The largest of all breeds, Mastiffs can tip the scales at over 300 pounds! They are among the most ancient of breeds, offspring of the ancient molossers, from which numerous “bully and mastiff” type breeds were created. These giants are typically very loving, calm and make great family pets, but early socialization and training is key, especially of the more dominant mastiff breeds such as Tosa Inus, Cane Corsos and others, which require a strong and strong willed owner.
Mastiffs make great family pets, but understand that due to their size, they may inadvertently knock over small children, so be aware of them around kids. Generally, they are very patient and loving with children. They will do fine in apartment or condo settings, but require a daily walk for their overall well-being. Be well aware that this is a drooling breed, so if you’re not ready for a lot of drool, this breed may not be the right choice. Drool rags are key with most mastiff breeds.
Mastiffs make great guardians of the home as well. They will rarely attack and need little training to naturally guard, as their sheer size will deter most people. Most mastiffs will hold an intruder at bay until their master arrives.
These giants are easily trained, but require consistent and firm methods to achieve the desired results. Mastiffs can be a dominant breed, so it’s key that any owners establish themselves as the leader or “alpha” of the house. Under no circumstances should you allow your mastiff to make his or her own decisions. Humans and owners should always hold a place higher in the pecking order than a dog. Define and set your standards and lines early to establish respect. Owners desiring their mastiffs to be around other dogs should practice socialization early so as to avoid dominance issues.
This breed loves to be around its family and is not suited to long periods of time at home alone or confinement outdoors. This type of treatment can easily lead to separation anxiety or aggression, which can be a major problem for an owner of such a massive dog. Crate training can help with separation anxiety, but sometimes finding a crate to house a mastiff is not so easy. If you do crate train your mastiff, start early and be consistent with it.
Mastiffs are generally a fairly health breed, but do have some inherent health problems to be aware of. First, these dogs are subject to bloat, which is a dangerous and potentially deadly condition in which the stomach stretches and can actually turn and twist, cutting off circulation, leading to eventual cardiac arrest. This can happen extremely quickly, but can be avoided with these simple precautions. Do not exercise your mastiff for at least one hour prior to and after feeding. Avoid dog foods that are high in grain as this can cause fermentation in the stomach, which can cause excess gases to build up. Finally, avoid feeding very large meals. Instead, try to feed two smaller meals per day. Mastiffs are also prone to hip dysplasia, so keep their weight down and avoid excessive and high impact exercise.
With their short coat, Mastiffs are easy to care for, but will shed. Due to their quick rate of growth, Mastiffs should be fed a low protein, low fat and low calcium diet for the first 2 years of their life. Puppies should be fed small meals spaced out over the course of the day. Adults can be fed less frequently, but should have at least 2 meals spaced out per day. Never overfeed your mastiff to help them grow. This will only cause them health problems and decrease their longevity.
Following these guidelines and also adhering to the advice of your vet, breeders and or rescue organization will go a long way to helping your Mastiff live a full and happy life.