A Complete Guide to the Huge, Loyal Bullmastiff

The Bullmastiff is huge – that is apparent. They were bred to be guard dogs, hence their nickname “The Gamekeeper’s Night Dog” and Silent Watchdog. They are fearless dogs but extremely gentle towards their family. 

They are very muscular, which makes them appear even larger than they actually are. They are the result of a Bulldog and Mastiff mixed, so their temperament is a mix between these two breeds. 

a portrait of a happy large Bullmastiff laying
A large Red Bullmastiff lying on the dry grass

Where did the Bullmastiff originate?

These large working dogs originated in England in the 19th century. They were originally bred to be estate guardians.

In other words, they roamed large forested areas and chased away poachers and other people who weren’t supposed to be there.

They often worked with gatekeepers and would alert them to the presence of trespassers. 

The Bullmastiff was created by breeding a Bulldog with a Mastiff. At the time, Bulldogs were very aggressive and used for bullbaiting. Mastiffs were larger but much less aggressive. The Bullmastiff is a mix of these two traits. 

Most of these dogs have Brindle-colored coats. This is because it was the preferred coat coloring during this time period, as it allowed the gamekeepers to see the dog easier at night. 

The English Kennel Club recognized the Bullmastiff in 1924. They were deemed to have a genetic background of 60% Mastiff and 40% Bulldog.

Their genetics are likely quite similar today. They were not recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1934 – ten years later. The first standard for the breed was published in 1935. 

These dogs are still used for guarding purposes today. In 1928, they guarded the diamond mines run by De Beers, who imported the dogs to South Africa. 

English Bulldog

a joyous English Bulldog running with tongue out on grass
English Bulldog running on a grass

The first reference to a Bulldog was around 1631. They got their name because they were used in bull-baiting. This basically involved having a pack of dogs attack a tethered bull. The first dog to pin the bull won. 

Because of this, these dogs were extremely aggressive. However, the sport was banned in 1835. For a time, the English Bulldog had outlived by its usefulness.

They were quickly bred as companion dogs, though. This caused them to be far less aggressive over time. Today, they are hardly aggressive at all. 

While these dogs don’t act much like their ancestors, they do look like them. They have many of the characteristics of the old, aggressive dogs. 

English Mastiff

an English Mastiff behave laying on grass
English Mastiff dog portrait in the garden

The Mastiff is a huge breed of dog, just like the Bullmastiff. They were used as guard and fighting dogs in ancient Britain. The breed has a violent past.

They were used in the Roman arenas – often pitted up against bears, lions, and bulls. They were used in bullbaiting and bearbaiting in the later years as well. 

Today, there are many Mastiff breeds. They have been bred with many other breeds over the years. This has led to the creation of new breeds. They have spread throughout the world today. The Bullmastiff is one of these breeds. 

What does a Bullmastiff look like?

a Bullmastiff standing tall and proud
Image source

Firstly, Bullmastiffs are huge. These dogs are strong in canine form. They show a lot of brunt strength and endurance. They are powerful and active. 

Their whole body is rather massive and muscular. It is undeniable that they were made to work – not necessarily as companion dogs. 

They have very massive heads. Their body is roughly built. Despite their large size, they are very agile, though. They have wide chests and strong tails. Even their limbs are well muscular. They are extremely big-boned and thick

They are quite broad and muscular.

Size: How big do Bullmastiff dogs get?

There is one thing for certain – these dogs are huge. The usual male Bullmastiff stands between 25-27 inches at the withers.

They weigh somewhere between 110-130 pounds. They are much larger than most dog breeds, that is for sure. 

Females are a bit smaller. The breed standard states that typically stand between 24-26 inches at the shoulder. They weigh about 100-120 pounds. 

Sometimes, they can get larger. However, this is typically discouraged. The larger a dog gets, the more weight gets put on its joints. This can cause problems. For this reason, bigger is not always better. 

