7 Different Mastiff Breeds – What You Need to Know About Each of Them
You know when you’ve seen a beautiful, massive Mastiff. Strong, wrinkly, and in all different colors, they really are the epitome of a stunning guard dog. And whilst you might know the Tibetan Mastiff, the Neopolitan Mastiff, or another of these large breeds, there are probably many more than you think!
But what are the differences between the many Mastiff breeds? And if you’re thinking of adopting one, which is the perfect pup for you? Read on to find out all about these big huggers and guarders!
Who Makes the Best Owner for a Mastiff Breed?
When you become a pup parent, it’s really important you adopt the right breed. Different breeds require different amounts of love and attention (and food, exercise, space, etc), and the brilliant Mastiff is no different.
Of course, if you’re thinking about getting a dog this big, then there are a couple of extra things to consider.
Generally speaking, most Mastiff breeds are cool, calm, and collected. They can be cuddly, a little lazy, and are exceptionally loyal to those they love. But their size can be tricky to manage for inexperienced owners. You also have to manage other people’s expectations (however wrong they are) which isn’t always easy.
All Mastiff breeds do best in families with older children. Not because they wouldn’t love mini-friends too, but because it’s easy for a pup this size to knock over a small child without even knowing.
And these dogs are strong. This means you have to be able to handle a pup that could pull over many humans (should they suddenly change direction or see something more interesting). Training is essential for a dog this size for exactly this reason. So they do best with a pup parent who knows how to deal with and train such big dogs.
For a dog this size, space is also very important. Many of them don’t need a huge amount of exercise, but a small flat wouldn’t work either. Most Mastiff dog breeds were developed to guard property, so they’re quite happy wandering around yards rather than being cooped up in a small apartment.
Finding The Right Breeder
Finding the right breeder is an essential part of finding a happy and healthy pup. As is the case for all dog breeds, they need to be reputable and care about the welfare of the animals. The AKC Mastiff breeders site is a good place to start with finding an accredited breeder.
Unfortunately, because these dogs are so large and impressive, some unethical and underground breeding does go on to make them more aggressive and larger. Fully research your breeder and never support a puppy mill by buying a sad and likely unhealthy pooch.
The Beautiful Mastiff Breeds
Here are seven of the most popular Mastiff breeds. All big, all beautiful, they may just make the perfect addition to your pack.
Height and Weight. Males minimum of 26 inches, females 24 inches. Males 90-150 pounds, Females 70-120.
The incredible Tibetan Mastiff dog was first bred to guard monasteries in the Himalayas. You can expect these dogs to be a little aloof, independent, and incredibly loyal. They love those in their family and are happy to spend their days guarding territory and loved ones.
They’re likely, however, to be wary around strangers and even a little territorial. These pups, despite their very large size, are pretty quick on their feet, so need an experienced owner who has been around large, quick dogs before.
Early socialization and training are an absolute must with Tibetan Mastiffs. Their independent nature may make this a challenge, so keep training sessions short and interactive. Try using toys and healthy treats as incentives.
This stunning mountain dog breed has a thick coat that is made up of a woolly undercoat and a harsher outer coat. Perfect for keeping them warm in the Tibetan mountains. Despite what you might think, their coats are relatively easy to manage. A good weekly brush should be enough for most of the year. They do blow their coats in Summer though, so you’ll need to brush them thoroughly and more regularly during this time.
Height and Weight. Male minimum 30 inches, female minimum 27.5 inches. Male 160-230 pounds, female 120-170 pounds.
These pups are an iconic breed. They have muscular bodies, adorably floppy ears, and a very kind expression. These big dogs can be apricot, brindle, or fawn and they have a stunning black mask (which adds to their imposing look).
Normally, English Mastiffs are a little docile and get along great with kids and other family members. They can get along with other dogs but they need to get to know them first. As with other large-breed dogs, they need lots of socialization and training. Introducing them to new people and dogs from puppyhood should help to reduce the likelihood of them growing up to be overly protective.
These pups are usually healthy dogs, but like other big pups, their life expectancy is shorter than other breeds. You can expect them to live between 6 and 10 years. If you adopt an English Mastiff, a big concern will be bloat. This is a life-threatening condition in which the stomach twists and swells. Make sure you’re not feeding your pup too much and that they’re eating slowly. The best puzzle toys can help to ensure they’re taking their time.
You can find other amazing English dog breeds here (and some are a little smaller)!
Height and Weight. Male 25-27 inches, female 24-26 inches. Male 110-130 pounds, female 100-120 pounds.
The amazing Bullmastiff has a really interesting history in 19th century England. At the time, poaching in the large estates was being heavily penalized (sometimes with the death penalty) but nothing seemed to deter poachers. Gamekeepers began to breed large dogs that could easily pin down a man and chase after them. After a while they came up with the perfect dog… the Bullmastiff.
These big-headed pups are the result of breeding an English Mastiff with a Bulldog (eventually today’s Bullmastiffs are about 60% Mastiff and 40% Bulldog). They’re a little shorter than their Mastiff parents but still have a very intimidating and muscular appearance. Most of us would run if we saw an angry Bullmastiff heading our way!
These pups can have many different coat colors including some beautiful mixtures of red. They’re also particularly stunning as brindle dogs. They have wide heads covered in adorably wrinkly skin which adds to their overall cuteness.
These pups are aloof and independent (that’s going to be a common theme on this blog). They’re very loyal and protective and don’t mind spending time patrolling grounds alone. These pups can have a silly side where they’ll love to play with squeaky toys. But don’t expect these moments to happen all the time, these pups are workers first and players second!
