Types of Mastiff Breeds: What Dog Breeds are in the Mastiff Family?

The Mastiff breed dates back some 3,000 years. Mighty, large, and great loveable giants, Mastiffs are simply magnificent, and various Mastiff breeds will make an excellent addition to your family. 

Bred to be guardians of the home and farm, Mastiffs are known to be devoted, protective, and hard-working dogs.

Three English Mastiff dogs

As a result, these giant dogs require a lot of training and stimulation. They are also huge, which means they need plenty of space, exercise, and food to keep them healthy and strong.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the different varieties of the Mastiff breed as we figure out what dog might be the best for your home. 

How Many Breeds of Mastiff are There?

There are various types of Mastiffs, with each one having unique looks, characteristics, and personality.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognizes four different types of Mastiffs, namely the Bullmastiff, English Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, and Tibetan Mastiff.

That said, various other breeds share many similar traits to these four breeds and, in fact, even include the Mastiff moniker in their name.

The Four Different Types of Mastiffs Recognized by AKC

Mastiffs were typically bred as war, hunting, and guard dogs and thus are large, fearless dogs. However, over time they have been bred to create great companion dogs.

Each Mastiff breed still has the power of their lineage but has unique personalities and characteristics relative to where they come from.

1. Bullmastiff

Bullmastiff dog laying on the couch
Huge Bullmastiff dog laying on the couch

Bullmastiffs are one of the most common types of Mastiffs, and these dogs weigh around 120 pounds (54 kg).

They are related to the Bulldog, which means they have flatter faces and breathing issues associated with brachycephalic breeds. 

These are an amiable breed of Mastiff with a super friendly, sweet disposition, and she loves the company of her family. Due to this, this Mastiff breed is also commonly used as a therapy dog.

2. Mastiff (English Mastiff)

The breed standard of English Mastiffs requires these dogs to stand at the height of at least 30 inches (76 cm), and they weigh around 230 pounds (104 kg).

Mastiff dog portrait
Lying portrait of English Mastiff dog

The biggest English Mastiff recorded was a dog named Zorba that stood an impressive 37 inches (94 cm) tall and weighed 345 pounds (156 kg). 

These dogs are descendants of the historic dog fighting breed known as the Molosser breed, known to face down lions in ancient Rome.

That said, English Mastiffs aren’t as energetic as some of the other Mastiff breeds and would be pretty content to just lay around on the couch all day. 

3. Neapolitan Mastiff

Portrait of a Neapolitan Mastiff dog
Portrait of a Neapolitan Mastiff dog laying outdoor

Big, loveable bundles of drool, the Neapolitan Mastiff has an Italian history that dates back to Roman times. They have a calm nature and are characterized by their thick, loose skin folds. 

These dogs are also on the larger side, weighing some 150 pounds (68 kg). These dogs don’t need as much exercise as other Mastiff breeds and would be happy with a daily stroll and plenty of nap time.

4. Tibetan Mastiff

Two Tibetan Mastiff dogs laying on the grass
Two purebred Tibetan Mastiff dogs laying on the park

The massive Tibetan Mastiff weighs around 150 pounds (68 kg) and stands approximately 26 inches (66 cm) tall.

Despite his colossal size, the Tibetan Mastiff is surprisingly quick and agile, reaching speeds of up to 20 miles per hour.

These dogs, which originally hail from the Himalayan mountains, are a rarer breed of Mastiff. As a result, they look pretty different from other Mastiff breeds with dense, fluffy, teddy bear-style coats. 

If you have one of these dogs as a pet, you’re guaranteed an independent thinking dog that is entirely devoted to his people. They also get along well with children and other dogs.

Summary of the Four AKC Recognized Mastiff Dog Breeds

Here is a short table of the four American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized Mastiff breeds that will give you a better idea of the unique characteristics of these different dogs.

