Bullmastiff VS English Mastiff: The Key Differences in Look & Temperament

Last Updated on March 19, 2023

The English Mastiff and the Bullmastiff are two very similar-looking dog breeds.

They are characterized by their short coats, broad shoulders, big heads, short muzzles, and of course, their large size. In fact, many people simply refer to both breeds as Mastiffs. 

English Mastiff vs Bullmastiff dog
Portrait of an English Mastiff dog (left) and a Bullmastiff dog (right)

These working breeds are also known for being strong, powerful, muscular dogs, and unfortunately, they are both often stigmatized as aggressive dogs. 

And while these two breeds do share many similarities, there are also distinct differences between these dogs. This article will examine the key differences in look and temperament to help you better determine which dog is the best one for you.

Breed Comparison: A Quick Overview

The English Mastiff is a purebred dog, while the Bullmastiff is a hybrid between an English Bulldog and an English Mastiff. Here’s a quick comparison of these two dogs to help you better understand the differences:

  Bullmastiff English Mastiff
Height 27 inches (69 cm) 30 inches (76 cm)
Weight 130 lbs (59 kg) 200 lbs (91 kg)
Average Lifespan 6-9 years 6 -10 years
Energy levels High Low
Grooming needs Low Low – Moderate
Family and dog-friendly Yes Yes
Trainability Moderate Moderate
Temperament Affectionate, intelligent, attentive Docile, loving, 

Breed History

Both the English Mastiff and the Bullmastiff are descendants of the ancient Mastiff line. Their lineage dates all the way back to 2700 BC, when reliefs first depicting their existence can be seen. 

Throughout the years, these dogs have been used in wars, bloodsports, and to bait lions and bulls, particularly in Roman times.

They have also been used as working dogs in England to pull carts, hunt big game, provide security, and as military dogs.

English Mastiff vs Bullmastiff average size
The almost identical English Mastiff dog (left) and Bullmastiff dog (right)

How Can You Tell the Difference Between Them?

The head of the English Mastiff and the Bullmastiff is a very similar shape; just the English Mastiff is bigger.

In fact, the Bullmastiff is smaller than the English Mastiff in all aspects, and this is the easiest way to tell these two dogs apart from each other. 

Aside from that, these dogs share a very similar shape: a broad chest, powerful muscular body, heavy bone structure, tapered tail, broad head, v-shaped ears, dark eyes, and short muzzles.

Both are quiet, dignified dogs with a very proud appearance, so it stands to reason that they are often confused.

Another way to tell the difference between these two dogs is to look at their profile. The Bullmastiff is a much squarer dog with a symmetrical appearance and a prominent breastbone. 

Temperament and Personality

Despite the negative connotations associated with these dogs, both breeds can be very loving, affectionate, and loyal. There are, however, some fundamental differences in personality between the two breeds. 

English Mastiff vs Bullmastiff temperament
English Mastiff dog (left) and the Bullmastiff dog (right) both laying on the grass

The Bullmastiff is a very territorial, possessive dog who is quite wary of strangers, although fiercely loyal to his family.

He is very willing to accept people his master deems ok but is quick to assert aggression on anyone he feels does not belong, and for this reason, they make excellent guard dogs. English Mastiffs, on the other hand, are happiest around people. 

Are English Mastiffs calmer than Bullmastiffs?

Yes, English Mastiffs are definitely more docile and calmer than Bullmastiffs. These dogs are pretty content to lay around all day as long as you are near.

Despite their larger-than-life size, the English Mastiff loves a good cuddle and will happily try and climb onto your lap if you let him.

Which breed is stronger?

Both the Bullmastiff and the English Mastiff are incredibly strong dogs. As the English Mastiff is the bigger and more muscular of the two dogs, he tends to be the strongest, but the Bullmastiff would put up a good fight if the two were to go head to head. 

If either of these dogs decides to pull you on a leash, they would be challenging to control, and thus neither breed is recommended for first-time pet owners. 

Which dog is more aggressive?

English Mastiff vs Bullmastiff dog
Charming English Mastiff dog (left) and a Bullmastiff dog (right)

Both the Bullmastiff and the English Mastiff are natural protectors. These dogs will fiercely protect their people and thus need plenty of socialization and training from a young age to avoid aggressive tendencies.

They can be remarkably gentle and loving breeds with the right owner and proper training. 

And while polite to mostly everyone, the English Mastiffs can be quite timid and shy, which could display aggression if they don’t feel secure with their master or environment.

Which breed is more dangerous?

The English Mastiff and the Bullmastiff are very territorial, although the Bullmastiff is not considered particularly vicious.

On the other hand, a report analyzing attacks by English Mastiffs between the years 1982 and 2014 found 28 incidences, of which 23 involved children, resulting in five deaths.

How strong are their bite forces?

These are both mighty dogs that can do some severe damage should they decide to chomp down on an intruder.

These Mastiff breeds have some of the strongest bite forces of all dog breeds, with a reported force of between 552 and 556 PSI. They are, however, beaten by the Italian Mastiff, or Cane Corso, who has a very impressive bite force of 700 PSI.

Which breed is the perfect family dog?

