Where does the Bullmastiff come from?
As we mentioned at the beginning of this video, the name Bullmastiff is derived from two ancient British breeds, the Old English Bulldog and the English Mastiff. The idea to cross them and to develop their offspring into a brand-new breed of guard dog was a stroke of genius.
It was the gamekeepers of 19th century England who came up with that idea, and who followed it up with continued efforts, until they had created exactly the dog they needed: A large, powerful dog who would track and apprehend the game poachers they were attempting to capture and bring before the tribunal. But oftentimes, those poachers fled the scene before the gamekeepers could get them, and the heavy English Mastiffs were to slow and docile to be of much help. The Old English Bulldog, on the other hand, would no doubt have loved to help out. But the gamekeepers feared that sending Bulldogs after the perpetrators would result in those perpetrators’ untimely demise. Which, of course, conflicted with the gamekeepers’ task of bringing them before a court of justice.
What is their temperament like?
When it comes to their temperament, Bullmastiffs are closer to the English Mastiff than to the Bulldog: In general, they are not prone to launch full-on attacks on people or animals whom they deem a danger. However, they do possess a certain level of territorial aggression and wariness of strangers that is quite healthy for a guardian breed. A Bullmastiff will often put itself between its owner and another person whom it distrusts. This defensive mode of guarding comes without any training, and is quite typical for Mastiff-breeds and for large livestock guardian breeds.
Apart from their well-balanced temperament and their restraint when it comes to handling potentially dangerous situations, Bullmastiffs are remarkably laid-back. The considerable aggression towards other dogs - once running in the Old English Bulldog – is not present in today’s Bullmastiffs: If socialised from an early age onwards, they get along well with other dogs and other pets in the same household.
The naturally confident Bullmastiff makes a superb family guardian who is immensely affectionate and devoted towards its favourite humans. Despite its considerable size and bulk, this breed is remarkably settled and calm in the home. And Bullmastiffs absolutely love spending time in the house, together with their family.
How intelligent and trainable are Bullmastiffs?
These mighty Mastiffs not only come with a big love for their family, but also with a high level of intelligence. However, compared to other Mastiff breeds like the Cane Corso or the Presa Canario, the Bullmastiff is fairly stubborn and independent. This dog does not feel an overwhelming need to please its owners, to say the least. Which makes these strong-willed giants quite a challenge to train. But what the breed lacks in trainability, it more than makes up for in reliability: Contrary to other large guardian breeds like, for example, the Rottweiler, a Bullmastiff turning on their owners is almost unheard of. The Bullmastiff’s stubborn streak is quite typical for most Mastiff-breeds, which is why these dogs greatly benefit from an experienced handler who can provide them with firm and fair guidance and direction.
Are Bullmastiffs healthy dogs?
As is the case with many large and heavy dog breeds, the Bullmastiff is a plagued with a long list of health concerns. The breed is known to suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia as well as dilated cardiomyopathy and serious forms of cancer. Other common problems include thyroid issues, skin conditions, subaortic stenosis torn anterior cruciate ligaments, and bloat. Also, they are prone to an eye-condition called entropion (which basically means the eyelid rolls inwards).
Therefore, choosing a breeder who not only tests his breeding stock for dysplasia, but also for heart and eye conditions, is crucial. You basically want your breeder to provide you with documentation that your puppy’s parents have been cleared of all these health issues known to affect the Bullmastiff.
The life-expectancy of the breed usually ranges from 8 and 10 years.
To ensure a healthy growth of muscles and bones, Bullmastiff puppies should be fed a diet with a high protein and fat content. In fact, a raw food diet is perfect for them – preferably with products sourced from organic farming: Out of all the possible diets for your dog, raw food has the highest nutritional content. In case feeding raw is not an option for you - a high quality grain-free kibble is the second-best solution. Due to the Bullmastiff’s delicate health, you do not want to feed them low-grade kibble from the supermarket: In doing so, you might cause your dog serious sickness or even, in the very worst case, a premature death.
How much exercise does the Bullmastiff need?
These dogs do not need lots of work-outs and stimulation to stay healthy and well-balanced. Being very calm dogs by nature, Bullmastiffs are quite low in their energy levels and exercise requirements. They are true gentle giants in the house and quite happy with two nice walks a day of around 30 minutes each. Of course, they still enjoy their walks and playtimes – they just do not need as much of them as more energetic Mastiff breeds, such as, again, the Cane Corso or the Presa Canario.
What are their grooming requirements?
The very good news is that the glorious Bullmastiff hardly requires any grooming. However, a brush twice a week is recommended to keep them clean. The best tools for the short, single-layered coats of the Bullmastiff are mitts and soft natural bristle brushes. During shedding season in spring and autumn, more frequent brushing might be required to keep those short hairs from getting onto the floor.
Apart from brushing your Bullmastiff, you should clean their facial wrinkles daily with a baby-wipe or canine wipe to prevent infection. Also, make sure to check their floppy ears once a week for any residue or built-up.
The amazing Bullmastiff is one of the most powerful and reliable guardian breeds in existence today. At the same time, when socialized and trained well, these powerful dogs make superb family guardians: With the proper guidance and leadership, Bullmastiffs are absolutely devoted and affectionate companions who are a pleasure to live with.