One of the more impressive breeds out there is an intimidating guardian called American Bandogge/Bandog.
Also known as American Bandogge Mastiff, American Mastiff, Swinford Bandog, MastiBull, or American Masti-Bull, this canine is one of your best bets to scare away would-be intruders.
But don’t run out and buy a Bandogge too quickly. Do you think you have what it takes to be its owner? Keep reading to find out.
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Is a Bandog the same as a Pit Bull?
No, they’re not. Bandogges are hodgepodges of workingand guardingbreeds. They have a long history dating back to the 1200s and are said to come from Europe, where gamekeepers used them for hunting and fighting.
In fact, “Bandog” is an Old English word that means “chain.” The term became part of this breed’s name, as many early Bandogges were kept chained during the day and let loose at night to protect the grounds.
Fast forward several centuries later to the 1960s, when John Swinford, an American veterinarian, attempted to standardize the breed.
He crossed an American Pit Bull Terrier with a Neapolitan Mastiff. The goal – to create the ultimate guard dog.
Modern Bandogges can be a mixture of several Molosser bloodlines, including:
- Cane Corso
- Mastiff (English or Neapolitan)
- Great Dane
- American Bulldog
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- Presa Canario
- Staffordshire Terrier
- Dogo Argentino
Trying to come up with a breed name that encompasses all these possibilities is a losing battle. Instead, “American Bandogge” is a catchall umbrella term that refers to combinations of any of these breeds.
Regardless of the Bandog’s particular genetics, they’re guaranteed to be a massive, domineering canine.
They have a bad reputation and are used for fighting in some parts of the US, but the truth is that a Masti-Bull with the right owner can be a gentle, loving companion.
What does a Bandogge look like?
You thought regular crossbreeds were unpredictable? The American Bandogge takes the cake. There’s almost no way to determine how they’ll look without meeting them.
MastiBull fur can be made up of any number of colors. The most common are brindle, blue or merle, fawn, red, golden, and black. Their short, rough coats often have a touch of white mixed in, but the exact pattern is totally random.
While specific characteristics are impossible to predict, the American Mastiff’s overall physical structure is more certain.
They tend to have well-proportioned, rectangular bodies. A bellowing chest and broad shoulders give the Bandog an imposing presence.
Their triangular ears sit on top of a boxy head, and their noses can be black or red, with eyes that are wide and dark. At the other end, the MastiBull’s slender tail tapers to a point.
Size: How big do American Bandogge Mastiffs get?
Bandogs are enormous. Males generally weigh a whopping 100 to 140 pounds (45 to 64 kg) and stand 19 to 30 inches (48 to 76 cm) tall.
Females aren’t much shorter than males, but they are leaner, weighing in at an average of 85 to 100 pounds (39 to 45 kg).
Despite their XXL dog breed status, Bandogges can be content in apartments or smaller homes, but only if they’re adequately exercised.
Are Bandogs dangerous?
Think of the American Mastiff as the canine version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. With their families, these dogs are gentle and kind. To strangers and potential threats, they’re downright ferocious.
Their temperament can change in an instant if they sense anything suspicious.
You may also be surprised to know that Bandogges are great with kids due to their protective, intuitive nature. They’re known as somewhat of a babysitter, earning nicknames like “Mama Bear” and the “Silent Peacekeeper.”
As delicate as your Bandog may try to be, they can’t make themselves smaller. Their massive size increases the odds that children may get hurt during play.
It’s best to supervise these interactions and to teach your little ones how to treat this giant fido to avoid accidents.
MastiBulls usually get along with other pets – if they’re raised together and socialized properly. Watch these majestic American Bandogges enjoy an afternoon play session together!
But don’t expect your Bandog to be this friendly with unknown humans or pets.
This doggo’s motto is “bite first, ask questions last.” Bred to protect and defend, they’re territorial and courageous. They don’t back down easily, and they won’t hesitate to act on a threat.
American Bandogges are infamous for neglecting the bark part of the “bark and hold.” In fact, these dogs don’t bark much. In other words, there may be no warning before they attack.
