BULLMASTIFF VS ENGLISH MASTIFF
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So, let’s get started with comparing the history of these intriguing Mastiffs, and we begin with the English Mastiff – an ancient breed that is an estimated 2’000 years old. The exact history of these giants is controversial, but the most likely ancestors of today’s English Mastiffs are two now extinct giant breeds: the Caucasian Alaunt and the Alpine Mastiff. The Alpine Mastiff is a descendant of the legendary ancient Greek Molossus Hound itself – the famed ancestor of all our Mastiff-type breeds of today.
Aside from their role as war dogs, English Mastiffs were used over the centuries to guard livestock and property against intrusions from humans, bears and other predators. In the 1500’s and 1600’s, these extremely capable dogs also were tasked with hunting as well as bull baiting. In 1859, the first official breed standard for the English Mastiff was published, and in the centuries to follow, this brave giant gained world-wide popularity as gentle companion and family dog.
Like the English Mastiff, the Bullmastiff also originated in Britain. However, the breed is much younger than the English Mastiff and was created in the mid-19th century by gamekeepers. To prevent poachers from hunting illicit game, those people needed a capable guard dog with a good nose who would track down and apprehend the poachers until they themselves could get to the scene.
What those gamekeepers were aiming to create was a large, powerful dog well able to hold down the unlawful hunters. This dog needed to possess enough natural aggression to attack the intruders, but also enough restraint to not maul or kill them on the spot. For this purpose, they crossed the Old English Bulldog and the English Mastiff – hence the name Bullmastiff.
Whilst the Bulldog brought prey drive and aggression into the new breed, the comparatively slow and docile Mastiff ensured both the body mass and the restraint required.
Due to the gamekeepers’ excellent work, the Bullmastiff’s guarding skills soon made these dogs popular far beyond their native Britain. In 1934, the breed was recognized by the AKC, and, today, the Bullmastiff is a popular guard dog in many countries of the world.
DIFFERENCES IN LOOKS
Both the Bullmastiff and the English Mastiff are giants amongst the giant dog breeds of the world. Whilst they both have tall, immensely large-boned and well-muscled bodies, they are relatively easy to tell apart – with the English Mastiff being significantly taller and heavier than its Bullmastiff cousin. Both dogs have gigantic, blocky heads with marked stop and a relatively short muzzle with pronounced jowls. Their V-shaped ears are small and flop downward, and their eyes appear droopy due to the loose skin on their faces – which forms the deep facial folds characteristic for brachycephalic (that is, short-headed) breeds.
English Mastiffs are amongst the largest breeds and are THE heaviest dog breed in the world, with adult males standing up to incredible 91 cm at the withers – which amounts to almost 36 inches. These impressive giants can weigh up to astounding 100 kg – that is 220 pounds. As with any breeds, the females are slightly smaller and lighter.
Bullmastiffs, on the other hand, “only” reach a height of 69 cm – or 27 inches -, for adult males, with a weight of up to 59 kg, or 130 pounds. Again, the females are built slightly smaller and lighter.
Contrary to other Mastiff breeds like the Cane Corso or the Neapolitan Mastiff, they both come with uncropped ears and undocked tails.
Both the Bullmastiff and the English Mastiff have short, soft, and naturally shiny coats that can come in a variety of colours. For the Bullmastiff, breed standards allow brindle, red and fawn. Very similar in colouring, the English Mastiff can come in brindle, apricot or fawn. Both breeds have a mask of black fur around their face.
INTELLIGENCE & TRAINABILITY DIFFERENCES
Now, let’s find out how intelligent and trainable these majestic and massive Mastiff breeds are. Both are equipped with decent levels of intelligence, and yet this intelligence is coupled with a strong tendency to think and act independently. In other words: They tend to have a mind of their own and, therefore, can be quite difficult to train. Conventional methods that include harsh corrections will not work with this type of dog. This, by the way, is typical for most Mastiff breeds, and it does make training them very challenging for the inexperienced owner.
Therefore, both breeds should be trained from puppyhood onwards in obedience and manners. Their enormous size and bulk make this especially crucial, because you do not want to frighten people out on the street with having an out-of-control Mastiff charge at them.
