The Bullmastiff was developed in England, in 1860 or thereabouts. English gentlemen who had large game reserves were constantly dealing with poachers who stole their game. Gamekeepers needed help to keep these poachers out. They developed a dog that that was quiet, reasonably agile and non-aggressive, so they could sneak up on poachers and pin them to the ground without harming them. This dog was the Bullmastiff.
The Bullmastiff breed combines the best characteristics of the English Bulldog and the English Mastiff. They are athletic, but quiet and obedient. Because the dogs were worked at night, their dark brindle color and ability to track quietly made them difficult to detect.
The Bullmastiff was recognized by the AKC in 1934, and its obedient and laid back nature have made them popular as a family pet.
These are not small dogs! They stand up to 27 inches, or 70cm, at the shoulder, and can weigh as much as 130lb (60kg). Their short but dense coat comes in red, brindle or fawn. Fawn can be anything from a very light brown through to a red-brown shade. Similarly, red dogs may be any shade of red from almost fawn, to a rich red mahogany color.
Like their English Bulldog and English Mastiff ancestors, they have a shortened muzzle with many skin folds around their face.
They have an intelligent, watchful expression, and their size and demeanor would be enough to deter any potential intruder.
These big dogs are true gentle giants, and will develop a close bond with their owner. They are calm, loving and loyal when with their family, and are very patient with children. Although they are not at all aggressive to people, they will instinctively guard their home and loved ones. They don’t bark because they were bred to be silent when they tracked poachers. Although they are affectionate with people, they may be aggressive towards other dogs, so early and frequent socialization is a must.
They aren’t always easy to train, because historically they were expected to work independently of their owner. This independent streak can persist in today’s Bullmastiff. This means that they need a confident and assertive owner, who will take the time to socialize and train their dog. In fact, all Bullmastiffs should undergo obedience training from a young age. After all, if you can’t manage your Bullmastiff when they are a puppy, you’ll have no hope when they have grown into a 130lb young adult with a mind of their own.
The Bullmastiff suffers from hip dysplasia, with research suggesting almost 1 in 4 dogs are affected by this debilitating condition. They also can develop elbow dysplasia. Both conditions can lead to painful arthritis. There is a genetic basis to both hip and elbow dysplasia, and responsible breeders are taking steps to reduce the incidence in the breed. If you are thinking of buying a Bullmastiff pup, make sure you ask their breeder about the results of any x-rays taken of their adult breeding dogs. They should be able to answer all your questions, so you can have confidence that your new puppy has the best chance of avoiding orthopedic problems.
These dogs can also have entropion, a rolling in of the eyelids which results in the eyelashes rubbing on the cornea. The result is painful eye irritation and secondary infection. Eye medication is only a short term solution, as this condition will ultimately need surgical correction.
Being a deep chested dog, the Bullmastiff is at risk of bloat, where the stomach swells after a meal or a big drink, resulting in shock and collapse. This condition can be fatal, so it is best avoided. Feed your Bullmastiff several small meals a day, and restrict their exercise after eating or drinking.
The Bullmastiff’s short rough fur is easy to care for. They don’t need frequent washing, and regular grooming with a bristle brush will remove any loose hairs and add a shine to their coat. Make sure you wipe their facial skin folds clean each day to prevent build up of dirt and dead skin cells, which can lead to irritation and infection.
They aren’t a breed with a great need for exercise. A walk every day, and a run in the yard will be enough to keep them satisfied.
Regular obedience training is a must, to teach your Bullmastiff who is in charge, and to make it easier for you to manage this independent big dog. This should start with puppy pre-school so they can learn to interact nicely with other dogs, and continue throughout their life.
If you are looking for a big dog that is gentle and easy to care for, then the Bullmastiff certainly meets those criteria. They need to be supervised around children; although they are patient with them, their size can cause problems. One swipe of that big paw can knock a child over.
The Bullmastiff will live happily in an apartment, if you have the space for them. They are actually well suited to live indoors, because they are most content when they are close to their family.
Before you buy a Bullmastiff, be certain that your budget will accommodate the expense. The purchase price is only the beginning of your doggy expenditure. Even routine health care is expensive for 130 pounds of dog, and should they become unwell and need medication or surgery, this too will be costlier because of their size. No matter what dog you choose, you must be able to afford to care for them properly.
Like the other large breeds, the Bullmastiff isn’t very long lived. You’ll enjoy your loyal companion for only 8-10 years.