This isn’t necessarily a fault on their part. Guard dogs have to be able to think on their feet, after all. It does mean, though, that novice owners should steer clear of this breed.
Workaholics may want to reconsider getting this canine, too. Bandogges get their name from being chained up all day, but the reality is that this breed is far from solitary.
Your pet’s aggressive or destructive tendencies can worsen if he’s left by himself too often.
How to handle an American Bandogge Mastiff
Bandogs are driven and intelligent, but their willingness to please ranges from “completely docile” to “dominant alpha.”
Given their size and protective instinct, they require a veteran dog owner. Without proper training and handling, these canines can become aggressive and difficult to control.
They love attention but need authority. Use positive reinforcement to take full advantage of this. When your pup has to earn treats and playtime, he’ll be much more motivated to mind his manners.
Avoid forceful training. The last thing you want is to teach your dog to be nervous or fearful of you and other humans.
When done right, MastiBull training will channel the breed’s strengths and reinforce your position as top dog.
Puppy obedience classes can help lay a good foundation for a young Bandogge, and it will start their socialization on the right foot.
As your four-legged Hercules grows, you can look into more intense training regimens. With their working and guarding genetics, this breed excels in weight pulling, tracking, police work, and even therapy training!
Check out this video of an American Bandogge working on protection training. Not only is he practicing what he was bred to do, but he’s also entirely in tune with his handler the entire time.
The most important thing to remember is that you are the pack leader. Your MastiBull needs to see you as the boss and trust your leadership. The safety of your dog and the people around you depend on it.
Taking care of a big fido
It may be hard to believe, but American Masti-Bull upkeep isn’t terribly demanding.
Compared to all the time and energy you’ll spend on training, maintaining your Bandog’s health and appearance is a walk in the park.
Grooming: brushing and bathing your American Mastiff
Bandogges are moderate shedders. Use a rubber brush, like a grooming glove, 2 to 3 times a week to remove loose or dead fur. Wipe them down with a clean cloth to really bring out their coat’s shine.
These dogs are known to drool and get a little smelly but resist the urge to bathe your pooch too often.
If your Bandog has wrinkles, use a dog wipe or damp cloth to clean between his skin folds. It can help give him a more pleasant aroma without drying out his fur.
Nail trims can happen every month or so, but daily dental care is ideal. If getting up close and personal with a jaw that big isn’t your cup of tea, plan on brushing their teeth once or twice a week, at minimum.
Before we move on to feeding your Bandog, we should mention that grooming really needs to be introduced in puppyhood.
Unless you want a 100-pound dog running amok during bathtime or kicking at the nail clippers, that is.
Keeping your Bandog’s belly full
Big dogs eat a lot. Your American Mastiff needs 4 to 5 cups of food every day.
Split this amount into two meals, and watch for quick eating as this can exacerbate health issues. Look into slow-feed bowls if your MastiBull scarfs down his kibble.
These heavy droolers are frequently thirsty and rarely drink slobbered-in water. Supplying your Bandog with fresh, clean water might feel like a second job, but they’ll appreciate your effort.
Do Bandogges need a lot of exercise?
Bandogge Mastiffs are fairly active. They don’t necessarily need a huge yard, but they can be destructive without regular activity. Plan on 45 minutes to 1 hour of daily exercise to keep them from getting restless.
Your Bandog will enjoy most traditional doggy exercise methods, but they may not be good candidates for dog parks or daycare.
Along those same lines, only let your Bandog stretch their legs off-leash if they’re within the confines of a tall, dog-proof fence.
This isn’t the kind of fido you want to get loose. You don’t want to be responsible for your dog getting hurt or hurting someone else.
There are still plenty of ways for MastiBulls to burn some energy, like swimming or puzzle games. Low-impact activities like these are perfect during puppyhood and old age when your Masti-Bull’s joints are more sensitive.
How long do Bandogge Mastiffs live?
Another good news is that Bandogges can love and protect your family for a long time. With an average life expectancy of 10 years, they’ll be around awhile.
And now, the bad news: as strong as Bandogs are, they’re not invincible. These powerhouses are predisposed to large-breed health issues, both preventable and inevitable.