Height and Weight. Male 26-31 inches, female 24-29 inches. Male 150 pounds, female 110 pounds.
The Neopolitan Mastiff – now that’s an impressive dog! These huge pups are the ultimate guarding breed and have been used to protect homes and people since Ancient Rome! They were even used as Gladiator companions.
These giant pups are easily recognized thanks to their enormous heads and huge excess of skin. As you might guess, those lips love to drool, so make sure you have some tissues with you when out and about! These stunning gray dogs can also be tawny, black, and mahogany but blue/gray is my personal favorite.
Like many of the dog breeds on this list, it’s important you train your Neapolitan Mastiff when they’re a puppy and when they’re easier to control. Training a fully grown Neapolitan Mastiff is a real challenge.
Although big and happy to wander around the yard, this dog breed doesn’t need that much exercise. They’ll enjoy a couple of play sessions a day or a good walk around the park but care should be taken not to exercise them too much. Being so big and so wrinkly, they can easily overheat in warm weather. Make sure they have plenty of shade and cold water so they can relax.
French Mastiff (Dogue de Bordeaux)
Height and Weight. Male 23-27 inches, female 23-36 inches. Male minimum 110 pounds, female minimum 99 pounds.
These wonderful dogs are sweet, gentle, and very affectionate toward their family members. These large pups look a little like a much bigger Pug crossed with a Bulldog. They’re not, but they have the Bulldog’s underbite and can have big, expressive eyes like the Pug. Their short coats can be red, mahogany, fawn, and even isabella (which is very eye-catching).
Dogue de Bordeaux are well-natured dogs that can be quite sensitive. They can also be stubborn at times meaning firm training is a must from puppyhood if they’re not to become too dominant (which you really don’t want). It’s also very important to socialize them well so that they get used to being around other dogs and people.
The French Mastiff sheds moderately all year long but it isn’t too much of a problem. You need to make sure you clean and dry the folds in their skin every week as they can easily get infected. A bath every 4 weeks will help to keep any skin conditions under control and you might want to consider a sensitive skin shampoo for dogs.
As is the case with other Mastiff dog breeds, bloat can be a real problem. These dogs don’t tend to have a very long lifespan (around 5-8 years) so it’s really important you care of them and learn the signs of bloat so you can spot it immediately.
Feeding your French Mastiff a nutritious diet will help to keep them as healthy as possible for many years. You might want to try a fresh dog food diet that’s specially formulated for your pooch to make sure they’re not eating too much.
South African Mastiff (Boerboel)
Height and Weight. male 24-27 inches, female 22-25 inches. Both sexes 150-200 pounds.
If you’re looking for a loyal and protective companion, then the South African Mastiff is perfect. The Boerboel, which literally means Farmer’s dog, was first bred in South Africa to help farmers protect their land from predators. They were one of the most popular dog breeds at the time thanks to their loyalty and skill.
These stocky and strong dogs are actually very cuddly and affectionate with their family members. They’ll happily stroll around the home following the ones they love. They can be reserved around other dogs and caution should be taken when introducing them. They get along well with children, although prefer older ones, who can keep them entertained but that aren’t that energetic.
Like many dogs in the Mastiff family, training is essential. Boerboels are very versatile and trainable dogs but need a firm leader who has experience with strong, intelligent, and large breeds. We don’t recommend this breed for first-time pup parents.
As with many guard dogs and Mastiff breeds, you really need to do your research when it comes to a breeder. Unfortunately, these pups are used in dog fighting in many areas which can lead to unethical breeding.
The beautiful Boerboel needs regular exercise such as playtime in a fenced-in yard or a long walk. Because of their protective instincts, we recommend keeping these dogs on a leash because they can become uncertain around other dogs.
Italian Mastiff (Cane Corso)
Height and Weight. Male 25- 27.5 inches, female 23.5 – 26 inches. Both sexes 90 to 110 pounds.
Just like Neapolitan Mastiffs, Cane Corsos are an ancient breed used by the Romans as bodyguards (which is literally what their name translates to). These pups were bred to protect and it’s still their favorite thing to do today. They are fearless, strong, and imposing. In fact, they’re considered by many to be one of the scariest dog breeds around.
Naming a dog scary is usually down to years of dog fighting and unethical breeding. These types of dogs end up in our headlines and we automatically associate them with aggression and violence. Whilst a Cane Corso can be a handful and strong-willed, they can also be affectionate and get along with other people and dogs they know well. It really depends on the breeder and the owner. These pups need an owner who is willing to put in the time to train them and they need lots of early socialization.
Italian Mastiffs shed moderately all year round and need to be regularly groomed to keep it under control. They’ll shed more during the shedding season so you might want to up the number of times you brush them then.
These pups are generally healthy dogs and can live to be 12 years old (which is longer than other Mastiff-type dogs). According to the American Kennel Club, responsible breeders should screen their dogs for hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and eyelid abnormalities.
Mastiff Breeds – Final Thoughts
It’s no small thing to consider getting a Mastiff dog. They’re certainly not for every pup parent looking for their next dog. Most Mastiffs were bred to guard and protect and these instincts are still strong. They need regular training and socialization so that they don’t become overly dominant. Mastiffs need to be adopted by an owner or family who has experience with big pups and can put in the training time.
With that, these dogs will be loyal companions that will protect their loved ones and their home.