If you're researching the English Mastiff breed to bring into your family and you've found yourself on my site by accident, please stay. This section is not about cancer, it's about bringing an English Mastiff into your life.
If you’re looking for a mastiff, have a big heart and have had dogs before then research the breed extensively. Make a pro/con list for every question you have. Talk to breeders (not junkyard breeders) because they are a wealth of excellent information. More than that, breeders have hands on history and their information is invaluable. A giant breed is not for every dog lover or every family. Mastiffs have earned the respect to become a non-disposable part of your life and family as long as you all shall live. Start a pro/con list and if you’ve researched the breed extensively then put a check in the pro column. (every dog is non-disposable)
Mastiffs can snore loudly. Are you willing to have sleepless nights and go to work tired? If you’re 100% willing to be tolerant of this then put a check in the pro column. If not, put a check in the con column. The mastiff requires your tolerance.
Mastiffs drool constantly and we have towels in almost every room. When they shake their head it flies on the ceiling, walls and everywhere. It then magically transforms to glue. If you wipe it while it’s wet it comes right off. Lucky for you if you let it dry it collects dust so it’s easier to see, then all you have to do is chisel it off. If you demand tidy, will you be 100% tolerant of this because the mastiff requires your tolerance? If not then put a check in the con column.
Mastiffs are gentlemen/gentle ladies and want to please you. They mind well if you’ve command trained them as a puppy. Mastiffs are not typically barkers, but a mastiff’s bark will rattle the walls and get on your last nerve. You have to be 100% tolerant of this and give them the talk command. Are you the type of person that flies off the handle and yells at your dog? If so then put a check in the con column. No mastiff needs you breaking their heart by yelling at them when they’re committed to being the very best dog they can be…every day of their life. If you’re firm, consistent and loving about it, put a check in the pro column.
The mastiff puppy eats a lot and it’s expensive. As an adult mastiff it’s been my experience that they eat the equivalent of a large breed because they don’t expend a high amount of energy as a house pet. Barrett was 230lbs when we changed his food to adult kibble. He lost weight and maintained a healthy 200lbs for him.
Vet bills, toys, ear cleaning, dog friendly motel rooms, etc., mastiffs cost more than a normal size dog. Are you willing to get a part time job if the cost of the mastiff exceeds your monthly allotment for your family?
If your answer is absolutely than put a check in the pro column. If you’re not a person that keeps their word put a check in the con column. A mastiff can’t teach you to keep your word. Learn discipline elsewhere.
Your mastiff will require you get a part time job because you cannot get rid of them, re-home them, whatever your justification term is, know it’s unacceptable. The mastiff has become a working functioning part of your family. This is another child and you must keep all your children.
5. Command and leash training, socializing…
The mastiff is a guard dog and his job is to protect your family, it's instinct. Because of the massive size and powerful strength of this dog it demands command and leash training starting from an early age. We gently and lovingly started command and leash training with Barrett at 10 weeks.
Mastiffs can be overly protective and overly territorial so socialization is imperative. First and foremost socializing helps to protect and keep your priceless mastiff safe. When you socialize your mastiff it allows them to gauge how you and your family function with strangers, other places and other animals. You’re giving them the tools they need to do their job effectively and safer. Don’t fail your mastiff by not socializing them. They are a thinking, studying, calculating breed. They need consistent, patient leadership from you.
Do you agree that training and socializing your mastiff is important and you will follow through with this? If yes put a check in the pro column.
If you believe training and socializing your mastiff is unimportant then put a check in the con column. Going forward you will have problems, know that. More importantly your mastiff requires this education because they want to be an awesome dog. They want guidance and rules and you’ve just failed your mastiff. The socialization is an education for the sake of safety and closer bonding with your family.
6. Health problems…
Mastiffs have a host of health problems and your vet bills will be higher especially if anesthesia is needed. They go by the pound. You’ll need to feed them good food, vitamins, clean their ears, brush their teeth, etc. If you have your vet clean their teeth because you failed to do it consistently, it’s upwards of $1000.00. Like humans, teeth and gum problems can lead to heart disease and other health issues. This breed is known to get cancer, heart problems, etc. and their lifespans are short at approximately 8-10 years.
Are you willing to do everything possible and spend the money that's necessary to keep your mastiff healthy? If yes, put a check in the pro column. If you have hesitations then research the mastiffs’ health issues, illnesses and the maintenance of a mastiff. Put a ? in the con column for #6.
7. Give your mastiff jobs…
Please take this to heart. Your loving mastiff companion’s main mission is to protect and guard your family. Make no mistake, they watch and learn how the family functions and are absolutely eager to function within their family. Give your mastiff jobs, otherwise they sit and watch everyone else do their jobs and they don’t feel like a functioning part of the family.
