The Bullmastiff was developed by English gamekeepers during the 19th century to help protect game preserves from poachers. These poachers sought game for food and profit. They did so with the help of a dog known as a Lurcher, a cross between a Shepherd and Greyhound. Lurchers were trained to drive game into traps set by the poacher and also to attack on command. The gamekeeper needed a quiet, fearless dog with enough speed, strength and size to overpower the Lurcher, then catch and hold (but not maul) the poacher. At the same time, it had to possess a stable, trainable temperament so it wouldn’t attack innocent travelers on public footpaths that often ran through the preserves from one village to another. In addition, the dog would be living with the gamekeeper’s family, which made stability and good temperament very important.
Several breeds were tried and eventually a cross between the English Mastiff and the English bulldog worked best. The Mastiff possessed courage, power, and size but lacked the speed and aggressiveness needed. The Bulldog (quite different than the English Bulldog of today) was strong and tenacious, but a little too fierce and lacked size. Combining the two produced what the gamekeeper wanted and the Bullmastiff was born. The early Bullmastiffs were bred for utility, not looks. Since their work was often done at night (hence the early nickname, "Gamekeeper’s Night-Dog") the dark brindle color was preferred for stealth. Eventually, as poaching began to disappear, the Bullmastiff came into demand as a guard dog and the light fawn color became popular. Appearance became a higher priority and breeding efforts focused on achieving a specific type that would establish the Bullmastiff as a pure bred dog. In 1924 the English Kennel Club granted that recognition, followed in 1933 by the American Kennel Club.
The current AKC standard for Bullmastiffs allows for three colors: Red, fawn, or brindle. The foundation breeding is stated as 60% Mastiff and 40% Bulldog. Size for dogs is 25" to 27" at the withers, and 110 to 130 pounds, for bitches it’s 24" to 26" and 100 to 120 pounds. The general appearance is to be symmetrical, showing great strength, endurance and alertness, powerfully built and active.
| BULLMASTIFF FOR YOU?
Here are three facts:
• Bullmastiffs are big, powerful, loving dogs that can steal your heart and make you wonder how you ever lived without them.
• Bullmastiffs are big, powerful, loving dogs that require a lot of time, attention and care and make you wonder why you ever got hooked.
• Bullmastiffs are big, powerful, loving dogs that aren’t for everyone.
Did you get that "big, powerful" part? Let’s start there. These dogs weigh between 100 to 130+ pounds of mostly muscle. They’re very confident. Which means they can be very strong willed. Which means there is going to be a battle over who’s in charge. If you’re up to the challenge, then the Bullmastiff may be right for you.
Then there’s that word…"loving". Bullmastiffs thrive on sharing family life and affection. They’re faithful, loyal, sensitive, and intelligent. They’re expressive and fun…they make great buddies. They’re courageous, discerning and protective of their family…they make great guardians. But they need love, affection and inclusion as a family member. If that’s the kind of environment you plan to provide, then the bullmastiff may be right for you.
Bullmastiffs generally cost $1,500 to $2500, but that is just the beginning. They can eat 4-8 cups of dry food a day and a Bullmastiff has never met a treat he didn’t like. (They also love veggies as treats…broccoli, carrots, and green beans…and they’re better for them.) If you buy a Bullmastiff, you have to buy leashes, collars, (they outgrow them about every 6-8 weeks) and a crate (large portable kennel). Crate training is a must if you expect your house and belongings to survive puppyhood. And don’t forget chew bones, fluffy toys, pig ears, all those spendy little things that empty your wallet but make your bully happy. How about Vet bills? In addition to a series of vaccinations in the puppy’s first 6 months of life, there are always those unexpected little emergencies. Sometimes it’s just easier to offer to make your Vet’s house payment for him. If you’re prepared to make this kind of ongoing investment, the bullmastiff may be right for you.
Another must…obedience training. Obedience with a Bullmastiff is like voting in Chicago…you need to do it early and often. At 4 months, you’re still bigger and stronger than your bullmastiff and it’s a lot easier to teach him who’s boss and good manners then when he weighs 130 pounds. Remember, good obedience training really trains YOU how to control your dog. It takes time and effort. It’s not much fun to work all day then go to obedience class at 7:00 PM for two hours so your dog can humiliate you. But, if you have the determination to do it and the will to maintain obedience control, the bullmastiff may be for you.
Another must…socializing. Actually, this can be fun. It involves getting your bullmastiff out with other dogs and people. This means taking him to fairs, shopping walks, anywhere he can meet new people and other dogs. Why is this important? Bullmastiffs, upon maturity (about 18-24 months) can show signs of dog aggression. Only some Bullmastiffs develop this problem, and proper socialization early on can help combat it. If you like the idea of getting out in public places with your pooch, the Bullmastiff may be for you.
What kind of physical environment will you provide your dog? Bullmastiffs do best when they live WITH the family. Usually, that means in the house… not outside in a kennel, never on the end of a chain, and never to run free in the neighborhood. Fenced yards are great… if the fence is 6’ or higher and the yard is large enough. If you don’t have a good-sized fenced yard, then your dog (any dog for that matter, not just a Bullmastiff) will need to be walked and exercised. Do you fill the bill in these areas? If so, the Bullmastiff may be for you.
Ok, if you’ve made it this far, you’re ready for the final test. How do you feel about drool? Remember the scene in "Turner and Hooch" (Hooch was a Dogue de Bordeaux, similar to a Bullmastiff) when Hooch shook his head and "slingers" flew everywhere? Get the picture? Bullmastiffs drool, some more than others. And when they drink water, they like to come over and share their experience with you afterwards. On the other hand, Bullies are clean dogs, don’t require a lot of grooming, and they are shorthaired so shedding isn’t too bad.
Oh and one other thing. When they love you, they’ll give their life for you. They will be the best friend you’ll ever have. If all that sounds good, then definitely, the Bullmastiff is the right dog for you.
For other insight about whether a Bullmastiff is right for you visit the ABA website: www.bullmastiff.us