Because of the largeness of this dog, they usually do not do well in apartments. There is simply not enough room for them!

Coat: What type of coats do Bullmastiffs have?

Bullmastiff standing half-body portrait
Image source

Bullmastiffs have very short coats. They’re typically very flat, dense, and weather-resistant. They do well in many weather conditions due to their weather-resistant coats. 

They come in many different colors. Brindle is the most common, as it was the most sought after coat in the earlier days. This is an effortless color to see in the dark, perfect when these dogs were working alongside gamekeepers.

No dog owners want to shoot their dog accidentally, so it was important that they could see their dog at night. 

The Bullmastiff breed also appears in red, dark brindle, and fawn. These colors are a bit less common but are becoming increasingly available today. 

In most cases, these dogs will have a minimal amount of white on their chest. Other white markings are considered a fault and are not an encouraging trait. 

These dogs can also exist with many other markings. For instance, they often have black masks and other black markings. They also sometimes have a fawn mask and white markings. These are rarer, however. 

Temperament: Are Bullmastiffs good family dogs?

Bullmastiffs are brilliant dogs. They had to be to tell the difference between friend and foe.

They are very loyal to their families and good-natured. While they were used in the past to tackle trespassers, basically, they are not terribly aggressive. Many people describe them as sweet. 

They do make excellent guard dogs, though. They are decently protective when their people are threatened. Despite their past, they are calm and dependable.

They typically take well to training and do need quite a bit of training to behave well indoors. They need plenty of exposure to people to be well-socialized. Otherwise, they may see friends as foes. 

A well-socialized Bullmastiff will be easygoing around strangers after being introduced. They seem to be particularly protective against people who show up suddenly.

If introduced to people early, many Bullmastiff owners claim that they are much calmer. You may need to make a point to introduce your Bullmastiff to visitors. 

Otherwise, they are great family pets that are affectionate with all family members. They also have a high degree of trainability. 

Early puppy classes are recommended for these dogs for socialization purposes. You should begin with puppy classes as soon as they have done their yearly vaccinations. 

Is Bullmastiff dangerous?

Bullmastiffs were bred to be guard dogs. For this reason, they are a bit more aggressive than some other dog breeds. However, they should not be particularly aggressive outright.

They typically do not attack people for no reason and are pretty easygoing. 

They are somewhat aggressive towards dogs of the same gender. Typically, they do better in homes with only them. They do fine with cats and other animals as long as they are socialized properly. 

Bullmastiffs are usually fine with being left alone for short periods. They aren’t terribly noisy, but they will bark when protecting their family. 

They are generally pretty intelligent, but they are somewhat stubborn. They were not really bred to listen to their owners, and many of them will ignore you often.

They can learn many commands and are plenty intelligent enough for most commands. 

How to take care of your Bullmastiff

Bullmastiffs are not terribly high-maintenance. They do not require much grooming or much exercise. In fact, they are probably one of the lowest-maintenance canines out there today. 

They are very much built for work, which means that they are pretty good at taking care of themselves.

Unlike breeds bred mostly for appearance (like Shih Tzus, for instance), they don’t require much help from their human companions to stay healthy. They are very functional. 

These dogs do fine in nearly all climates, given they are provided with adequate shelter.

Obviously, they are not suitable for frigid climates. If you live in the arctic, these dogs are not suitable. Otherwise, they are very adaptable and suitable for most climates. 

Exercising your Bullmastiff

full body picture of a Bullmastiff looking in camera while smiling
Bullmastiff dog stands in the city park smiling

Bullmastiffs do not actually need as much exercise as you probably think they do. In fact, the daily minimum exercise needs are only about 30 minutes for a full-grown Bullmastiff.

Puppies may need a little bit more, just because they tend to be more energetic. Daily exercise is important no matter their age. 

It is important to give your Bullmastiff enough exercise to avoid obesity. However, you should also avoid giving your canine too much exercise. In general, you should never force your dog to exercise. If they need to take a break on a walk, let them. 