Your mastiff doesn’t require this but it fills their heart and soul with purpose. The mastiff breed has an ancient heritage that was purposeful. Obviously this is not a pro/con question, just some food for serious thought.
8. Problems with the size of a giant breed…
When it felt like a good time to bring another companion dog into our lives I researched docile, lazy, low energy dogs because of my husband and my age. The mastiff breed fit the bill on levels I hadn’t even considered. I firmly believe Mastiffs are house dogs, period. It’s about their well-being.
Because my husband and I are in our 60’s, I knew I had to make a pro/con list in which the purpose was geared toward the well-being of the dog. I knew this decision hinged on whether or not my husband and I could handle a giant breed. Having a giant breed can be an overwhelming responsibility if you’re not prepared and trust me, you can’t be 100% prepared with a 230lb dog.
If the dog is sick how do you get them in the car? If they break a leg do they potty in the house if you can’t get them outside? When they sit down and won’t budge in Home Depot what do you do? If you take them on a hike and your mastiff reaches exhaustion which does happen often, you won’t be able to move them and what do you do? If you’re on a (leash) walk and an unleashed dog approaches you baring all its teeth, you cannot wrap your precious mastiff in your arms to protect them so you have to plan to take them to safe areas for walks.
If any of these scenarios happen to you and you are useless to help or protect your mastiff, you’ve just failed your mastiff. You have to visually see this huge dog sharing your life in your mind and if you can successfully resolve all these scenarios.
If you’re stumped on this statement then let me make it clear because we’ve experienced this. You’ll need other strong bodies around you, on call or next door. You’ll need to plan for extra time to cajole, beg, and plead with your mastiff.
If you do not have a physical support system set up to help with a mastiff then put a check in the con column. You can’t fail a mastiff because of their size.
9. Rowdy Huge Puppy…
Most puppies can become a handful during training, brainlessness, excitement, etc. A mastiff puppy is harder to control because of their size and they're more than a handful. They’re no different than any other rowdy puppy but it will demand more of you to control the puppy because they’re simply BIG. Your sweet mastiff puppy will be sorry it’s big, try to be good, try to calm down, but…THEY’RE PUPPIES!
Puppy and big can continue into 2-4 years old when they may be 150-200 lbs. This is not easy to deal with and you may think you’ve had enough, this is a bad uncontrollable dog, he’s aggressive, too rowdy, etc.
Just hold on, don’t give up, stick it out and have an extra strong friend with you. You will get through this and when you do the gift you waited for with this breed becomes very apparent and climbs right into your soul. Don’t ever give up on your mastiff.
Will you re-home your mastiff if this becomes a problem you can’t deal with? If your answer is no, are you someone that keeps their word and is loyal? If so, put a check in the pro column. If you hesitate on this question put a check in the con column and choose a breed you know you can physically handle.
Barrett dragged me across a football size grass field twice, at the end of his leash and on my stomach. The first time it was simply a flock of birds taking flight that scared him.
When he finally stopped all 200lbs of big butt and sat down, I wiped the smeared lipstick off my face and gave him a stern warning. I reminded him of the command "stop you stupid dog". Barrett felt so bad he was crying, I was crying, we we're hugging, I kissed his snout, stroked his cheek....sometimes commands just aren't that important. It was enough for me to be grateful that it wasn't black top and road rash.
With a large breed you can usually stop the dog. With a giant breed you have to hang on because this is a 200lb scared dog mindlessly running from perceived danger into danger; traffic, a cliff, etc.
Both times were a heartbreaking wake up call for me. The obvious truth was that at my age and weight I knew in certain scenarios I couldn't control this much weight and muscle in a dog. He wasn't an overweight, unhealthy, lazy mastiff. He was fit and solid muscle. He was part of our family and we weren't giving him up so if we took him on walks in public it was with another adult body and 2 leashes. Most of the time it was race track, hide and go seek and wrestling in the yard and in the house. Taking walks in public places is overrated anyhow.
Now look at your pro/con list and ask yourself, can you give a mastiff the life they deserve? Remember this partnership isn’t about you, it’s about the mastiffs well-being.
The mastiff is loving, gentle, calm, affectionate, funny, obedient, noble, devoted, courageous, and stoic. They have sensitive feelings, they hurt, and they can become depressed. You must understand that your mastiff needs to be a major part of your family daily, meaning this isn’t a breed to leave home alone all day. Mastiff’s bond closely to you and your family and if you give them up or re-home them, they grieve, deeply… daily. You cannot do this and fail your mastiff.
