English Mastiff Dog Breed Traits & Facts

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Last Updated on September 20, 2023

Quick Summary: The English Mastiff is a dog breed from England. He is a massive dog that needs plenty of space, food, company, and love. They’re an amazing breed that brings so much to a home. They are very calm inside the house and save the fun for outside. Many Mastiffs are overweight due to their slow metabolism and love for napping. Although they prefer a spacious home, they can live in apartments due to their low energy levels and exercise requirements. Like all purebred dogs, they are susceptible to certain health issues, and like all giant dog breeds, they have a much shorter lifespan than most other dogs. The English Mastiff usually lives around 6 to 10 years. Regular low-impact exercise, good nutrition, and getting them from a reputable breeder are the best ways to prolong their lives.

The Mastiff is one large dog. He is handsome, sweet, gentle, and BIG. He is not suitable for many families because of his size. Before you decide to take him on, you need to make sure that you can accommodate him properly in your home. After all, he’s going to be a family member, right?

Experienced breeders will tell you that the breed’s size is not the only thing you need to manage. These dogs can be stubborn and territorial.

If your dog is a large breed, this can cause problems. How do you handle it when it’s snowing outside and your 200-pound dog refuses to come inside? These are the questions you need to ask before you welcome a dog (such as an English Mastiff) into your home.

Before anything else, it is important to be familiar with everything about them. This includes their size, living needs, training requirements, and food intake.

These big and loving dogs can make great family pets if they are well-trained. So let’s take an in-depth look at what you can expect from your English Mastiff.

English Mastiff Dog

Breed History and Background

The English Mastiff is a dog breed that comes from England. He is an ancient dog breed that originates from 55 B.C. This is because Julias Caesar, the Roman conqueror, wrote a note about them in his journal. He was astonished at the power and size of this breed when he invaded Great Britain. They were taken back to Rome by him, where they fought against lions and other beasts as well as human gladiators.

He was first seen in focus in Medieval England. He was used by rich landowners as an estate guard and for hunting large games. He was also the war dog of choice in the 15th-century battle between the English and the French. They were very expensive to keep, so they were only available to the most wealthy.

Fast forward to the 19th century, and the Mastiff breed was nearly fought to death because of the cruel dogfighting bloodsport in England. They managed to recover their numbers. But come the 20th century, the breed almost became extinct, and just 14 of them were left. The American English Mastiff was popular, thankfully. American breeders also exported their fine specimens back to their homeland and restored the breed.

He was much larger back in those days, but he has become smaller over the years and is less fierce. It isn’t easy to believe how large he was. He’s no longer in combat and instead can be found enjoying the sunshine in the yard or cuddling up on the couch with his favorite people. He is consistently found in the top 30 dog breeds, according to the American Kennel Club. We think he would be more popular if he wasn’t so large.

Appearance and Size

Make no mistake, this is a giant dog breed, which is any breed that weighs more than 100 pounds at maturity. Typically, he weighs between 120 and 230 pounds – you can see our English Mastiff growth chart for reference. Females measure a minimum of 27 1/2 inches, and males measure a minimum of 30 inches.

He is the largest dog breed. A Mastiff named Zorba was the heaviest dog to walk this planet, and he weighed in at a whopping 343 pounds. Your dog may not be able to reach this weight, but he might. Keep that in mind!

This giant dog is chubby. According to his breed standard, he looks massive from all angles. He is strong, muscular, and powerful enough to pull heavy-laden carts. He is also a bit overweight and can be very rolly. Many Mastiffs are overweight due to their slow metabolism and love for napping. His big head is supported by a sturdy neck and a thick chest.

His long tail packs a punch when it swings side to side. His droopy jawline is accentuated by his long, drop-down V-shaped ears. His medium-sized, dark eyes look kind and alert. His droopy jowls give him a sweet appearance. His jowls, often wrinkled and rolly faces, give him a queasy look. He is also highlighted by his eyebrow wrinkles.

Coat and Colors

Most mastiffs have short double-coated fur. His outer coat is mediumly short and straight with a coarse texture. His underlayer, which is dense and short, sits close to him. The layers help keep him warm in winter and protect him from the sun in summer. The long-haired or fluffy Mastiff is much more common than the short-coated one. Although they are not permitted in the show ring, these fluffy puppies are still very beautiful and charming.

There are three colors which are considered to be breed standards – fawn, brindle, and apricot. Brindle coats must have a fawn or apricot base color and be completely covered with dark stripes. His muzzle, nose, and ears should be dark in color – the blacker, the better, according to his breed standard. Some Mastiffs may have a small white spot on their chest.

