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Need To Know Information

Important Things To Know About English Mastiffs And to Help You Decide if It is Right for You

Being owned by an English Mastiff can be a wonderful relationship with years of joy and happiness or it could be an overwhelming responsibility in which you may not have been prepared for. English Mastiffs are the largest of the dog breed and will range from 27 inches to 36 inches to the shoulder. They can weigh anywhere from 120 to 250 plus lbs. Weight is the one thing with English Mastiffs that is mostly exaggerated about them. When they are full grown they will eat between 6 to 8 cups of Quality Food per Day. As a puppy to can expect up to 12 to 16 cups of Quality Food per Day.  You will need to use a stern voice when disciplining your English Mastiff and nothing else because they are a very sensitive and their feelings can get hurt easily so keep this in minds and don’t yell at them.  

Below is a list that will help you and your family decide if you ready to be Owned by an English Mastiff! The important thing is you want to ensure the best for the English Mastiff so if you or your family can’t handle any of the below, then maybe the English Mastiff is not the best fit for you and your family.  

  • Mastiffs are NOT guard dogs. They will protect their family like a watch dog. Most Mastiffs will often bark so intruders know they are not welcome but once you have accepted the guest, it is likely they will too. For the most part their mere presence & bark will scare any intruders away. If you are looking for guard dog you need to think about another breed.
  • Mastiffs are wonderful companions. But they are not dogs to be left outside chained or outside in a fenced yard with no human contact. They desperately need lots of human companionship to be properly socialized, trained, & "owned". If your house is too small for another human then a 120-230 pound Mastiff is not the dog for you.
  • Mastiffs slobber, some more than others, but all do after they eat or drink. Are you prepared to wash your walls, ceilings, etc. after the slobber flies when they shake their heads? It is a must to have slobber rags in all locations of your house. If you can’t handle the slobber then a Mastiff is not the dog for you.
  • Grooming a Mastiff is very easy. One to two times per week with a comb is sufficient, we like the Ferminator. Trimming nails is important & should be done regularly. It should be started early in life as wrestling with a giant dog is very interesting! Teeth cleaning should also be done regularly.
  • Mastiffs are very territorial dogs. They will protect their pen, yard, house, car, & family from dogs or people. They have a very aggressive bark & show aggressive behavior to inform you that you are on their territory. If you can’t handle this then a Mastiff is not the dog for you.
  • Many Mastiffs snore & sometimes you think a freight train is going through your house. They will want to keep you warm at night on the bed of course. If not on the bed, then they will want to sleep in the same room. If you are a light sleeper or one that needs constant quiet to sleep then a Mastiff is not the dog for you. 
  • Mastiffs are excellent with children of all ages, they are very tolerant of tail pulling, ear tugging, sitting on their backs (don’t recommend ever a big no no) & they love to lick faces & fingers! But you must train & supervise your children to respect & treat a Mastiff kind and not like a toy.  They will always protect their children. The swinging tail of a Mastiff can knock a small child over. So if you don’t have time to teach your children how to respect a Mastiff it is not the dog for you. 
  • An adult Mastiff can go through 40-60 pounds of dry dog food a month. That's a rough estimate of $60-$90 a month in food alone. A growing puppy will go through 90-120 pounds of dry dog food a month, that is roughly $160-$300
  • Due to a Mastiff size it will cost you more money at the Vet's office. Remember medicine is dosed based by weight, a week's supply of antibiotics for your Mastiff can cost upwards of $50 to $100. Heartworm medicine costs more, flea & tick preventive cost more,  shots can sometimes cost more, etc. You can expect to spend approximately $150 to $600 per year at the Vet's office just for preventives and regular care.
  • A Mastiff needs obedience training. It is very important that obedience training is done, the sooner the better. You don’t want to try to control a 185 pound Mastiff pulling you down the street because he saw a bunny & wants to chase it? But make sure the obedience training is a positive reinforcement type for them, they are very sensitive dogs. Mastiffs respond well to love, praise, & always treats!  
  • Socialization is the #1 most important thing you can do for your English Mastiff Puppy/Dog.   This needs to be done at all ages not just as a puppy. The more socialized your English Mastiff is the more respectful dog you will have. You don't want an unsocialized dog, that is fearful of everything and everyone they meet. If you can't take your puppy/dog to meet new people, other dogs, and go to new places than an English Mastiffs isn't for you. 
  • Exercise for the first 18 months should be watched very carefully. Mastiffs grow at a very fast pace which makes them more fragile then they appear. If you are going to take your puppy for a walk don’t take them any farther then you are willing to carry them back. You can extend walks & exercise at 12 to 14 months of age. Watch your puppy if you notice it gets up in the morning very slowly, sore looking then cut back on the exercise. If they jump up in the morning ready to go then what you did the day before is good.  Get a ramp or steps for them to get up & down things, never allow your puppy to jump on or off anything. Avoid outdoor activities during hot weather, this will avoid heat stroke.
  • Exercising an Adult Mastiff is not hard at all. One to Two walks a day for about 20-30 minutes. Some love to swim, hike, but running or jogging companions they are not! They should not be asked to run or jog as it can be very hard & damaging to their joints. Just remember mastiffs love their couch but exercise is important to keep them fit & help them live longer.
  • Mastiffs want to be with you. They love their masters & are very devoted to them. So do you own a big car or van so your mastiff can go for rides with you? Plus still have room for your family, groceries, etc..
  • A small house is suitable for a Mastiff as long as they go for walks & plays outside. The yard should be fenced & the Mastiff obedience trained with the basics: come, sit, stay, down, & he should walk on leash without dragging you.
  • You must like big wet slobbery kisses as they love to give them. They love to sneak on the bed when you are deep in sleep. They are Big Love Bugs 24/7/365
  • With proper care & quality food you can Expect your Mastiff to live 10 to 12 plus years
  • Treats, fruits & vegetables, they love.  Just know which ones are not good for dogs, (onions, grapes…)  Yogurt, cottage cheese, raw chicken, other raw meats, liver, apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, peanut butter sandwiches, ....  You can feed RAW meat & bones but NEVER cooked bones!
  • Once your puppy is fully vaccinated you need to get them out to be socialized as much as possible.  Take them everywhere with you, the more people, kids, cars, dogs, cats, horses, cattle, tractors, .. the more you expose them to the better.  Sign up & take a puppy training class.  The more socialization the better!
  • DO NOT give any supplements unless you check with your breeder, me, or the vet.  Most supplements will do Mastiffs more harm than good. 
  • Don’t over feed your Mastiff, too much protein & fat will cause numerous health problems for your dog.  The old saying goes the slower growers the larger the dog.  Rule of thumb is you want to see the first rib possible the second, for the first 12 months of the pups life. 
  • We Feed a Giant Breed Quality Food that has 4 stages for all Giant Breed Dogs growing cycles.  Giant Starter, Giant Puppy, Giant Junior, & Giant Adult. Always feed quality food, not Wal-Mart junk. If you don't feed proper food to your English Mastiff puppies when you get them, you could see them knuckle over. They higher the quality the less Poop you get to clean up too!  Keep that in mind! ​

