The Bullmastiff

The Bullmastiff is a working breed, which means exactly that, they were bred to work! Anyone interested in purchasing or adopting this breed should have a firm understanding of the breed’s origin and evolution to present day breed characteristics.

In the early part of the 19th century, Gamekeepers of large English estates looked for a canine companion to aide in patrolling the vast acreage, as well as to take down and hold any person caught in the act of poaching. In those times poachers were a viable threat and poaching was often considered to be a crime punishable by death. The gamekeepers of these vast estates first utilized breeds that were readily available to them. The mastiff was utilized, however, they lacked the tenacity required for the job and were not agile enough to cover the amount of ground that the estates often were comprised of. The bulldog was also utilized but they were far too ferocious and very different from what you see in today’s bulldog. English gamekeepers then decided to create this noble breed by crossing the bulldog with the mastiff to obtain silent, swift, agile and powerful dogs, then known as night dogs, for protection against poachers. These dogs were the culmination of tremendous physical strength and an innate guarding instinct. Yet the bullmastiff also possessed an affectionate disposition and devotion to its master often following them home after a long night of patrolling the estate.

Obviously, bullmastiffs are no longer in charge of large rolling estates. However that does not mean that the guarding instinct has disappeared with the 19th century use of this dog. The bullmastiff will guard family members left in its charge. They are loyal and faithful companions. It is imperative that the breed is properly socialized and has obedience training. Bullmastiffs will take charge of any situation if you let them. Remember they have the size and power to back up their will. Training the bullmastiff is a must to lay a proper foundation that will last a lifetime.

The bullmastiff was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in October of 1933. The breed standard of the bullmastiff or physical description can be found on the AKC website.

The American Bullmastiff Association, which is the parent breed club, carries a far more detailed description on their website as well:

Bullmastiffs are often good with children if they are raised together and socialized properly. However, it is imperative that the potential owner understand that the bullmastiff and children must have a mutual respect for each other. Also, the bullmastiff is a large breed and what could be meant as a playful pawing can knock over a child and or hurt a child. Children should never be left unattended with any dog not just a bullmastiff. With proper training the bullmastiff can be a loyal and loving companion.

Bullmastiffs prefer to be the only pet. The breed was developed to work independently and not in a pack. Bullmastiffs can be aggressive toward other dogs. However they may get along with canines of opposite sex. However, putting two same sex bullmastiffs together is asking for trouble. They can appear to co-exist and then in the blink of an eye they may have a trigger and a fight could ensue. Their size makes it difficult to break up a fight and often requires a trip to the vet and those intervening may get injured as well. If this behavior occurs then the dogs must be separated for the remaining life of the dogs. Therefore, it is not a wise idea to have multiple same gender bullmastiffs or varied breeds co-existing with a bullmastiff.

Although their size is large the bullmastiff is typically a softy where their human companions are concerned. They enjoy living indoors with human interaction this is where they are most happy. They do not require large amounts of exercise. A few walks daily or a romp in the yard and they are content. Whether residing on large acreage or in an apartment in the city bullmastiffs are happy and content in their home. Bullmastiffs should never be allowed to roam freely in a neighborhood. They are guard dogs and should be treated as such. They do require special attention in the summer months. They are a short muzzled breed and require activity to be during the coolest hours of a summer’s day. They can overheat quickly and that can become a medical emergency.

Additional information about the Bullmastiff may be found at the following webs sites:

American Bullmastiff Association

Bullmastiff Info

American Kennel Club

If you would like to read further about Bullmastiffs you may find the following books interesting. Some may be out of print, but may be available as used books.

Bullmastiffs Today by Lyn Pratt
The Bullmastiff: Peerless Protector by Geraldine Roach and Shastid
The Ultimate Book of Mastiff Breeds by Douglas Oliff
Bringing up a Bullmastiff Puppy by Mona Lindau-Webb, which may be obtained directly from the author for $10. Send your order to Mona Lindau-Webb, 1943 South Holt Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034.

A recent search at Powell's Books brought up a list of fourteen additional books to consider.