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Bullmastiff

Bullmastiff

The Bullmastiff breed is a compact, powerful, muscular dog with a large, square head. The coat is short, hard and weather-proof so it doesn’t require too much effort to keep it clean. They are fearless protectors, loving and loyal, but not overly keen on too much exercise. So, make sure you save them a spot on the sofa. 

The need-to-know
  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Need to be aware of potential health issues
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks, alerts and may be physically protective/suspicious of visitors
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left alone with training
This breed may encounter health problems

Bullmastiffs are a brachycephalic breed; problems associated with this condition include;
- Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome: a condition in brachycephalic breeds (those with a short nose and squashed face) where breathing is obstructed and can lead to reduced ability to exercise, or even severe respiratory distress.
- Skin inflammation/infection: brachycephalic breeds have a short nose and a normal amount of facial tissue. This means there is often excess skin around their face which leads to skin folds. The skin inside these folds can become sore and infections are prone to develop. 
- Eye ulcers: ulcers are painful erosions on the surface of the eye. They are more common in brachycephalic breeds due to their conformation, as their eyes tend to be more bulbous.
 
As with many breeds, Bullmastiffs can suffer from:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Entropion and/or ectropion which are painful conditions where the eyelids turn inwards or outwards.
- Persistent pupillary membrane which is where embryonic membranes do not regress as they normally would.
- Lymphoma which is a cancer in some of the cells that make up immune system.
- Cruciate disease¹ which is where the ligaments in the knee become diseased and damaged which can lead to pain and limping.

Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
- Hip dysplasia screening scheme

Key Facts

Lifespan: 8-10 years
Weight:  Adult dogs weigh 50-59kg and adult females weigh 41-50kg
Height:  Adult dogs measure 64-69cm and adult females measure 61-66cm
Colours:  Bullmastiffs come in fawn, red or brindle, with a black muzzle.
Size:  Large
UK Kennel Club Groups: Working

Ratings

Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 3/5
Easy to train: 3/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 4/5
Energy level: 2/5
Grooming needs: 4/5
Shedding: 1/5
Bullmastiff sitting on the yard

Personality

Bullmastiffs are devoted to their owner and their family. However, they will guard and protect them which is why a Bullmastiff dog has to be socialised from an early age and this natural behaviour managed throughout the dog’s life. The Bullmastiff will often only accept strangers if they are introduced to them by someone they trust. Other visitors will usually be greeted with suspicion bordering on distinct unfriendliness. It is not usually a breed for the novice owner, due to its strength, stubbornness and over-protective nature - and its tendency to try and be a lapdog! 

Bullmastiff puppy lying on the grass

History and Origins

Country of origin: England

The Bullmastiff dog breed was originally called the 'Gamekeeper's Night Dog' as they were used to catch poachers. They take their name from their original ancestors, the Bulldog and the Mastiff.  

Bullmastiffs were created in the 1800s with one purpose and that was to catch human intruders - poachers. At this time the large country estates were being constantly raided by poachers trying to feed their families. The penalty for poaching was death and so if caught, it was well worth putting up a fight in order to escape the gallows. The gamekeepers needed back-up and the Bullmastiff was it.  

They were smaller than the traditional Mastiff and so were agile enough to chase and catch intruders but once caught the Bullmastiff would overpower them, pull them to the ground and then sit on them subduing all struggles with their strength and determination until the gamekeeper arrived.  

As the large estates began to diminish, the Bullmastiff would have found themselves out of a job if it wasn’t for their friendly docile natures with people they know. They make fantastic family companions. 

Did you know?

Did You Know?

The most famous Bullmastiff was probably Sylvestor Stallone’s dog Butkus. He adopted him when he was a six-week old puppy and used him in the film Rocky as he couldn’t afford a trained stunt dog. At one point, Sylvester Stallone was so down on his luck, he had to sell Butkus. But as soon as he had the money he went and begged to have him back. 

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