Force exercise can cause problems for puppies in particular. It can affect their growth plates and cause major issues down the line. Over-exercise can hurt the joints of older canines as well. 

These dogs also need some mental stimulation due to their high exercise needs. They enjoy a good challenge, though they are not necessarily the smartest dogs out there. Simple games and canine sports are a good place to start. 

Regular training can also challenge these dogs’ minds. Plus, it will make them more behaved as well. 

Grooming: Do Bullmastiffs shed?

The Bullmastiff sheds seasonally. They shed a little bit all of the time, but they shed particularly badly a couple of times a year. During this period, they will need to be brushed to remove all of their excess hair. 

If your dog sheds more than a few times a year, it can be indicative of a health problem. Unusual shedding should be noted, and you should speak to your vet. 

Dogs that are spayed or neutered usually do not shed as much as intact dogs. This is because their hormones fluctuate less, and it is mostly hormones that dictate shedding. 

While these dogs will not need to be brushed often, they do need the occasional baths. While their coats are very weather-resistant, they will get dirty at some point. During these periods, they will need to be thrown into the bath to be cleaned. 

You should monitor their coat and skin, even though you may not groom them as much as other breeds. Dryness and oiliness can both indicate underlying problems. Sometimes this can relate to diet. Food allergies seem to cause skin problems. 

They do tend to drool a lot, so they may need their faces cleaned regularly as well. This slobber can also get on your furniture and floor, so be prepared. 

Feeding: How much should a Bullmastiff eat in a day?

Bullmastiffs are very large. As you might imagine, they eat a lot. Usually, these dogs will eat anywhere from 3 to 4 cups of dog food a day. Puppies will need to increase their food intake as they get older slowly. 

It is essential not to feed your puppies too much. Too much food at a young age can make these dogs gain too much weight too fast. This can put pressure on their joints and cause arthritis later on. 

You will also need to feed your pooch a puppy food particularly designed for giant breed puppies. Your average puppy food is not going to cut it. It does not have all of the nutrients these dogs need to thrive.

They need extra protein and fat to grow correctly due to their large size. They will also need to consume puppy food for longer than your average puppy. 

Because these dogs eat so much, they will need to eat several separate meals. This may also limit the chance of bloat, which is a serious condition that can be particularly life-threatening. 

Overall, these dogs should be kept extremely lean. They can develop health problems otherwise. In general, these dogs need to be kept a little leaner than you may think.

Obesity can cause major problems with these dogs, as they are already prone to arthritis and other issues that are made worse by obesity. 

What health problems do Bullmastiffs have?

side profile of a Bullmastiff smiling while lying on grass
Bullmastiff dog lying on the grass

All dog breeds have problems with some health problems. There are no completely healthy dog breeds. Bullmastiffs are prone to some health problems, most of which are most affected by their largeness

Because of their large size, these dogs are prone to joint and other skeletal issues. Many of these are developed as the puppy is growing.

As we have previously discussed, these dogs should not be overfed as puppies since this can cause them to grow faster. Too much growth too fast can upset the joints. 

As puppies, these problems may not seem to bother them very much. However, as the dog ages, it can lead to things like arthritis and hip dysplasia. 

Hip dysplasia is caused when the head of the thigh doesn’t fit properly into the hip socket. The cartilage of the bone tends to wear away, which causes pain and inflammation.

The constant inflammation will lead to arthritis, especially as the dog ages. This disease can be managed with medication and surgery in extreme cases. 

They are also prone to elbow dysplasia, which is a similar disorder. They are also prone to entropion

Bullmastiffs are also prone to heart problems, including pulmonic stenosis. This involves the narrowing of the right ventricle of the heart. This is a serious condition that is difficult to treat. 

Bloat is another common condition these dogs develop. This is a condition that involves the stomach of the dog expanding with gas. It can become a severe condition – gastric torsion. This causes the stomach to twist in on itself, cutting off blood flow. 

