Bullmastiff Fearless Guardian and CompanionHome » Dog Breeds » Bullmastiff
The Bullmastiff is a giant purebred bred originally to be guard estates. Today it is successful still in that guardian role but also in areas like tracking and police work. It is therefore standoffish with strangers but extremely loyal and affectionate with its family.
|Here is the Bullmastiff at a Glance|
|Other Names||Gamekeeper's Night Dog|
|Average weight||100 to 130 pounds|
|Average height||24 to 27 inches|
|Life span||8 to 10 years – shorter than the average for a dog this size|
|Coat type||Short, dense|
|Color||Brown and red|
|Popularity||Quite popular – ranked 43rd by the AKC|
|Tolerance to heat||Moderate – not good in overly warm or hot climates|
|Tolerance to cold||Very good – can handle quite cold weather|
|Shedding||Low to moderate – may be some loose hair|
|Drooling||High – you will need to prepare for slobber|
|Obesity||High – being prone to obesity means exercise and food monitoring are important|
|Grooming/brushing||Moderate grooming needs – brush three times a week|
|Barking||Rare to occasional|
|Exercise needs||Quite active – it will need daily exercise|
|Trainability||Difficult – this is not an easy to train dog|
|Friendliness||Very good – all round friendly dog with good socialization|
|Good first dog||Low – best with an experienced owner|
|Good family pet||Excellent – great family dog|
|Good with children||Excellent with socialization|
|Good with other dogs||Good to very good with socialization|
|Good with other pets||Good with socialization|
|Good with strangers||Good – needs socialization and can be wary|
|Good apartment dog||Good – Surprisingly if it has to it can adapt to apartment living despite its size but is best in a home with a yard|
|Handles alone time well||Moderate – prefers to have companionship|
|Health issues||Moderate – this dog is prone to several health issues including cancer, bloat, knee injuries, heart problems and joint dysplasia|
|Medical expenses||$485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance|
|Food expenses||$270 a year for a good dry dog food and treats|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$245 a year for toys, license, training and miscellaneous costs|
|Average annual expense||$1000 a year as a starting figure|
|Cost to purchase||$1500|
|Biting Statistics||Attacks doing bodily harm: 6 Child victims: 4 Maimings: 3 Deaths: 2|
The Bullmastiff's Beginnings
The Bullmastiff was bred in the UK in the late 18th and early 19th centuries by gamekeepers to guard estates. They would track and pin down poachers but while they were bred to be fierce they were not trained to hurt people, they just held them until the warden or keeper arrived. At the time they might have been referred to as the Gamekeeper's Night Dog.
At the time because of its purpose the dog as bred to be brindle colored as it was better at keeping it camouflaged so it could better surprise poachers and the like. It was a strong, large but fast, quiet dog that was also very loyal. In the Bullmastiff is about 60% Mastiff and then 40% Old English Bulldog (not the modern Bulldog we know today). It was the right blend of a large dog that would not be too aggressive but would be brave.
The Bullmastiff in the 19th century when not working would have lived with the gamekeeper and his family. Apart from the coloring for camouflage little care was taken then about its looks. It was bred for purpose and temperament. Eventually though poaching became less of a problem and the Bullmastiff had to branch out as a more general guard dog.
New Lease on Life
In 1924 the English Kennel Club recognized the Bullmastiff as a purebred. It was also around this time that it began to enter shows and was judged. With less need for the camouflage look the dark brindle spread into other options including the popular fawn look. It was then recognized by the AKC in 1934 and the first though not last standard came in 1935.
Since then this dog has been successful in many working roles as well as as a family dog. It is still an excellent guard dog and watchdog and it is valued by the military and the army too. It is the watchdog of choice by the Diamond Society of South Africa. It is ranked 43rd today by the AKC.
The Dog You See Today
This is a giant purebred weighing 100 to 130 pounds (sometimes males can weigh even more) and standing 24 to 27 inches tall. Its coat is short and dense and colors are red, brindle or fawn. Some may have white markings on the chest and black markings on the head. It has a very powerful body.
It also has a large and wide head that has wrinkled, a wide muzzle too and a flat forehead. The nose is black and wide with big nostril. Its eyes are dark hazel and medium sized. Ears are V shaped and high set. The tail is also set high with a thick root that then tapers to the tip and it can be curved or straight.
The Inner Bullmastiff
The Bullmastiff is still a very courageous dog today, it is alert making it a great watchdog. It will bark to alert you if there is an intruder. Some will bark rarely other than that and some may bark a bit more. It is fearless and will act to defend you and its home. It is not the best option for a new owner because it needs an owner with experience who can maintain leadership and be firm with it.
Despite its power though in general it is not an aggressive dog unless it is responding to a real threat. It is mild-mannered, serious natured and very confident. It is also a very sensitive dog, it does not respond well to harshness. It is very loyal and with its family very affectionate. As an adult it is calm and quiet but as a puppy it is more rambunctious and that can last till it is 2 or even 3 years old.
It needs a certain amount of attention and if it is not getting it a Bullmastiff can act out. It prefers not to be left alone for long periods and loves to have people around. With strangers while it is standoffish, with socialization it is not snappish and will follow your lead.
It does drool a lot, snore, slobber and fart so you will have to get used to a whole lot of doggy sounds and odors! It is reliable and devoted though and with good socialization and training is very obedient.
Living with a Bullmastiff
What will training look like?
