There are Egyptian monuments dating back 3,000 years that depict Mastiffs. It is not certain where the dogs in these paintings originated from, but the English Mastiffs as we know them were bred in England and used as guard dogs and war dogs for 2,000 years. When Cesar went up against soldiers in 55 B.C.E. in the land we now know as England he noticed the bravery and ferocity of the Mastiffs that fought alongside these men. He brought a group back to Rome where he used them in the Gladiator pits. In later centuries English Mastiffs became quite popular among peasants as they were the perfect dog to guard their farms and homesteads from larger wild animals. They even guarded against people they did not trust.
English Mastiffs are often referred to as “Gentle Giants.” They are strong and powerful dogs, but possess and unwavering loyalty to their families. Even when coming up against a foe, Mastiffs are more likely to use a trapping technique to hold them instead of an actual attack. They will only become aggressive in their attack if an imminent threat is made directly on them or a member of their “pack.” Funny enough, many Mastiffs simply hold or trap assailants by falling over on them and using their body weight to hold the threat down until it can be dealt with.
These beautiful dogs get their reputation as being gentle from the fact that they are incredibly patient, kind and loving. They are great dogs for families with children of all ages as they are not ones to lose their cool and they are quick to show affection towards the people they are with.
Mastiffs do not need to be trained to guard as this is a natural instinct within them. They do need to be socialized, though, so that they can learn to tell the difference between a friend or a foe in various situations. Socialization helps keep them busy and entertained as well seeing as Mastiffs have a tendency to laze around when they feel they aren’t needed for guarding.
English Mastiffs, while very gentle and caring animals, will seek order in their “pack.” It is important for you as their owner to be firm and consistent so they understand there is no need for them to take on any kind of dominance roles. Mastiffs are highly intelligent and will catch on quickly to any training you bring to the table. Good socialization will help them be more open to you as their pack leader. Show them the same gentle and loving nature that they show you, but be firm in discipline as well as training so they can fully understand the hierarchy in your household.
To keep an English Mastiff really happy make sure they have good space to move around in and walk them daily to keep their muscles lean.
Coats & Grooming:
English Mastiffs are short-coated and often come in the colors fawn, apricot or brindle. Their faces are all black which adds further to their adorableness factor. Since they are short-coated these Mastiffs require very minimal grooming. Keep their ears clean regularly to avoid ear infections
Male English Mastiff generally weight a minimum of 160 pounds once they are full grown. Females do not trail far behind weighing in at a minimum of 150 pounds. Many English Mastiffs have even exceeded 200 pounds.
Health Information & Life Span:
The English Mastiff is highly prone to hip dysplasia. They grow quite rapidly to a very large size, so this ailment is common. They can also suffer from elbow dysplasia as their legs are long and carry a big body on them. Keeping your pups joints healthy will be the key to helping them have a full and relatively pain free life. As they ages Mastiffs can suffer from digestive infections and other problems in their internal organs, so regular checkups are wise. Their average lifespan ranges between 10 and 12 years.