If you bring this little mastiff into your life and your family, it's one of your children so understand you're not getting rid of the mastiff. That is unacceptable. Your mastiff will hurt and grieve the same as if you re-homed your child and you must keep all your children.
If you do re-home your mastiff, you’ve just taught another generation (your kids) that commitment and loyalty to your family dog is not important. Just give it up when it doesn’t fit your agenda or it gets too BIG or?
Be absolutely sure a mastiff is what you want and please think long and hard if you really are capable and worthy enough to give the mastiff what they require. It is that important.
Please make it a point to do extensive research into the mastiff breed. There are far too many excellent online sites to list but I would suggest you also research the mastiff rescue sites. Read the reasons other families gave up their mastiff family member and read about the abused mastiffs. You may find a rescued mastiff that steals your heart and there is really no difference in loving a mastiff puppy or a mastiff adult. It’s heartbreaking to visit these sites but all research into the mastiff breed should include the good, the bad and the ugly before you commit to bringing one home.
The SPCA’s statistics claim;
It’s estimated that 78 million dogs are owned in the US.
Of those, approximately 3.3 million dogs are relinquished to shelters.
Approximately 670,000 dogs are euthanized each year in US shelters.
ASPCA’s National Re-homing survey states approximately 47% of re-homed dogs were re-homed for problematic behaviors, aggressive behaviors, grew too large or health problems the owner couldn’t handle.
Statistics show the dog companion commitment fails at a high percentage, right along side the marriage commitment and the parent/child commitment.
If you're not a person that values commitment and you admit to it, don't get a dog, cat, toad, lizard, wife, husband or child.
If you bring a mastiff home...Give Your Mastiff Jobs!
It was Barrett’s job to take the mail to my husband in his office so I’d yell to Barrett to come get the mail. All 230lbs raced into the kitchen with all 42 teeth showing, lips flying and drool trailing behind him. He’d snatch the mail from my hand in a dead run, make a circle in the dining room and race back to the office. Was he happy? Beyond any dogs wildest dreams! He belonged; he had a job and purpose like everyone else in the family.
It was Barrett’s job to check the gates on the property every night to make sure they had their locks on them. There were 3 and 1 he deemed should be a gate. Every night I’d tell Barrett to check the gates. I watched him watch me as he proudly checked all the gates in all his massive mastiff splendor. Often I would mosey with him to check the gates because I needed to touch him, be with him. Did he love this job? Yes, it was a mommy Barrett job.
It was Barrett’s job to meet our daughter at the gate and carry her bag down the sidewalk to the house. Did it matter it was an Arby’s roast beef sandwich for him? Heck no, it was still his job and he was one proud stocky beautiful boy as he pranced down the sidewalk with his head held high and a bag between his teeth!
To him it was simply a job with benefits.
Barrett found a job when he was six months old which was monitoring mommy when she went stupid trying to cook. Who puts eggs on the stove to boil and then sits down in the living room with the dog?
Barrett came out of a slumber, cocked his head towards the kitchen and went to investigate. He immediately raced full speed into the living room yelling danger danger and made me follow him. I confirmed there indeed was danger, rectified the situation, and thanked him profusely. I crowned him king of the kitchen, slapped a beef stick in his face and we went back to the living room where I coddled him for hours because he kept mommy from burning the house down. Barrett consistently alerted us to what he perceived as questionable or dangers inside and outside the house.
Barrett’s most important job that was self-taught and had everything to do with his job of guarding our family, was to round up every person in the family and bring them one by one into the same room. He did this day after day and year after year. He wanted us all together because somehow he knew this was what we all needed, what was good for us, what was good for him. We’ve never experienced this with another breed, and that's how they crawl right into your soul.
If you bring a mastiff into your life or already have a mastiff, please give them jobs. It truly does supply purpose that mastiffs are geared for and thrive on.
The Upside of Mastiffs
As I sit here writing I’m reminded how raw my emotions are. We lost Barrett on 9.-21-19 and our lives won’t ever be the same having brought the English Mastiff breed into our family.
We’ve welcomed Labs, German Shepherds, mutts and a bulldog into our family over the years and have deeply loved every one of them.
The labs ran around with goofy smiles on their faces looking for someone to do anything with and of course we had a box of balls. They learn hide and go seek because they think it’s just flat out fun and there’s no learning curve here. What our labs did teach us was love on a deeper level and tolerance for stupid.
Our daughter's rescue mutts came to us bringing all their gratefulness. Odie was an abused rescue and a perfect combination of intelligence and complete brainlessness wrapped in a muscular lab body. Truckee was all kinds of wrong with helicopter ears, long skinny legs and a big snout. He needed our daughter 24/7 and she needed to protect him as long as they both shall live.