Breed Lineage Weight Characteristics Temperament
Bullmastiff Bulldog 120 lb
(54 kg)
Flat face Sweet, friendly
English Mastiff Ancient Molosser Breed 230 lb
(104 kg)
Large, broad face Lazy, loving, good-natured
Neapolitan Mastiff Italian/Roman 150 lb
(68 kg)
Thick, loose skin folds Relaxed
Tibetan Mastiff Himalayan Mountain Dogs 150 lb
(68 kg)
Dense, fluffy coat Independent, devoted

What are Other Types of Mastiffs?

Various other dogs could also be considered Mastiffs and share many of the same traits as the four breeds mentioned above. These larger-than-life dogs are loved the world over as protective guardians and loveable, giant companions.

5. Cane Corso

Portrait of Cane Corso dog
Portrait of Cane Corso dog looking straight at the camera

These sizeable Cane Corso Italianos have a dignified nature with a proud, regal stance. These dogs, also known as Italian Mastiffs, are characterized by their broad chests, wrinkled foreheads, and great strength.

They weigh around 110 pounds (50 kg) and stand 27 inches (69 cm) tall. 

Cane Corsos, made famous thanks to Game of Thrones, are very active, intelligent dogs. They thrive on having a job and need experienced owners who know how to handle their wilful natures.

6. Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff)

Dogue De Bordeaux running on the field
Dogue De Bordeaux running on the field during summer

Dogue de Bordeaux dogs became famous when they made an appearance in the beloved film Turner & Hooch alongside Tom Hanks.

Also known as French Mastiffs, they weigh about 100 pounds (45 kg) and have the biggest head of any dog. These sweet dogs are very affectionate, but they require a sufficient amount of exercise to keep them entertained.

7. Boerboel (South African Mastiff)

Close-up portrait of Boerboel dog
Close-up portrait of Boerboel (South African Mastiff) dog

The Boerboel is a South African variety of Mastiff whose name translates to farmer’s Mastiff. Bred in the 1800s, these dogs are thought to be a mix of Mastiff breeds, Greyhounds, Terriers, Foxhounds, Pointers, and Bulldogs.

These courageous and loyal dogs are huge and muscular, weigh an impressive 200 pounds (91 kg), and stand between 22 and 27 inches (55.8 and 68 cm) tall.

Despite their size, these dogs are pretty mellow and love nothing more than being around their family.

However, they can be surprisingly agile when protecting their loved ones from intruders. They also need plenty of space to run, play, and even swim.

8. Brazilian Mastiff (Fila Brasileiro)

Two Fila Brasileiro dogs sitting together
Two adult Fila Brasileiro (Brazilian Mastiff) dogs sitting together during autumn season

The Fila Brasileiro is a working breed of Mastiff from Brazil. These dogs were raised as farm dogs and are trained to chase animals and people. They are thus known to be quite protective and even aggressive.

These dogs weigh between 88 to 110 pounds (40 to 50 kg) and stand 26 to 30 inches (65 to 75cm) tall.

9. Pyrenean Mastiff 

Two 14-week-old Pyrenean Mastiff puppies
Two 14-week-old Pyrenean Mastiff puppies playing in the snowfield – Image source

This ancient breed originated in the Spanish mountains and, as a result, has a long thick coat to protect them from the cold. They were initially used to herd and protect flocks of animals in the Pyrenean mountain range.

These are large dogs that stand between 30 and 31 inches (76 to 78cm) tall and weigh between 120 and 240 pounds (54.4 to 108kg)

10. German Mastiff (Great Dane)

Great Dane dog in a forest
A Great Dane (German Mastiff) dog wandering in a forest

German Mastiffs are more commonly known as Great Danes. The tallest dogs globally, Great Danes stand between 30 to 32 inches (76 to 81cm) tall and weigh between 140 to 175 pounds (63 to 79 kg)

While originally bred as hunting dogs, Great Danes are now known as highly affectionate companions. They are, however, active dogs that require plenty of exercise. 

11. Japanese Mastiff (Tosa Inu)

Tosa Inu dog portrait
Portrait of Japanese Mastiff or Tosa Inu dog

The Japanese Mastiff is a scarce, enormous Mastiff breed that weighs between 100 and 200 pounds (45.3 and 91kgs) and stands between 21.5 and 23.5 inches (53 and 59cm).

