The English Mastiff is a dog that inevitably arouses a deep sense of respect. It is a large, powerful animal with deep historical roots and multiple rebirths. So how did the gladiator fighter evolve into a pet dog, a family pet, and a protector of the weak?
Historical roots of the breed
The English, or unofficially Old English, Mastiff, originally from England, is the largest European Dane and the largest representative of the Mastiff.
Its origin has such deep roots that scientists are still guessing where the name of the breed came from. According to one version, it is a slightly distorted interpretation of the word combination, which means “lord of thieves. It is associated with an old order, when these dogs were put on a chain during the daytime, so that at night they were more ferocious.
Another version is that mastiff comes from the word masty, which means “classy,” “quality.” This concept most accurately reflects the essence of these animals. These are not all interpretations, but the most common.
Many questions remain about the origin of these dogs, but it is most likely that their ancestors are Tibetan mastiffs, who originally lived in the mountains, and then spread throughout the ancient states – Assyria, Egypt, Persia, and others.
Archaeological excavations have confirmed that dogs similar to the mastiff existed in the 6th century B.C. The great military leader Alexander of Macedon used the same animals dressed in armor in battle. Dogs came to England thanks to the Celts, who migrated here from Asia in 3-4 centuries B.C.
There is a mention of Caesar about the giant dogs of Britons, who participated with their owners in battles with the Roman legionnaires. The Romans christened the dogs Mastiffs and began to let them out in the arena to gladiators.
In the early 5th century, Germanic tribes invaded England with their fighting dogs. For the most part natural assimilation of the two species of animals led to the formation of a new type of dog – with dark coloring and a fierce temperament.
By the 11th century the mastiffs had changed their appearance somewhat and, leaving the fighting, they were used for warfare, big game hunting and as overseers of slaves. Mastiffs at the time were very valuable, because one such dog could replace two dozen hounds and greyhounds. That was the value of these dogs. Naturally, Mastiffs were available only to the privileged classes, as their price was rather high, and their keeping was also taxed.
In the 60s of the 11th century, the Normans, who attacked Great Britain, imported the Alans, the hunting mastiff, from Europe. Again there was a mixture of bloodlines, resulting in several types of Mastiff. In the early 15th century, the Duke of York left records in which mastiffs appeared as watchdogs.
What a purebred Mastiff looks like
If we consider the appearance, modern Mastiffs are large, powerful, heavy animals, with strong bones. They are so strong and powerful. The skin has a high elasticity, tight to the body. At the head region, in case of strong excitement, skin can form folds.
According to the standard, Mastiff male dogs should have an average height of 76 cm, bitches – about 70 cm, the weight of animals can range from 80 to 86 kg.
Hair coat of mastiffs is dense, tough, the hairs are short, but the undercoat is also thick, but softer. The color of the coat should be with the obligatory presence of pale – silver, dark tiger, apricot.
The generally accepted standard describes the purebred as follows:
- The head of the Mastiff is large, square in shape, with pronounced muscles in the temporal part, as well as in the area of the cheeks and the vertex. The cheekbones are pronounced but not protruding. When the pet is in a concentrated state, the skin on the forehead wrinkles, and skin folds as if hanging over the eyebrows, this makes the pet look stern.
- The tip of the mastiff’snose is large, slightly flattened, and has a black coloration.
- Dogs of this breed have strong jaws, fleshy, thick, lips with black edging.
- The ears are wide and high set, and are in a hanging position. They are rather thin, black or dark in color, of medium length, and rounded at the tips.
- The eyes are round, with a dark iris, widely set. Mastiffs have a serious, attentive look.
- Teeth are round, bright white, the incisors of the lower jaw have a linear arrangement. The bite can be in the form of scissors, or straight. The standards allow the lower incisors to be arranged in a staggered pattern.
- The neck is strong, short, with well-defined muscles and tight skin. In the throat area the skin forms two folds.
- Theback of the English mastiff, the loin and croup, wide, strong, with developed muscles.
- The tail is sickle-shaped, with a high planting, dropped down, during the movement rises.
- Thethorax is massive, of considerable breadth and depth. The ribs are convex, rounded. The abdomen is taut and the crotch is well-padded.
- The forelegs have wide and straight stance, strong bones and relief muscles. The hind legs are well developed, with a massive shin, a little shortened and set back. Cushions of the paws are impressive, rounded, gathered into a clump. Claws of mastiffs are black.
Dogs move freely, without fuss. The characteristic course is a trot, which during acceleration turns into a gallop.
The breed’s defects include the following conditions:
- Uniformity (cryptorchidism).
- Coloration that is not on the standard list.
- Aggressive behavior toward people.