Foster, while not a rescue, was all kinds of right with long hair, a big strong body and a square face. He was wise beyond his years, had a keen sixth sense and was just a wise old soul. Neither Foster nor Truckee learned hide and go seek.
The English Bulldog, Wadlow… gosh, I just had to have one. You can tie your intestines in knots laughing at this breed. My logic was whatever makes you laugh all the time…bring it home! When we brought him home he was a round frumpy goofy sweet little guy that grew into a farting, slobbering, lazy, stupid mean little ass. Yep, we loved him like crazy! Apparently stupid can’t learn hide and go seek and he had no job because he didn’t want to work. Life was all about him.
Our German Shepherds, Oly and Bullet, had a job which was protecting our family and they did it well. In return we gave them an immense amount of daily respect although I made it clear they were smart enough to take on another job. Both shepherds hated hide and go seek. When you teach your kid hide and go seek the dogs don’t have a choice to hate the game because it’s all about the joy you see in your kid. The dogs must play! Convincing the shepherds there was a fun factor in it for them made little difference.
My daughter and I quietly made our way across a river and up a huge boulder while the shepherd took the lab on a wild goose chase. With hands in the air and bursting with our accomplishment we yelled “Bullet”.
My daughter and I saw Bullet's anger and made our frantic getaway by jumping into the river…bad idea.
Bullet the German Shepherd, tore through the brush, flew through the river and bounded to the top of the huge boulder with the brainless lab by his side.
When labs jump in a river after you it’s flat out fun and they have no intent in hurting you. Odie the lab landed next to my daughter.
Yep, I was grateful.
Bullet jumped straight out over me, dropped and drove me to the bottom of the river with his elbows. This was no accident. I drug my beat up choking body up the sand bank and sat down. My daughter was laughing, the lab was laughing, I was laughing.
Bullet was sitting up glued to my side staring at me. His eyes were black and he was bent out of shape and furious. I stroked his face, kissed his snout, apologized, begged for his forgiveness and promised we’d never play hide and go seek again ....because he was a bad sport.
In fairness to our shepherds, why would we teach them a game where in order to protect us (their job) they have to find us first? Was it my fault Bullet drove me to the bottom of the river to kill me because I was just too much work? Yep, smart dog.
My point in this reminiscing is that all these dogs were wrapped up in one big beautiful English Mastiff named Barrett. He was our first mastiff and only mastiff to this point. Barrett made us question how we ever functioned as a family without the mastiff breed, because they function as a working part of the family and they're so incredibly devoted.
Barrett loved hide and go seek and his joy and excitement in the game equally matched that of our daughter.
One early cool spring morning I let him outside to wash his face and do his business after he ate. My daughter and I moseyed outside with coffee in hand and paused at the sight of slight movement at the top of the property. Barrett was hiding behind a large tall bush with his head down and one eye looking at us through a space in the branches. Sticking out from the other end of the bush was this big butt and tail wagging like crazy at the thought he was hiding and we couldn’t see him. We were cracking up peeing our pants and of course we started yelling, “where are you Barrett”! He wagged all 230lbs of big butt with the excitement of his accomplishment until we made our way to him and the game was up, which of course ended in race track and flying slobber!
What constantly surprised me was, this is a thinking calculating breed. Unlike our other dogs Barrett learned a game, then bettered it on us so we had to learn his game, his rules. I honestly have never experienced that before.
What I also didn’t realize prior to getting Barrett was the unmistakable difference between a large versus a giant breed dog. I researched the English mastiff breed for months before finally pulling the trigger and getting one. With all my mastiff research and having seen full grown mastiffs often, what I realize now is there are so many unforeseen’s with a giant breed because they are unquestionably giants on 4 legs!
My hope is to really make you think about what it might be like owning a giant breed. You have to make a wise decision before bringing a mastiff into your life. If you re-home this mastiff you rip them away from their family, you break their heart and you cause their daily grieving. You're now putting a 200lb dog out in the world in hopes someone will take all 200lbs of them. That's not an easy decision for anyone so it may take time for this mastiff to find a loving home. Re-homing your mastiff is unacceptable.
Know that you're in this for the long haul....from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do you part. It's pretty simple.
Having said that, if at any point you realize and will admit you are an irresponsible dog owner or you bit off more than you can chew please take the high road and do the right thing. Call a rescue site and lovingly transport your precious mastiff to the rescue site and be loyal until your end.
"What the Lion is to the Cat the Mastiff is to the Dog, the noblest of the family; he stands alone, and all others sinking before him. His courage does not exceed its temper and generosity and in attachment he equals the kindest of his race."
-Edwards, S. (1800), wrote in the Cynographia Britannica, London: C. Whittingham-