How Are BULLMASTIFFS With Children And Pets
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The Bullmastiffs’ Fearsome Ancestors
Bullmastiffs have been specifically bred by gamekeepers for the purpose of tracking and apprehending poachers in mid-19th century England. For this role, the gamekeepers needed a large and powerful dog who would pin down the transgressors without killing them on the spot. (After all, bringing the poaches in front of the local tribunal was part of the gamekeepers’ job.)
But the canine population of the time failed to provide those gamekeepers with a dog of that skillset: The Old English Mastiff had the bulk, but lacked the incentive to boldly attack, and the Old English Bulldog’s aggression had the gamekeepers fear for the illicit hunters’ lives.
So, what to do? The gamekeepers decided that the best way forward was to simply cross both of these old English breeds – and hope for the best. And their leap of faith was rewarded: The Bullmastiff turned out to be the perfect dog for the job of tracking and holding those troublesome poachers.
But what about those unmanageable Old English Bulldog-genes that are still lurking in the Bullmastiffs of today? Could they make this dog a ferocious fighter whom not even their owners can control – a dog who would maul man and beast alike, if given the chance?
The Bullmastiff – Families’ best Friend or Foe?
Precisely because of the breeding efforts of the gamekeepers of 19th century England, the Bullmastiff we have today is an excellent natural guardian – not a hunter: These dogs were bred to PROTECT the game in their owners’ care – and not side with the poachers by hunting the wildlife down themselves. Fortunately for thousands of house pets and farm animals, the Bullmastiff’s natural guarding instinct includes any other animals living on their property. And the same applies to their owners’ children. Historically, these large guardians lived together with their gamekeeper-owner and their family. A wise precaution on the part of the gamekeepers, as the dog’s presence protected them from vengeful acts from those pesky poachers.
It is safe to say that, despite the genetic influence of the Old English Bulldog, today’s Bullmastiff is the proverbial gentle giant who is not prone to attacking your children, hunting your house cat or eating your pet rabbit. These Mastiffs are known for their remarkable – and in fact, almost unparalleled - friendliness towards their humans. And towards their humans’ entire animal population. And we have got to thank another canine for this - a dog who used to bravely defend soldiers back when the Romans invaded Britain: The Old English Mastiff. And whilst this mountain of a dog will absolutely rise to the occasion should a dangerous situation occur, it will not move its bulk around for trivial purposes. Such as chasing a cat, a rabbit, or a child.
English Mastiffs are the ultimate family guardians and are even better and more patient with children than the famous Newfoundland. Ultimately, it is the Mastiff’s blood that has made today’s Bullmastiff quite safe around children of all ages as well as other animals: It has gracefully cancelled out the unruly features of the fierce fighting dog that makes up the other half of the Bullmastiff’s genetic make-up – the Old English Bulldog.
Bullmastiffs – Devoted Family Companions
As you will know in case you have been around for a while on this channel and on our main channel, “The Fenrir Canine Show”, I absolutely adore Bullmastiffs. And in my own personal opinion, no breed better is suited for the role of family guardian than this one. Admittedly, I am biased, as I have owned one of these extremely loving, gentle giants myself in the past.
However, I am not the only Bullmastiff owner who can safely say that these dogs absolutely adore children. Their patience with even the most obnoxious toddler-behaviour is downright startling. Contrary to other breeds, Bullmastiffs not only tolerate small children poking them and crawling all over them – but they seem to enjoy having “their” kids so close.
In case you own a Bullmastiff and one day, you come home with your new-born baby, the dog usually will effortlessly slip into the role of the child’s designated bodyguard and nanny. For example, after our first son was born, my own Bullmastiff used to sleep in front of the nursery door. Doing so, she put herself between the baby and any potential danger. Bullmastiffs also tend to place their bodies between their owners (and their owners’ children) and stranger whom they do not trust. And Bullmastiffs do not trust any stranger, so their owners see this defensive guardian behaviour quite often. And the most amazing thing about it is that you do not have to teach them any of this – it just comes with the breed.
As these loving dogs are also fairly measured in their movements, they are unlikely to knock over children or to “mow down” smaller dogs in the household. They are not prone to running around the house like other dogs often do. Thanks to the influence of their ancestor, the Old English Mastiff, the Bullmastiff’s prey drive is very low. And this in itself makes life with them safe for the rest of your animal population.
Despite their low prey drive, Bullmastiffs enjoy nice and easy playtimes, which makes them fantastic playmates for slightly older children: With a bit of training, they are quite happy to retrieve toys and to engage in gentle games of tug-of-war. They seem to be amazingly aware of their strength and are often seen to be exceptionally gentle when playing with smaller dogs, puppies, or children.
And this wraps up our discussion of the Bullmastiff’s behaviour towards children and other animals. As we saw, these powerful guard dogs are absolutely loving, loyal and deeply affectionate family companions. Their big heart for children and amazing tolerance for other animals makes them the perfect choice for households with children and other pets.