The Bullmastiff is one of the largest modern dog breeds, known for being protective and highly affectionate towards family members. Developed around the 1860s in England, Bulldogs and Mastiffs were bred together to protect game from poachers. Since poaching was punishable by hanging, poachers were desperate and violent, making life very dangerous for gamekeepers. Those gamekeepers needed backup, a dog that was larger than the Bulldog but more energetic than the Mastiff. Even after poaching declined, Bullmastiffs were used frequently as guard dogs. The Bullmastiff was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1933 and currently ranks in the top forty most popular dog breeds in the United States.
Weighing between 100 and 130 pounds, Bullmastiffs are imposing giants with large skulls and powerful muscles. They have wrinkled skin on the forehead and short coats that come in red, fawn, or brindle colorings. Short snouts make them prone to heatstroke; therefore, they thrive best in cooler climates and indoors with their families. They are less friendly toward strangers and dogs of the same sex, but they are fiercely loyal to their caregivers. They are playful and mellow, although they require plenty of exercise to keep their health and temperament in check. They require firm, consistent training. Potential owners should remember that this dog will be large and strong when full-grown, so proper training while the puppy is still manageable is key. Grooming is a breeze, and Bullmastiffs shed relatively little due to their short coats. However, they have a tendency to drool and are prone to several health issues. Hip and elbow dysplasia are common in many large breeds, and weight problems can occur if a Bullmastiff’s food intake is not monitored carefully. Heart disease, skin allergies, bloat, respiratory disease, and entropion (a defect of the eyelid which can irritate or injure the eyeball) are all common in Bullmastiffs. Proper and consistent veterinarian care is important for all dogs, but Bullmastiffs should never miss their twice-a-year checkups.
All dogs require consistent training and socialization in order to be upstanding doggie citizens. Bullmastiffs are no exception. They need a stable trainer that will reinforce rules and be patient enough to continue training throughout the dog’s life. Socialization should be gradual and not forced. Exercise and connections to the family can help a Bullmastiff keep a calm temperament and remain playful. If raised properly, a Bullmastiff can be a goofy, affection companion and a fiercely protective guardian angel.