English Mastiff
The English Mastiff, referred to by virtually all Kennel Clubs simply as the Mastiff, is a breed
Dog breed
Dog breeds are groups of closely related and visibly similar domestic dogs, which are all of the subspecies Canis lupus familiaris, having characteristic traits that are selected and maintained by humans, bred from a known foundation stock....

 of large dog perhaps descended from the ancient Alaunt
The Alaunt is often thought of as an extinct breed of dog, however the Alaunt is not a breed, it is a type of dog also known as Mastiff. A number of modern dog breeds are believed directly descended from the Alaunt. The original Alaunt is thought to have resembled a Caucasian Shepherd Dog. They...

 through the Pugnaces Britanniae
Pugnaces Britanniae
The Roman Province of Britannia was known for exporting dogs. The references by Roman writers to these dogs suggest that British dogs were both fast and strong, useful in hunting and even in war...

. Distinguishable by enormous size, massive head, and a limited range of colors, but always displaying a black mask, the Mastiff is noted for its gentle temperament. The lineage of modern dogs can be traced back to the early 19th century, and the modern type was stabilised in the 1880s
The 1880s was the decade that spanned from January 1, 1880 to December 31, 1889. They occurred at the core period of the Second Industrial Revolution. Most Western countries experienced a large economic boom, due to the mass production of railroads and other more convenient methods of travel...

. Following a period of sharp decline, the Mastiff has increased its worldwide popularity.


With a massive body, broad skull and head of generally square appearance, it is the largest dog breed in terms of mass. Though the Irish Wolfhound
Irish Wolfhound
The Irish wolfhound is a breed of domestic dog , specifically a sighthound. The name originates from its purpose rather than from its appearance...

 and Great Dane
Great Dane
The Great Dane , also known as German Mastiff or Danish Hound , is a breed of domestic dog known for its giant size...

 are taller, they are not nearly as robust.

The body is large with great depth and breadth, especially between the forelegs, causing these to be set wide apart. The AKC standard height (per their website) for this breed is 30 inches (76.2 cm) at the shoulder for males and 27.5 inches (69.9 cm) (minimum) at the shoulder for females. A typical male can weigh 150–250 lb (68–113.4 kg), a typical female can weigh 120–200 lb (54.4–90.7 kg). It is the heaviest breed of dog seen.

Coat colour standards

The former standard specified the coat should be short and close-lying (though long haired Mastiffs, called "Fluffies", are occasionally seen) and the color is apricot-fawn, silver-fawn, fawn, or dark fawn-brindle
Brindle is a coat coloring pattern in animals, particularly dogs, cats, cattle, guinea pigs, crested geckos and, rarely, horses. It is sometimes described as "tiger striped", although the brindle pattern is more subtle than that of a tiger's coat...

, always with black on the muzzle, ears, and nose and around the eyes.
The colours of the Mastiff coat are differently described by various kennel clubs, but are essentially fawn or apricot, or those colours as a base for black brindle
Brindle is a coat coloring pattern in animals, particularly dogs, cats, cattle, guinea pigs, crested geckos and, rarely, horses. It is sometimes described as "tiger striped", although the brindle pattern is more subtle than that of a tiger's coat...

. A black mask
Melanistic mask
A melanistic mask is a dog coat pattern that gives the appearance of a mask on the dog's face. The hairs on the muzzle, and sometimes entire face or ears, are colored by eumelanin instead of pheomelanin pigment. Eumelanin is typically black, but may instead be brown, dark gray, or light gray-brown...

 should occur in all cases. The fawn is generally a light "silver" shade, but may range up to a golden yellow. The apricot may be a slightly reddish hue up to a deep, rich red. The brindle markings should ideally be heavy, even and clear stripes, but may actually be light, uneven, patchy, faint or muddled. Pied
A piebald or pied animal is one that has a spotting pattern of large unpigmented, usually white, areas of hair, feathers, or scales and normally pigmented patches, generally black. The colour of the animal's skin underneath its coat is also pigmented under the dark patches and unpigmented under...

 Mastiffs occur rarely. Other non-standard colours include black, blue brindle, and chocolate mask. Some Mastiffs have a heavy shading caused by dark hairs throughout the coat or primarily on the back and shoulders. Brindle is dominant over solid colour. Apricot is dominant over fawn, though that dominance may be incomplete. Most of the colour faults are recessive, though black is so rare in the Mastiff that it cannot be certain if it is recessive, or a mutation that is dominant.

Record size

The greatest weight ever recorded for a dog, 343 pounds (155.6 kg), was that of an English Mastiff
from England named Aicama Zorba of La Susa, although claims of larger dogs exist. According to the 1989 edition of the Guinness Book of Records, in March 1989, when he was 7 years old, Zorba stood 35 inches (88.9 cm) at the shoulder and was 8.25 feet (251.5 cm) from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail, about the size of a small donkey
The donkey or ass, Equus africanus asinus, is a domesticated member of the Equidae or horse family. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African Wild Ass, E...

. After 2000, the Guinness Book of World Records stopped accepting largest or heaviest pet records.


