Bullmastiffs have been around since the early 1800s and are said to have been the result of crossing an Old English Bulldog with a Mastiff. They were officially recognised as a breed by the Kennel Club in 1927.
Bullmastiffs were used by gamekeepers; not to attack but to chase, knock down and hold poachers until the gamekeeper was able to apprehend the trespasser. This required a dog that was fearless, agile, steadfast and powerful; traits that are still displayed by the dogs of today.
Bullmastiffs are high spirited and active. They are friendly and outgoing and all have their own personality, although they can be strong willed and stubborn at times. Despite their size, bullmastiffs are extremely agile and alert and are generally protective of their surroundings. Visitors to your home are welcomed with enthusiasm whilst someone who should not be there is unlikely to be allowed onto the property. When brought up in a loving and secure environment with consistent firm but fair training, the bullmastiff becomes an extremely loyal family pet.
A fully grown bullmastiff will normally weigh between eight and twelve stone and is often stronger than a person. It is vitally important to establish control over your dog from the outset. Training is an absolute necessity for a Bullmastiff. They can be extremely stubborn and head strong; therefore, laying down the ground rules early in life is a must. Bullmastiffs can be trained and a consistent fair and firm approach is the key to a well behaved dog. Man-handling and rough treatment is not the way to teach any dog and bullmastiffs do not respond to this type of training. Obedience classes are the best way to train your dog and your breeder or vet will be able to recommend one locally.
Socialization is the name given to the way in which animals learn to adopt the behavior patterns of the community in which they live. The only way that a bullmastiff can learn about its community is to experience everything first hand. This means that a puppy which is going to grow into a happy, relaxed adult should be introduced to every aspect of its life as soon as possible. This includes other animals, car travel, fireworks, traffic etc. The critical period for the socialization of a dog is between 3 and 16 weeks old, after this time it is more difficult for a dog to accept something new. A good breeder will have socialized the puppies from birth and will have introduced them to many different things, it is then down to the new owner to keep up the good work. This means allowing the puppy to accompany you throughout your normal daily routine once the inoculations are complete.
A common misconception about Bullmastiffs is that they must cost a fortune to feed. High quality complete kibble needs no supplementing and costs between £25.00 and £30.00 for a 15kg bag. Depending on age, and activity levels of the dog, it costs around £7.00 per week to feed a Bullmastiff. The recommended daily amount of food is always divided into two meals.
Bullmastiffs should not have a huge amount of exercise before they are a year old. This is because their bones are still soft and can be damaged by excessive walking or play. After twelve months the dog should be walked for a minimum of 30 minutes each day but should never be exercised off the lead; apart from the prospect of injury to the dog, the public are usually intimidated by the presence of a large dog, no matter how friendly it may be.
Bullmastiffs as a general rule are excellent with children but it is important that children are taught that respect and kindness is a two way thing. Bullmastiffs are big, extremely powerful and can be clumsy; they can easily cause accidental injury to a child by knocking them over. Children should never be allowed to walk or play with a bullmastiff without an adult present and they should never be left alone with the dog.
As with all soft mouthed dogs, bullmastiffs do slobber! It is difficult to remove from clothes and walls as it takes on a spectacularly adhesive quality. If you are house proud or fashion conscious then a bullmastiff is not the dog for you.
Bullmastiffs will normally adapt well to other animals in the home if they are brought up with them. Many aspects of dog to dog aggression are affected by a lack of socialization as a puppy, although this is not always the case. In general, bullmastiff dogs do not get along with other males and bitches may not always be tolerant of either sex. There are always exceptions but it is less likely that two same sex bullmastiffs will get on with each other, especially when they reach sexual maturity. If you are planning to buy two bullmastiffs, a dog and a bitch are considered to be the best option. A reputable breeder will not sell two same sex puppies into one household.
Common health problems in the bullmastiff are: Entropion, Hip & Elbow Dysplasia, Gastric Torsion (Bloat), Cancers and Cruciate Ligament Ruptures. Many of these problems can be avoided by selecting a reputable breeder with knowledge of hereditary disease in different lines and by bringing up your bullmastiff in the correct manner.
Veterinary costs for bullmastiffs are normally very high due to the fact that the dosage for many veterinary medicines is based on the weight and size of the dog. However, these costs can easily be overcome by taking out a pet insurance policy which normally costs around £15.00 per month.
A well fenced and secure garden is a must for a bullmastiff. Apart from their lack of road sense, the theft of pedigree dogs is on the increase throughout the UK. Bullmastiffs will happily live either in or outdoors. If a dog is to live outdoors it must be provided with a draught free insulated kennel with shelter from both the rain and the sun. Outdoor dogs must be given as much stimulation as possible including walks, play and time spent with their owner.
Bullmastiffs generally cope well in working households but obviously need human companionship and attention as soon as you arrive home. They are not however the type of dog who is content to stay alone for hours on end and then be ignored or left to their own devices when you are with them. Boredom and loneliness are a major cause of chewing and other behaviour problems.
Before buying a bullmastiff
- Am I willing to dedicate the time needed to raise a bullmastiff ?
- Am I willing to attend obedience classes ?
- Am I willing to provide consistent discipline ?
- Are my family 100% committed to owning a bullmastiff ?
- Am I willing to provide an excellent home for the dog for the next twelve years ?
- Am I willing to provide a healthy diet and any necessary veterinary care ?
What to look for:
- Research as many breeders as possible.
- Reputable breeders are prepared to answer all of your questions.
- Ask to see the mother and assess her temperament.
- Ask to see the father if he is available.
- Do not buy a puppy from nervous or hostile parents.
- Puppies should be playful, inquisitive and happy in their environment.
- Puppies should be healthy and active with clear eyes.
- Do not believe a breeder who says the whole litter is show quality.
- Reputable breeders will question you about your home and lifestyle.
- Reputable breeders will provide a puppy care pack and ongoing advice.
- Do not be tempted to buy a puppy from Free-Ads newspapers.
Care & Grooming
Along with annual booster inoculations a bullmastiff will need to be wormed and treated for fleas approximately four times per year. Regular brushing improves circulation and is an excellent form of socializing and getting your dog used to being handled. A Simple health check to include ears, eyes, teeth and skin should be carried out once a week.
About the author : Vikki has successfully owned, bred and shown bullmastiffs for fifteen years and along with partner Bill Warren owns the well known Copperfield Bullmastiff Kennel which was established by Billís father in 1947.