The Bullmastiff is a powerful, active, reliable and resilient watchdog. They are very versatile and can play the role of a guardian, a police dog, a companion dog or a show dog. Confident, sure of themselves and very courageous, they make a very faithful breed who are attached to their friends and need social interaction to flourish.
Key facts about the Bullmastiff
Origins and history
The Bullmastiff is the result of a cross between the Mastiff and the Bulldog. The intention of first crossing of these two breeds was only to create fighting dogs, both powerful and flexible in nature. However, when official battles came to an end (in 1853), people realised that crossing these two breeds could create a new pure breed with good qualities. Forest rangers were particularly interested: they needed a flexible, powerful dog with a flair for fighting against poachers. Pure breed selection began in the 19th century and was perfected in the late 20th century by S. Moseley, who is considered the creator of the modern Bullmastiff.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 2 - Pinscher and Schnauzer - Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs
Section 2 : Molossian type
Physical characteristics of the Bullmastiff
Female : Between 24 and 26 in
Male : Between 25 and 27 in
Female : Between 90 and 110 lb
Male : Between 110 and 130 lb
The coat can be all brindle, tawny or fawn. The most important thing is that the colour is pure and clean. A white mark on the chest is acceptable but any other markings are considered a defect. The mask is black and must fade to the eyes.
Type of coat
The coat is short.
The hair is hard to the touch and lying flat. The hair should neither be long, nor silky or woolly, as this does not correspond to the official standard of the breed.
The eyes are either dark or hazel. Clear or yellow eyes are not to standard.
The Bullmastiff is a dog with a strong, symmetrical and powerful structure; but not heavy. Their head is that of a catch dog; their skull must be strong and square. The perimeter of the skull should be equal to the height at the withers. The muzzle is short: the distance between the tip of the nose and the stop is about one third of the total length of the head. The skull-face axes are convergent, and the stop is well marked. The eyes are either dark or hazel, medium-sized, set far apart and separated by a wrinkle. The ears, V shaped or folded backwards are set wide and high on the back of the head. The definition should be strong, with large, separated canine teeth. Clipping with scissors or pliers is allowed: a slightly protruding jaw is allowed but not sought after. The legs are strong and muscular.
Good to know
The Bullmastiff is the ideal breed for those who love big dogs but do not have enough space to accommodate a real giant. Their balanced character makes them a reliable dog in all situations, but first-time owners should beware not to be attracted solely by their magnificent physical characteristics.
The Bullmastiff is generally sweet and affectionate towards members of their adoptive family and they demonstrate a beautiful sensitivity, which allows them to feel the positivity (and also the negativity) that their owners display.
Despite his appearances, this dog is very happy and always ready to interact with members of his social group.
This mastiff, like many dogs of this classification, knows how to remain calm, but beneath the air of good behaviour, lies an energetic and active temperament.
This dog’s intelligence is reflected in their highly-appreciated versatility. For example, they have an excellent sense of smell and is therefore often used as a police dog in England. On the other hand, in the rest of Europe and in the United States, where this breed is fairly widespread, they are mainly used as a guard, companion or show dog.
Hunting is clearly not this watchdog’s favourite activity, but they can, however, show interest in the pursuit of certain game.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Against all odds, this dog is rather sociable with strangers even though they keep a constant eye on them. Indeed, they maintain vigilance in all situations, even the most harmless.
Moreover, this Molosser can perfectly distinguish between a new guest and an unwanted intruder. Their impressive physique is usually enough to deter impostors.
These big Mastiffs are totally devoted to their master. They constantly need to keep an eye on members of their social group and to please them in any way they can.
Behaviour of the Bullmastiff
The Bullmastiff is a true family dog that only flourishes when in company. In fact, they do not appreciate being excluded or being left alone. Thus, early learning of how to effectively manage loneliness is essential.
They must understand that the absence of their owners is not necessarily a cause for concern. Toys should help them pass the time quickly and any absences should not be prolonged.
Easy to train / obedience
They are not the most docile dogs, but their desire to please their masters encourages them to be cooperative if the relationship is based on trust and mutual respect.
A lot of patience and consistency will be needed to get the best results with this dog who, in any case, will never be a perfectly obedient dog. They will always need a little time to think before obeying their master.
However, a clear advantage of this breed is their very good memory. In fact, everything they learn will stay with them for life.
Moreover, given their great size, it is advised to start training as soon as the Bullmastiff puppy arrives home. Life rules and educational bases must be established quickly to prevent any bad habits setting in early.
At first, call-back and walking on a lead without pulling will need to be acquired quickly in order to, on the one hand, keep control over this dog and, on the other hand, to ensure the walk is a pleasant experience.
The help of a professional obedience training and behaviour is desirable.
Rather discreet, the Bullmastiff never barks without reason. If the dog is barking, there is a definite cause for concern.