The Mastiff breed has a desired temperament, which is reflected in all formal standards and historical descriptions. Though calm and affectionate to its master, it is capable of protection. If an unfamiliar person approaches near the Mastiff's perceived territory or its master, ideally, it would protect its master. If the approaching person is perceived as a threat, the Mastiff may take immediate defensive action by placing itself between its master and using a "warning growl" although some will actually hide behind their master and issue their intimidating growl from there. Mastiffs, even fearless ones, will rarely attack an intruder or perceived threat (unless severely provoked) and instead will generally pin the individual until a human they know arrives and tells them it is ok. Mastiffs are good natured, calm, easygoing, and surprisingly gentle for their size. They are a very sensitive breed, and as such harsh training methods and discipline are not recommended. It is a well-mannered house pet, requiring minimal daily exercise and activity. The Mastiff is typically an extremely loyal breed, exceptionally devoted to its family and good with children and small dogs and is often described by owners as "their giant teddy bear."


The Mastiff is a particularly large dog demanding correct diet and exercise. Excessive running is not recommended for the first two years of the dog's life. However, regular exercise must be maintained throughout the dog's life in order to discourage slothful behavior and to prevent a number of health problems. A soft surface is recommended for the dog to sleep on in order to prevent the development of calluses, arthritis, and hygroma (an acute inflammatory swelling). Due to the breed's large size, puppies may potentially be smothered or crushed by the mother during nursing. A whelping box
Whelping box
A whelping box is designed to protect puppies during birth and early life by keeping them safely contained, protected from cold, and safe from the danger of crushing or smothering by the mother....

, along with careful monitoring can prevent such accidents. The average lifespan of the Mastiff is about 7 years although it's not uncommon for some to live to 10–11 years.

Major problems can include hip dysplasia and gastric torsion. Minor problems include obesity
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems...

, osteosarcoma
Osteosarcoma is an aggressive cancerous neoplasm arising from primitive transformed cells of mesenchymal origin that exhibit osteoblastic differentiation and produce malignant osteoid...

, and cystinuria
Cystinuria is an inherited autosomal recessive disease that is characterized by the formation of cystine stones in the kidneys, ureter, and bladder.-Signs and symptoms:Cystinuria is a cause of persistent kidney stones...

. Problems only occasionally found include cardiomyopathy
Cardiomyopathy, which literally means "heart muscle disease," is the deterioration of the function of the myocardium for any reason. People with cardiomyopathy are often at risk of arrhythmia or sudden cardiac death or both. Cardiomyopathy can often go undetected, making it especially dangerous to...

, allergies, vaginal hyperplasia
Hyperplasia means increase in number of cells/proliferation of cells. It may result in the gross enlargement of an organ and the term is sometimes mixed with benign neoplasia/ benign tumor....

, cruciate ligament
Cruciate ligament
Cruciate ligaments are pairs of ligaments arranged like a letter X. They occur in several joints of the body, such as the knee...

 rupture, hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism worldwide but it can be caused by other causes such as several conditions of the thyroid gland or, less commonly, the pituitary gland or...

Osteochondritis dissecans
Osteochondritis dissecans , often abbreviated to OCD or OD, is a joint disorder in which cracks form in the articular cartilage and the underlying subchondral bone. OCD is caused by blood deprivation in the subchondral bone. This loss of blood flow causes the subchondral bone to die in a process...

, entropion
Entropion is a medical condition in which the eyelid folds inward. It is very uncomfortable, as the eyelashes constantly rub against the cornea. Entropion is usually caused by genetic factors and may be congenital...

, progressive retinal atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy is a group of genetic diseases seen in certain breeds of dogs and, more rarely, cats. Similar to retinitis pigmentosa in humans, it is characterized by the bilateral degeneration of the retina, causing progressive vision loss culminating in blindness...

 (PRA), and persistent pupillary membrane
Persistent pupillary membrane
Persistent pupillary membrane is a condition of the eye involving remnants of a fetal membrane that persist as strands of tissue crossing the pupil. The pupillary membrane in mammals exists in the fetus as a source of blood supply for the lens. It normally atrophies from the time of birth to the...

s (PPM).

When purchasing a purebred Mastiff, experts often suggest that the dog undergo tests for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia
Elbow dysplasia
Elbow dysplasia is a condition involving multiple developmental abnormalities of the elbow-joint in the dog, specifically the growth of cartilage or the structures surrounding it. These abnormalities, known as 'primary lesions', give rise to osteoarthritic processes...

, thyroid
The thyroid gland or simply, the thyroid , in vertebrate anatomy, is one of the largest endocrine glands. The thyroid gland is found in the neck, below the thyroid cartilage...

, and DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 for PRA.

History before the First World War

The Pugnaces Britanniae
Pugnaces Britanniae
The Roman Province of Britannia was known for exporting dogs. The references by Roman writers to these dogs suggest that British dogs were both fast and strong, useful in hunting and even in war...

Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

) was the name given by the Romans
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

 to the original English Mastiff.

The origin of the term "Mastiff" is unclear. Many claim that it evolved from the Anglo-Saxon
Old English language
Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

 word "masty", meaning "powerful". Other sources, such as the Oxford English dictionary, say the word originated from the Old French word mastin (Modern French mâtin), the word being itself derived from Vulgar Latin *ma(n)suetinus "tame", see Classical Latin mansuetus with same meaning.