    A Mastiff NEEDS to be with you. They thrive sharing your life. They will follow you from room to room as you do your work. Or all over the yard.  It takes a lot of effort to keep getting up after they've been lying down!

    Owning a mastiff is a major responsibility but they will reward you a million times over with their love.
    They are not the breed for everyone, due to their size & health needs.



Spay or Neuter

Important Information about Altering Your English Mastiff or Giant Breed

 It is VERY, EXTREMELY important that you do NOT alter your EM until at least 24 months.  The growth plates in Giant Breed dogs are regulated by hormones.  So if you remove them at a young age you are asking for numerous joint, bone, and growth issues later on in their life.  In BOTH males & females if you do it too early you will get a Great Dane looking English Mastiff, much taller instead of wide and thick.  The hormones that tell the growth plates to stop growing upward are removed when the dog is altered, the bones just keep going up and up, butt high.  Some other important health aspects related to early spay/neuter are the increased risk of obesity, spay incontinence in female dogs, increased risk of vaccine reactions and other orthopedic issues.  I have seen in the last 10 years a huge increase of people contacting me about getting a English Mastiff because they lost their Giant Baby to Osteosarcoma (bone cancer).  All the people I have talked to their English Mastiff was spayed or neutered before 7 months of age and they lost their Baby from then to 3 years age or after 6 years of age.  Talking with my vet these are the common age ranges for bone cancer related to altering your English Mastiff BEFORE 24 months.  So please think twice before you alter your Giant Baby before 24 months of age! I Highly Recommend that any pet and specifically Giant Breeds such as English Mastiffs are NOT to be altered before they are 18 months of age, females I recommend by the age of 18-24 months but NOT before their 1st Heat Cycle for theses reasons. When it comes to the lifelong health of your pet these highly increased health risks are just NOT worth taking. 

