Mastiff Breed Characteristics & Traits

The Mastiff – Aside from the football, the Old English Mastiff (that’s its full name) also hails from England. Without him, numerous breeds, such as the Great Dane, would probably not exist in their current form. In the following, we present the English Mastiff in its entirety to help ensure that this wonderful breed is preserved for the future.

History & Origin

If you look at the origins of numerous dog breeds and their ancestors, you will find that many of the large dog breeds we know have the mastiff as their ancestors. The Great Dane, the Boxer, St. Bernard, the Bullmastiff, the Newfoundland, and the Tosa Inu should serve as examples here. But why is that actually the case? The reason for this is quickly described. Mastiffs are among the oldest dog breeds in the world. The exact origin cannot be determined exactly, different sources lead to different derivations. The Tibetan mastiff or the Tibetan mastiff could have been the godfather as well as the Molosser – the shepherd dogs from Epirus (today: Greece / Albania). There are also at least three different theories for naming.

  • The Low German “mast-teve” which means clumsy dog
  • the Latin “mixtures” which means the mixed breed
  • the Latin “manus” which means tame or domestic

The English Mastiff first appeared as a faithful war dog in 1415 at the Battle of Azincourt. According to tradition, the Mastiffs protected their badly wounded master, Sir Percy Leigh, from the enemy ranks when he lay badly wounded on the battlefield. Percy Leigh died anyway and was translated to England with his dogs and the family began breeding the breed 20 years later.

His time as hunting, war, and guard dog had come. Be it hunting bears, fighting bulls, or wild boars – fearless, the English mastiff pounced bravely on any opponent. His strength, size, and fearlessness brought him much fame among the English nobility. According to Wikipedia, pure breeding as we know it today began around 1820 or 1835, depending on the source. It took another half-century to form the first Mastiff Club.

Numbers, Data, Facts

  • Country of origin: England
  • Life expectancy: 10-11 years
  • Weight Mastiff males: 73-90 kg
  • Weight mastiff bitch: 54 – 77 kg
  • Height males: 70-91 cm
  • Height bitches: 70-91 cm
  • FCI standard: 264
  • FCI breed description

Timeline Highlights

  • 1820 – 1835 pure breeding begins
  • 1872 Foundation of the first Mastiff club for breeding


Today the English mastiff is used as a guard dog or as a family dog.

Classification, breed standard & breed standard

  • Group 2: Pinschers and Schnauzers – Molossoids – Swiss Mountain Dogs
  • Section 2: Molossoids
  • 2.1 Great Dane Dogs
  • Without work test

The Character & Essence of the Mastiff

Don’t be fooled by its impressive size or draw any conclusions about the Mastiff’s character. Because especially when dealing with his pack, he is gentle, patient, and docile. Its high stimulus threshold, which is particularly forgiving of mistakes when dealing with small children, is almost typical of most Molossers.

He is perceptive and alert without being pushy. He likes to observe events from the second row and lets things take their course. He prefers to wait and be reserved. Uninformed people interpret this as weakness or shyness, which does not do justice to his true character. Mastiffs are balanced and calm representatives who are completely alien to aggressiveness. Nonetheless, he steps in as a protector immediately when he determines that a situation requires his action.

Dealing with family & children

Mastiffs feel at home when they have contact with their family and are allowed to be right in the middle of it. Despite their abundance, they are particularly careful with smaller and lighter bipeds. Play yes, romp rather no. He is also more than just compatible with children, he loves children and seeks to be close to them. As a bodyguard for his pack, he is reliable and unyielding.

In dealing with strangers

The Mastiff is not a Labrador. He will not want to convince visitors to the house of himself and offer his friendship immediately. He politely restrains himself and prefers to watch what is happening from afar with a frown on his forehead. He prefers to get his cuddles from “his” people. However, the lack of interest does not hide the watchful character. With one eye he is always there and observes the situation peacefully but closely from afar.

When dealing with other dogs

Her Majesty is above all things. This is how you could describe dealing with other dogs in one sentence. From the ground up, the Mastiff demonstrates excellent social behavior. He gives the impression that he is sure of his strength and immense power and likes to signal this to the outside world. “You do it” he seems to say to us. Of course, the Mastiff also makes friends and can romp across the meadow with other dogs – but as a rule, he shows himself to be cautious and behaved.

When dealing with other pets

Unfortunately, no further information is available about this. Sorry! research is in progress.

Urge to move

The English Mastiff is definitely not recommended for hare hunting. Nevertheless, he is a persistent runner who needs his exercise and exercise during the day. Despite its impressive dimensions, a light jog does not present any problems. Nevertheless, the animal should not be overstrained when moving, because due to the heavy physique and the moderate weight, too much movement can lead to health restrictions.

The hunting instinct

There is no hunting instinct.

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