With proper socialization and training from puppyhood, both the English Mastiff and the Bullmastiff can be good family dogs.

These dogs are incredibly loyal to even the smallest of family members and will likely even try to step in the way should you try and punish your child. 

You just need to be careful to watch small children and toddlers around these giant breeds as they can inadvertently hurt them or knock them over, especially the English Mastiff, who doesn’t seem to know just how big he is.

Which breed is easier to train?

Both the Bullmastiff and the English Mastiff are intelligent dogs that pick up training quickly.

Although they said they are pretty stubborn dogs and Bullmastiffs don’t generally respond to treats as incentives, so plenty of patience and a good deal of consistency is necessary on your part as the owner. 

On the other hand, English Mastiffs are more likely to be tempted by treats during training.

Which Dog Breed Has Higher Maintenance?

The Bullmastiff and the English Mastiff have similar needs when it comes to maintenance. Both dogs do not require a lot of grooming, however, the exercise needs of the Bullmastiff are considerably higher.

These dogs will love to run and play with you, while the English Mastiff is likely content just to lie at your feet all day or go for a leisurely stroll.

Bullmastiff vs English Mastiff activity level
The young Bullmastiff dog (left) and an English Mastiff dog (right) who are both adorable

Which dog is more energetic?

The Bullmastiff needs more exercise than the English Mastiff as he is significantly more active. In fact, the English Mastiff is quite lazy and will be pretty content just to laze around all day at home. 

On the other hand, Bullmastiffs will need a play session in the morning and a rigorous walk in the afternoon. These dogs will also need access to puzzle dogs to avoid them becoming destructive.

They also love to work, so they do well with dog sports or agility challenges.

Which dog sheds more?

Both dogs have a short coat with relatively low grooming needs, although the English Mastiff does seem to shed more, or perhaps it’s just that he produces more hair due to his larger size. 

The English Mastiff comes in apricot, brindle, or fawn, which is the same as the Bullmastiff; however, these dogs can also come in red color.

In addition, the English Mastiff can only have a black mask compared to the mask of the Bullmastiff, which could be any of the breed’s coat colors.

Nutritional needs

Both the Bullmastiff and the English Mastiff are large dogs that eat a lot of food. You can budget on giving your dog around four cups of dog food daily, depending on his activity level and age.

Due to their sheer size, the English Mastiff is likely to consume more food than the Bullmastiff over his lifetime. 

Also read: Best Dog Food for English Mastiff

Average Lifespan

English Mastiff and a Bullmastiff dog
Adult English Mastiff dog (left) and a Bullmastiff dog (right)

Both these breeds live to around 9 or 10 years old and are plagued by similar health issues. As large dogs, both breeds are prone to developing hip dysplasia as well as bloat and gastric torsion.

Blindness is also common in both breeds, especially in their senior years. Another health issue that can affect both breeds is Cystinuria which leads to kidney and bladder stones. 

Additionally, the Bullmastiff is also susceptible to developing Brachycephalic Syndrome because they have very short muzzles.

Bullmastiffs also seem more prone to showing signs of entropion, a condition that causes the eyelid to roll inward, hypothyroidism which is an underactive thyroid gland, cancers including osteosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumors, skin problems, and knee injuries such as torn ACLs. 

Puppy Prices

English Mastiff and a Bullmastiff puppy
Equally gorgeous English Mastiff puppy (left) and a Bullmastiff puppy (right)

As the English Mastiff is a purebred dog and they are a more popular breed, these puppies will cost significantly more than Bullmastiff pups.

Due to their enormous size, these dogs tend to be more expensive to maintain during their lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

English Mastiff vs Bullmastiff dog popularity
Yawning English Mastiff dog (left) and a panting Bullmastiff dog (right)

Which is more popular?

The American Kennel Club lists the English Mastiff as the more popular breed of the two, ranking 29 out of 193 dog breeds. On the other hand, the Bullmastiff only ranks number 51 in terms of popularity.

Do these two breeds get along?

While historically, Mastiffs may have been used in dog sports, today’s Bullmastiff and English Mastiff dogs can be pretty gentle and docile towards other dogs as long as they are given proper training and accept those dogs as members of their packs. 

Both of these dogs were bred for hunting, so they have extremely high prey drives and may tend to chase or hunt tiny dogs, cats, or other pets.

Conclusion: Are Bullmastiffs Better than English Mastiffs?

As you can see, there are some significant differences between the Bullmastiff and the English Mastiff.

While these two pups might have a similar coat color and share some of their looks, the right one for you will largely depend on your energy levels and the size of the dog you want.

The Bullmastiff is the smaller of the two dogs, but he is stubborn and requires plenty of exercise, whereas the English Mastiff is more likely to be content just to lie around all day and shower you with affection.

But you’ll need plenty of space in your home and a decent budget to care for one of these larger-than-life pets.

No matter which one you choose, if you can dedicate the time and energy to training your puppy and giving him the attention he craves, you will be rewarded with a gentle, loving pet.

Do you have a Bullmastiff or English Mastiff at home? We would love to hear about your furry family member in the comments below.

Further reading: Other Popular Dog Breed Comparison

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