- Absence of dark pigment on the nose, eyelids, lips.
- Absence of a mask on the muzzle.
- Standing ears.
- Eyes of different colors as well as blue.
- Incorrect bite – if the tongue or teeth are visible from the closed mouth.
- One-sided shifting of paws while walking (pacing).
- Males below 74 cm at withers, for bitches lower limit is 68 cm.
What is the nature of the English Mastiff?
Naturally, each dog has its own, unique character, but there are common features that apply, if not to all pets of this breed, then to most of them.
Looking at the Mastiffs at the dawn of the breed, you can guess that they were ferocious dogs, characterized by a vicious temper. Such dogs mercilessly tore gladiators to pieces and fearlessly fought with the largest predators.
But long years of evolution have completely changed the vicious temper of the dogs of this breed. If in size the mastiffs became even bigger and bigger, the emotional state became, on the contrary, more stable and calm. The work of the breeders was successful and today the English Mastiff is a great pet.
As soon as the dog got rid of his hot temper, it became noticeably calmer and more reserved. Her patience is the envy of many, because the Mastiff is a model of calm and confidence. In order for the dog to panic, you need a very, very hard. These dogs are not in the habit of unreasonably barking, do not show exuberant joy, jumping on the newly arrived people.
Despite all the menacing appearance and seeming independence, it is almost impossible for such a dog to survive on the street. For many years of living at home Mastiffs got used to coziness and warmth of human dwelling and quite adapted to cohabitation with humans. They are not prone to quarrels and arguments, and if they don’t like something, they prefer to leave proudly.
English Mastiffs have not lost their courage over time. They are able to protect both themselves and their owners. But there must be a good reason for this. These pets like to be in a quiet state, to lie down, to sleep. Their movements are slow, but this does not prevent them from being active.
The dog knows the boundaries of its territory and always keeps everything under control, even while sleeping. Even just waking up, he can quickly assess the situation and react properly.
Much of the behavior of the animal depends on its timely socialization. If as a puppy, he successfully passed socialization, then as an adult it is not just a pet, but a full member of the family, loving kindness and affection.
He can sacrifice himself for any member of the family, besides, he will be just happy to accompany the owners on trips or vacations. Staying alone, however, the mastiff does not like to be very, very much.
The English Mastiff can act as a caring nurse, but it is still not recommended to let him near babies. This does not refer to the possible aggression, but only due to the large size of the pet. Playing with such a voluminous friend for the baby may not end well.
This huge dog likes to play with older children, showing amazing caution. At the same time, if you play catch-up, there is no chance of escaping from the mastiff. Despite the clumsiness, these dogs can develop unprecedented speed.
Under the protection and care of the dog also fall all other pets living in the house. Even cats, and especially kittens, will be guarded with the same fervor as the owners themselves. To provoke a conflict mastiff male can only another male, in this case the natural instinct of dominance is manifested.
On walks they behave calmly and even without a leash they will march nearby nobly. While walking on the street, this pet will show all its restraint and will not rush after a street animal, whether it’s a dog or a cat.
What these big dogs are not suited for is sports; it is unnatural for phlegmatic Mastiffs to do something fast and very fast. Mastiffs are perfectly suited for apartment living and even love this kind of comfort.
How to Care and Keep a Pet Mastiff
Because of their short hair, mastiffs cannot live outside, and it is recommended to keep them indoors, whether it is an apartment or their own home. The same must be taken into account during walks – in severe winter you need to take care of special clothing for dogs.
The mastiff must have its own place to sleep and rest. Sofas, beds and other furniture should be taboo from the early age of the pet.
Such a huge dog requires a special diet enriched with calcium. It is mandatory to include dairy products in the diet. Until three months of age, it is forbidden to feed a puppy with dry food.
Mastiffs must be vaccinated regularly, and it is worth doing it in time. The dog needs walks, although you can’t tell by his bored look. Still, the dog should get the necessary physical activity.
The hair of the mastiff does not require special care from the owners, usually it is enough to treat it once a week with a special brush, and only during the molting period to do it much more often.
Read more about the proper care of dogs.
A picture of the English Mastiff
Video about the Mastiff
The Price of the English Mastiff
To get an English Mastiff puppy as a pet is not difficult – the breed is quite common, there are a large number of kennels in the Russian Federation, and there are also sales from hand. Of course, in the periphery there can be some difficulties, but they are solvable.
Puppy without pedigree can be bought for a modest price of $500, a dog with a pedigree will cost much more, here the cost starts at $1300.
Puppy from titled parents will cost at least $2800, and that’s just the starting price. Which puppy to buy, and how much to pay for it, the owner decides. The price is not so important, what’s important is that you’re getting a sincere and devoted friend.