Bullmastiff, popular family pet

The Bullmastiff is a powerful dog, which was originally a cross between the English Mastiff and the English Bulldog. Originally bred to find and immobilize poachers, the dog breeds has proven popular as a family pet.

Bred by English gamekeepers in the 1800s to assist English wardens or gamekeepers guard estates. As a result the Bullmastiff is known as the Gamekeeper's Night Dog. The Bullmastiff was a cross of 40% Old English Bulldog, not the short, chubby Bulldog of today) and 60% English Mastiff for its size, strength and loyalty. They bark much less often than other breeds, however, when they do bark it's generally worth checking. The Bullmastiff was recognized as a pure-bred dog in 1924 by the English Kennel Club. In October, 1933, The American Kennel Club recognized the Bullmastiff. The first standard for the breed was approved in 1935. The standard has undergone several revisions since then. The most current version is available on the AKC web site.

Bullmastiff Size

Males should be 25 to 27 inches (63 to 69 cm) tall (AKC Std.) at the withers and 50 to 100 pounds (23 to 45 kg). Females should be 24 to 26 inches (61 to 66 cm) at the withers, and 100 to 120 pounds (45 to 54 kg). Exceeding these dimensions is discouraged by breeders as a larger dog may be too cumbersome to be agile enough to properly perform the job for which the breed was created.

Bullmastiff Color

Bullmastiffs are described as fawn, red, or brindle. These are the only acceptable colors in the AKC standard. The fawn can range from a very light brown to a reddish brown. Red can range from a light red-fawn to a dark rich red. Brindles are a striped overlay of the fawn or red. A Bullmastiff should have no white markings, except for on the chest where a little white is allowed. See breed standard under external links for additional details.

Bullmastiff Temperament

A Bullmastiff should be confident, yet docile. A Bullmastiff is courageous, extremely loyal to its family, calm, and loving. Bullmastiffs become intensely attached to their families.

Bullmastiffs can also get along with other dogs, but it is common for males not to get along with other males, particularly if they are intact. The Bullmastiff can get along extremely well with children provided the dog has been properly trained and socialized. Parental supervision must be maintained when they are with children; as with most large dogs, they may knock smaller children down accidentally.

A Bullmastiff, because of its history, is a very independent dog, and likes to make its own decisions. However, with good training, a Bullmastiff will look to its owner for "permission" to act on its instincts. Early socialization and obedience training with all members of the family will teach the dog to look to them before taking action. They are very athletic and muscular, making them incredibly fast and agile. They were never bred for hunting purposes, and should not show signs of aggression.

Bullmastiff Health

The lifespan for a Bullmastiff is generally from eight to 11 years. A Bullmastiff will not stop growing until it is about two and a half years of age. Bullmastiffs are prone to certain hereditary diseases including:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Entropion
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Lymphoma cancer
  • Progressive retinal atrophy, a particular problem since the trait is an autosomal dominant one.
  • Arthritis
  • Bloat

Cosmetic genetic problems include longhairs and Dudley's. These are recessives and not common. The Dudley, named after a notable Bulldog breeder of the 1800s, the Earl of Dudley, is a lack of pigment in the mask. It can be liver colored or simply not present. These dogs can be confused with Dogue de Bordeaux's even if you know the breeds well.

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