Both breeds greatly benefit from the strong leadership of an experienced owner. Provided with such leadership and good socialization, these dogs can reach quite satisfactory levels of obedience. With that said, the English Mastiff tends to be slightly more cooperative and eager to please their owners by means of obeying commands. In the case of the Bullmastiff, a higher level of stubbornness – or, put into kinder words: independence – can be observed. Presumably, this is due to the influence of the Old English Bulldog.
And this brings us to the temperaments of these strong, super-sized breeds. Thanks to their history as bull fighters and war dogs, both the Bullmastiff and the English Mastiff make excellent guard and personal protection dogs. Conveniently, neither breed needs any training to defend their owners and homes.
With that said, the Bullmastiff tends to be somewhat sharper and quicker to rise to the occasion in the case of a real-life situation: Again, a trait inherited from the aggressive Old English Bulldog in its lineage. Especially after crossing the one year mark, Bullmastiffs develop a profound wariness of strangers. Their protective instincts kick in around that time, and make the dog keenly guard its owners and property.
English Mastiffs, on the other hand, can be slightly hesitant when it comes to actively attacking a person: They will still act, should the need occur, but are more docile in general. Which is exactly why the gamekeepers of old England saw the need to combine the Bulldog’s aggression and readiness to strike to the rather slow English Mastiff with its generally friendly disposition towards all humans.
When it comes to both breeds’ levels of loyalty, devotion and affection for their owners - they are fairly equal: Extremely loving and devoted, they form strong emotional bonds with their people. Both breeds absolutely adore children and are excellent house dogs and family companions. They are also very calm, quiet, laid-back and gentle in the house. And very measured in their movements, which makes them less prone to knocking young children over than other large breeds.
In my personal opinion, the English Mastiff is THE ultimate family guardian breed in existence – their natural love and patience with children is not even trumped by the famous Newfoundland. Bullmastiffs closely follow suit, being perhaps a little bit less calm and patient due to, again, their Bulldog heritage.
EXERCISE AND GROOMING DIFFERENCES
Both these absolutely amazing Mastiff breeds are quite low in their energy levels. And despite their enormous size, they do not actually need a lot of physical exercise to be calm and contented canine companions.
Of course, both the Bullmastiff and the English Mastiff thoroughly enjoy play sessions and nice walks with their owners – they just need less of it than high energy breeds like the Malinois or the Pitbull Terrier. And whilst it is great if you can offer your Mastiff a large garden or yard to run and play, this is not absolutely necessary – if you can provide them with some time off-leash every day, both of these breeds can absolutely adapt to apartment living. Now, this may surprise some of you, but their innate calmness makes them much better apartment dogs than smaller and more agile breeds, like for example terriers. So, apart from playtimes, leisurely walks and occasional runs, your Mastiff will be quite content with a few shorter walks a day.
Now, when it comes to grooming, these breeds are again very similar, as they each come with short, smooth coats that are quite easy and effortless to groom. To keep them nice and shiny at all times, the Bullmastiff and the English Mastiff require little more than a weekly once-over with a soft bristle brush or a mitt. Of course, as with most breeds, spring and autumn are shedding seasons for the Bullmastiff and the English Mastiff, and you will have to brush them more than usual during these times. Outside of shedding season in spring and autumn, both breeds hardly shed.
Because of their large jowls, however, the gentle giants do require a little bit more care than most other dog breeds: They are equipped with deep facial folds that need daily cleaning in order to prevent skin infections. As well, they tend to drool quite a bit, especially right after eating and drinking, and also whenever they anticipate mealtimes or treats. Being proactive goes a long way to keeping excessive drool from getting all over your furniture: For example, you could tie a nice-looking scarf around your dog’s neck, that you then can use to wipe away excess drool – before the dog has a chance to distribute it all over your furniture by means of shaking its head
And this brings us to the end of our discussion of these two stunning Mastiffs who have many characteristics in common – starting from their majestic and fairly intimidating looks and reaching all the way to their strongly independent, yet affectionate and loving character.