A large, muscular, powerful dog, the Mastiff dog has a broad head and body, a powerful build and legs quite wide apart. He stands at approximately 72-80cm in height when fully grown and weighs up to 73kg. His short coat comes in apricot, fawn or brindle.
One of the ancient breed types, Mastiff-like dogs have been known in the UK since before Roman times. The conquering Romans adopted them and used them as gladiators for the arenas. A popular dog of war, 400 Mastiff dog breeds are reputed to have been given by Henry VIII to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to help boost his armies. The breed has also been used for baiting bulls and bears, as well as acting as a guard dog.
A calm dog that is loving towards his family, he is a guarding breed and is indifferent towards strangers. With children in the family, he is affectionate and devoted, but his sheer size can result in accidental injury if there are little ones in his path. For this reason, he is best in a home with older kids.
As with many breeds, Mastiff dog breeds can suffer from various hereditary eye disorders, and hip and elbow dysplasia (joint conditions that can be painful and lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important. They are also prone to a particular bladder condition and ligament problems in the knee (cruciate disease).
The Mastiff dog breed needs about an hour's exercise a day and are inclined to be quite lazy, enjoying a good snooze in a comfortable, warm spot. Do not over-exercise when young, as the breed is prone to skeletal problems, which can be exacerbated by muscle and joint strain in a growing dog.
Giant-breed dogs, as well as having giant appetites, benefit from a different balance of minerals and vitamins, supporting different joint and cartilage needs. The Mastiff is prone to bloating and stomach problems; try feeding smaller, more frequent meals to help minimise the risk.
The short coat is coarser around the ruff area (neck and shoulders), and requires very little attention; a brush over once a week should suffice.