Learn More

 There is a very good article published by the National Animal Interest Alliance titled Long-Term Health Risks and Benefits Associated with Spay / Neuter in Dogs. (Laura J. Sanborn M.S. May 14, 2007)  



Health Issues


The English Mastiff Breed has a list of health problems that might happen or not:​


  • Gastric Dilation, Torsion, Volvulus Bloat: very common in any giant breeds, Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernard’s, etc. Without warning, the stomach fills with air (dilation), can twist 180 degrees (torsion) on its long axis, or more than 180 degrees (volvulus) thereby cutting off blood and oxygen to vital organs. The stomach  gases will be sealed under pressure & will cause severe pain on the heart & an agonizing death will follow if not treated immediately by a vet. TIPS: you need to make sure your elevate food & water bowls, Never let your dog go play vigorous or exercise after eating. You can also get their stomach tacked when they are in getting them spayed or neutered.  We also do full feed to avoid rapid eating.  Every Mastiff owner needs to familiarize themselves with bloat symptoms and have a plan of action to get the animal to an emergency medical facility at the onset of the first symptom. A dog that is bloating often has approximately 3 hours or less to live without medical intervention.
  • Hygromas, they look bad but don’t worry. It is a swelling around the elbow that fills with fluid and may develop into a rough spot on the skin. I have seen hygromas as big as a baseball. Mastiffs will get these due to their massive size & weight. They use their elbows to lift themselves off the ground or just from laying on the elbow/knee areas. DO NOT let the Vet drain them, NEVER! It will re-fill up the next day & you will have a nice cut/hole for infection to get in around their joints. You can give them 50mg of over the counter Zinc it will help them go down but not overnight, you are looking at months. They do not hurt them and they are not painful, but if your Mastiff has one that is painful when you move it or it is  hard take them to the vet to get it checked out. 
  • Hips/Elbows, they are giant dogs & are more prone to hip/elbow problems. Proper care early on will help avoid problems later in life.  Very important to not stress exercise, jumping, running up & down steps, till they are older than 22 months. 
  • Acne is a very common issue in older pups & young adults. Make sure you are using stainless steel bowls for food & water.  Keep a spray bottle with half vinegar and distilled water. Spray it on the acne daily and wipe it clean.  
  • Ear Infections or dirty ears. Very common because they have large ears that keep moisture locked in. Keep a spray bottle with half vinegar and distilled water. Spray it in each ear daily and wipe out. You can increase this if you need to 2 times a day. I do it weekly for maintenance.
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Rupture - The knee along with the external support (i.e., collateral leg) has two ligaments inside the joint that help prevent forward movement (i.e., cruciate). Insult/injury can cause this ligament to rupture and result in acute lameness (the animal will not want to bear weight) on the affected limb.
  • Cataract - Lens opacity that may affect one or both eyes and some forms may cause blindness.
  • Distichiasis - Eyelashes abnormally located in the eyelid margin which may cause ocular irritation.
  • Ectropion - Conformational defect resulting in eversion of the eyelids, which may cause ocular irritation due to exposure.
  • Entropion - Conformational defect where eyelid margins invert or roll inward, toward the eye causing eyelashes and hair to rub against the cornea which may result in ocular irritation.
  • Macroblepharon - Abnormally large eyelid opening; may lead to secondary conditions associated with corneal exposure.
  • Persistent Pupillary Membranes (PPM) - Persistent blood vessel remnants in the anterior chamber of the eye which fail to regress normally in the neonatal period.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) - Degenerative disease of the retinal visual cells which leads to blindness. In Mastiffs the age at which PRA can be detected varies from as young as 6 months to as late as 42 months. Typically, Mastiffs with PRA go blind gradually, first losing their night vision and then their day vision. Many do not go completely blind until they are 8 years old or older.  There is a DNA test available through OptiGen & Embark for PRA in Mastiffs.
  • Retinal Dysplasia/Retinopathy also known as Canine Multi-focal Retinopathy (CMR) - Abnormal development of the retina present at birth and recognized to have three forms: folds, geographic, and detachment. A Mastiff with just folds will pass CERF and the folds may disappear over time while the geographic and detached forms may cause loss of vision or blindness.  There is a DNA test available through OptiGen & Embark for CMR in Mastiffs.
