English Mastiff

No one doubts that the English Mastiff, hence its name, came from British descent. However, the dog breed could have come to England in the sixth century B.C. by Phoenician traders.

During the Anglo-Saxon era, it is believed that the Mastiff was used as a hunting dog to rid their owner”s land of wolves and other wild animals. Those abilities became less instinctive as years passed and new rulers came to be in power of the land.

Records show that the Mastiff was bred in royal English families. Dukes and others in high places maintained their own strain of these dogs for generations compared to other dog breeds. They became a larger, more powerful version of the Mastiffs of today. However, researchers can trace today”s Mastiffs to two strains from old English families: the Legh family of Cheshire and the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth.

Downfall of the English Mastiff

Crown Prince had been heralded in his day as one of the most celebrated Mastiffs. He sired many, many dogs. In a short time, breeders could not find a Mastiff that was not related to him. The popularity of this strong animal diminished quickly.

For example, during a dog show in 1871 at the Crystal Palace, 63 Mastiffs participated. A mere 25 years later, the owners of 1,200 hundred dogs showcased their animals but not one Mastiff entered the contest.

The dogs require a lot of a physical activity to keep in condition. Without it, they become overweight and lazy.

Since then, the continuous breeding with one sire has ended, and better strains of the Mastiff continue.

The Mastiff”s General Characteristics

The Old English Mastiff Club described a perfect Mastiff as one with a massive, broad, deep and powerfully built body. The muscles should be defined while the height and size of the dog are proportionate.

Size becomes an important quality. The dogs in former times stood about 32 inches. That average continues now. Mastiffs should not have very long legs. This makes them awkward because of their bulky size. The weight of the dog can range but should not go over 160 pounds. Some, however, have grown to more than 200 pounds. The females are less large and tall.

Raising Mastiff Puppies

The Mastiffs” size makes it difficult for breeders to trust the safety of the puppies. Many of the bitches become clumsy and end up lying on their young. Using foster bitches to mother the puppies has been used by many breeders.

The puppies should never be tied up. They should be walked often. Gaining too much weight can cause havoc on their legs. At first, the Mastiff puppies can appear reserved and nervous. They do mature and become strong guard dogs. These animals can possess hot tempers. Breeders should take that into consideration.

Feeding Mastiffs

It is suggested to use goat”s milk rather than cow”s milk for the young puppies. Many breeders buy their own goat for the purpose of feeding a litter of Mastiffs. As soon as they are older, the puppies can be fed oatmeal or cornmeal mixed with milk. Their diet eventually will consist of dog food and meat.

Worms can be a problem for puppies. But with a lot of good feeding, walking and grooming, the Mastiffs, like any large dog, will grow strong.


Leighton, R. (2004). Dogs and all About Them. Retrieved March 24, 2008, from The Project Gutenberg EBook of Dogs and All About Them Web site: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/10991/10991.txt.