The Mastiff is a gentle giant among dog breeds. These massive, muscular dogs are known for their noble and loyal dispositions, making them ideal family pets.
One of the oldest dog breeds, these massive, heavy-boned dogs have been used as war, guard, and fighting dogs throughout the ages. They traced their roots back to ancient civilizations in Egypt and Rome and were used for guard duty and fighting.
Although most now are family pets, they still take their role as protectors seriously. Mastiffs lack aggression and are well-mannered, meaning they can do well in most homes.
While they don’t require much space, extra room is always appreciated (mainly because of those long tails).
Like other large dog breeds, the dogs have shorter lifespans, but proper care can help them enjoy a healthy life.
Meet 11 Mastiff dog breeds and decide if you want to bring one home today.
Mastiffs are one of the heaviest dog breeds. They typically weigh over 200 pounds and stand at least 30 inches tall at the shoulder. Males can even outweigh some full-grown men!
This canine giant has a rectangular-shaped body that is deep and thickly muscled. Their short double coats come in colors such as fawn, apricot, or brindle stripes.
An adult mastiff’s head is comprehensive and massive, which gives them a unique appearance. The wrinkles on a mastiff’s face contribute to its wise and alert expression.
Although mastiff puppies are energetic, older members of this breed tend to become more lethargic. That is why it’s essential to give them a moderate amount of exercise every day.
Mastiffs also tend to chew, drool, and snore — so be prepared if you’re considering adding one of these dogs to your family.
Although the dogs may look imposing, they are gentle by nature.
With proper socialization and training, they make great companions and loyal protectors.
Formal training classes may bore them quickly, so it’s essential to keep things fun and interesting.
Mastiffs communicate best with their eyes, so maintain eye contact when working with them.
This gentle dog breed needs bathing every six to eight weeks, depending on activity level and lifestyle.
With this short and dense coat, regular bathing is essential to minimizing shedding and maintaining healthy skin and coat.
Be sure to pay attention to your dog’s face folds or wrinkles. Those wrinkles can trap dirt, dust, saliva, and debris, irritating sensitive skin.
Because skin folds are often moist, they provide the perfect environment for developing pyoderma, a bacterial infection.
Like other large dog breeds, Mastiffs are prone to joint and heart problems. They also can suffer from bloat, a life-threatening condition when the stomach distends and twists.
These issues include seasonal allergies, eye anomalies, cancer, hip dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease, degenerative myelopathy, and epilepsy.
These large dogs also tend to develop hygromas, swelling that protects the elbow joints. Talk with your vet to monitor hygromas to ensure they don’t become too large or get infected. If they do, you may need to treat them with antibiotics or have them drained or removed.
These big dogs don’t need much exercise and can stay physically and mentally healthy with free play and one- to two-mile daily walks. Be warned, the dogs are known for flopping down during walks when tired or overheated.
Watch Mastiff puppies and young adults to ensure they don’t get too rowdy and hurt themselves. Don’t let them run up and down stairs, jump from heights, or go on long walks.
Proper nutrition is critical to ensure your Mastiff experiences slow and steady growth.
Feed your dog a densely caloric diet with an appropriate calcium/phosphorous ratio to protect its bones and prevent skeletal disorders. Feed your dog at set times rather than allow free feeding, which can cause excessive weight gain.
Mastiff dog breeds
The American Mastiff is a large, dignified dog breed that may appear shy initially. Despite their imposing size, the dogs are not aggressive but are protective, have a robust combative instinct, and respond to any hint of threat.
The dogs come in apricot, brindle, or fawn colors. They often have white markings on their feet, chest, chin, or nose.
The Argentinian Mastiff, also known as the Dogo Argentino, is a large, powerful dog with a pure white coat.
Although the breed is a natural hunting dog, they’re also affectionate and playful.
The combination of these characteristics makes the Dogo Argentino an excellent choice for families looking for a loyal and loving companion.
The Bullmastiff is a brave and loyal dog. Bred in England in the 1860s from Bulldogs and Old English Mastiffs, these dogs help gamekeepers protect against poachers. Bullmastiffs are usually relatively calm, instead relying on their intimidating size to scare off potential intruders.
These large dogs typically weigh between 100 and 130 pounds, with males averaging around 120 pounds and 26 inches tall. They usually have black face masks.
The most common colors are fawn, red, and fawn and red brindle, but they can come in many different shades. They have muscular, athletic bodies that are built for power.
The Old English Mastiff, also known as the Mastiff, is a massive dog breed easily recognizable by its large, square head and heavy build.