  • Elbow Dysplasia - Elbow dysplasia encompasses several different conditions, all of which are indicative of abnormally formed or fused elbow joints and all can cause lameness and pain:
    • Fragmented Coronoid Process (FCP) - This form of elbow dysplasia is generally the most difficult to treat if the fragments are actually loose in the joint.
    • Osteochrondritis Dissecans (OCD) - A defect in the joint cartilage overlaying or attaching to the bone. OCD most commonly occurs in the elbows, shoulders, hocks and stifles.
    • Ununited Anconeal Process (UAP) - In giant breeds such as Mastiffs the Anconeal Process can close later than in smaller breeds, often as late as one year of age or older.
  • Hip Dysplasia - Hip dysplasia is a painful condition caused by abnormally formed hips. The animal may become lame in the hind quarters due to the pain associated with the degeneration of the hips.
  • Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) - A developmental disorder that manifests with toes turning in or out, roached toplines, pinched rears, and in advanced stages fever, lethargy, pain in joints, inability to stand or function. This is a problem of intake in calories versus output of energy - too many calories consumed and/or unbalanced diet disrupted by supplementing.
  • Panosteitis (Pano or Wandering Lameness) – A developmental problem that affects the long bones during rapid growth periods typically between 6-16 months of age.  The exact cause is unknown although genetics, diet, stress, infection, and metabolic or autoimmune problems have been suspected.  Lameness can occur in one limb or over time in all limbs. It often is intermittent affecting one leg then another and back again…  It is self-limiting and spontaneously disappears. 
  • Cancer - Most forms of cancer have been diagnosed in some members of the breed. Some forms of cancer are hereditary while others occur spontaneously or even due to environmental toxins.
  • Cystinuria - An inherited metabolic disease caused by a defective kidney transporter for cystine and some other amino acids. Because cystine readily precipitates in acid urine, crystals and later calculi (stones) can form in the kidney and bladder. Cystinuria in Mastiffs affects males and can result in serious illness and may be life threatening. Spaying of your male at 24 months of age will eliminate this issue if diagnosed. 
  • Epilepsy – A seizure disorder which can have multiple causes. The age of onset of the form is normally around 6 months to 5 years of age.  Epilepsy is generally difficult to treat successfully in Mastiffs and other giant breeds.
  • Heart Disease - The most common heart problems in Mastiffs are aortic stenosis, mitral valve dysplasia and cardiomyopathy.  Early detection and treatment are essential for a good prognosis. Some mastiffs have heart murmurs that are mild and not a cause for concern. If a heart murmur is detected it is essential to have it checked to see if it is an "innocent" murmur or a serious problem.
  • Hypothyroidism - Hypothyroidism is the result of an abnormally functioning thyroid gland resulting in a lower than normal level of thyroid hormone.  This lack of thyroid hormone can have serious health consequences including coat and skin problems, intolerance to cold, weight gain or loss, infertility, sudden aggression, and immune system malfunctions. The inherited form is autoimmune thyroiditis where the body's own immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland or reduces its function. Autoimmune thyroiditis is diagnosed by measuring the FT4D, cTSH & TgAA.  Acquired hypothyroidism can be caused by various problems such as stress for long periods of time, poor nutrition, prolonged infections, and chemical agents.
  • Spondylosis – is a degenerative disease that causes excessive bone production of osteophytes along the spinal vertebrae which can cause lameness.  In advanced cases the vertebrae can fuse together.  In many cases there are no clinical symptoms, but the acute expression of the disease such as lameness, severe pain and disabilities are often seen in adults and older Mastiffs.
  • von Willebrand's Disease (vWD) - An abnormal bleeding disorder due to a lack of normal clotting. An animal's life can be threatened by bleeding due to an injury, or during spaying/neutering or any other condition resulting in bleeding.
  • Wobblers Syndrome – Cervical Vertebral Instability (CVI) is caused by pressure and pinching of the cervical spinal cord and the nerves in the neck due to ligament problems and/or vertebrae malformation. The compression on the spinal cord in the neck may cause the Mastiff to stand and move abnormally.  This is believed to be an inherited genetic disorder with environmental influence.  Rapid growth and nutrition may influence the expression of the disease. 




