"Gentle Gladiator"

Photo of Mastiff


Originally Mastiffs were bred in Europe to be guardians at mansions, act as war dogs and to participate in bloody “sports” fighting large animals such as bears or lions and sometimes human gladiators. Records show British breeding back to the 1400s. The breed's roots go back to the mollossers of ancient times such as the Tibetan Mastiff, perhaps as much as 4000 years ago. Thankfully, the blood sports are in the past, and today's Mastiffs are satisfied to bark warnings at their abodes, no matter how humble.


Well-bred lines are calm and content with their family, accepting new people when properly introduced. They're mellow and many are happy just watching family ballgames from the sidelines, cheering their kids on with a wag or a woof. Some, however, might happily join in to steal the ball or play a short game. They know how to conserve their energy and those that enjoy activity such as weight pulling or obedience will be found wisely sneaking a cat-nap during down times. Some lines are more dominant and can be aggressive, so research before buying is highly recommended. When a dog can look you straight in the eye, good temperament is essential.


The apricot, fawn or brindle Mastiff is short-haired, with a long tail. Ideally the dog is well-muscled, but poor genetics or lazy living may produce a dog with problems caused by flabby muscles trying to support a large weight and big bones. Mastiffs have a distinct black mask and the hanging, medium sized ears are usually dark as well.


It's always good to have a dog behave well, and when it's a large dog, it's imperative. A Mastiff might have to be coaxed to participate but training forms a strong bond built between owner and canine, as well as knowledge about just who's the leader of the pack. Luckily, Mastiffs are low key and fairly easy to train.

Grooming & Care

As with most short-haired dogs, shedding is almost continual, so frequent brushing or slicking with a hound glove is more necessary for the sanity of the owner than for the sake of the dog. Mastiff owners have the choice of living with slobber or carrying a scrub bucket and towel.

Health Concerns

Often the larger the breed, the more the possible problems. Parents should be OFA and CERF certified clear. Mastiffs are prone to several bone problems, torsion, spinal and heart disorders and hypothyroidism.

Famous Mastiff

Zorba, the heaviest dog according to The Guinness Book of World Records, at 315 pounds and 37” high.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 3
Schedule 5
Home 44
Children 48
Experience 11
Quick Facts
Grooming 13
Exercise 62
Challenges Can be territorial, protective, and extremely messy (but lovable).
Height 27 to 30 inches
Weight 175 to 190 pounds
Life 5 to 10 years
Home Alone 20
With Kids 114
With Strangers 113
Availability 95

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

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