Temperament and Personality Traits

The English Mastiff is a calm, laid-back canine. Many people think he is so relaxed that they don’t even care about the world. They’re right. This breed would sleep with you all day and would skip exercise if you allowed him to. This breed snores a lot. This breed snores louder than most people.

Mastiffs enjoy being silly with their family. Be careful, his uncoordinated body will cause chaos, and his thick tail can send things flying. He is very clumsy, especially during puppyhood. They take a while to learn how to use their bodies.

He is very calm inside the house and saves the fun for outside. This charming doggy is a gentle giant. He is very sensitive. He is not a fan of family disputes and will comfort anyone who is having a hard day.

He will protect his family from intruders and others who threaten his family. While he is reserved around strangers, he is polite enough to let his master speak. Regular visitors will receive special care. This courageous canine will form strong bonds with the children. They need him to protect them more than anyone.

Don’t let him get too protective. He needs to understand that he is not the boss. He is a stubborn dog and needs firm but fair guidance. You’ll soon realize how stubborn Mastiffs can be when they’re around. You should look for a Mastiff that is fully trained and obedient.

Living Requirements

English Mastiffs can live in an apartment. Although they prefer a spacious home, they can live in apartments due to their low energy levels and exercise requirements. However, they should live on the first floor. You will need to train your dog well if you have stairs. This will ensure that they don’t get hurt or take a spill. As long as they are properly exercised, they will spend most of their life napping for 15 to 18 hours a day.

If he is well-socialized as a puppy, he can live happily with other family pets. He loves children. However, his large size is better kept for older children. His big tail and booty are not a good match for infants or frail elderly people. He does require a dog owner who is familiar with dog ownership. A novice dog owner might find his stubborn ways too difficult to handle.

Exercise Requirements

The Mastiff needs around 45 minutes of exercise every day, no matter how much he tries to persuade you otherwise. He will convince you that he doesn’t need as much or as little on some days. You need to make sure he gets enough exercise each day in order to keep him healthy and fit.

He will nap for long periods of time without stimulation. He will eventually get bored, just like all dogs. And bored dogs can be destructive! Interactive playtime, or chew toys, are great ways to keep your dog stimulated and entertained. You’re going to need some seriously large toys for this pup!

This lazy dog isn’t going up for long hours of mountain hiking. Exercising too often or too frequently will cause more harm to his large body than good. This breed is unsuitable for a very active family looking for an exercise partner. He is the perfect choice for families with moderately active dogs who are looking for companionship on leisurely walks.

Training and Socialization

His experienced owners must also be strong and able to guide him. A family with an established hierarchy is better for this breed than one that is just wondering who the boss is. Firm but fair training is important, along with persistence. He’ll come back for more if you let him go once.

With early training and the right direction, he is a teachable dog. He isn’t stupid, no matter how clumsy or dopey he may act. Many owners claim that he intentionally plays dumb to get away with things other dogs wouldn’t. He isn’t the most eager to please his master, compared to a German Shepherd per se. However, he can be motivated by food and treats.

The mighty Mastiff must be socialized at a young age. He will become a troublesome dog if he is not socialized early on. But at 230 potential pounds, it could be unbearable. Socialization involves exposing your dog to unfamiliar people, dogs, and animals. It will increase his confidence as an adult pup and teach him how to be polite with other dogs.

Due to his large size, it is a good idea leash-train him as a pup. If he’s not leash-trained, he’ll take you on a walk instead of the other way around. Research how to leash train him as a pup and get started straight away. You must be strong and fit, regardless of how well-trained your dog is. We also recommend crate training; just make sure your crate is big enough.

Grooming Requirements

The English Mastiff follows a relatively easy grooming regimen. To keep his short coat clean and tidy, he only requires a brush once a week. He sheds moderately during the year. To keep his shedding under control, you should brush him at least twice a week during the shedding season.

Bathe him once every 8 to 12 weeks. Do not shampoo him more often than that as it could damage his natural oils. Use a mild formula made with natural ingredients to get the best results. The strong doggy smell is common in this breed. However, frequent brushing and recommended bathing can reduce it.

Other grooming routines like nail clipping and eye and ear cleaning are the same for all dogs. You should clip their nails as often as they require it. Dental cleaning should occur once a week. Also, check over your dog’s body to identify any potential problems that may need veterinary attention.

Although his grooming routine is quite simple, we must point out one thing. You should not get a Mastiff if you don’t like a drooly dog. Most mastiffs are drooly. However, those needing a tighter lip line can explore the American Mastiff instead.

Nutritional Guide

The average English Mastiff will consume eight cups daily. Bearing in mind that his weight can range from 120 to 230 pounds, it wholly depends on his size. Follow the instructions on the packaging to avoid feeding him too much. Always feed your Mastiff high-quality kibble and the best that your budget allows.

