Courageous guard dogs and loyal companions, bullmastiffs boast imposing physiques. These muscular dogs are protective of their owners and wary of strangers. They can be excellent pets for experienced owners who are able to train them. However, they are not suited to households with small children or other pets.
Which breed group is the bullmastiff in?
Breed group: Working
Bullmastiff breed history
Created by crossing mastiff type dogs with old English bulldogs in the 19th century, the bullmastiff was evolved to provide the perfect dog for gamekeepers. It was important that the dogs were capable of guarding livestock and standing up to poachers. Bullmastiffs proved to be courageous and loyal dogs that served their masters well. The breed was officially recognised in 1925 and the preference was for a dark brindle coat which provided excellent camouflage at night.
When the incidence of poaching declined, the bullmastiff found a new role as a guard dog and then became popular as a family pet.
Bullmastiff breed characteristics
Powerful and muscular, bullmastiffs are impressive and even intimidating dogs with a square heads and wrinkled faces. They boast short muzzles, broad noses and wide nostrils. Their distinctive V-shaped ears are set high on the head and are folded back. Cat-like arched feet also characterise this breed. Bullmastiffs have short, highly weather-resistant coats which can be brindle, fawn or red. Muzzles may be of the same colour as the rest of the coat or black.
Loyal and devoted companions, bullmastiffs can be excellent pets which are good with older children. They don’t tend to be barkers and they are very protective of their family. However, they can be aggressive to other animals and are often stubborn.
- Lifespan: 8-10 years
- Height: up to 69cm
- Weight: up to 60kg
- Square heads
- Wrinkled faces
- V-shaped ears set high and folded back
- Short coats
- Fawn, bridle or red
- Don’t tend to bark
- Can be aggressive to other animals
- Wary of strangers
Health issues with bullmastiffs
As with many breeds, bullmastiffs are prone to several hereditary health issues, the most common of which are:
- Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Persistent pupillary membrane (PPM)
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA-rho)
- Canine multi-focal retinopathy (CMR)
- Dominant Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA-D)
- Bloat/gastric torsion
- Skin Allergies
- Kidney Stones
- Cervical Malformation
What is the bullmastiff bred for?
Bullmastiffs were originally bred to assist gamekeepers. They would guard livestock and tackle poachers by pinning them down. The breed combined the speed and power of the bulldog with the less aggressive nature of the mastiff.
What sort of owners does the bullmastiff suit?
This distinctive breed can be a great choice for the right owners. Bullmastiffs are loyal and protective of their family and are excellent guard dogs. But they are powerful animals which are boisterous as puppies and so not suited to households with small children. They are relatively low maintenance but may drool and can be costly to feed. These dogs are not suited to homes with pets as they could be aggressive towards other animals and their stubborn streak can make training difficult.
As bullmastiffs were bred to tackle poachers, they can be wary of or aggressive towards strangers. They require only a moderate amount of exercise but don’t cope well with being left at home on their own. These dogs are happiest in homes with secure gardens where at least one member of the household is with them all day.