Mastiff Breed: History, Temperament, Care, Training & more

Mastiff Breed Information
Old English

English Mastiff
Level of Energy          
Exercise Needs        
Level of Affection          
Climate Tolerance          
Good With Children          
Tolerance of Animals            
Suitable as Watch Dog    

Mastiff – Just The Facts

  • AKC Popularity:  26
  • AKC Breed Group: Working
  • Size of Male:  165-220 lbs, 30-34 in.
  • Size of Female:  120-175 lbs, 27.5-32 in.
  • Color:  Apricot, Brindle or Fawn + Dark Ears, Muzzle & Nose
  • Average Lifespan:  5-10 years
  • Breed Origin:  England
  • Purpose:  Guardian

Do you own this Dog breed?

Please tell us about it in the form at the bottom of this page.

Need a good Puppy Name?

Visit our Puppy Names page for 1000s of top dog names.

General Description

If you need a watch dog, the Old English Mastiff is a good choice. This loyal breed’s gigantic build and domineering stance will give outsiders a second thought about trespassing.

Origin and History

Although recognized to be of English origin, the breed actually dates back to ancient times. Egyptian drawings (circa 3,000 B.C.) and Assyrian carvings (circa 640 B.C.) depict the Mastiff as a formidable creature.

In fact, they are known to be one of ancient Rome’s war dogs. They baited bears and bulls, and fought human gladiators and lions.

Later, their courage made them extremely useful to the English peasant community. They kept wolves at bay and protected homes from predators and poachers.

World War II almost pushed this breed to extinction. Luckily, this mightiest of dog breeds survived.


The Mastiff is instinctively protective of its owner but isn’t that affectionate. Surprisingly, it thrives on human attention and won’t fare well if left alone for long.

Dogs brought up in a sociable atmosphere may be welcoming to visitors and friendly to kids. However, most tend to act dominantly. Be sure to keep other pets and animals out of your guard dog’s reach.


Living Environment – Due to their size, this largest of dog breeds requires a spacious living area to move about comfortably. They do not respond well to hot outdoor environments. If you keep them indoors, make sure the room temperature is cool.

Grooming – The Mastiff dog breed may need only minimal brushing to keep its coat sleek and shiny. However, it is a heavy shedder for a short-haired dog. In addition, it usually slobbers and drools when feeding itself or drinking water. Be prepared to clean your space regularly.

Diet & Exercise – It is easy for these big eaters to become obese, making proper food rationing vital. Two feedings a day is the norm. Puppies younger than 10 months need no more than 3 cups a serving. The typical diet for a Mastiff consists of beef and real meat. Sulfate-rich diets such as lamb, fish and table scraps are not recommended.

Scheduling this dog’s exercise can prove more challenging. Leashed walks and outdoor games need to be moderated because too much activity could invite ligament and joint pains. On the other hand, lack of exercise could transform your pet to an overweight, lazy and destructive chewer.

Health – The Mastiff breed is strong and powerful, yet their lifespan is incredibly short. Most last up to a decade only. They are prone to heatstroke and obesity. A number of other diseases could also plague this steadfast watchdog.

The two top dog health problems are canine heart disease and gastric torsion. The latter risk is the main reason you should avoid feeding them large servings.


The Mastiff is obstinate and dog training can be difficult. It requires expert handling from a firm, patient and seasoned pet owner. Although it is highly intelligent, you must be able to establish yourself as the alpha member before the breed agrees to learn from you.

Proper training and adequate socialization can prepare this dog breed for exellent service in search and rescue operations, military work and weight pulling.

Do you own this dog breed?

Please tell us about your experience with a particular dog breed, and upload a picture if you have one!

Return to AKC List of Dog Breeds ranked by Popularity

Return from Mastiff back to Alphabetical List of Dogs Breeds page

Return to Dogs and Dog Advice home page