In 1570, Conrad Heresbach, in Rei Rusticae Libri Quatuor, referred to "the Mastie that keepeth the house". Heresbach was writing in Latin; his work was translated a few years later into English by Barnabe Googe
Barnabe Googe
Barnabe Googe or Gooche was a poet and translator, one of the earliest English pastoral poets.-Early life:...

 as Foure Bookes of Husbandrie. This work is adapted from De Re Rustica by 1st century Roman writer Columella
Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella is the most important writer on agriculture of the Roman empire. Little is known of his life. He was probably born in Gades , possibly of Roman parents. After a career in the army , he took up farming...

, which highlights the Roman connection, but it has been speculated the Mastiff is descended from dogs brought to Britain by the Phoenicians in the 6th century BC. From Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 to Medieval times, these dogs were used in the blood sports of bear-baiting
Bear-baiting is a blood sport involving the worrying or tormenting of bears.-Bear-baiting in England:Bear-baiting was popular in England until the nineteenth century. From the sixteenth century, many herds of bears were maintained for baiting...

, bull-baiting
Bull-baiting is a blood sport involving the baiting of bulls.-History:In the time of Queen Anne of Great Britain, bull-baiting was practiced in London at Hockley-in-the-Hole, twice a week – and was reasonably common in the provincial towns...

, dog fighting
Dog fighting
Dog fighting is a form of blood sport in which game dogs are made to fight, sometimes to the death. It is illegal in most developed countries. Dog fighting is used for entertainment and may also generate revenue from stud fees, admission fees and gambling....

, and lion-baiting
Lion-baiting is a blood sport involving the baiting of lions.-Antiquity:Antiquity has examples of the eternal dream of man's faithful companion, the dog, which defeats even the 'King of Beasts', the lion. Greek legend reflects Achilles shield with a depiction of the victory of his dog over two lions...

. Dogs known as Bandog
The term Bandog originated around 1250-1300 in Middle England, referring to a mastiff type dog that was bound by a chain during the daytime and was released at night to guard against intruders...

s, who were tied (bound) close to houses, were of Mastiff type. They were described by John Caius
John Caius
John Caius , also known as Johannes Caius, was an English physician, and second founder of the present Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.-Early years:...

 in 1570 as vast, huge, stubborn, ugly, and eager, of a heavy and burdensome body. Throughout its history, the Mastiff has contributed to the development of a number of dog breeds.
When in 1415 Sir
Sir is an honorific used as a title , or as a courtesy title to address a man without using his given or family name in many English speaking cultures...

 Peers Legh
Peers Legh
Sir Piers Legh II , also known as Sir Piers de Legh and Peers Legh, was the second generation of the Leghs of Lyme....

 was wounded in the Battle of Agincourt
Battle of Agincourt
The Battle of Agincourt was a major English victory against a numerically superior French army in the Hundred Years' War. The battle occurred on Friday, 25 October 1415 , near modern-day Azincourt, in northern France...

, his Mastiff stood over and protected him for many hours through the battle. The Mastiff was later returned to Legh's home and was the foundation of the Lyme Hall Mastiffs. Five centuries later this pedigree figured prominently in founding the modern breed. Other aristocratic seats where Mastiffs are known to have been kept are Elvaston Castle
Elvaston Castle
Elvaston Castle is a country park in Elvaston, Derbyshire, England with of woodlands, parkland and formal gardens. The centrepiece of the estate is Elvaston Castle itself. The castle is a Grade II* listed building but as at 2008 is regarded as a Building at Risk.-History:In the 16th century the...

 (Charles Stanhope, 4th Earl of Harrington
Charles Stanhope, 4th Earl of Harrington
Charles Stanhope, 4th Earl of Harrington was an English peer and man of fashion, styled Viscount Petersham until 1829....

 and his ancestors) and Chatsworth House
Chatsworth House
Chatsworth House is a stately home in North Derbyshire, England, northeast of Bakewell and west of Chesterfield . It is the seat of the Duke of Devonshire, and has been home to his family, the Cavendish family, since Bess of Hardwick settled at Chatsworth in 1549.Standing on the east bank of the...

. The owner of the Chatsworth Mastiffs (which were said to be of Alpine stock) was William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire
William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire
William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire, KG was a British aristocrat and politician. He was the eldest son of the William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire by his wife the heiress Lady Charlotte Boyle, suo jure Baroness Clifford of Lanesborough, who brought in considerable money and estates to...

, known to his family as Canis. Mastiffs were also kept at Hadzor Hall
Hadzor is a small village in Worcestershire, England. There are around fourteen houses and a Roman Catholic church in the village, although there is no shop or school and the Church of England church was closed in the 1970s...

, owned by members of the Galton family
Galton (disambiguation)
Galton may refer to:People with the given name Galton:* Charles Galton Darwin , English physicist* Galton Blackiston , English chefPeople with the surname Galton:...

, famous for industrialists and scientists, including Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...


Some evidence exists that the Mastiff first came to America
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 on the Mayflower
The Mayflower was the ship that transported the English Separatists, better known as the Pilgrims, from a site near the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth, England, to Plymouth, Massachusetts, , in 1620...

, but the breed's documented entry to America did not occur until the late 19th century.

