Spartan Dogs - English Mastiff 

Category: Dogs, Molossers, Mastiffs, England, Europe, Family Dog, Protect Dog, War Dog, Hunting Dog, Fighting Dog

English Mastiff / Mastiff
Names English Mastiff, Mastiff, Enskur Mastiff, Mastín Inglés, Koirarotu, Mastiffi, Mastin Anglese, Engelsk Mastiff
Origins England
Tasks Family Dog, Protect Dog, War Dog, Hunting Dog, Fighting Dog
Height 76-91 cm / 70-85 cm
Weight 72-90 kg / 63-81 kg
Lifespan 8-10 years
Group Molossers, Mastiffs

The English Mastiff or Mastiff (aka Old English Mastiff) is a large sized, short coated, robust, muscular dog that was developed in England. The English Mastiff is an ancient breed in the past was used for hunting big game and guarding the house and yard, and was even used in medieval battle. Nowadays the Mastiff is a show and family dog, but is occasionally used as a protect or watch dog.

English Mastiff History

The Mastiff has quite a violent past in the service of mankind.

Their predecessors, Molosser dogs can be seen on ancient Babylonian relics (around 2000 BC) and Assyrian sculptures (around 650 BC). These dogs were used as war dogs. The Greeks were next in line that prominently used these dogs and gave the Molossers their name.

These Molosser dogs were brought to Britain by Phoenician traders about 500 BC. The British liked these dogs, their impressive size and brutal strength were exactly what fitted in with the culture at the time. Organized fights against various animals, such as bears and between dogs were very popular dog activities in those days and made sure they were fit and dangerous when used as protectors or war dogs.

As the Romans came to Brittain, they found this variant then known as a Mastiff to be quite interesting. When the Roman empire grew its most powerful, the Mastiff became known and respected as both a war-dog and fighting dog. During the Roman occupation of Britain (55 BC - 415 AD) lots of these dogs were exported from Britain to Rome. The dogs mixed with the Roman dogs or more pure had to fight against foes like lions or whatever the Romans brought to the the local Arena from their long and numerous expeditions. Roman officers used these strong and heavy dogs for war and protection, often owning personal dogs. They used special equipment and training. Stories of dogs saving their masters in military battle made sure the Mastiff became the favorite dog even of the Ceasar himself.

Much later this continued with knights using these dogs as an aid in their battles, especially handy to protect them when fallen from their horse and to protect their property in their spare time. During the fifteenth century a large part of the English population were desperately poor with a small part comparitively extremely rich. The upper classes owned most of the important forest areas, and it was illegal to hunt there and they even released home bred deer and the like in these parts. Some landowners used Mastiffs to stop illegal hunting by the poor. During the middela ges the mastiff was used as a hunting dog for big game. There was even a law at the time that mastiff were the only dogs allowed to enter the landowners' property.

With modern times came less use for the big expensive dogs, in by the time of the first part of the 20th century, only a small number of Mastiffs still existed. A few people in England decided to try to save the breed from disappearing for good. They started trying to rebuild an imposing dog and "improve" the size the remaining Mastiff by mixing blood from shorthaired Saint Bernhards. Right before the second World War, the rebuild breed was no longer that rare and were prominently featured on dogs shows, which seemed their newfound task at the time. But as the war started and hunger became common these big and much eating dogs often were the first that had to go.

In October 1946, London, fifteen Mastiff enthusiasts gathered for the first time since 1939, now with a mission; to save the around 20 remaining but old English Mastiffs from extinction. A male called Tarsus was used, as well as two puppies from the District of Columbia (USA). As they again used other breeds, Great Dane, Bullmastiif and Saint Bernhard numbers rose from 15 (1949) to 50 (1950).

The breed is not common in any parts of the world, there are about 1000 dogs in the UK, and that number is the same in the rest of the western countries in comparison with the countries' population. In Norway for example there are less than 100 English Mastiffs. In our time the Mastiff has become a show and family dog, but he is still used as a watch or more so protect dog should the occasion arive.

English Mastiff Appearance

Body: the English Mastiff, also called Old English Mastiff, has a solid, broad, deep, long and powerful body. He must be big and heavy and powerful in a proportionate build. The back and loins are broad and very muscular, with bitches it runs quite flat and broad and slightly curved in males. The flanks are deep. Mastiffs have a high set tail which extends to the hocks or slightly further. The tail is broad at the root and ends in a point. The tail hangs straight down at rest, but when the dog is alert, it shows an upwards curve. The tail should never be worn on the back. The broad and deep chest sinks far between the legs. The ribs are well arched and rounded. The chest should be about one third more than shoulder height. The heavily muscled shoulders are placed oblique. The legs are straight and upright. Placed widely spaced, with large bones. The feet are large and round with well arched toes. The moderately long neck is slightly arched and very muscular. The size of the neck is usually 2.5 to 5 centimeter less than the circumference of the skull (measured just before the ears).

