And we begin with the history of the Bullmastiff, who originated in mid-19th century Britain. As its name would suggest, the breed was created by crossing the Old English Bulldog and the English Mastiff. Contrary to many other breeds, the Bullmastiff was not designed by dog-enthusiasts who wanted to create something new and exciting, but by people in dire need of a better dog. These breeders were the gamekeepers of the time.
Their job was to catch poachers hunting illicit game, and to bring them before court. The gamekeepers desperately needed a large, powerful dog with a good nose to track down and apprehend the offenders - until they themselves could arrest them. The breeds available at the time did not quite fit the bill, with the English Mastiff being too slow and docile and the Bulldog being so aggressive that those poachers likely would never have made it to court in one piece.
The gamekeepers evidently succeeded and created a dog who quickly gained worldwide recognition as one of the best and most powerful guardian breeds on the planet.
The Rottweiler’s evolution, on the other hand, was a more natural one and reaches further back in time: Back when the Romans crossed the alps, they brought their large drover dogs with them: Dedicated cattle dogs, whose job was to drive and protect the animals herds that accompanied the soldiers, serving as food supply whilst travelling. In the decades to follow, these strong herding dogs were crossed with local breeds, and their offspring became the base breeding stock for the Rottweiler. Over the centuries, the Rottweiler distinguished itself as extremely capable in protecting both livestock and its owners from thieves. Today, the Rottie is one of the most popular and versatile large guardian breeds.
DIFFERENCES IN LOOKS
These two amazing dogs have many commonalities: Both have large-boned and well-muscled bodies covered by short coats, as well as blocky heads framed by uncropped floppy ears. The easiest way to tell them apart is their colouring: Rotties exclusively come in black-and-tan, whilst Bullmastiffs can be brindle, red, or fawn.
And whilst they both have a marked stop and a relatively short muzzle, only the Mastiff comes with pronounced jowls and droopy eyes. The loose skin on its face forms the deep facial folds characteristic for Mastiff-type breeds. The Rottie neither has the jowls nor the facial wrinkles of the Bullmastiff.
Bullmastiffs reach heights of up to 69 cm – or 27 inches -, for adult males, with a weight of up to 59 kg, or 130 pounds. And whilst Bullmastiffs are classed as giant breed and Rotties only as large breed, the difference in height and weight is not actually negligible: Adult males Rottweilers also can measure up to 69 cm – or 27 inches -, at the withers and weigh up to 60 kilos, which is 132 pounds. As with any breed, the females are built slightly smaller and lighter.
INTELLIGENCE & TRAINABILITY DIFFERENCES
So, how intelligent and trainable are these tall and heavy guard dog breeds? Quite evidently, the Rottweiler is the more popular and versatile working dog. The breed is commonly used by the police force for roles like man trailing (which means finding missing persons by following their scent), detection dogs or to for the apprehension of offenders. A dog of such skills must come with high levels of trainability. And yet, the Rottweiler is not an easy breed to train, due to its tendency to think and act independently. This stubbornness goes hand in hand with a level of natural aggression quite common in serious guardian breeds. Which is exactly why Rottweilers are not suited for beginners: To become and remain safe dogs, they need lots of socialization and the strong leadership of an experienced owner.
When it comes to the Bullmastiff, we are faced with even higher levels of stubbornness. But, on the bright side, this dog is far more gentle and mellow than the Rottweiler: Bullmastiffs absolutely adore their owners and are not prone to attacking them. They are also fairly intelligent and trainable, just not to quite as high levels as Rottweilers.
And this brings us to the temperaments of these excellent guard- and personal protection dogs who do not need training to defend their owners and homes.
With that said, in the case of a real-life situation, the Rottweiler is more quick to rise to the occasion. The Bullmastiff is less aggressive in its natural guarding strategy and – instead of attacking – will usually assume a protective stance. Which basically means the dog will put its bulk between its owner and the attacker whilst growling and barking. Whilst wary of strangers, Bullmastiffs generally are friendly towards humans and other canines. Rottweilers not so much, which is why they need very high levels of socialisation and canine leadership.
When it comes to both breeds’ levels of loyalty, devotion and affection for their owners, the Bullmastiff is extremely loving and sweet towards their family, especially towards children. Which makes them one of the best family guardians on the planet. Bullmastiffs are excellent house dogs - very calm, quiet and laid-back indoors, and amazingly measured in their movements. Which makes them less prone to knocking young children over than the Rottweiler, who can be rather raucous and intense. Of course, many Rottie owners have raised marvellous family companions, but it takes an experienced hand to shape a Rottweiler into a perfect house dog.EXERCISE AND GROOMING DIFFERENCES
Whilst the Bullmastiff is a very low energy breed that does not need lots of exercise, the Rottie requires quite a bit of physical and mental stimulation. Rotties should be exercised at least 2 hours per day. Because of their strongly independent and at times unwieldy nature, it is advisable to combine walks and playtimes with obedience drills. Both breeds thoroughly enjoy play sessions with their owners and nice walks – the Bullmastiff just need less of everything.
In their grooming needs, these breeds are again very similar, as they each come with short, smooth coats that are quite easy to keep clean. They require little more than a good brush once or twice a week with a soft bristle brush or slicker brush. Outside of shedding season in spring and autumn, both breeds hardly shed.