Also known as the Tosa Inu, these dogs, hail from Japan, are one of the friendliest Mastiff varieties. They are very docile and are good family dogs.

Despite their gentle natures, the Japanese Mastiff is banned in the UK as they are frequently used for dogfighting and hunting boars and pigs.

12. Alangu Mastiff (Bully Kutta)

Bully Kutta dog with leash tied on the fence
Meet Khans, a Bully Kutta or Alangu Mastiff dog with leash tied on the fence – Image source

The Alangu Mastiffs originated in India and Pakistan, and rock paintings in the Punjab region date this breed back to the 16th century.

These dogs are characterized by their heavy wrinkles. Although the AKC or FCI does not recognize the Alangu Mastiff, it’s identified by a breed in its home country by the Indian National Kennel Club.

Also known as the Bully Kutta, Indian Mastiff, South Asian Mastiff, and Pakastani Bully Dog, the Alangu Mastiff stands around 26.9 to 42 inches (76 to 107cm) tall and weighs between 154 and 200 pounds (70 and 91kg)

Alangu Mastiffs are known for their fearless nature as these dogs were initially bred to hunt bears in India. Ancient kings also used them as guardian animals.

13. Spanish Mastiff

Spanish Mastiff dog enjoying the leaf pile
A Spanish Mastiff dog loves to dip on the pile of fallen leaves – Image source

Originally bred in the mountainous regions of Spain, the Spanish Mastiff stands between 28 and 35 inches (71.1 and 88cm) in height and weighs between 140 and 200 pounds (63.5 to 90.7 kg).

These independent dogs make excellent guard dogs and share many of the traits typical of the Mastiff breed, such as their large head, muscular body, and small eyes.

14. Dogo Argentino

A Dogo Argentino dog laying on the grass
Beautiful Dogo Argentino dog laying on the grass

The Dogo Argentino stands between 23.5 and 27 inches (60 and 68.5 cm) tall and weighs between 80 and 100 pounds (36 and 45 kg). They are also known as the Argentian Mastiff; they were initially bred to hunt large game.

According to the AKC breed standards, these dogs must be entirely white apart from small dark patches around the eyes.

Like some other Mastiff breeds, the Dogo Argentino is banned in some countries due to being used in the dogfighting world, which has given this breed an aggressive reputation.

Anyone that wants to keep this dog as a pet needs plenty of structure and training.

15. Anatolian Mastiff

Anatolian Mastiff dog standing at the park
An Anatolian Mastiff or Kangal dog standing firm at the park – Image source

Also known as the Kangal Dog, Turkish Mastiff, and Kangal Shepherd Dog, the Anatolian Mastiff grows to a height of 28 to 32 inches (71 to 81 cm) and weighs between 90 and 145 pounds (41 and 66 kg).

Originating from the twelve century in Turkey, these dogs have been used for guarding and livestock protection for generations,

They are known for their fiercely loyal personalities, being extraordinarily devoted and loving to their family members but territorial around strangers. 

16. American Mastiff (American Bandogge)

A 6-month-old American Mastiff dog
Selfie of a 6-month-old American Mastiff dog at the park – Image source

A cross between the English and Anatalion Mastiffs, the American Mastiff typically weighs between 140 and 200 pounds (63 and 91 kg) and stands around 26 to 36 inches (66 to 91 cm) tall. 

These dogs look very similar to the English Mastiff, although they can be slightly smaller. Fans of these dogs say they are friendlier than English Mastiffs and don’t drool quite as much.

17. Broholmer

A Broholmer dog sitting on the porch
A Broholmer dog waiting for her owner on the porch – Image source

Despite being around since the Middle Ages as a hunting dog, the Broholmer isn’t a prevalent breed. Their numbers were severely decimated during the second world war to the point that they were almost extinct.

Thankfully some fans of this breed revived them in the 1970s. 

Like the Boerboel or Bullmastiff, the Broholmer has a large head, a regal stance, and a light brown or tan coat color. 