Head: the head when faced from every side should make a square and wide impression. The smooth forehead only shows wrinkles when the dog is alerted by something. The eyebrows slightly breach the rest of the fur and the stop is clearly marked, but does not start too abruptly. The large, blunt muzzle is broad and square below the eyes and is almost proportional to the nose. The upper lips droop slightly over the lower lips. The small ears appear thin when touched and they are set far apart. They are set at the highest points on the side of the skull. They are carried hanging against the cheeks. The small eyes are wide apart and the eyelids may not be sagging or be left open. Mastiffs have a scissors or slightly undershot bite, but never so much that the teeth are visible when the mouth is closed.

Height at Withers: the dogs have a shoulderheight of 76 up to 91 (22.8 to 26.4 inches) centimetres and bitches measure 70 up to 85 centimetres (22.4 to 25.6 inches).

Weight: for dogs it's between 72 to 90 kg (115 and 154 lbs) and bitches are between 63 to 81 kg (99 to 133 lbs).

Coat: the short coat may not be too thin or too fine at the shoulders, neck or back.

Colors: the Mastiff is apricot in color, black, yellow and apricot brindle or yellow brindle. They always have a black mask and black ears. The black around the eyes should stretch upwards between the eyes.

English Mastiff Temperament

Character: English Mastiffs are very quiet, dignified, calm and confident dogs. They are stable in character and, when they have reached adulthood, not easily impressed. They are very gentle and affectionate to their own people, and do not like being left alone. They guard their family members, the house and yard excellently and convincing, but they do this in a very calm and controlled manner. It is not their style to leaping against the garden fence while foaming to bark at every passersby. They bark very little anyway and they know very well that their appearance alone sufficiently deter potential wrongdoers. Furthermore, they are certainly intelligent dogs. They are usually docile and obedient.

Social Build: if well socialized and raised a Mastiff will not give problems when dealing with peers. They have little or no hunting instinct and can therefore do very well with cats and other pets. Yet a thorough socialization is required. Towards children an English Mastiff is usually good-natured, patient and friendly. When strangers visit the Mastiff will initially monitor him before taking action and when the boss says it's alright, he will respect his opinion. Mastiffs are not unfriendly towards people. Acquaintances of the family are normally welcomed enthusiastically.

English Mastiff Socially

Care: the grooming of these colossal dogs does not require much. It's enough when the coat is brushed once a week with a hairbrush. In the shedding period, a rubber glove or rubber massage brush is very useful to effectively remove the dead and loose hairs from the coat. A soft berth, for example a mattress, prevents unsightly calluses on the pressure points from developing. With the size or number of meals of a Mastiff in growth should never, ever be skimped (don't go overboard either). The dog grows relatively quickly and certainly needs high quality materials to grow up strong and sound. It is therefore advisable to give the young dog well dosed movement and prevent him or her from getting too tired. Like many others molossian the Mastiff has a high pain threshold and they are also very hard on themselves. An illness or injury can therefore sometimes only be easily noticed at a late stage.

Education: an English Mastiff should be raised with caution and be kept in peace and harmony. Consistency and lots of love and understanding are the keywords. Harsh words and ditto penalties are unnecessarily damaging to your relation with the dog, these dogs are extremely sensitive for this. You can achieve more when you make it very clear when the dog does well in your eyes and the training is done a fun and cheerful way. Teach the young dog, if necessary, to do not pull on the leash, because once they reach adulthood Mastiffs are too strong for this behavior to be corrected normally. Mastiff puppies can be a bit shy and need encouragement. Spend considerable time for proper socialization and building a strong self-confidence, it will make these dogs into great pets and balanced gaurdians.

Activity: an adult Mastiff has an average need for exercise. It is enough when the dog is taken for a walk at regular intervals and also a few times a week without a leash where allowed, so that it can run and play. They usually do not really like ball games and various trainings. The young Mastiff should be properly guided in its movements, as this breed is grows rapidly. When the dog is forced or gets really tired at a young age, this could have effect on the development of bones, tendons and muscles.

Usability: as a family dog for people who have enough space both inside and around the house, he will best hold his own and will do all he can to protect his owner and family, and he gladly watches over their beloved property.

English Mastiff Quotes / Trivia

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