After only a few hours, this can cause the tissue of the stomach to die. This condition is treatable if surgery happens early. Otherwise, it is typically deadly. 

It appears that Bullmastiffs are also prone to quite a few cancers as well. They are particularly prone to lymphoma and mast cell tumors. Osteosarcoma and Hemangiosarcoma are both common as well. 

Good care from an early age can help prevent many of these problems. 

They are also prone to thyroid problems, like hypothyroidism

These dogs do not live for very long in general. Their lifespan is only 7-9 years. They usually have a shorter life expectancy than most other dogs out there. This is very common among larger dogs.

What is the average cost of a Bullmastiff puppy?

Bullmastiff puppy standing on wood
Image source

These dogs cost anywhere between $1000 to $2000. In some cases, they cost up to $4000. The cost depends largely on the dog’s pedigree.

In many cases, if a puppy is descended from champion show dogs, they will be more expensive. 

Bullmastiffs are typically quite expensive because they are just so large. It takes a lot to feed them and house them. This translates into the cost of the puppies. 

The average litter size is 8, but it can range from 4-13. The size of the litter usually doesn’t play into the cost of an individual puppy. 

You also have to keep transportation costs in mind. While these canines are pretty common, you may decide to purchase from a breeder that lives some distance away. This will require transportation of the puppy, which can cost quite a bit. 

Whether you drive to get your puppy or pay to have the puppy flown, this costs a lot. Some breeders will deliver their puppies, but this typically costs extra and isn’t always available.

In general, we recommend finding a breeder close by to keep costs as low as possible.

We do not recommend purchasing from a pet store or puppy mill.

Typically, these places do not perform the parents’ proper health tests before breeding them and selling their puppies. This produces puppies that are less healthy than they could be otherwise.

The parents are not always taken good care of either, which can further make the puppies unhealthy. 

After adopting these dogs, they are still quite expensive. They need a lot of food. Everything you need to purchase for your dog will be extra-large. This typically drives up the cost quite a bit. 

Bullmastiff Breeders

There are many Bullmastiff breeders out there. An easy place to check is the AKC Marketplace. This lists breeders that are registered with the AKC.

To be a registered breeder, you have to uphold certain standards and run certain health tests on your dogs. Because of this, you can rest assured all the breeders on the marketplace take care of their dogs.

There are also many local breeders throughout the country as well. You can likely find one near you with little problem.

Some people may decide to look further away from their perfect puppy. If you have a specific puppy in mind, you may have to expand your search to find a breeder that currently has that puppy.

Most places have waiting lists, but the length of the list can vary widely. 

If you’re looking for a specific coloration, you will likely have to wait longer for your pooch. 

Some of the most popular is the LonelyCreek Bullmastiffs and the Black River Bullmastiff breeder. In TN, there is also the Bullguard Bullmastiffs

Bullmastiff Rescue

Instead of adopting from a breeder, you can also rescue an adult dog from a breeder. These are typically adults and older dogs that have been surrendered by their owners.

There are many rescues throughout the country that are constantly saving these dogs from shelters or owners. 

Adopting from one of these organizations is much cheaper than adopting a puppy in most cases. Plus, many dogs come spayed or neutered, which cuts down vet costs. 

One of the most popular Bullmastiff rescues is The American Bullmastiff Association. Gentle Giants Rescue also rescues Bullmastiffs, as well as a few other giant breeds.

Mastiffs to Mutts is another similar rescue. 

Curious about Bullmastiff mixes?

There are many Bullmastiff mixes out there. In fact, a Bullmastiff can be mixed with just about everything large enough to breed with one of these massive dogs. 