18. Cão Fila De São Miguel

A Cao De Fila Desao Miguel dog waiting for treats
A Cao Fila De Sao Miguel dog patiently waiting for treats – Image source

The Cão Fila De São Miguel is a breed of dog developed as a herding dog. These dogs need plenty of exercise and are not as friendly as some other Mastiff breeds; hence you seldom find them as companion animals.

19. Perro Dogo Mallorquín

Two Perro Dogo Mallorquin dogs
Two Perro Dogo Mallorquin dogs sitting together on the field – Image source

Also known as the Majorcan Bulldog, Majorcan Mastiff, or Ca de Bou, the Perro Dogo Mallorquín is another breed of dog that almost became extinct.

These dogs, which were originally bred for bull-baiting and dog fighting, were banned on the island of Majorca, where they originate. 

Today, you can still find some of these dogs in Spain, thanks to enthusiasts of this breed, but you will be hard-pressed to find them anywhere else in the world.

20. Presa Canario (Perro de Presa Canario)

Presa Canario dog on obedience training
A Presa Canario or Perro de Presa Canario dog in an obedience training

A moderately sized mastiff, the Presa Canario is very similar to the Cane Corso in looks and temperament. These dogs are docile and calm around their owners but are wary of strangers and can even be aggressive towards them.

They have oodles of confidence and a low, deep bark that makes them popular guard dogs. 

21. Abruzzese Mastiff

Two Abruzzese Mastiff dogs walking together
Two lovely Abruzzese Mastiff dogs having fun on their morning walk – Image source

The Abruzzese Mastiff which originates in Italy is sometimes confused with the Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdog or Abruzzese Sheepdog.

They are different from the sheepdog in that they are more Mastiff like in appearance while also being heavier. They are also a rarer breed.

22. Dosa Gae

Dosa Gae dog sitting on the porch
A Dosa Gae dog on her morning sunbath routine – Image source

The Dosa Gee is a rare breed almost entirely confined to Korea, where they originated. In Korea, they are known as the heaviest breed in the country and are known for their wrinkled faces. 

It is thought that the Dosa Gee originated as a cross between various Mastiffs such as the Dogue de Bordeaux, Tosa Inu, English Mastiff, and Neapolitan Mastiff, as well as possibly the Bloodhound.

23. Aksaray Malaklisi

Badass looks of Aksaray Malaklisi dog
Badass portrait of Aksaray Malaklisi dog – Image source

The Aksaray Malaklisi is a slightly larger version of the Anatolian Shepherd. Like the Anatolian Shepherd, these dogs boast a light cream coat with a darker muzzle. 

What are Some Additional Mastiff Crossbreeds?

Mastador dog resting from a walk
Meet Bruno, a Mastiff Labrador Retriever mix dog resting under the trees – Image source

All Mastiffs are related to the ancient Molossus dog. A primitive canine that existed some 5,000 years ago. These dogs are known for their large size, powerful muscular bodies, and the fact that they drool a lot. 

They have also been crossed with various other dog breeds to create some smaller, more easily manageable crosses that are more friendly towards strangers. Here are some of the other Mastiff crossbreeds you mind find.

  • Mastador (Mastiff cross Labrador Retriver)
  • Mastibull (Mastiff cross American Pitbull Terrier)
  • Mastweiler (Mastiff cross Rottweiler)
  • Mastiff Shepherd (Mastiff cross German Shepherd)
  • Boxmas (Mastiff cross Boxer)
  • Mastiffman (Mastiff cross Doberman)
  • Mastifridge (Mastiff cross Rhodesian Ridgeback)
  • Mastidoodle (Mastiff cross Poodle)
  • Makita (Mastiff cross Akita)

What are the Different Mastiff Colors?

Brindle Apricot and Fawn English Mastiffs
Brindle, Apricot, and Fawn English Mastiffs sitting on the porch – Image source

Mastiffs come in various colors but there are only three colors or patterns that are recognized by the AKC.