The genetic conditions your Masti-Bull may inherit are autoimmune thyroiditis, cancers, epilepsy, eye diseases, like progressive retinal atrophy, hip and elbow dysplasia, skin problems.
Another common ailment is bloat or gastric dilatation-volvulus. It sounds like the mildest health concern on this list, but it’s actually life-threatening. It develops when your dog has too much gas in their stomach.
This can cause the stomach to twist and cut off blood supply to vital organs.
It requires immediate medical attention, so learn the signs and be prepared to act fast if you suspect your MastiBull is suffering from this condition.
Bandogges, along with their fellow Mastiff relatives, have high pain tolerance, so you may not know right away if they’re hurting or feeling unwell.
The better you know your dog’s personality and behavior, the better you’ll be able to tell when something’s off.
Take preventive measures, too, like keeping their skin clean and dry and letting them rest after meals or exercise. Keep up with regular vet visits, as well as heartworm, flea, and tick treatments.
Buying a puppy: Are Bandogs illegal?
Like other Molosser dogs, the American Bandogge is a controversial breed. They’re often perceived as combative and unstable, leading some locales to ban them altogether.
Romania, Switzerland, and parts of the United States have outlawed MastiBull ownership. Additionally, some apartment complexes or HOAs have breed bans in place that would prohibit you from having a Bandog on the premises.
If you’ve done the research and can legally own a Bandog Mastiff in your area, it’s time to start saving up. The price of an American Bandogge puppy can soar to as much as $2500.
Not interested in shelling out this much cash? You can always rescue a Masti-Bull. Finding one for adoption might be easier than you think.
American Bandogge breeders
Usually, when people go through breeders or kennels, they know their pup’s ancestry. Buying a Bandog is a unique experience, though.
Because so many breeds can constitute an American Bandogge, trying to figure out your pup’s exact bloodline may not be possible.
Most kennels combine 2 to 3 breeds to create their own version of the American Bandogge Mastiff.
They should be able to introduce you to your Masti-Bull’s mom and dad but don’t be surprised if they have limited information on previous generations.
Even if your MastiBull has a mysterious family tree, responsible kennels should provide you a health guarantee for your baby Bandog and its parents.
By the way, medical records or certificates are not the same as a vet checkup.
You want proof that your dog, and its immediate canine family, aren’t carrying severe health conditions.
Vet visits are essential, but they’re NOT a substitute for testing for genetic diseases.
You’ll also want to ask potential breeders about what they do to socialize new litters.
As soon as they’re able, Bandog puppies should be exposed to new sights, sounds, and smells. Ideally, this process will start before your pup moves in with you and should continue throughout their life.
So, where can you buy an American Bandogge? Here are a few breeders to jumpstart your search:
You can also check out Facebook pages, like West Coast Bandog Mastiffs in Nevada, to see if they have available American Bandogge puppies for sale.
Rescuing an American Bandogge
Not everyone can handle Bandogs and their Molosser cousins. Sadly, when people bite off more than they can chew, powerful breeds like these can end up in shelters or rescues.
Sometimes, the dog’s demeanor proves to be too much. In other cases, the financial responsibility becomes unaffordable.
If you choose to adopt, be prepared to work a little harder to train a rescued MastiBull and gain its trust. A lack of proper training or trauma over being surrendered can exacerbate their cautious, protective traits.
Local shelters abound with breeds similar to the Bandogge Mastiff. These are great options if you’re not picky about what type of Bandog you get.
If you want to get as close to a true American Masti-Bull as possible, research for Molosser breed adoption centers, like these:
And there are organizations, such as The American Bullmastiff Association, that looks out for these canines until they get a new owner.
The Verdict: The American Bandogge is a formidable beast
The American Bandogge Mastiff is a colossal canine best handled by experienced owners only. Their gentle, intuitive side is reserved solely for pack members, and everyone else is met with a fearless protector.
A true alpha dog, Masti-Bulls won’t respond to an indecisive leader. You’ll have to earn this crossbreed’s respect. Up for the challenge?
Do you find the American Bandogge intimidating or intriguing? Perhaps both? Tell us why in the comments!