GALLANT, GENTLE, GIANT
History & Origin
The Bullmastiff, also known as the Gamekeeper’s dog, is a purebred dog from the 19th century that has been a loved and loyal protector for more than 2 centuries and continues to protect households across the world. If you are planning to keep one as a pet, you are definitely on the right track.
The gamekeepers who needed a canine that was brave and quiet yet large to hunt and hold down poachers initially bred the bullmastiff in the mid 1800s, somewhere near 1860. They went through several experiments, failed of course, until they found their ideal guard dog when they crossed the Old English bulldog and English mastiff. On their own, the Mastiffs lacked aggression and the bulldog lacked the size to tackle a human. Therefore, the gamekeepers decided to cross the breeds to complete the puzzle and as a result, Bullmastiffs came into being.
As you may have guessed by now, the name, ‘Bullmastiffs’ is a compound word derived from Bull Dog and English Mastiffs. These loyal canines are 60% English Mastiff and 40% Old English bulldog (not your average, chubby bulldogs of today).
The Bullmastiff was a combination of all the desirable traits of both the parent breeds as it was aggressive, large, strong, loyal and fearless. These are all the characteristics needed to assist the guards to capture poachers. In addition to this, the color the gamekeepers preferred was brindle as this was a great color for camouflage. As the bullmastiff was the gamekeeper’s night dog, they were normally seen working and living alongside the gamekeeper and his family.
The Bullmastiff was bred for its utility, loyalty, and temperament with little concern for its looks except for the color of its coat for camouflage. Therefore, it has always been known as a guard dog that can be used for security.
Crossbreeding was stopped and the breed was recognized as a purebred for the first time in 1934 by the English Kennel Club and was later recognized by the American Kennel Club. When poaching eventually died out, the Bullmastiffs were endeared for their loyalty and guard dog attributes.
PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER
Bullmastiffs are ranked 40th out of 157 breeds, which is a testament to their attributes. Initially (as we have covered in the history section) they were bred for strength, size and fearlessness to serve as a Gamekeeper’s dog.
Therefore, as far as their personality and temperament are concerned, it is a plus point for anyone who wants to keep them as a pet. They are the perfect protectors who are affectionate and mild-mannered towards their owners yet have a tough side to them. When it comes to defending humans, they will protect them until their last breath.
Bullmastiffs are brave canines that will not back down in any situation and have the ability to take down large targets. Although most of the times they act serious, they can be boisterous four-legged beings (especially their pups) and will trot around the house slobbering away. Bullmastiffs are loving and loyal canines. They do not like to be kept out of the house and constantly seek human affection. If a Bullmastiff does not receive it within the house, they tend to leave the premises so they can be with other people.
Though our canine subject will usually be a hospitable host to your guests, they do have the tendency to be protective about their territory. It is important to train them properly at a young age so that your dog becomes familiar with friend and foe. Otherwise, he will have socializing issues throughout his life.
If acquainted at the right age, he will let the family cat stay in his territory but he may be aggressive towards other dogs, usually of the same gender, and animals who are strangers to him. Incredibly muscular and tenacious, Bullmastiffs can be stubborn. They always want to behave the way they like and will challenge family members if opposed.
So, if you choose to keep them as pets, make sure to train them early as they respond to early and consistent training that also includes rewarding them with food, cheerful praise and a sense of leadership. Overall, they are a delightful, capable companion for emphatic owners. However, it is important to be patient and persistent because without ongoing supervision he will be a handful.
Although Bullmastiffs are usually calm and do not bark as much as other dogs, but they will bark a lot in an emergency. Bullmastiffs are the perfect fit for you if you are looking for a strong and powerful dog, stays quiet and calm indoors (as a fully-grown dog), makes a great watchdog, is serious and confident around strangers but is normally calm unless agitated and needs little exercise.
However, please keep in mind your loving Mastiff can be a little heavy and like to sit on laps and lean against legs. Bullmastiffs can be sloppy at times and tend to be gassy and drool all the time. He can be a little destructive when left to his own and can be rowdy and vivacious as a pup but these same attributes develop him into a loyal, fearless protector as he grows into adulthood.
NUTRITION AND FEEDING
When it comes to eating, the amount of food your Mastiff eats varies depending on his size, age, build, activity level, and metabolism. Just like humans, dogs need variation in their foods and when it comes to a Bullmastiff, they need to be fed well to maintain their buff, muscular body so they can be good at what they do: guarding!
The quality of the food makes a tremendous difference for your dog’s nutrition. It is important to feed your dog high-quality food in order to keep him well and healthy. It is best for you to provide your Mastiff 2 meals of high-quality dog food every day in a sufficient quantity, i.e. 3 1/8 to 4 1/8 cups.
