk their life to defend yours.
Recommended daily amount: 3 1/8 to 4 1/8 cups of a high-quality dog food daily, divided into two meals.
How much your adult dog eats depends on their size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog.
The quality of food you buy also makes a difference--the better the food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog, and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.
Keep your Bullmastiff in good shape by measuring their food and feeding them twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether they're overweight, give them the eye test and the hands-on test.
First, look down at them. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on their back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see their ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, they need less food and more exercise.
For more on feeding your Bullmastiff, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.
The Bullmastiff coat is short and dense, offering good protection from rain, snow, and cold.
It comes in three colors: red, fawn or brindle (specks and streaks of light and dark markings) with a dark muzzle and ears. Occasionally, a Bullmastiff will have a small white mark on their chest.
Bullmastiffs don't shed heavily, and their coats are easy to keep clean and shiny with a quick daily brushing using a rubber curry. Bathe only as needed.
Check the ears weekly and clean as needed with a solution recommended by your veterinarian. If they smell bad or are filled with a waxy material resembling coffee grounds, the dog may have an infection or mite infestation, so take them to a veterinarian.
Trim nails once or twice a month. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep the feet in good condition. If the nails get too long, the toes can become spread out, reducing the support provided by the foot and making it more likely that stickers and small stones will get stuck in the foot.
Don't forget dental hygiene. Brush their teeth at least two or three times a week to prevent tartar buildup and periodontal disease, daily for best results.
Grooming provides you with an excellent opportunity to bond with your dog and to check their overall health. As you brush the coat or teeth, clean the ears and trim the nails, look for sores or other signs of irritation such as redness on the skin, mouth, feet, and ears. Eyes should be free of redness or discharge.
Begin getting your Bullmastiff used to being brushed and examined when they're a puppy. Handle their paws frequently--dogs are touchy about their feet--and look inside their mouth and ears. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when they're an adult.
Bullmastiffs are patient with and protective of children, but because they're so large, they can accidentally knock over or step on a toddler. If you have children, take their age and size into consideration when deciding whether to get a Bullmastiff.
Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any ear biting or tail pulling on the part of either party.
Teach your child to never approach any dog while they're sleeping or eating or try to take away the dog's food. No dog, no matter how good-natured, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
The Bullmastiff may well be aggressive toward dogs they don't know. They do best with dogs of the opposite sex, especially if they've been raised with them.
They can get along with cats if they're raised with them, although some Bullmastiffs can't resist the urge to chase them. A cat who stands up for themselves will fare better than one who runs away.
Bullmastiffs are often acquired without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one, and these dogs often end up in the care of rescue groups, in need of adoption or fostering. Contact rescue organizations for more information about available dogs and adoption requirements.
Below are breed clubs, organizations, and associations where you can find additional information about the Bullmastiff.