The dogs have short muzzles with a well-defined stop between the eyes. Their medium-sized brown or hazel eyes are set wide apart with a black mask around them.
Coat colors include golden fawn, light fawn, apricot, silver, tiger, or brindle.
The French Mastiff, also known as the Dogue de Bordeaux, is an immense French working dog with a short fawn coat.
One of France’s oldest and rarest dog breeds, this Mastiff is a muscular, stocky, and well-balanced dog with a massive head.
Despite its powerful appearance, the breed has a gentle demeanor but is intensely loyal.
Dogs have a strong instinct to chase smaller animals, such as cats. The breed also may not tolerate another dog in the household, especially of the same sex.
While socialization and training can help prevent these problems, it’s essential to be aware that they may not be able to eliminate all risks.
The German Mastiff is popularly known as a Great Dane.
The Great Dane is most easily recognizable by its large size. Males range from 32 to 34 inches tall and weigh anywhere from 120 to 200 pounds. Females are typically smaller, with a maximum height of 32 inches and weighing up to 130 pounds.
Great Danes come in various colors, from black and gray to harlequin (large black patches on a white coat) and merle (a dappled gray). The Harlequin variety is often confused with Dalmatians.
Despite their size and hunting dog history, Great Danes are relaxed and easygoing. They require daily exercise and plenty of space.
So, if you’re considering adopting one as a pet, ensure you have enough room to accommodate their stature.
Great Danes are not known for being excessive barkers but will alert you if they sense something amiss.
The Italian Mastiff, also known as the Cane Corso, is a large, powerful dog with a strong protective instinct.
These excellent guard dogs need proper training and early socialization to prevent them from becoming aggressive.
When raised in a loving home, they can be calm and even-tempered, despite their imposing appearance.
Neapolitan Mastiffs are unique. With signature wrinkly skin and impressive jowls, these Italian dogs can trace their roots back to Roman dogs of war. In Italy, they were historically used to guard estates.
The dogs typically come in black, blue, mahogany, brindle, and tawny coloring.
They are naturally watchful and dignified companions that require training and socialization at a young age to help them master their protective instincts.
South African Mastiff
The South African Mastiff, also known as the Boerboel, is known for its tough, loyal demeanor.
Elite Boerboels make excellent guard dogs thanks to their courageous and loyal nature. They will stop at nothing to protect their family and home from any perceived threat.
Giving your Elite Boerboel lots of love and care is essential to avoid aggressive behaviors.
The Spanish Mastiff is a noble and beautiful breed of dog that has been guarding livestock and guiding herds since the Middle Ages. Today, this Mastiff still undertakes this responsibility, making them the perfect choice for those looking for a loyal and protective companion.
Spanish Mastiffs are known for their immense strength, which they will use to defend their loved ones. However, they are also very loving dogs that enjoy attention and bonding with their owners.
When it comes to exercise, a judicious combination of indoor and outdoor activity works best for this breed.
Don’t leave the dogs outdoors alone without being in a safe enclosure.
The Tibetan Mastiff is a large dog breed with great courage and dignity. They have a deep, booming bark that they will use if left alone outdoors but are usually quiet inside.
They require experienced owners who can establish control early. The dogs need a strong hand to raise a stable, well-adjusted dog.
The dogs need extra training and exercise. But owners must contain their natural exuberance to protect their joints, bones, and ligaments from too much stress.
Extra companionship and close supervision are necessary to keep youngsters from getting bored and destructive.
Final thoughts on Mastiffs
The Mastiff is a classic guardian breed — big, powerful, and loyal. The dogs are good-natured and enjoy spending time with their people.
But potential owners should be aware that they require more care than other breeds.
Although they are gentle giants by nature, Mastiffs take their role as protectors seriously. They make great homebodies and get along well with other animals and children but require extra space to roam.
Like other large breeds, these dogs have shorter lifespans than smaller dogs. However, your Mastiff can enjoy a full and healthy life with proper care.
Sara B. Hansen has spent 20-plus years as a professional editor and writer. She’s also the author of The Complete Guide to Cocker Spaniels. She decided to create her dream job by launching DogsBestLife.com in 2011. Sara grew up with family dogs, and since she bought her first house, she’s had a furry companion or two to help make it a home. She shares her heart and home with Nutmeg, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Her previous dogs: Sydney (September 2008-April 2020), Finley (November 1993-January 2008), and Browning (May 1993-November 2007). You can reach Sara @ [email protected].