The words Dog Breed Info with the letter D inside of a black paw print

The Purebred English Mastiff

Information and Pictures

Side view - A tan with black Mastiff is standing in grass and it is looking up and to the left. There is a person holding its head up to pose it in a stack.

Sassy the Mastiff came in 3rd overall at the National Mastiff Specialty with 79 entries. Ch. SalidaDelSol MistyTrails Sassy R.O.M., photo courtesy of MistyTrails Mastiffs

Other Names
  • English Mastiff
  • Old English Mastiff



The Old English Mastiff is a massive dog. The Mastiff has a large, heavy, square head with a well-marked stop between the eyes. The muzzle should be half the length of the skull. The medium-sized brown to dark hazel eyes are set wide apart with a black mask around them. The nose is dark in color. The small, V-shaped ears are in proportion with the skull and are dark in color. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite but a slightly undershot bite is also acceptable in the show ring providing the teeth do not show when the mouth is closed. The tail is high-set with a wide base, tapering to a point and reaching the hocks. Coat colors include golden fawn, light fawn, apricot, silver, tiger or brindle.


The Mastiff is a very massive, powerful, muscular dog. Dominance levels vary, even within the same litter, but it is often called a gentle giant. A born guard dog, the Mastiff rarely barks, but it is in its nature to defend its territory and family, and is more a silent guard rather than a barker. When an intruder is caught the dog is more likely to hold them at bay, either by trapping them in a corner or lying on top of them rather than an all-out attack. You do not need to train your Mastiff to guard. No matter how friendly it is, if it senses danger it will naturally guard on its own unless the owners are there to tell it otherwise. Self-confident and watchful, these dogs are patient and considered excellent with children. Intelligent, calm, even-tempered and docile, this breed is very large and heavy. They respond well to firm, but gentle, patient training. They love to please and need a lot of human leadership. Socialize them well to prevent them from becoming aloof with strangers. Owners need to be firm, calm, consistent, confident with an air of natural authority to communicate to the Mastiff that dominance is unwanted. If socialized with proper leadership it will get along well with other dogs. The Mastiff tends to drool, wheeze and snore loudly. It can be somewhat difficult to train. The objective in training this dog is to achieve pack leader status. It is a natural instinct for a dog to have an order in its pack. When we humans live with dogs, we become their pack. The entire pack cooperates under a single leader. Lines are clearly defined and rules are set. Because a dog communicates his displeasure with growling and eventually biting, all other humans MUST be higher up in the order than the dog. The humans must be the ones making the decisions, not the dogs. That is the only way your relationship with your dog can be a complete success.

Height, Weight

Height: Males from 30 inches (76 cm) Females from 27 inches (69 cm)
Weight: Males about 160 pounds (72 kg) Females about 150 pounds (68 kg)
One of the heaviest breeds, a male Mastiff can exceed 200 pounds.

Health Problems

Beware of hip dysplasia. As these dogs are prone to bloat, feed two or three small meals a day, instead of one large one. Also prone to CHD, gastric torsion, ectropion, PPM, vaginal hyperplasia, elbow dysplasia and PRA. Occasionally seen is cardiomyopathy.

Living Conditions

The Mastiff will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. They are relatively inactive indoors and a small yard will do.


Mastiffs are inclined to be lazy but they will keep fitter and happier if given regular exercise. Like all dogs, the American Mastiff should be taken on daily regular walks to help release its mental and physical energy. It's in a dog’s nature to walk. While out on the walk the dog must be made to heel beside or behind the person holding the lead, as in a dog's mind the leader leads the way, and that leader needs to be the human. They should always be leashed in public.

Life Expectancy

About 10-12 years

Litter Size

About 5 to 10 puppies


The smooth, short-haired coat is easy to groom. Brush with a firm bristle brush and wipe over with a piece of toweling or chamois for a gleaming finish. Bathe or dry shampoo when necessary. This breed is an average shedder.


The English Mastiff was founded in Britain. A very old breed, it was depicted in Egyptian monuments as early as 3000 BC. The breed fought alongside British soldiers in 55 BC. Caesar brought a pack of Mastiffs to Rome where the dogs were put on display as arena gladiators and forced to be in fights with human gladiators, lions, bull baiting, bear baiting and in dog-to-dog combat. They later became popular with the peasants in England where they were used as a bodyguard, protector of wolves and other dangerous predators and as a companion dog. In the eighteenth century the Mastiff was described: "As a lion is to a cat, so is a mastiff compared to a dog." It is believed that a Mastiff came to America on the Mayflower. Later more were imported. Like most breeds by the end of World War ll, the breed was almost extinct in England. Dogs were imported from the USA and Canada and are once again well established in England. Some of the Mastiff's talents include: watchdog, guarding, police work, military work, search and rescue, and weight pulling.


