The Bullmastiff is a strong looking dog at first glance - and first impressions are correct. With a sold body frame and a powerful stance, this breed can be quite intimidating to the everyday person that encounters it. But while this stocky build appears to be awkward, the overall frame of the Bullmastiff can be quite agile.
The head has wrinkled skin on the surface and is broad in size, though short. The square shape contains a muzzle that's about one third of the entire head's size with a dark coloring. With a black nose and larger nostrils, the Bullmastiff is punctuated by piercing hazel eyes that have a focused and intelligent appearance. The ears of the Bullmastiff are set wide on the head and are dark in color and have a v shape. The shortened back portion of this breed is straight and is on the same level as the loin and the withers of the dog. The tail is set high and tapers, reaching to the backs of the legs.
With such an impressive look, it's no wonder the Bullmastiff is a menacing dog that can help with guarding your family or a single person. Very alert in nature, this is a dog that will protect whoever it deems to be worth protecting. In this loyalty, training can be tricky, but if you start at a young age and work to consistently build trust, you will have a protector and a friend for a long time.
The fur of a Bullmastiff is short and thin, making this breed unable to deal with extreme temperature changes. The short and rough coat can come in a number of colors and patterns (see Colors below) and in consistent in length and texture throughout the body.
The Bullmastiff is thought to be a cross between the Bulldog and the English Mastiff with a rich history. This is a breed that was originally bred to search out and to stop poachers, but then became a part of the family setting. The combination of the two breeds is about 60% Mastiff and 40% of Bulldog. Then the dog was used as a hunting dog and then as a watchdog by the Diamond Society of South Africa.
Recognized as a purebred by the English Kennel Club in 1924, it was soon followed with recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1933.
Loyal isn't strong enough of a word to use to describe the Bullmastiff. This is a dog breed that's often called courageous for its ability and desire to protect those it feels it needs to protect. This protective instinct is not punctuated by a fierce attacking stance, however, but rather an action to divert the danger away from the person that is being threatened. While the Bullmastiff will attack if it feels that is the only option, generally speaking, it will simply just stand between the stranger/intruder and the person the dog is protecting.
The usual response in highly threatening situations is for the dog to physically stop the danger, but if that doesn't work, the dog will catch the intruder and knock them down, holding them until they are told to let them go. Often, this dog will simply "mouth" on the intruder and not bite them, making them a great watchdog or companion when you're out at night. However, just like any other dog that's fearful for its life, in certain situations, it will bite and attack more aggressively.
What should be noted about its protective nature is that the Bullmastiff is protective of PEOPLE, and not necessarily "things." So, they aren't necessarily a good choice if you want to protect your home when you're not around, as they may not feel the draw to protect 'things.'
The Bullmastiff is a dog that will become attached to its family quite quickly. And in the presence of these people it trusts, it will be docile and loving. Calm by nature, this dog breed is fearless and willful at the same time. If they are trained when they are young, they can be the perfect dog for a family, even with children. But the dog will need to be trained to not act out with children. In any case, even with training, leaving the child alone in the room with the dog is not advised, especially when the child is young. The dog can accidentally run or bump into the child, causing injuries.
Depending on the Bullmastiff, it may or may not get along with other dogs. This largely depends on whether it has been socialized with other dogs when it was young. In many cases, the male Bullmastiff will not do well with other male dogs, so this can be problematic. And in even rarer cases, female Bullmastiffs can be intolerant of other females.
Though the Bullmastiff is a healthy and athletic dog, it is prone to several Health Problems:
hip dysplasia - A common occurrence in dogs. This is a condition in which the hip joint wears down, causing pain and problems with mobility. Owners can choose to treat with pain medications, activity, and sometimes surgery in severe cases. Occurs over time.
elbow dysplasia - The same situation as hip dysplasia, but in the elbow area. Often caused by the larger bond structure of this particular breed.
PRA ( Progressive Retinal Atrophy ) - The retina begins to deteriorate, causing troubles with sight in the dog.
Hypothyroidism - A slowed thyroid condition that can cause the body to not function properly. Treatment can include thyroid replacement supplements and monitoring of thyroid levels.
