The Mastiff descends from one of the most ancient types of dogs, the molosser, which probably originated in the mountains of Asia, perhaps in Tibet or northern India. It would most likely have been used to guard flocks from predators in those cold, high passes.
These molossers were solidly built with heavy bones, a short muzzle, a short, well-muscled neck, and hanging ears. Their ancestry can be seen not only in the Mastiff but also in the Tibetan Mastiff, Saint Bernard, Rottweiler, Dogue de Bordeaux, and many other modern breeds.
Depictions of Mastiff-type dogs appear in the human record throughout the ages, in Egyptian, Babylonian and classical Greek civilizations. Archaeologists excavating the palace of the Babylonian ruler Ashurbanipal uncovered bas-reliefs dating to the seventh century BCE Ã
o Mastiffs need daily exercise.
o Mastiffs can overheat easily.
o The Mastiff is considered a breed with a short lifespan, but some Mastiffs have lived to 18 years of age
o Mastiffs drool and are prone to gassiness.
o Mastiffs are not the best choice for families with very young children or frail senior citizens. A Mastiff can easily knock over a child/adult.
o Mastiffs can do quite well in apartments and homes with small yards if they are exercised properly.
o Mastiffs can have strong protection instincts and need to be properly socialized with both people and animals.
o If Mastiffs are not properly trained and socialized they may develop aggression toward other animals, and their size and strength makes them dangerous if they don't know how to interact with them.
o Heavy shedders, but easy to groom.
o As adults Mastiffs are calm, quiet, well mannered, and self-assured.
o They make excellent watchdogs,
o Not big barkers.
o Mastiffs need training so they can be easily managed in spite of their size. Mastiffs are not recommended for new or timid owners. They respond best to positive reinforcement.
o Mastiffs are loud with their snores, snorts, and grunts.
o Mastiffs tend to be lazy, low stamina dogs.
o Mastiffs should sleep and live in the house, not in the yard. A Mastiff who is tied up in a yard away from his family will pine away & can become destructive.
Despite its origin as a fighting dog the Mastiff that is common today is a gentle giant. This breed is highly intelligent and self confident. They are watchful and have the nature to protect and defend their families. They are highly dignified and coupled with a calm and docile personality, they make excellent family pets. The Mastiff is a breed that rarely barks. However, they do snore loudly and excessively drool. They are typically very well behaved with children, although because of their massive size, it is not recommended for them to be around toddlers. They are extremely good natured but quite large in size. They are eager to please and desire plenty of human companionship. They are not playful dogs but are quite happy just being close to the family.
They respond very well to gentle and patient training. They respond very poorly to fierce or physical punishment. It has been said that if you hit a Mastiff, you are asking for it. They can be aloof around strangers and other animals, so socialization from a young age is very important. They are highly protective of house, car, and family and they need to be shown that someone is safe before they allow them access to their family. When strangers are around, the Mastiff is known to stand between them and their family until they are shown that this person is safe. They are not known to attack strangers or intruders, but rather keep them at bay. Their level of suspiciousness can be minimized if there is proper and constant socialization during their puppyhood.
Grooming for the Mastiff is quite minimal, however can be somewhat difficult due to its large size. Frequent brushing and occasional wiping down with a towel is recommended. Brushing is necessary daily because the Mastiff is a very heavy shedder. Their hair is coarse and short and often will come off in your hands as you are petting the dog. The hair also sticks to carpet, upholstery, and clothing.
The dog should be bathed only when necessary. When bathing a specialty dog shampoo should be used. Human shampoo or liquid soap can cause skin irritation. It is also essential that the soap is rinsed thoroughly to reduce the chances of dryness and irritation. The Mastiff is a large dog and may be very difficult to bathe at home depending on how large the living space is. There are a couple of solutions for this. The dog can either be taken to a professional and they can be groomed and bathed there. The other option is that a waterless shampoo can be used to wash the dog and therefore you do not have to struggle with trying to get the dog into a small bath tub or shower.
It is also essential that the dog's ears, eyes, and nails are also maintained. The ears should be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent ear mites and other infections. The eyes should be cleaned as well. The nails should be clipped when necessary. Be careful to not cut the quick as this can cause bleeding and is somewhat painful. To make grooming easier for this massive breed it is important to start getting them used to it as young puppies. Make the dog stand while you brush and clip the nails. It may be a challenge to begin with but the dog should adjust to the grooming becoming a natural thing. It is important not to use force with this dog, but be patient. It may take longer, but it is important that the dog does not view these things as scary. Do no rush, it is alright to let the dog take some time to get used to things.
The Mastiff is generally a lazy animal, but will be happier and healthier when exercised regularly. They should always be kept on a leash. They are not a very playful breed and this combined with the breed's laziness can make it difficult to find activities for the owner and dog to do together. This is a great dog for a relatively inactive person as a walk through the park or neighborhood is considered sufficient exercise. They do not do well in the heat and so it is important that the dog is not over exercised when the weather is warmer.
Exercise for young puppies is important. It is hard to find the right balance though. It is essential that they are exercised to keep their weight down and develop a lean and health dog. However, if they are over exercised it can be very damaging to their soft growing joints, ligaments, and joints. As adults they require a little more exercise and the concern for the joints and ligaments will have been reduced or eliminated. Larger breeds are always more difficult to balance the proper amount of exercise.
Training the Mastiff can be a somewhat difficult process. They do tend to have a mind of their own and will try to dominate the process. Therefore it is essential to prove to the dog early on that you are the boss and that you mean the things that you say. This is done best through patient, consistent, but firm training.
One of the most essential elements for training the Mastiff is socialization. They are excellent watchdogs and guard dogs and therefore become very protective of their owners or families. It is essential that the dog is socialized from a very young age to try and reduce the tendency to become overly protective against strangers. This can be done by taking the dog to new places and meeting new people. It is essential for the owner to show the dog that the other person is safe and acceptable by being friendly and welcoming.
The Mastiff can be a very dominant dog around other animals, especially dogs of their same sex. However, this too can be minimized through socialization. They are gentle-giants today, but were originally bred to be fighting dogs and therefore those tendencies may come out every now and again. The Mastiff is not an agility dog and does not really like to be playful. However, they do follow obedience training moderately well. Despite their ability to pick up on obedience training, they have a very low to moderate ability for problem solving.
hip dysplasia: Ball and joint problem of the hip that causes arthritic like symptoms.
Gastric torsion: Caused by exercising after excessive ingestion of food and water. Surgery is necessary. It can be helpful to feed the dog two or three smaller meals throughout the day rather than once a day. This can help prevent the Bloat or Gastric torsion.
obesity: Prone to weight gain.
Osteosarcoma: Malignant bone cancer most commonly found in the knee.