Mastiffs Fought Gladiators and Made Good War Dogs Way Back When

Posted by Christy Caplan
Mastiff Dog Breed Profile

Is the Bullmastiff, Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, or Tibetan Mastiff right for you and your family? We know some Mastiff breed enthusiasts that wouldn't live with any other breed

Why don't we start with general grooming, appearance, and details for each Mastiff breed! Do you have a fave? This massive breed is part of the working group. The breed has a fascinating history as they were used as guard dogs and hunted lions. They were also used to fight gladiators and considered war dogs.

1. Bullmastiff

Bullmastiff

The AKC tells us that the Bullmastiff is very intelligent.

"These massive canines mature between 100 and 130 pounds, with males averaging at 120 pounds and 26 inches tall. Like their close relative the Mastiff, Bullmastiffs have a black face mask. The accepted colors in the breed standard are fawn, red, and fawn and red brindle, and they have powerful athletic bodies."

They're relatively quiet and they use their sheer size to intimidate intruders. The best advice is to keep them lean.

2. Mastiff

Mastiff Dog

His roots go back to ancient civilizations.

Check out the size of this dog! Mastiffs come in apricot, brindle, and fawn coloring with a black mask and can weigh anywhere from 120 to 230 pounds, but despite their warrior pasts, Mastiffs are generally good-natured peaceful family-oriented dogs.

It's hard to differentiate between Mastiffs and the Bullmastiff but weight is clearly how you can tell them apart.

3. Neapolitan Mastiff

Neapolitan Mastiff

Everyone recognizes this Mastiff. The roots go back to the Roman dogs of war.

They weigh-in at over 150 pounds. The AKC also tells us that training is important at a young age with this Mastiff breed too.

"Neapolitan Mastiff comes in black, blue, mahogany, brindle, and tawny coloring, and are naturally watchful, dignified, and loyal companions. Like all mastiff breeds, they require training andsocialization at a young ageto help them master their protective instincts."

Don't y0u want to snuggle with this guy?

4. Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff

Last, but not least!  What's so unique about this breed is they need to survive in the high mountains where there is less oxygen. How did this come about? LiveScience has a fascinating article about their genetics.

"Tibetan mastiffs are monstrous dogs that survive high in the mountains, and now we know their ability to thrive in such harsh and low-oxygen environs comes from an extra shot of wolfishness in their genes."

"According to a paper published July 30 in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, we know why: At some point in the past, the dogs interbred with Tibetan wolves, and their descendants inherited gene mutations that code for two amino acids ⁠-- small pieces of a protein ⁠-- that make Tibetan mastiffs' blood better at capturing and releasing oxygen."

Common Questions about Mastiffs

1. How much is a Tibetan Mastiff?

Spend on Pets confirms that these dogs are pricey!

"The average cost for its puppy can average anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000. Pups from top breed lines can go as high as $7,500 or even more."

2. Are Mastiffs aggressive?

First, I don't love this question. Yet it's #2 in a Google search for this breed so we need to address it. Petful helped us answer this and they are not aggressive in nature. Their natural guarding instinct means they will not attack but instead do whatever is necessary to defend. It's all about training! Make sure to teach them training commands when they're a puppy!

3. Are Mastiffs lazy?

Mastiffs are like our Basset Hound mix. They tend to be lazy and you don't want them to gain a lot of weight! Make sure they get daily exercise.

4. Other health concerns? 

Oh! I don't like this answer at all. Canna-Pet tells us that the largest health concern is canine cancer. Bone cancer and lymphosarcoma are also top on the list so make sure you talk to your vet about this when you bring home your Mastiff.

5. Do Mastiffs drool? Do they shed? 

Yes and yes! Mastiffs drool and they also have gas. This breed isn't a dog you should consider if drool bothers you in any way.

Mastiffs are known to have an easy-care coat, but they shed heavily.

You need to be aware of health concerns like bloat (gastric torsion), hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia so be sure to talk with your vet about your Mastiff puppy and any potential health problems that need to be on your radar.

You should also talk to your breeder or breed rescue about dog food since keeping this breed lean is a real priority for owners. Regular exercise is key! They make a good watchdog so make sure your new pup also goes to obedience training when they're tiny as the American Kennel Club recommends this for all four of the breeds we talked about in this article. Their trainability is off the charts.

This gentle giant will need your attention as well and they're not outdoor pets but need to live indoors as the Mastiff Club of America will tell you that all that slobber will need a quick clean up every few hours. There are so many coat colors to choose from and that short coat is easy to take care of but this dog breed is likely not for someone owning their very first dog.

Other large dogs or a giant breed to consider include the Great Dane, or if you want a smaller sturdy breed look at the Bulldog too.

Have you lived with a Mastiff breed? Let us know in the comments.

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Mastiffs Fought Gladiators and Made Good War Dogs Way Back When