Bullmastiffs are large, strong, powerfully-built dogs. Their coat is short and dense and comes in red, fawn, or brindle. They have dark, medium-sized eyes, an alert expression, and a black nose and dark muzzle. Their head appears square-shaped and wrinkled. Bullmastiffs measure 24 to 27 inches tall at the withers and weigh 100 to 130 pounds. These dogs can live up to 12 years with proper care.
These dogs are natural guardians, but quiet ones, and they will actively protect their home and family.
These dogs are very intelligent and make great family companions. Even though they are large dogs, they live just as easily and happily in a small apartment as in a big house. They are natural guardians and are very loyal to their human family members.
Bullmastiffs are incredibly large and powerful dogs, capable of knocking a grown man to the ground with a simple nudge. For this reason, they should not be allowed around small children without constant supervision.
Bullmastiffs are active and agile dogs, and they do well in obedience, tracking, agility, carting, and therapy work. They are fearless, confident, and docile, and they are very sweet-natured with their human family members. They are good with children and generally get along well with other dogs and cats, although some have problems with other dogs of the same sex.
These dogs are natural guardians, but quiet ones, and they will actively protect their home and family. This does not mean that Bullmastiffs are aggressive or hostile dogs, though. In fact, when trained properly and given lots of love and attention, these dogs are typically very sweet and loving.
Bullmastiffs need parenting and thrive with firm and consistent rules. Because they become so attached to their families, they are at risk for depression and destructive behavior is left alone for long periods. These dogs must have a fenced back yard to play in; they cannot be allowed to roam.
Bullmastiffs have an unusually high pain tolerance, which can make detecting health problems difficult. Fortunately, most of these dogs are generally healthy. This breed is prone to certain health conditions, however, including congenital hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, entropion, progressive retinal atrophy, and cystinuria, a condition that causes the formation of urinary tract stones in the bladder. Certain cancers, such as lymphoma and mast cell tumors, are more common in this breed than in some other dogs, and Bullmastiffs are also known to be affected by heart problems, such as pulmonic stenosis.
These dogs are also at risk for bloat and gastric torsion, although this risk can be minimized by feeding the Bullmastiff smaller, more frequent meals. Additionally, these dogs are prone to joint problems due to their large size, and they should be kept lean and should not be permitted to exercise strenuously during growth to prevent developmental bone problems. It's important to maintain a healthy weight in this breed for the same reason.
Routine veterinary care, proper nutrition, weight management, and timely vaccinations help ensure Bullmastiffs live a full life of 8 to 12 years.
Bullmastiffs are very intelligent and eager to please. However, they are also independent thinkers, which means they may not respond very well to traditional obedience training. It takes a lot of patience and dedication to properly train a Bullmastiff, but the result is a well-behaved, docile, tolerant animal.
Train these dogs when they are young, unless you're very big and very strong. Due to their large size, this breed quickly becomes unmanageable. Socialization and exposure to a variety of animals, people, sights, and sounds is very important. It should start early in life and continue through old age.
Bullmastiffs need daily exercise for their health as well as to help manage their behavior. Daily walks or short romps are generally fine, but watch out for hot and humid conditions. Exercise these dogs in the air-conditioning during the summer months, as they cannot handle the heat. Also, keep these dogs on a leash at all times when outside; some Bullmastiffs have a temper.
Grooming the Bullmastiff's coat takes very little work. The coat should be brushed a few times each week to control shedding and improve health and shine. The dogs only need bathing when they become dirtied with something sticky or harmful. If the Bullmastiff is to be shown, a weekly bath with a gentle, canine shampoo can improve the coat's appearance without drying out the coat or skin.
Although coat care is minimal, these dogs drool a lot, and care must be taken to clean and dry the Bullmastiff after eating, exercising, and drinking. Stress and sleep can also cause drooling in these dogs, as can just about any other activity or emotion. Carrying a drool towel helps.
The nails need trimming regularly to prevent snags, and the teeth should be brushed as often as possible to protect dental health. Checking and cleaning the ears every week will prevent potentially serious ear infections from developing. Symptoms of infection, such as redness and discharge, must be reported to a veterinarian promptly.
These dogs were developed around 1860 in England to keep poachers off game preserves and large estates. They were ideally suited to this role because they could track quietly and reach and pin poachers quickly and easily without mauling them.
Originally, these dogs were bred to be 60% Mastiff and 40% Bulldog, in hopes that the resulting dog would be more aggressive and faster than a Mastiff, while also being bigger and a little less ferocious than a Bulldog. The resulting Bullmastiff was a powerful, fast, courageous, and confident dog that excelled at guarding and protecting.
When they were no longer needed to protect against poachers, these dogs moved to the military. They were also used frequently as police dogs. Now, they are primarily kept as companion animals.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Bullmastiff in 1934.