In 1835, the Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 implemented an Act
Act of Parliament
An Act of Parliament is a statute enacted as primary legislation by a national or sub-national parliament. In the Republic of Ireland the term Act of the Oireachtas is used, and in the United States the term Act of Congress is used.In Commonwealth countries, the term is used both in a narrow...

 called the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835
Cruelty to Animals Act 1835
The Cruelty to Animals Act 1835 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom , which was intended to protect animals from mistreatment....

, which prohibited the baiting
Bait (dogs)
Baiting or dog baiting most commonly refers to the act of setting game dogs against a chained or confined animal for sport. The dogs bite, and tear to subdue the opposing animal by incapacitating or killing it. Baiting is a blood sport used for entertainment and gambling...

 of animals. This may have led to decline in Mastiffs used for this purpose, but Mastiffs continued to be used as guards for country estates and town businesses. Organised breeding began in the 19th century, when J.W. (John Wigglesworth) Thompson sought out a bitch, Dorah, from John Crabtree, the head gamekeeper of Kirklees Hall
Kirklees Hall
Kirklees Hall is a 16th century Grade I listed Jacobean hall, close to the English village of Clifton in Calderdale, West Yorkshire. The first evidence of a hall constructed at Kirklees was that of Sir Thomas Gargrave, who conveyed the property to the Pilkington family. Lady Armytage, sold the...

, whose dogs were often held in the name of his employer, Sir George Armitage. Dorah was descended in part from animals owned by Thompson's grandfather, Commissioner Thompson, at the beginning of the century, as well as a Mastiff of the Bold Hall line, recorded from 1705, one purchased from canal boat
A narrowboat or narrow boat is a boat of a distinctive design, made to fit the narrow canals of Great Britain.In the context of British Inland Waterways, "narrow boat" refers to the original working boats built in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries for carrying goods on the narrow canals...

 men and another caught by Crabtree in a fox
Red Fox
The red fox is the largest of the true foxes, as well as being the most geographically spread member of the Carnivora, being distributed across the entire northern hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, Central America, and the steppes of Asia...

 trap. J. W. Thompson's first stud dog Hector came from crossing a bitch, Juno, bought from animal dealer Bill George
Bill George (dog dealer)
Bill George was a 19th century dog dealer in London, England.-Early life:George's first job was as a butcher's boy, and he was a bareknuckle prizefighter, but he later became an apprentice to Ben White of "May Tree Cottage", Kensal New Town, a dealer of Old English Bulldogs, the ancestral breed of...

, to a dog, Tiger, owned by a Captain Fenton.
Neither of these had any pedigree, as was normal for the period. Between 1830 and 1850 he bred the descendants of these dogs and some others to produce a line with the short, broad head and massive build he favoured. In 1835, T.V.H. Lukey started his operations by breeding an Alpine Mastiff
Alpine Mastiff
The Alpine Mastiff is an extinct Molosser dog breed, the progenitor of the St. Bernard, and a major contributor to the modern Mastiff , as well as to other breeds that derive from these breeds or are closely related to them...

 bitch of the Chatsworth line, Old Bob-Tailed Countess (bought from dog dealer Bill White), to Pluto, a large black Mastiff of unknown origin belonging to the Marquis of Hertford
Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford
Captain Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford KG was the son of Francis Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquess of Hertford....

. The result was a bitch called Yarrow, who was mated to Couchez, another Alpine Mastiff belonging (at the time) to White and later mated to a brindle dog also in White's possession. Lukey produced animals that were taller but less massive than Thompson's. After 1850, Thompson and Lukey collaborated, and the modern Mastiff was created, though animals without pedigree or of dubious pedigree continued to be bred from into the 20th century.
Another important contribution to the breed was made by a dog called Lion, owned by Captain Garnier. He bought two Mastiffs from the previously mentioned dealer Bill George. The bitch, Eve, bought by George at Leadenhall Market
Leadenhall Market
Leadenhall Market is a covered market in the City of London, located at Gracechurch Street but with vehicular access also available via Whittington Avenue to the north and Lime Street to the south and east and additional pedestrian access via a number of narrow passageways.-History:The market dates...

, was old enough to be gray-muzzled, but of good type; the dog, Adam, was of reputed Lyme Hall origin, but bought at Tattersalls
Tattersalls is the main auctioneer of race horses in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. It was founded in 1766 by Richard Tattersall , who had been stud groom to the second Duke of Kingston. The first premises occupied were near Hyde Park Corner, in what was then the outskirts of London...

 and suspected by Garnier of containing a "dash of Boarhound", an ancestral form of Great Dane
Great Dane
The Great Dane , also known as German Mastiff or Danish Hound , is a breed of domestic dog known for its giant size...

. Garnier took them to the United States with him and brought back their puppy, Lion. He was bred to Lukey's Countess to produce Governor, the source of all existing Mastiff lines. (Lion was also mated to Lufra, a Scottish Deerhound
Scottish Deerhound
The Scottish Deerhound, or simply the Deerhound, is a breed of hound , once bred to hunt the Red Deer by coursing.- Appearance :The Scottish Deerhound resembles a rough-coated Greyhound. It is however, larger in size and bone...

, and their puppy Marquis appears in the pedigrees of both Deerhounds and Irish Wolfhound
Irish Wolfhound
The Irish wolfhound is a breed of domestic dog , specifically a sighthound. The name originates from its purpose rather than from its appearance...

