By Macy Gen Veterinary AssistantMacy Gen Last updated: 27th October 2022

English Mastiff


Macy Gen Veterinary Assistant Macy Gen
Last updated: 27th October 2022

One of the most ancient breeds of dogs, the English Mastiff is renowned for its large size, gentle and docile demeanor as well as a protective nature towards its kith and kin.

English Mastiff Pictures

Quick Information

Other namesOld English Mastiff, Mastiff
CoatOuter coat: Coarse, straight and of a short length; Undercoat: Short, dense, closely fit
ColorApricot, fawn, brindle
Breed typePurebred
Average lifespan (How long do they live)7 to 12 years
Size Big
Height of a full grown English Mastiff (How long do they grow)Male: About30.5 inches; Female: About 27.5 inches
Weight of a full grown English Mastiff
(How big do they get)
Male: 150 to 250 pounds
Female: 120 to 180 pounds
Litter sizeApproximately 8 puppies
Behavioral characteristicsCourageous, docile, good-natured, dignified
Good with childrenYes preferably older kids
Barking tendencyLow
Climate compatibility Cannot adapt well to hot and humid climate
Shedding (Do they shed)Moderately high but excessive in spring and fall
Competitive Registration Qualification/ InformationFCI, CKC, AKC, ANKC, NZKC, UKC, KC (UK)

What does an English Mastiff look like

Powerful, large, massive with a symmetrical body, these dogs are characterized by the following physical features:

Head: Broad and massive mostly of a square shape.

Eyes: Medium size, widely set though not prominent, bearing an alert but gentle expression.

Ears: Small in size when compared to its skull, v-shaped and round to the tip.

Neck: Powerful and muscular being slightly arched.

Tail: Moderately high, being slightly curved.

Video of English Mastiff Puppies

History and Origin

While talking about these dogs, we should not confuse them with the mastiff breeds that are a term to refer to most large and sturdy canines. These dogs do have an ancient history and can be traced back to the Mesopotamian civilization as early as the sixth century B.C., where dogs similar to the Mastiffs of the modern time were said to have existed, though there is a lack of genetic evidence to prove this fact.

Their existence in Britain can be recorded from the time of Julius Caesar when the latter had invaded the country. He was charmed by the protective nature of the mastiffs, also mentioning them in his journal. In medieval England, they were used for hunting big games, guarding estates as well as during wartime.

They were referred to as Alaunts (an extinct breed developed by the Iranian nomads or Alans who inhabited parts of France) in Chaucer’s Canterbury tales who even spoke about their ability to hunt deer or lions.

Post the Second World War there was a depletion in their numbers with only 14 of them remaining. It was the initiatives of the breeders of the United States which helped in reviving the breed. AKC recognized it in 1885 with the formation of the Mastiff Club of America in the year 1929. Presently it ranks 32nd of the 155 AKC recognized breeds.

English Mastiff Mixes

Temperament and Personality

They are grand, dignified and courageous. The English Mastiff is suspicious when it comes to strangers, though well-socialized dogs would remain politely aloof rather getting aggressive and would notify his master only if there is any threat, qualifying as great guard and watchdogs. They are peace-loving dogs and would always interfere whenever they come across any dispute between a husband and a wife or a parent scolding a child. The English Mastiff is great with kids though older ones are well suited than the little kids as these large dogs could knock down the young ones in pursuit of play.  They are even known to share a good relation with other canines as well as cats.



These guard dogs have a moderate to low exercise requirement sufficing with a brisk walk on a daily basis alongside adequate playtime.  They would do well in apartments when their energy is channelized positively. However, ensure that you do not overexert the puppies and make sure that they are not running a lot at least in the initial two years of their life as that could trigger joint problems in them. Moreover, avoid taking them out when the weather is too hot as they are known to get clumsy or drowsy when overheated.


Being short and dense, their coat can be groomed easily, requiring a weekly or bi-weekly combing using a brush with soft bristles or a hound glove. However, during the shedding season that is spring and fall combing should be done on a regular basis. Use a damp washcloth to clean its wrinkles well to minimize the chances of bacterial infections. Other grooming needs include trimming its ears, brushing its teeth as well as cleaning its ears and eyes on a regular basis.

Note: When choosing their bed for sleeping, make sure you give them a soft surface to lie on lest they could develop arthritis, hygroma, and calluses.

Health Problems

Some of the problems they might suffer from include, gastric torsion, hip dysplasia, obesity, cardiomyopathy, elbow dysplasia, hyperthyroidism, and progressive retinal atrophy.


Though gentle in outlook they could sometimes be stubborn thus needing a firm hand to tackle them.

  • Socialization training from the onset of their puppy days would help the English Mastiff to interact well with guests and recognize the wrongdoers right away.
  • You should train them on commands since their puppy days so that they learn to obey you and do not resort to any destructive activities.


Since they tend to get obese and might even suffer from a severe kind of bloating which could prove fatal for them, you should be careful while choosing a diet for them. Give your English Mastiff a meat-based meal containing 21 to 25% protein and 8 to 10% fat. However, do not give the older dogs more than 21% protein as this could lead to hepatic and renal failure.

Bull Mastiff vs. English Mastiff

  • Size: Mastiff is more massive in comparison to the Bull Mastiff
  • Temperament: Mastiff gets along well with other dogs and cats, but the bull mastiff does not.
  • Health Problems: Mastiff is prone to obesity than the bull mastiff.

Interesting Facts

  • Hercules an English Mastiff, having a weight of 282 pounds was regarded as the biggest dog in the world according to the Guinness World Records.
  • They have made their appearance in a host of books and films one of them being the tory of Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches, where it is named as Carlo.

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