Bullmastiff American Pitbull Terrier Mix

These dogs tend to be quite large at up to 150 pounds. As a mixed breed, their characteristics are not very set in stone.

portrait of a strong Bullmastiff American Pit Bull Terrier mix laying proudly
Meet Bruno, a Bullmastiff American Pit Bull Terrier mix – Image source

They are known for being brave and confident. They are a bit energetic, which can be a problem for a dog this large. They are extremely loveable and friendly. 

Some socialization is required with these canines, though. They can be a little aloof when faced with strangers, so you must introduce them to many different people at a young age. Their size also makes training very important. 

Great Dane Bullmastiff Mix

This mixed breed is also called a Bull Daniff. These dogs range from large to giant, depending on what breeds they inherit from their parents.

a Great Dane Bullmastiff mix sitting and wearing a red plaid collar
Meet Marie, a Great Dane Bullmastiff mix – Image source

Their coats are very short, like both of their parents. They have a moderate energy level, but they are not as energetic as some other dogs.

These canines are known for being very loving. They like to cuddle, even though they are usually too big to. They absolutely think they are lap-dogs. 

German Shepherd Bullmastiff mix

These huge dogs are known for their protective instincts. They need a lot of socialization, as they tend to be aloof and untrusting of strangers.

German Shepherd Bullmastiff mix sitting on grass
Meet Maxim, a handsome German Shepherd Bullmastiff mix – Image source

They make great protection dogs, but they do need a lot of training. They do take very well to training, though. 

These dogs are protective and eager to please. 

St. Bernard Bullmastiff mix

Despite their giant size, these dogs are very gentle. They can be a bit lazy, but they still do love occasional playtime.

a Saint Bernard Bullmastiff mix looking directly at camera
A Saint Bernard Bullmastiff mix – Image source

They are affectionate and like to cuddle, even though they don’t really fit on the couch. They have a very keen sense of smell and are well suited to cold climates. 

Overall, these dogs are laid back and calm. 

Bullmastiff vs. other Mastiff dog breeds

Bullmastiff is similar to some other breeds. Most of these are also Mastiff-types. 

English Mastiff vs. Bullmastiff

These two breeds are very similar. However, the Mastiff is a bit bigger in all aspects. They weigh more, stand a bit taller, and are built more muscular. Bullmastiffs are also more playful and energetic than Mastiff. 

an English Mastiff lying on grass with blue flowers
Meet Tommy, a chill English Mastiff on a garden – Image source

Mastiffs can be much larger than Bullmastiffs. In fact, male Mastiffs can weigh as much as 240 pounds. Females are a bit smaller, though. A female Mastiff is still likely going to be bigger than a male Bullmastiff. 

The Bullmastiff vs. The Neopolitan Mastiff

Neopolitan Mastiffs are a bit bigger than Bullmastiff. They aren’t terribly bigger, though. They only weigh slightly more.

Neopolitan Mastiff outside looking at sunshine
Portrait of a Neopolitan Mastiff dog outdoors on a meadow

In practice, you likely won’t notice much difference. Bullmastiffs are a bit easy to train, though not by much. 

The main difference is that the Bullmastiff has a prey drive, which means they will chase things. On the other hand, the Neapolitan Mastiff does not have much of a prey drive. 

Who Should Get a Bullmastiff?

Bullmastiffs are huge dogs. Because of this, they need quite a bit of room. They also need a lot of training and socialization.

Despite their large size, they do need a lot of exercise. You should plan on walking them regularly and getting plenty of playtime in. 

a Bullmastiff playing and chewing a purple dog toy
a Bullmastiff playing and chewing a purple dog toy

Theoretically, they can do fine in a larger apartment. However, they do best in larger homes with fenced-in yards.

They don’t run around that often, but they do like to stretch their legs. They cannot do this in smaller homes. 

They can make good first-time dogs as long as you commit to the training and socialization they need. They are great family companions. 

Further Reading: Similar Breeds to the Bullmastiff

Several breeds are similar to the Bullmastiff. Here are a few you may want to take a look at:

  • Cane Corso
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Boxer

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