Although historically a member of the ancient Molosser breeds, the modern Bullmastiff, as we know it today, was only officially recognized by the Kennel Club in 1927. Its original purpose in the mid 19th century was to act as a Gamekeeper’s companion and guard to assist in the apprehension of poachers, hence its name at that time of the ‘Gamekeeper’s Night Dog’. The requirement was for a large but agile dog, able to pursue and bring down a man and hold without savaging until his master arrived. The crossing of the English Mastiff and Bulldog produced such a specimen, often known as the ‘Bull and Mastiff’ before ‘Bullmastiff’ was eventually registered, although numerous other out-crosses were used in the early years.
True to its original employment, the Bullmastiff is normally a quiet and stable companion, well suited to a family environment, although socialization from an early age is of paramount importance to prevent him becoming over protective of his owners and territory.
Kind but firm training should be practiced from puppyhood, which he will be quick to learn. Although friendly towards people, care should be taken when associating with strange dogs to avoid any confrontation. Whilst rarely seeking trouble, he will not turn his back on it if challenged. It should always be remembered that this is a large and powerful dog and it needs a strong hand to hold him if he makes up his mind to take a certain direction! He makes an ideal companion - undemanding, affectionate and loyal to his owner.
The Bullmastiff normally enjoys a healthy existence, although an important contribution to his long-term well-being is the care taken during his formative months, when he grows at an alarming rate.
A condition known as Panosteitis, or ‘shifting lameness’ can occur during these growth surges but is helped by rest and analgesics until the growing process levels out. As the Bullmastiff is a heavy dog, joint problems are a risk if too much exercise is allowed when a puppy.
Hip and elbow dysplasia can occur and, although cases are not so common these days, Entropion has been known in the breed.
All types of cancer are prevalent in the breed, with lymphoma being the major cause for concern. Research is currently underway into the disease.