Large, intimidating, and powerful, the Bullmastiff was bred in the mid-19th century in England to guard large estates and protect his grounds from intruders at night. They were trained to track down and pin a burglar to the ground so that the grounds keeper could come and apprehend the intruder. Because of this, Bullmastiffs were nicknamed “the gatekeeper’s night dog.” Bred from a Mastiff and a Bulldog, they are the perfect combination of size, strength, and smarts. In the early 1920s, Bullmastiffs made their way to the stage, competing against other Bullmastiff breeders to see who had the best dogs.
Bullmastiffs are large in statue with broad heads, big, dark eyes, and high set ears that fold over. Bullmastiffs do tend to drool due to their cheeks and skin around their jaws hanging low over their mouths. Their faces and ears are usually black while the rest of their coat is fawn. In some cases, their body can be red or brindle as well. Sometimes a small white marking may appear on the chest, which is allowed in the bred standards, but no other markings should appear on their coat other than that. The Bullmastiffs’ coat is short and dense and they do not shed a lot. Their bodies are muscular, with a square chest and a long, straight tail. Female Bullmastiffs are typically 24 to 26 inches tall while the males are 25 to 27 inches tall. Females weight 100 to 120 lbs. and males can weight up to 130 lbs.
Bullmastiffs are thought to be aggressive dogs due to their impending size, but they are really mellow, gentle dogs. Naturally they do have guard dog instincts and will respond if threatened, but early socialization and training should help him or her become well-rounded. Bullmastiffs are obedient, smart, and confident. Caution should be taken when adding another animal to your family after having a Bullmastiff, as they are territorial (remember, they are guard dogs). If you have other animals or want to add to the family, you need to easy your Bullmastiff into socialization with the other animal.
Bullmastiffs are okay to be left alone and they typically no not suffer from anxiety or destructive issues. They are very laid-back. However, Bullmastiffs are loyal and affectionate members of the family and do well with well-behaved, older children. They are fine with being a couch potato as well as playing and romping around, but they can be unaware of their size and accidently knock over small children. Bullmastiff puppies are especially playful and you may need to limit their play or take breaks, as their heavy weight compared to their small puppy size can cause damage to their developing joints. They are really loving towards their family and love to constantly be touching you (laying on your feet, next to you on the couch, etc.). They do not like to be left outdoors. Bullmastiffs have a high threshold for pain, so it may be hard to tell if your slobbery family member is hurting. Generally, Bullmastiffs have an average lifespan of 8 to 10 years.
Caring for Bullmastiff Tips
Now we’ll go into how to care for a Bullmastiff.
Bullmastiff puppies are different than most puppies due to their large size and thus should be fed adult dog food from the start to help them grow at a steady pace. Multiple feeds for puppies throughout the day can help with growth and should be reduced to twice a day as an adult. Bullmastiff adults typically eat 3-4 cups a day, but it can be adjusted based on your dog’s size and activity level. You may also want to look into a raised dog bowl, as the height will help catch any slobber and splashes from your dooly friend.
Bullmastiffs need daily exercise, however, some are more sedentary than others. A few long walks and some outdoor playtime will help keep your Bullmastiff healthy and happy. When allowing your Bullmastiff off leash, outdoors, make sure there is a tall, secure fence to keep your dog and other dogs safe. A large dog harness is also recommended to help control your dog from pulling while on a walk. During the summer, they should not be walked for an extended period of time, as Bullmastiffs are prone to overheating during hot and humid weather. You may want to invest in a cooling pad for your big, loveable lug.
Bullmastiffs can be strong willed and independent thinkers, so early training and socialization is necessary. They will do well in puppy training classes and love to please their owners. They need consistent routines. Bullmastiffs are typically agreeable dogs who are responsive to positive reinforcement. They can be sensitive to training however, and do not like to repeat the same actions over and over again. Try mixing up your commands to keep you Bullmastiff on his or her toes and reward them with lots of play time and love.
Bullmastiffs are large, big boned dogs. Due to their enormous size and weight and the fact that they grow quickly, Bullmastiff puppies should be checked for hip and elbow dysplasia. When puppies grow so fast, too much exercise can cause problems to their joints, which could cripple them. Older Bullmastiffs are also at risk for these joint problems if they become overweight. Even if your dog doesn’t display signs of elbow or hip dysplasia, you should get them x-rays at age 2 and add some joint supplements to their diet. In addition to supplements, all dogs should get monthly heart worm and flea protection. Bullmastiffs are also at risk for a heart problem called pulmonic stenosis, which is the narrowing of a heart valve and should be checked on yearly. Another issue that is common in Bullmastiffs is brachycephalic syndrome, which makes it difficult for your dog to breathe in air due to his facial features being pushed inward. Like all other dogs, you should trim your dog’s nails and brush their teeth often. Depending on the severity of the lack or air getting into your dog’s lungs, surgery may be beneficial to help correct the problem. Less severe cases may be treated with medication and limiting exposure to heat.