Mastiff, AKC Working

  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
  • ACR = American Canine Registry
  • AKC = American Kennel Club
  • ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club
  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • CKC = Canadian Kennel Club
  • CKC = Continental Kennel Club
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
  • KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • NKC = National Kennel Club
  • NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club
  • UKC = United Kennel Club
A tan with black Mastiff puppy is laying in grass and looking back.

This pup was bred by MistyTrails Mastiffs. She was housebroken using the Misty Method. Shown here at 4 months old. The pup’s mother is Thumbelina who is currently showing in Canada as the number one Mastiff in the country. Photo courtesy of MistyTrails Mastiffs.

Front view head shot - A tan with black English Mastiff puppy is laying down in grass and gravel and looking off to the right.

Cora the English Mastiff puppy at 4 months old—photo courtesy of MistyTrails Mastiffs.

Front view - A tan with black English Mastiff puppy is standing in grass and looking forward.

Cora the English Mastiff puppy at 4 months old—photo courtesy of MistyTrails Mastiffs.

A tan with black English Mastiff puppy is laying on a brown linoleum floor with a white sock in its mouth. There is a pink and a baby blue plush toy behind it.

Cora the English Mastiff puppy at 2.5 months old—photo courtesy of MistyTrails Mastiffs.

A tan with black English Mastiff is laying in a parking lot and it is looking to the right of its body. Its mouth is open and tongue is out.

Duvall the purebred Mastiff at 2 years old—"Duvall is a rescue dog who is recovering from hip surgery. She is very calm and well behaved."

A tan with black English Mastiff dog is laying down with a calico cat laying curled up in front of it.

"These are pictures of my Old English Mastiff Sadie with my cat Jupe. I am sending this just to show how gentle these dogs really can be. These two are buddies. Sadie was bought from a breeder in Columbus, Ohio, and weighed in close to 170 lbs. on her last vet check-up. She is just over 2 years old in these pictures."

A calico cat is laying on its side under the head and paw of a tan with black English Mastiff on a brown carpet in a living room.

"We used "Bark Busters" techniques to train her. She is an inside/outside dog who has full roam of the yard with an invisible fence and collar. She is accompanied from a puppy by an older black Labrador Retriever. The two kittens were introduced to her when she was about 1 and a half. She has a great temperament and is very gentle and loving to all family members (including the cats)."

A tan with black English Mastiff is laying on its side in grass with a large litter of puppies who are nursing.

Sassy the English Mastiff and her litter of 11 adorable Mastiff puppies at 5 weeks old, photo courtesy of MistyTrails Mastiffs

A tan with black English Mastiff puppy is standing on a black top and looking forward.

Leo the English Mastiff puppy at 8 weeks old, weighing 14 pounds

A tan with black English Mastiff dog is laying on a human's bed that has a blue blanket on it and looking up. There is a beam of sun shining on the dog.

Leo the English Mastiff puppy at 6 months old, weighing about 60 pounds

Front-side view - A tan with black English mastiff is standing in grass and looking up. There are trees behind it.

Iron Hills Mastiffs and Argentine Dogos, photo courtesy of Phoebus

Side view - A wrinkly, tan with black English Mastiff dog is standing in grass and it is looking to the left. Its mouth is open and tongue is out.

Tigger the English Mastiff

A large droopy-looking tan with black English Mastiff is sitting in gravel and there is a person in a red shirt holding a child in a gray shirt kneeling behind it. The Mastiffs mouth is open and tongue is out. There is a gray Land Rover and a red car parked behind them.

"This is Amon, a 5-year-old Old English Mastiff (male). He is the best dog that I've ever had; very balanced and obedient. He loves everyone in the family and shows affection to everyone. He is very smart and I believe that he represents this breed very well by his looks and behavior. I rescued him 2 years ago when I bought him from a man that mistreated him. He had weighed 55 kg (121 pounds) and now he is 95 kg (209 pounds). Amon is a very happy dog and we love having him in our family, especially my son Kevin."

See more examples of the Mastiff