You should also feed your dog kibble that is specifically designed for giant or large-breed dogs. These kibbles provide the best nutrients for his large body. These kibbles have the right calcium and phosphorus balance to help him control his rapid bone development. Giant breed puppy food is a must because it can decrease his chances of developing skeletal problems such as joint dysplasia.

Mastiffs require a lot of food. However, they will eat until the end. You need to control his food intake as his joints already have enough weight. Obesity can be a serious health risk. You should switch to a weight management diet if he starts gaining weight. Also, get him moving.

Health Issues

Like all giant dog breeds, they have a much shorter lifespan than most other dog breeds. The Mastiff usually lives around 6 to 10 years. Regular low-impact exercise, good nutrition, and purchasing from a reliable breeder are the best ways to prolong their lives.

Like all purebred dogs, the Mastiff breed is susceptible to certain health issues. These are the most common:

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: This can affect large and massive dog breeds. Their bones have a high rate of growth which makes them more susceptible to growing unevenly. It can cause pain and disability in the elbow and hip joints.

Gastric Torsion: Gastric torsion happens when a dog eats too quickly before or after exercise. This causes food to get stuck in the stomach. This is a serious condition and can affect deep-chested breeds of dogs. This can cause serious health problems.

Cardiac Conditions: Pulmonic Stenosis is the most common problem in this breed. This condition occurs when the heart and lungs are partially blocked. This means that the dog’s heart must work harder than normal. Schedule a veterinary appointment if he falls asleep during exercise or becomes tired after just a few minutes of activity.

Eye Conditions:  This breed is susceptible to many eye problems. Entropion and progressive retinopathy are the most common eye conditions. Cataracts can also be a problem in this breed. It is a common cause of blindness in older dogs.

CCL Tears: Larger dogs can damage their joints and tendons more. Dogs that have been bred without considering their health issues often give birth to puppies who are more susceptible to genetic health problems. CCL tears are also common with giant breeds who have been spayed or neutered too early.

The English Mastiff as a Family Pet

  • Mastiffs are courageous dogs who will guard their families with their life.
  • They are generally quite suspicious of strangers.
  • Most dogs will warm up to regular friends and visitors.
  • Train out any territorial behavior, as this breed is known for it.
  • These gentle giants enjoy their time on the couch.
  • Expect a very strong dog, both physically and mentally.
  • Because of their size, they need strong and experienced owners.
  • He will happily coexist with other dogs and family pets if socialized properly.
  • While they spend most of their days napping, they will play with toys.
  • As heavy chewers, don’t expect your pup to engage in too many games of fetch.
  • Leverage moderate exercise throughout the day to discourage improper behavior.
  • Provided they are exercised properly, they can live in an apartment setting.
  • They are very vocal and love to chat with strangers.
  • They are excellent family dogs and tolerate ear and tail pulls.

Reputable Breeders and Puppy Prices

These gentle giants are very popular in America, and there are often reputable breeders in all states. It is your job to distinguish the good from the poor breeders. Talk to Mastiff enthusiasts and get their recommendations.

Reputable breeders will meet you to make sure you are suitable for a life of giant breeding. You won’t have to ask the same questions as here. You can meet the parents and puppies, as well as their environment. Make sure the environment is safe, clean, and warm. Breeders of high-quality dogs will offer health certificates and aftercare.

From a reputable breeder, the average price of a puppy starts at around $1,500. This price is for a giant breed pup. It is not just the price you pay at the beginning that you should consider.

Other costs, such as setting up a home for your dog or paying the monthly fees associated with training them, are also important. Plus ongoing food costs, medical care, giant dog beds, and we recommend dog insurance. Mastiffs are one of the most costly dog breeds, so it is important to make a financial commitment to their care.

Adopting From Rescue Centers and Shelters

If you’re considering adopting a rescue dog rather than purchasing a puppy from a breeder directly, you’re in luck. Many of these gorgeous canines are surrendered to rescue shelters because of their size. You can find many online giant breed rescue centers that specialize in helping large dogs.

If you haven’t had any luck with your local shelters, there is a network of rescue shelters specializing in English Mastiff rescue. The Mastiff Club of America lists several rescue centers region by region. And the Great Plains Mastiff Rescue is another great rescue website. If you are open to a mastiff mutt like a Mastador (Mastiff and Lab mix), you’ll have a much higher chance of success in adoption.


The English Mastiff is a massive dog breed that needs plenty of space, food, company, and love. His family must be familiar with how to handle strong-willed dogs and be willing to work with him when necessary. As a first-time dog owner, this breed is not for the weak or inexperienced.

You’ll find no better breed if you are able to handle a large breed after reading all of the information in this article. The English Mastiff is an amazing breed that brings so much to a home. We hope you enjoy the love and everything else they have to offer.

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