This is a difficult dog to train and it requires someone with experience ideally. It can be stubborn and dominant so as its owner you need to establish yourself as more dominant and you are going to have to be very patient. Consistency as well as a positive approach is important too. If help is needed use a professional school or dog trainer to help you. Early socialization as well as training is vital to have a dog you can trust and control.
Remember that at some point that puppy is going to weigh 130 pounds or more. It is going to be physically strong and it will be easy for it to ignore you and use its size to drag you around. Be very firm and make it clear you are the pack leader. House training should be a little easier especially with the use of a crate. You are going to have to teach it certain basic rules, no pulling on the leash, no jumping up and so on. This will be for safety reasons as much as control.
How active is the Bullmastiff?
While it is large it is not a very active dog. However it will take a certain level of activity to keep it healthy and happy. Because it is calm and inactive indoors it could handle an apartment but its size means moving around can cause accidents so ideally it would have a larger space to live in and access to a yard, even a small one.
In terms of walks it should have at least two a day of 20 to 30 minutes each. It should also take a trip to a dog park now and then for a place to go off leash and to socialize. A Bullmastiff that is not exercised enough is going to be restless and difficult to control.
Caring for the Bullmastiff
It sheds somewhere between a low to moderate amount but the coat is easy to brush and three brushes a week should keep up with it. Brushing is also a good way to spread the natural oils from its skin around the body keeping it shiny and healthy. Use a firm bristled brush and then just bathe as it needs one using a dog shampoo.
Other areas of maintenance will be taking care of its nails if they get too long. A groomer can clip them for you or you can have it done at a check up with the vet. Only do it yourself if you are aware of how dog nails are made up and where to cut safely. Its teeth should be brushed at least two to three times a week. The ears should be checked for infection and wiped clean once a week too.
A giant dog like this is going to be consuming a lot of food. It is likely to fall between 3 1/2 to 5 cups a day and that must be split into at least two meals. A big deep chested dog like this can suffer from Bloat if they eat too much too fast. The exact amount of food though will vary from one Bullmastiff to another depending on its size, age, health, metabolism and level of activity.
How do they get on with children and other animals
Despite its imposing size and fierce appearance this is a very good dog with children. With good socialization it will play with them, put up with them and love them! It is a good idea to supervise small children as they can get bumped over by accident and they need to be taught how to interact nicely with animals.
With other pets that socialization is important in helping it just tolerate them for the most part! There is a chance that some can be aggressive around other dogs it does not know, of the same sex so again socialize and keep control if needed. It is more accepting of dogs it has been raised with and ones that are the opposite sex.
What Might Go Wrong?
The average life span of this breed is just 8 to 10 years. This is shorter than the average life span of a dog this size. It is not a very healthy breed, there are conditions it can be prone to, some of which are serious. Health concerns it can be prone to include cancer, joint dysplasia, eye problems, Bloat, obesity, heatstroke, hypothyroidism, arthritis, skin problems, heart problems, kidney problems, knee problems, Panosteitis and allergies.
When looking at reports of dog attacks against people over the last 34 years in the USA and Canada, the Bullmastiff can be found to have been involved in 6 incidents that did bodily harm. 4 of the victims were children, 3 of the 6 were serious enough to be classed as maimings, so permanent scarring, disfigurement or loss of limb occurred. 2 of the 6 attacks resulted in a death. Over such a long period of time this averages at 1 attack every 5 to 6 years. This makes this breed not one to be concerned about in terms of aggression.Advertisement
But any dog can become aggressive or snap no matter its breed or size. Make sure you have the right dog for your space, activity level and skill. Be prepared to train and socialize it, feed and care for it, groom and cover the costs when it is sick, exercise and stimulate it.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
A good breeder of pet level Bullmastiffs is going to charge $1500 to $2000. For ones of show quality that are from top breeders this price is more like $3000 to $4000 or even more. From a shelter or rescue you could get something for $150 to $300 with some initial medical costs included in that too. However a shelter dog is likely to be an adult, may or may not be well trained and socialized and you are not going to have any idea about medical background. But you are giving a dog new chance at a forever home!
There are some medical procedures and tests needed when you have your puppy. It will need an exam from a vet, blood tests done, micro chipping, spaying or neutering depending on its sex, vaccinations and deworming and these costs will amount to around $300. Items you will need to have bought are a crate, collar and leash and bowls and these costs will be another $180.
Annual costs are an important factor to consider when you are thinking of getting a dog. Can you afford to keep it fed and so on for the rest of its life, and are you prepared for the inevitable emergency costs that are going to come up. For just basic medical concerns like check ups, pet insurance, flea and tick prevention and shots you are looking at $485 a year.
There are miscellaneous costs that will come up, you will need to pay for training, a license and toys. These are going to start at $245 a year. Feeding the Bullmastiff is going to cost more than many other dogs just because of its size. Good quality dry dog food and treats is a cost of $270 a year.
This gives you a starting figure of $1000 a year.
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A Bullmastiff is lets face it a huge dog. You are going to notice it, its smells, toys, gas, slobber and snoring! It will be a very loyal and loving dog and it will want to lean on you as its way of showing that affection. When it is young it can be more rowdy and will want to jump at you and visitors and it is important to control that straight away.
It will demand a certain level of attention and if bored, under exercised or ignored it can be destructive. With its size that can amount to a lot of destruction. It is essential it is well socialized and properly trained and owners need to prepare themselves for just about 10 years with it. You will also have to prepare yourself for public perception of dogs that look like the Bullmastiff.