In the 1880s soundness was sacrificed for type (widely attributed to the short-headed but straight-stifled
Stifle joint
The stifle joint is a complex joint in the hind limbs of quadruped mammals such as the sheep, horse or dog. It is the equivalent joint to the human knee...

 Ch. Crown Prince), and subsequently, the Mastiff lost popularity but gained a consistency of type. In the USA particularly, Mastiffs declined steadily through the 1890s and the early 20th century. From 1906 to 1918, only 24 Mastiffs were registered in the United States, none American bred after 1910. By the time the First World War ended, other than for a few imports, the breed was extinct outside of Great Britain.

History after the First World War

In 1918, a dog called Beowulf, bred in Canada from British imports Priam of Wingfied and Parkgate Duchess, was registered by the AKC
American Kennel Club
The American Kennel Club is a registry of purebred dog pedigrees in the United States. Beyond maintaining its pedigree registry, this kennel club also promotes and sanctions events for purebred dogs, including the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, an annual event which predates the official...

, starting a slow re-establishment of the breed in North America. Priam and Duchess, along with fellow imports Ch Weland, Thor of the Isles, Caractacus of Hellingly and Brutus of Saxondale, ultimately contributed a total of only two descendants who would produce further offspring, Buster of Saxondale and Buddy. There were, however, a number of other imports in the period between the wars and in the early days of the Second World War, and those whose descendants survive were 12 in number, meaning the North American contribution to the gene pool
Gene pool
In population genetics, a gene pool is the complete set of unique alleles in a species or population.- Description :A large gene pool indicates extensive genetic diversity, which is associated with robust populations that can survive bouts of intense selection...

 after 1945 consists of 14 Mastiffs. In the British Isles, virtually all breeding stopped due to the rationing of meat. After the war, such puppies as were produced mostly succumbed to canine distemper
Canine distemper
Canine distemper is a viral disease that affects animals in the families Canidae, Mustelidae, Mephitidae, Hyaenidae, Ailuridae, Procyonidae, Pinnipedia, some Viverridae and Felidae...

, for which no vaccine was developed until 1950. Only a single bitch puppy produced by the elderly stock that survived the war reached maturity, Nydia of Frithend, and her sire had to be declared a Mastiff by the Kennel Club, as his parentage was unknown, and he was thought by some to be a Bullmastiff
The Bullmastiff is a large breed of domestic dog. It has a solid build and a short muzzle. The Bullmastiff shares the characteristics of Molosser dogs, and was originally developed by 19th-century gamekeepers in England to guard estates and immobilize poachers. The breed's bloodlines are drawn from...

. After the war, animals from North America, prominently from Canada, were imported. Therefore all Mastiffs in the late 1950s were descended from Nydia and the 14 Mastiffs previously mentioned. It has been alleged that the Mastiff was bred with other more numerous giant breeds such as Bullmastiff
The Bullmastiff is a large breed of domestic dog. It has a solid build and a short muzzle. The Bullmastiff shares the characteristics of Molosser dogs, and was originally developed by 19th-century gamekeepers in England to guard estates and immobilize poachers. The breed's bloodlines are drawn from...

s and St. Bernards, as these were considered close relatives to the Mastiff. In 1959, a Dogue de Bordeaux
Dogue de Bordeaux
The Dogue de Bordeaux, Bordeaux Mastiff or French Mastiff or Bordeauxdog is a breed of dog that is strong, powerful, and imposing. The Dogue de Bordeaux is one of the most ancient French breeds. They are a typical brachycephalic molossoid type. Bordeaux are very powerful dogs, with a very muscular...

, Fidelle de Fenelon, was imported from France to the USA, registered as a Mastiff, and entered the gene pool. Since that time, the breed has gradually been restored in Britain, has reached 28th most popular breed in the USA, and is now found worldwide.


Extract from Abraham Fleming
Abraham Fleming
Abraham Fleming was an English clergyman, and a prolific writer, translator, contributor to others' texts, editor and poet.-Life:...

's translation of John Caius
John Caius
John Caius , also known as Johannes Caius, was an English physician, and second founder of the present Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.-Early years:...

's description, dated 1570, of the "Mastiue or Bandogge".
"This kinde of Dogge called a Mastyue or Bandogge is vaste, huge, stubborne, ougly, and eager, of a heuy and burthenous body, and therefore but of litle swiftnesse, terrible, and frightfull to beholde, and more fearce and fell then any Arcadian curre (notwithstãding they are sayd to hane their generation of the violent Lyon.) They are called Villatici, because they are appoynted to watche and keepe farme places and coũtry cotages sequestred from commõ recourse, and not abutting vpon other houses by reason of distaunce, when there is any feare conceaued of theefes, robbers, spoylers, and night wanderers. They are seruiceable against the Foxe and the Badger, to drive wilde and tame swyne
Domestic pig
The domestic pig is a domesticated animal that traces its ancestry to the wild boar, and is considered a subspecies of the wild boar or a distinct species in its own right. It is likely the wild boar was domesticated as early as 13,000 BC in the Tigris River basin...

