This dog is quite imposing, making him a great deterrent, but unlike other watchdogs, he offers the advantage of saving his bark only for very good reasons. This characteristic has earned him the nickname of “the silent watchdog.”
This Molosser-like breed is fairly modern, having been developed in England by English gamekeepers in the middle of the 19th century. This breed was selectively bred to be fast and fearless in guarding estates and tracking down poachers. Most likely, the English had already tried different breeds. The Mastiff was likely not aggressive enough, while the bulldog was not big enough to hold down a man. So they crossed mastiffs with bulldogs and obtained the bullmastiff, “the Gamekeeper’s Night Dog” which often boasted a brindle coat to help him camouflage in the night. The breed is thought to be 40 percent old English bulldog and 60 percent English mastiff. His duty was to pin down poachers without biting. However, as the years went by, the breed was no longer used to deter poachers, so other coat colors came into vogue. This breed was also used in diamond mines in South Africa. He first arrived abroad in the 1920s. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in1934 and categorized under the working group.
This breed was selectively bred to be courageous, confident and strong. He may appear intimidating to strangers, but with his family he’s a softy that is trustworthy and affectionate. Expect him to fall sleep right by your feet and lean against you. Despite his sheer size, this breed is pretty much on the couch-potato side, preferring to nap once his basic needs for exercise are met. Take him on walks and play with him and offer interactive games for mental stimulation to get him tired out. Most puppies are a bit more on the rowdy side, but they settle down considerably once they reach maturity around 2 years old. Serious and self assured, this breed is very loyal to his owners. Be ready to accept snorting, snuffling, snoring and slobbering.
You cannot ignore this breed’s imposing figure that has played a deterrent roles throughout the years. He stands at is 24 to 27 inches at the withers and weighs 100 to 130 pounds. A good part of his weight is composed of muscle. His coat is short and may come in the following colors: red, fawn or brindle along with a dark muzzle and ears. Some specimens have a white mark on their chest.
Invest plenty of time in training and socializing this breed; he’s aloof, territorial and protective by nature and needs to learn the difference between friend and foe. Despite being low energy compared to his size, consider that he will still enjoy being enrolled in classes and doggy sports. With a history of holding down poachers, this breed was used to working quite independently, so he may need you to be consistent. Yet, he’s overall obedient and willing to please when you use positive reinforcement techniques. Make sure to make training interesting as he may easily get bored.Training is a life-long commitment with this breed. Start early when he’s easily manageable and ensure you can curb jumping.
With a short coat, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about in the grooming department. He doesn’t shed excessively, but he is prone to drooling and slobbering especially after drinking or at the sight of food.
The Ideal Household
Despite his large size, the bull mastiff can live in an apartment as long as his exercise needs are met. With a history as a guardian, it may be tempting to keep him outdoors to guard property for a good part of the day, but he does best indoors with his family. When kept outdoors, he should work silently, detaining any intruders and biting only as needed. If you work, this is an independent breed that should be able to tolerate your absence. He rarely barks, unless there is a good reason to, which is a plus fore those who live in close-knit neighborhoods. This breed can be stubborn and may be too much to handle for the inexperienced owner. Be ready to deal with potential breed bans, problems with public perception and insurance problem. If you have the space, he can do well in in apartment as long as you exercise him.
With children, this breed is quite tolerant and patient. However, because of this breed’s size it can easily knock over the smaller ones. When young, these dogs are quite rambunctious and exuberant. Never leave a dog unattended with a child. If not properly socialized with other dogs and pets, this breed may be aggressive towards them. Several may get better along with dogs of the opposite sex, but this isn’t a rule. While he may get along with the family cat, any fleeing creatures in his yard may turn into lunch.
These dogs have a short coat, but they’re prone to heatstroke and heat exhaustion because of their short muzzles. Keep them away from the heat in those hot, humid days. These dogs can be prone to flatulence, make sure you have a gas mask ready. Because these dogs have a high threshold for pain, they may not show when he is sick or hurt. Pay close attention to any physical or behavior changes. This breed is prone to the following conditions: Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Hypothyroidism, Entropion,Subaortic Stenosis, Cystinuria,Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament, cancer, pano and bloat. Many bullmastiffs are crippled with joint problems. The average lifespan of this breed is 8 to 10 years.
Genetic problems that are mainly cosmetic include longhaired specimens and “Dudleys”. The term dudley derives from Earl of Dudley, a Bulldog breeder of the 19th century. It consists of a lack of pigment in the mask. Luckily, both faults are uncommon and recessive.
WHere to get one
The American Bullmastiff Association
Bullmastiff Rescue of Canada
Pacific Northwest Bullmastiff Fanciers
Bullmastiff Rescue Resource Centre
American Bullmastiff Association, Inc.