An original English breed and one of the most ancient dog breeds. Today, the term 'mastiff' is used to refer to many different breeds around the world (molosser dogs), probably all descended from the same root stock.

In the US and other English speaking countries, Mastiff is used to refer to the Old English Mastiff (OEM), developed in England, but it is also used in combination with other words to refer to other molosser breeds.

Prototypes of the Mastiff were known in Babylonian times, but it is doubtful that the modern Mastiff is still related to these dogs. The Mastiff is nevertheless among the most ancient dog breeds and has contributed to the development of a numer of other breeds, such as the Bullmastiff and the Dogue de Bordeaux. Its primary duty was that of property guardian, but it was also employed for hunting wolf and for dog fighting and bull-baiting. By the end of World War II the English Mastiff was nearly extinct in its home country, but imported stock helped to rebuild the breed.
The Mastiff is a giant breed of dog, longer in body than in height, with a huge head and wide chest. Muzzle, ears and nose should be black. Coat is fawn, apricot or brindle in color. Some white on the chest and toes is accepted. There is no upper height limit and no weight range in the Mastiff Standard.
In height they generally range from the Standard's minimum of 27 1/2 inches up to 36 inches for the exceptionally tall ones. They can weigh anywhere from 110 pounds to the 343 pounds of Zorba, the world's largest dog, although most Mastiff males weigh around 160-230 pounds and females around 120-170 pounds. Mastiffs are not supposed to resemble Great Danes except possibly in height, nor Saint Bernards, except for the bone, width, chest and large head. They should not be as wrinkled as a Neapolitan nor as dome headed as a Dogue de Bordeaux, nor 'houndy' like a Fila Brasileiro. Mastiffs possess characteristics unique to the breed, especially the head with a broad, deep muzzle with flews hanging over the bottom lip, giving the head a square appearance.


A Mastiff should possess a calm, self assured temperament, without being aggressive to humans or other animals, including other dogs. Mastiffs can be very devoted to and protective of their  family and friends and should therefore be handled sensibly, as their extremely powerful body can be difficult to control. Needs regular work out to exercise his muscles.
English Mastiff
(English Mastiff, Old English Mastiff)
Catherine Marien-de Luca for Dog Breeds of the World 2004-2010 © All rights reserved by and

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