 out of Medowes, pastures, glebelandes (church lands) and places planted with fruite, to bayte and take the bull by the eare, when occasion so requireth. One dogge or two at the vttermost, sufficient for that purpose be the bull neuer so monsterous, neuer so fearce, neuer so furious, neuer so stearne, neuer so vntameable. For it is a kinde of dogge capeable of courage, violent and valiaunt, striking could feare into the harts of men, but standing in feare of no man, in so much that no weapons will make him shrincke, nor abridge his boldnes. Our Englishe men (to th’ intent that theyr dogges might be the more fell and fearce) assist nature with arte, vse, and custome, for they teach theyr dogges to baite the Beare, to baite the Bull and other such like cruell and bloudy beastes (appointing an ouerseer of the game) without any collar to defend theyr throtes, and oftentimes they traine them vp in fighting and wrestling with a man hauing for the safegarde of his lyfe, eyther a Pikestaffe, a clubbe, or a sworde and by vsing them to such exercises as these, theyr dogges become more sturdy and strong. The force which is in them surmounteth all beleefe, the fast holde which they take with their teeth exceedeth all credit, three of them against a Beare, fowre against a Lyon are sufficient, both to try masteryes with them and vtterly to ouermatch them."

Extract from Barnaby Googe's 1577 translation of Conrad Heresbach's description of the Bandog
The term Bandog originated around 1250-1300 in Middle England, referring to a mastiff type dog that was bound by a chain during the daytime and was released at night to guard against intruders...

 for the house:
"First, the Mastie that keepeth the house. For this purpose you must provide you such a one as hath a large and mightie body, a great shrill voyce, that both with his barking he may discover, and with his sight dismaye the theefe, yea, being not seene, with the horror of his voice put him to flight. His stature must be neither long nor short, but well set ; his head, great ; his eyes, sharp and fiery, either browne or grey ; his lippes, blackish, neither turning up nor hanging too much down ; his mouth black and wide ; his neather jaw, fat, and coming out of it on either side a fang appearing more outward than his other teeth ; his upper teeth even with his neather, not hanging too much over, sharpe, and hidden with his lippes ; his countenance, like a lion ; his brest, great and shag hayrd ; his shoulders, broad ; his legges, bigge ; his tayle, short ; his feet, very great. His disposition must neither be too gentle nor too curst, that he neither faune upon a theefe nor flee upon his friends; very waking; no gadder abroad, nor lavish of his mouth, barking without cause; neither maketh it any matter though he be not swifte, for he is but to fight at home, and to give warning of the enemie."

Sydenham Edwards
Sydenham Edwards
Sydenham Teast Edwards was a natural history illustrator.Edwards was born in 1768 in Usk, Monmouthshire, the son of Lloyd Pittell Edwards, a schoolmaster and organist, and his wife, Mary Reese, who had been married on 26 September 1765 at Llantilio Crossenny Church and where Sydenham was...

 (1800), wrote in the Cynographia Britannica, London: C. Whittingham:
"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. His docility is perfect; the teasing of the smaller kinds will hardly provoke him to resent, and I have seen him down with his paw the Terrier
A terrier is a dog of any one of many breeds or landraces of terrier type, which are typically small, wiry, very active and fearless dogs. Terrier breeds vary greatly in size from just a couple of pounds to over 70 pounds and are usually categorized by size or function...

 or cur
Cur as slang refers to a type of random-bred, or mixed-breed dog. This article deals with Cur as a breed.-Etymology:The derivation of the word "cur" dates from the 13th century. It is thought to be short for the Middle English "curdogge", which derives from the word "curren", meaning "to growl"...

 that has bit him, without offering further injury. In a family he will permit the children to play with him and will suffer all their little pranks without offence. The blind ferocity of the bulldog
Old English Bulldog
The Old English bulldog was a breed of dog.-Appearance:The Old English bulldog was compact, broad and muscular, as reflected in the well-known depiction Crib and Rosa. The average height was approximately 15 inches, and they weighed about 45 pounds...

 will often wound the hand of the master who assists him to combat, but the Mastiff distinguishes perfectly, enters the field with temper, and engages the attack as if confident of success: if he overpowers, or is beaten, his master may take him immediately in his arms and fear nothing. This ancient and faithful domestic, the pride of our island, uniting the useful, the brave and the docile, though sought by foreign nations and perpetuated on the continent, is nearly extinct where he was probably an aborigine, or is bastardized by numberless crosses, everyone of which degenerate from the invaluable character of the parent, who was deemed worthy to enter the Roman amphitheatre
Roman amphitheatre
Roman amphitheatres are amphitheatres – large, circular or oval open-air venues with raised seating – built by the Ancient Romans. They were used for events such as gladiator combats, chariot races, venationes and executions. About 230 Roman amphitheatres have been found across the area of the...

 and in the presence of the masters of the world, encounter the pard
The leopard , Panthera pardus, is a member of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion, and jaguar. The leopard was once distributed across eastern and southern Asia and Africa, from Siberia to South Africa, but its...

 and assail even the lord of the savage tribes, whose courage was sublimed by torrid suns, and found none gallant enough to oppose him on the deserts
Déserts is a piece by Edgard Varèse for brass , percussion , piano, and tape. Percussion instruments are exploited for their resonant potential, rather than used solely as accompaniment...

 of Zaara
Zaara is an archaic variant of Sahara, both being English transliterations of the original Arabic word for desert. It is an African region famed for its arid, barren characteristics, and was used by contemporary writers not just as a geographic reference, but also to illustrate the epitome of a...

 or the plain
In geography, a plain is land with relatively low relief, that is flat or gently rolling. Prairies and steppes are types of plains, and the archetype for a plain is often thought of as a grassland, but plains in their natural state may also be covered in shrublands, woodland and forest, or...

s of Numidia
Numidia was an ancient Berber kingdom in part of present-day Eastern Algeria and Western Tunisia in North Africa. It is known today as the Chawi-land, the land of the Chawi people , the direct descendants of the historical Numidians or the Massyles The kingdom began as a sovereign state and later...


