The Breed

The Mastiff Breed Standard

The oldest reasonably comprehensive description of a mastiff was written in 1631 by Barnaby Googs which reads as follows:

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 and 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 voyce put him to flight. His stature must neither be too long nor short, but well set; his head, great, his eyes sharp and fiery, either browne or grey; his lippes, blackish, nether jaw, fat and comming out of it on either side a fang appearing more outward than his other 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 sholders, broad; his legges, bigge, his tayle, short; his feet very great. His disposition must neither be too gentle nor too crust, 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.

An Interpretation of the Mastiff Breed Standard

An Interpretation of The Mastiff Breed Standard by Betty Baxter & David Blaxter (Illustrated)

This recreation of the illustrated interpretation of the mastiff breed standard has been greatfully granted by kind permission of both Betty Baxter and David Blaxter. Co-authors of their much loved book "The Complete Mastiff".

Anybody interested in the breed is bound to ask: How have we got the Mastiff that we see today? What has gone into the making of our dogs? Have they reached the final stage of their development, or will we try to alter them to suit our own requirements?


Is a Mastiff the dog for you?

Do think carefully before you decide whether a mastiff is the right dog for you and your circumstances.

They are very large with a corresponding appetite. They do slobber, and their saliva can, if left, remove stain and polish from your favourite antique. They do shed hair for most of the year, and their tails can clear a table in seconds. On the other hand they are very good with children and other pets providing they are brought up together. If not brought up with children they can be unaware how easily a child is knocked over. If other pets run away they will be likely to give chase, but can easily be taught not to. It is very rare to come across a bad tempered mastiff. However, there is regretfully a certain amount of timidity in the breed. The result of this is that they will love their own family dearly but rarely make friends with your visitors. This of course can be an advantage.


Raising and Training

Prior to bringing your new puppy home you should have decided on a sleeping place. The kitchen is probably best. Cardboard boxes make a good bed to start with as it doesn’t matter what they do to them. Polystyrene beans or sorbo enclosed in TWO tough covers to avoid ingestion make good bedding. Don’t be tempted to buy whicker baskets until you are sure they are out of the chewing stage. Some never are!


Showing Mastifs

Showing can be fun, rewarding (not financially), exciting and entertaining. It can also be frustrating, expensive (financially), time consuming and dull. Unless you live in a very remote area there is almost bound to be ringcraft classes near you. Contact the secretary of your local canine society. Both you and your mastiff can learn a lot by attending, especially if you are both novices. Even if you are a seasoned exhibitor going to classes will be good for the puppy (after it is fully inoculated).


A brief history of the Mastiff

I hope that there will not be, in this brief article, a disproportionate emphasis on the breeds history, but such history must be understood if our present day mastiffs are to be fully appreciated.


Breeding Mastiffs

Please consult the Mastiff Association “Code of Ethics” for information.

Space does not allow a comprehensive guide to breeding as the subject would require a complete web site. Anybody contemplating breeding is advised to read “Dogs and How to Breed Them” by Hilary Harmer before going into breeding seriously. Then examine your motives for becoming a breeder.


A Guide to Feeding Mastiffs


When rearing a Mastiff puppy it is most important to remember that you are rearing one of the largest of all dogs. Over the first year of their lives they will gain as much weight in a day as a human baby does in three weeks. Needless to say this weight should be made up of muscle and bone not fat. It is unlikely that any two breeders feed their mastiffs in exactly the same way. We all have our own theories based upon experience.

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