Keep your canine protector healthy and in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him at least twice a day instead of keeping food out for him 24/7. That will just lead to laziness and obesity.
To make sure your Bullmastiff is not overweight, you can carry out a physical test after a simple eye check. Look down at your dog. You should be able to see his waist. After that, run your thumbs along the spine and place your hands on his back and with the fingers spread downwards. Without having to press too hard, you should feel his ribs.
COAT AND GROOMING
Bullmastiffs are big in size and can grow up to 25-27 inches (64-69 cm) and weigh up to 110-130 pounds. The females tend to be a few inches shorter (24-26 inches) and weigh less (41-54 kg) than their male counterparts. Your Bullmastiff’s size should not exceed more than that.
The coat is soft, dense, short and grooming-friendly. It offers great protection from harsh weather and cold environment. The Mastiff’s muzzle and ears are usually dark and their coats come in several different colors, including brindle (specks and streaks of light and dark markings), red, or fawn. In some cases, the Bullmastiff may have small white marks on his chest.
Fortunately, your bullmastiff has no major shedding problem. His coat is easy to clean and you can keep it shiny by brushing it daily using a rubber curry. You do not have to bathe your bullmastiff every day.
Always keep your bullmastiff’s ears clean with a solution that is recommended by your veterinarian in order to keep infections at bay. If you let dust, wax, and particles collect in your canine’s ears, it will make him more susceptible to infections and could even lead to cancer. A way to detect infection or mite infestation in your Bullmastiffs ears smell bad or are filled with a waxy material that resembles coffee grounds. If you detect the smell immediately, take your bullmastiff to the vet.
It is important to take care of your canine’s nails so trim them once or twice a month. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they are too long. If your bullmastiff’s nails get too long, the toes spread out and reduce the support given by the paws and will cause discomfort to your pet. This causes stickers and small stones to be stuck in the foot.
Dental hygiene of your little protector is just as important as his pedicure. If you do not brush his teeth at least thrice a week, it will cause tartar to build up and periodontal diseases. For best results, brush his teeth daily.
When you are grooming your dog, not only are you keeping him healthy, but you are also bonding with your dog and showing him that you care. While you are at it, look for irritations, such as rashes on ears, mouth, skin and feet. Be specifically sure about the redness in the eyes or discharge.
It is important to make your bullmastiff used to being groomed, brushed and examined when he is a pup so that he is not aggressive to the human touch.
Specifically, handle his paws frequently as dogs are touchy about their feet and it takes time for them to get used to the touch. Your bullmastiff will remain aggressive due to tactile stimulus if you do not make him used to it at a young age. If you help your dog have a positive experience while grooming, you are laying a great foundation for him of making him comfortable with handling for life and it will make things easier for the vet.
EXERCISE AND TRAINING
Fortunately, adult bullmastiffs are calm and quiet and they don’t require too much exercise to sustain their muscle tone. However, it is important to keep him active and running. Bullmastiffs are polite and calm in the house and remain happy just trotting around behind you.
However, keep in mind that they are large and strong and you must always remind them you are the boss and not the other way around. Otherwise, things will get messy when and if he starts feeling as the authority. Make sure you take him for a walk and not the other way around.
Keep him busy by investing in chew toys. Otherwise, your pet canine would chew on anything he gets his paws on. When training your pup bullmastiff, make sure you are not harsh as despite their tough guy feels, they are sensitive and harsh training will backfire. So, take it easy with your bullmastiff who is a lovable softie underneath that tough guy shell.
Though your lovable, tough canine is a generally healthy, however, like all breeds they are vulnerable to certain health conditions. Not all bullmastiffs are subjected to these health conditions but it is important for you to be aware of them for the sake of your Bullmastiff’s health.
When buying your puppy, make sure you find an authentic, good breeder who has all the health certificates to show you for both your puppy and his parents. Health clearances prove the dog has been tested and is clear of a particular condition. Look for a breeder who does not start breeding dogs before they are at least two or three years old.
Make sure you get health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for joints, specifically for the hips and elbows, as well as certifications from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) to make sure your bullmastiff’s eyes are normal.
Bear in mind that dogs less than two years old are not issued clearances as some health problems emerge when the dog reaches full maturity.
Health problems your canine protector could be prone to include hip and elbow dysplasia, skin and coat problems, cancer, bloating, hypothyroidism, subaortic stenosis (abnormal narrowing of the aorta), torn ligaments (anterior cruciate), entropion (inward rolling over of eyelids due to muscle spasm of conjunctiva).
Overall, if you are looking for a strong and brave canine as a companion, a bullmastiff is the perfect option for you. Go find your puppy and treat it the best you can. You will never regret!
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