Famous English Mastiffs

  • "Crown Prince", progenitor of the modern breed, owned by psychiatrist
    A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. All psychiatrists are trained in diagnostic evaluation and in psychotherapy...

     L. Forbes Winslow
    L. Forbes Winslow
    Lyttelton Stewart Forbes Winslow MRCP was a British psychiatrist famous for his involvement in the Jack the Ripper and Georgina Weldon cases during the late Victorian era.-Career:...

  • "Cash", owned by Trevor Dwyer-Lynch
    Trevor Dwyer-Lynch
    Trevor Dwyer-Lynch is a talented actor, presenter, and compère. Born and raised in Moss Side and Salford, trained in Drama and Performing Arts at City College Manchester in 1990, Dwyer-Lynch has appeared in numerous television and theatre productions, merging both serious roles—such as...

     ("Patrick" from Coronation Street
    Coronation Street
    Coronation Street is a British soap opera set in Weatherfield, a fictional town in Greater Manchester based on Salford. Created by Tony Warren, Coronation Street was first broadcast on 9 December 1960...

    ), also appeared in one episode of the show
  • "Hercules" (a.k.a. "the Beast"), from the film The Sandlot
    The Sandlot
    The Sandlot is a 1993 American comedy-drama sports film about a group of young baseball players during the summer of 1962. The film was filmed in Utah and directed by David M. Evans...

    (played by Ch. Mtn. Oaks Gunner)
  • "Goliath" (a.k.a. "the Great Fear"), from the film The Sandlot 2
    The Sandlot 2
    -Plot:The start of the movie flashes back to 1962 when Benny becomes the "Jet". The main part of the movie is set in 1972, 10 years after the events of The Sandlot. New kids have moved into the neighborhood of San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. They have started playing baseball in the sandlot....

  • "Carlo" from "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches
    The Adventure of the Copper Beeches
    "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches", one of the 56 short Sherlock Holmes stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is the last of the twelve collected in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes...

    ", a Sherlock Holmes
    Sherlock Holmes
    Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve...

  • "Kazak", owned by Winston Niles Rumfoord, a wealthy space traveler in Kurt Vonnegut
    Kurt Vonnegut
    Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a 20th century American writer. His works such as Cat's Cradle , Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions blend satire, gallows humor and science fiction. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.-Early...

    's novel The Sirens of Titan
    The Sirens of Titan
    The Sirens of Titan is a Hugo Award-nominated novel by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., first published in 1959. His second novel, it involves issues of free will, omniscience, and the overall purpose of human history...

  • "Moss" and "Jaguar", of the Japanese series Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin
    Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin
    Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin Silver") is an adventure manga by Yoshihiro Takahashi. It was published by Shueisha in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1983 to 1987, and collected in 18 bound volumes...

    and its sequel Ginga Densetsu Weed
  • "Mason The Mastiff", in the 2007 film Transformers
  • "Leo", owned by Richard Ansdell
    Richard Ansdell
    Richard Ansdell was an English oil painter of animals and genre scenes. He was also an engraver.-Life:Ansdell was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, the son of Thomas Griffiths Ansdell, a freeman who worked at the port, and Anne Jackson. His father died young and Richard was educated at the Bluecoat...

    , R.A.
    Royal Academy
    The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly, London. The Royal Academy of Arts has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and...

    , and the model for his painting "The Poacher", aka "The Poacher At Bay"
  • "Rocky" (Ch Sterling's Against All Odds) appeared in the "Leech Trapper" episode of the TV series Dirty Jobs
    Dirty Jobs
    Dirty Jobs is a program on the Discovery Channel, produced by Pilgrim Films & Television, in which host Mike Rowe is shown performing difficult, strange, disgusting, or messy occupational duties alongside the typical employees. The show premiered with two pilot episodes in November 2003...

  • "Lady Marton", owned by Victorian
    Victorian era
    The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

     industrialist Henry Bolckow, and claimed by some to have been a St. Bernard
  • "Mudge" is a big, goofy English Mastiff from in the book series, Henry and Mudge
    Henry and Mudge
    Henry and Mudge is a series of American children's books written by Newbery Medal winner Cynthia Rylant and published by Simon & Schuster. The series is a common read found in curriculums for 2nd grade and 3rd grade...