These include Mastiff in brindle, fawn, and apricot colors for show dogs with distinct darker or black markings around the muzzle, eyes, ears, and nose.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

English Mastiff in an overlooking city view
An English Mastiff dog chilling in a nice overlooking view of the city – Image source

What is the largest breed of Mastiff?

All breeds of Mastiff are large dogs, seldom weighing less than 100 pounds (45 kg). Having a big dog means you need to provide them with plenty of space, lots of exercise, and plenty of food.

It would help if you were strong enough to control your dog and prepare for extraordinary amounts of drool. 

The most giant breeds of Mastiff include the Broholmer, Great Dane, Tosa Inu, Spanish Mastiff, Pyrenean Mastiff, Boerboel, and the Bully Katta. However, the biggest of all is the English Mastiff

What is the most popular Mastiff?

The English Mastiff is the most common and popular AKC recognized Mastiff breed. Most people think of this type of dog when they speak about the Mastiff breed.

English Mastiffs are intelligent eager to please pups. They are known for their vast size and their good natures. 

Other popular breeds of Mastiffs include the Great Dane, Cane Corso, Bullmastiff, and the Dogue de Bordeaux.

Do different types of Mastiffs have different temperaments?

Most Mastiff breeds were initially bred as guard dogs and are fiercely loyal and protective.

Like the Cão Fila De São Miguel, some dogs are still down and out working dogs and so don’t make good companions, while other breeds like the English Mastiff can be surprisingly sweet and loving pets.

Are Mastiffs easy to train?

Mastiffs want to please their family members, making them easy to train, but a firm owner and consistency are critical with this breed.

As these dogs mature, they can become wary and defensive around strangers, and they need a firm owner who won’t let any bad habits develop.

Which type of Mastiff sheds the least?

Great Dane dog stand up on a young girl shoulders
Playful Great Dane dog bonding with his young girl owner

Mastiffs with short coats will shed less than those with longer, fluffier coats. While all Mastiffs shed a bit, those that don’t have an undercoat, such as the German Mastiff or Great Dane, will shed the least.

The Tibetan Mastiff should be avoided if you are looking for a dog that doesn’t shed as these dogs release a lot of hair.

How do I identify my Mastiff?

It can be difficult to identify between the different Mastiff varieties. The first thing you will need to do is look at your dog’s size.

You can also look at your dog’s coat type, head shape, color, and ears to better determine what kind of Mastiff you have.

Do different types of Mastiffs have different health issues?

Sad Pyrenean Mastiff dog lying on the grass
A sick Pyrenean Mastiff dog sadly laying on the grass

As Mastiffs are large breeds of dogs, it takes them long for their bones and joints to mature. These dogs are only considered fully grown when they’re around two years old

They can be prone to skeletal problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia and osteoporosis during their lifetime. These problems can be exacerbated if these dogs are exercised too young or are overweight.

One of the other downsides of owning these dogs is that they drool and snore quite a bit. They can also produce some killer farts.

Pyrenean Mastiffs are one breed of Mastiff known for their numerous health problems, and thus they are not commonly seen. 

Are Mastiffs good for a first-timer owner?

No, Mastiffs are big dogs that require a firm owner that can control them in terms of strength and knows how to provide proper training so that they don’t develop any aggressive tendencies.

These dogs can quickly see themselves as the pack leader if they don’t have a firm owner to show them who is boss. 

And while certain Mastiff breeds do well with children, their large size Mastiffs can also easily knock over small children and toddlers, even if they don’t mean to.

What is the Best Mastiff Breed for You?

As you can see, there are quite a variety of Mastiff breeds, each one with unique looks and temperament.

What you are guaranteed across all the Mastiff breeds is a large dog that will be entirely devoted to his family but also super protective, making them great guardians of the home.

Exactly which breed is right for you will depend on where you live, if you’re looking for a companion or a working animal, and your personal preferences. We hope the above list will help you choose the one that suits you best.

Which is your favorite Mastiff breed? Do you have a Mastiff at home? We would love to know more about your loveable giant dog in the comments below.

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