General Appearance:
The Mastiff is a large, massive, symmetrical dog with a well-knit frame. The impression is one of grandeur and dignity. Dogs are more massive throughout. Bitches should not be faulted for being somewhat smaller in all dimensions while maintaining a proportionally powerful structure.


Size, Proposition, Substance: Size--Dogs, minimum, 30 inches at the shoulder. Bitches, minimum, 27½ inches at the shoulder. Proportion--Rectangular, the length of the dog from forechest to rump is somewhat longer than the height at the withers. The height of the dog should come from depth of body rather than from length of leg. Substance--Massive, heavy boned, with a powerful muscle structure. Great depth and breadth desirable. 


Head: In general outline giving a massive appearance when viewed from any angle. Breadth greatly desired. Eyes set wide apart, medium in size, never too prominent. Expression alert but kindly. Color of eyes brown, the darker the better, and showing no haw.  Ears small in proportion to the skull, V-shaped, rounded at the tips. Leather moderately thin, set widely apart at the highest points on the sides of the skull continuing the outline across the summit. They should lie close to the cheeks when in repose. Ears dark in color, the blacker the better, conforming to the color of the muzzle. Skull broad and somewhat flattened between the ears, forehead slightly curved, showing marked wrinkles which are particularly distinctive when at attention. Brows (superciliary ridges) moderately raised. Muscles of the temples well developed, those of the cheeks extremely powerful. Arch across the skull a flattened curve with a furrow up the center of the forehead. This extends from between the eyes to halfway up the skull.  Muzzle should be half the length of the skull, thus dividing the head into three parts-one for the foreface and two for the skull. Muzzle short, broad under the eyes and running nearly equal in width to the end of the nose. Muzzle dark in color, the blacker the better. Nose broad and always dark in color, the blacker the better, with spread flat nostrils in profile. Lips diverging at obtuse angles with the septum and sufficiently pendulous so as to show a modified square profile. Canine Teeth healthy and wide apart. Jaws powerful. Scissors bite preferred, but a moderately undershot jaw should not be faulted providing the teeth are not visible when the mouth is closed. 


Neck: Neck powerful, very muscular, slightly arched, and of medium length. The neck gradually increases in circumference as it approaches the shoulder. Neck moderately "dry". 

Topline: In profile the topline should be straight, level, and firm. Chest wide, deep, rounded, and well let down between the forelegs, extending at least to the elbow. 

Forechest should be deep and well defined with the breastbone extending in front of the foremost point of the shoulders. Ribs well rounded. 

Underline--There should be a reasonable, but not exaggerated, tuck-up. Back muscular, powerful, and straight. When viewed from the rear, there should be a slight rounding over the rump. Loins wide and muscular. 

Tail set on moderately high and reaching to the hocks or a little below. Wide at the root, tapering to the end, hanging straight in repose, forming a slight curve, but never over the back when the dog is in motion. 

Forequarters, Hindquarters, Gait:

Forequarters: Shoulders moderately sloping, powerful and muscular. Degree of front angulation to match correct rear angulation. Legs straight, strong and set wide apart, heavy boned. Elbows parallel to body. Pasterns strong and bent only slightly. Feet large, round, and compact with well arched toes. Black nails preferred. 

Hindquarters: Hindquarters broad, wide and muscular. Second thighs well developed, leading to a strong hock joint. Stifle joint is moderately angulated matching the front. Rear legs are wide apart and parallel when viewed from the rear. When the portion of the leg below the hock is correctly "set back" and stands perpendicular to the ground, a plumb line dropped from the rearmost point of the hindquarters will pass in front of the foot.  


Gait: The gait denotes power and strength. The rear legs should have drive, while the forelegs should track smoothly with good reach. In motion, the legs move straight forward; as the dog's speed increases from a walk to a trot, the feet move in toward the center line of the body to maintain balance.


Coat: Outer coat straight, coarse, and of moderately short length. Undercoat dense, short, and close lying. Coat should not be so long as to produce "fringe" on the belly, tail, or hind legs. 

Color: Fawn, apricot, or brindle. Brindle should have fawn or apricot as a background color which should be completely covered with very dark stripes. Muzzle, ears, and nose must be dark in color, the blacker the better, with similar color tone around the eye orbits and extending upward between them. A small patch of white on the chest or toes is permitted. 

Temperament: A combination of grandeur and good nature, courage and docility. Dignity, rather than gaiety, is the Mastiff's correct demeanor.