  • "Chupadogra" A.K.A "Buster" is an elderly English Mastiff, voiced by Sam Elliott
    Sam Elliott
    Samuel Pack "Sam" Elliott is an American actor. His rangy physique, thick horseshoe moustache, and deep, resonant voice match the iconic image of a cowboy or rancher, and he has often been cast in such roles.-Early life:Sam Elliott was born in Sacramento, California, to a physical training...

     from in the 2010 film, Marmaduke
    Marmaduke (film)
    Marmaduke is an American live action film adaptation of Brad Anderson's comic strip Marmaduke. The film centers on a rural Kansas family and their pets – a Great Dane named Marmaduke and a Balinese cat named Carlos – as the family relocates to California.-Plot:Marmaduke is a Great Dane living in...

  • "Lenny" is a brindled English Mastiff from the 2009 movie, Hotel for Dogs
    Hotel for Dogs (film)
    Hotel for Dogs is a 2009 American children's comedy film based on the 1971 Lois Duncan novel of the same name. The film, directed by Thor Freudenthal and adapted by Jeff Lowell, Bob Schooley, and Mark McCorkle, stars Johnny Simmons, Emma Roberts, Jake T. Austin, Lisa Kudrow, Kevin Dillon, Kyla...

  • "Mr.Pickles" in "She's Out Of My League
    She's Out of My League
    She's Out of My League is a 2010 American romantic comedy film directed by Jim Field Smith and written by Sean Anders and John Morris. The film has, in its starring roles, Jay Baruchel and Alice Eve, and was produced by Jimmy Miller for Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks and filmed in Pittsburgh,...


See also

  • Alangu Mastiff (Indian Mastiff)
  • American Mastiff
    American Mastiff
    The American Mastiff is a molosser-type dog that was created over 20 years ago by Fredericka Wagner of Flying W Farms by crossing an English Mastiff and an Anatolian Mastiff.- General :...

  • Boerboel
    The Boerboel is a large, mastiff dog breed from South Africa, bred for the purpose of guarding the homestead. These dogs were often a first line of defense against predators and were valuable in tracking and holding down wounded game...

     (South African Mastiff)
  • Broholmer (Danish Mastiff)
  • Bully Kutta
    Bully Kutta
    Bully Kutta is a Molosser type dog which is found largely in Pakistan. The word Bully actually derives from the languages of Sindhi and Urdu as bohli — meaning heavily wrinkled and the word Kutta means dog...

     (Pakistani Mastiff, Sindh Mastiff)
  • Cane Corso
    Cane Corso
    The Cane Corso is an Italian breed of dog, for years valued highly in Italy as a companion, guardian and hunter.- Description :-Appearance:...

  • Caucasian Shepherd Dog
  • Central Asian Ovcharka
  • Fila Brasileiro
    Fila Brasileiro
    The Fila Brasileiro is a large working breed of dog developed in Brazil.-Appearance and disqualifications:Official standard of the Fila Brasileiro, CAFIB.GENERAL APPEARANCE: A typical molosser dog...

  • German Mastiff (Great Dane)
  • Japanese Mastiff
  • Korean Mastiff
    Korean Mastiff
    - Description :The Korean Mastiff is of the Molosser dog type. In Korea, it is called 미견도사, and is also widely known as the Dosa Gae, as well as the Mee-Kyun Dosa...

  • List of Mastiff Type Breeds
  • Molosser
    Molosser is a category of large, solidly-built dog that includes several breeds, probably all descended from the same root stock. The name derives from Molossia, a subregion of ancient Epirus, ancient Greece, where the large shepherd dog was known as the Molossus.The proper noun "Mastiff", however,...

  • Molossus
    Molossus (dog)
    -History:This ancient extinct breed of dog is commonly considered to be the ancestor of today's Mastiff-type dogs and of many other modern breeds. Mastiff-type dogs are often referred to as Molossus dogs or Molossers...

  • Neapolitan Mastiff
    Neapolitan Mastiff
    The Neapolitan Mastiff, Italian Mastiff, is a large, ancient dog breed. This massive breed is often used as a guard and defender of family and property due to their protective instincts and their fearsome appearance....

  • Pug
    The pug is a "toy" breed of dog with a wrinkly, short-muzzled face, and curled tail. The breed has a fine, glossy coat that comes in a variety of colors, and a compact square body with well-developed muscle. They have been described as multum in parvo , referring to the pug's personality and...

     a dog of the Toy Group
    Toy Group
    Toy Group is the name of a breed Group of the smallest kinds of dogs, used by kennel clubs to classify a defined collection of dog breeds. Toy Group does not necessarily refer to one particular type of dog. Most major English-language kennel clubs include a Toy Group although different kennel clubs...

     considered by some to be a miniature breed of mastiff, originating in China.
  • Pyrenean Mastiff
    Pyrenean Mastiff
    The Pyrenean Mastiff is a large breed of dog originally from the Aragonese Pyrenees in Spain.- Description :The Pyrenean Mastiff is a very large dog, males 77 cm and females 71 cm at the withers, although they can be up to 81 cm . They have a heavy white coat with large darker spots...

  • Spanish Mastiff
    Spanish Mastiff
    The Spanish Mastiff, or Mastín Español is a large breed of dog, originating in Spain, originally bred to be a Livestock guardian dog and a guard dog whose purpose is to defend livestock from wolves and other predators...

  • Tibetan Mastiff
    Tibetan Mastiff
    The Tibetan Mastiff is an ancient breed and type of domestic dog originating with nomadic cultures of Central Asia.-Names and etymology:...

External links

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