Entropion - The inward rolling of the eyelid.
Lymphoma cancer - Quite common in this breed and can progress rapidly, beginning with fatigue and lethargy, then pain and problems with basic activities and functions. Often results in the need for chemotherapy or other cancer therapies, but many times require euthanasia.
The coat of the Bullmastiff is short and rough, making it simple to take care of for most owners. Regular brushing will help you manage the shine and the health of the fur. Using a short coarse bristle brush on the fur at least once a week will allow you to remove any dead or loose fur from the exterior of the dog. This will also help you minimize the shedding that the Bullmastiff is sometimes associated with. Some owners swear that you WILL have Bullmastiff fur on everything you own - even if you're brushing it regularly. The short hairs tend to stick to everything and anything they come into contact with.
Shampoo this breed whenever you feel it's necessary, but it's not something you need to do on a regular basis. If your dog has gotten into something particularly dirty, just give it a simple bath and be sure to check their feet to be sure that nothing has injured them or gotten in their pads. Since this is a heavier breed, you will also want to check their nails regularly and trim them to prevent problems.
Just as with any breed, if you let your Bullmastiff outside, you will want to check for ticks or fleas before they come back into the house. If you should notice anything that seems unfamiliar or dangerous, be sure to talk to your vet about the next step. Often, you will need to bring your dog into the vet's office for further examination of the ears, mouth, and nose as well as the skin. Unusual smells that come from your dog will also need a checkup by the vet.
While you might think the Bullmastiff breed is going to want to run around, asserting itself, it's actually quite the opposite. This is a dog that will actually prefer to be lazy and to lay around the house - perfect for the not so active person. However, this isn't a healthy practice for them, so it's advised that you take this dog out for regular exercise and daily walks to encourage this dog to stay in shape.
Since this is a bigger dog, you will want to make sure the dog is getting regular exercise to avoid weight gain, which could hasten the appearance of certain health problems, like hip dysplasia. Taking this dog along on walks will help to keep them in shape, but they will need to be trained not to pull on the leash.
In addition to a regular exercise program, you will want to make sure you are monitoring how much the Bullmastiff eats. As this breed is prone to putting on weight, it's advised that you follow the vet's directions implicitly in terms of feeding.
With such a strong appearance, the Bullmastiff is impressive enough in its natural abilities of intimidation, but you need to get a handle on training this dog breed early in its life. Because of the strong need to protect the family it's with or the person that it deems its owner, you will need to find ways to control this protective instinct without snuffing it out. This can begin with socializing the Bullmastiff when it's a puppy. Allow this dog to interact with other puppies to help it become more used to other dogs; if that's the setting you bring it home to.
If you are going to have a family setting around the Bullmastiff, you will want to bring it home as a puppy so that it learns who it needs to feel are its family. When children grow up with this dog breed, there can be a very playful and loving relationship. These dogs can be quite affectionate with those they are owned by and will be protective once this relationship is established - without additional training from you.
As a part of its nature, the Bullmastiff is going to be a drooler and a snorer, so be ready for these behaviors when you first bring this dog home. Puppies will tend to be awkward too when they're first in the home, but they will gain their agility quickly as they get older.
These Bullmastiffs respond to your tone of voice as they are quite sensitive to the changes, so be sure to remember this when you are training them and maintain a consistent tone.
It can help to bring this dog breed to obedience classes, if possible in your area, but you will need to maintain their lessons once they come home. Consistency is a big thing to keep in mind with this dog breed, as with nearly every breed. They need to know that you are the one that's in charge and that for certain behaviors, they will be reprimanded or scolded, but for others, they will be praised.
However, it's never a good idea to send a Bullmastiff to a kennel or pen if they have not behaved correctly or even as a part of their natural routine. They want to be around people and can become irritated and hard to manage when this interaction is taken away from them.
It's important that the owner of this breed be able to assert their authority over the dog, as this is what will make the dog see that they are being loyal to the right person. Be sure to demonstrate that you are in control of the situation at all times.