Ol West Bullmastiffs
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The Bullmastiff was accepted as a recognized breed of the American Kennel Club in October 1933.
General Appearance and Size
Bullmastiffs are large, powerfully built, but agile dogs. They have short coats that come in fawn, red, or brindle shades, and have a black mask. Their large heads are a striking feature, with keen, alert, intelligent expressions. Males measure 25 to 27" at the withers, and weigh up to 130 lbs. Females are 24 to 26" at the withers and weight up to 120 lbs.
Temperament of the Bullmastiff
"Fearless and confident, yet docile, the dog combines the reliability, intelligence, and willingness to please required in a dependable family companion and protector."
The Bullmastiff Breed Standard
Bullmastiffs are strong-willed but sensitive dogs who need a firm but loving hand. Consistency is the key word when dealing with this breed. Bullmastiffs possess tremendous physical strength and intelligence (bred to out-think man-the poacher), so early training and socialization is vital to a well-behaved family companion along with a more intelligent owner. Therefore, a Bullmastiff is not a dog for everyone. A Bullmastiff owner must be committed to training and socializing a beginning during puppyhood and continuing throughout the life of the bullmastiff. Not all training methods work with such an intelligent dog as they learn very quickly and get bored very quickly. A bullmastiff owner needs understand the uniqueness and intelligence of this breed and adjust their training methods to best suit their dog.
Most bullmastiffs are natural guardians of their home and families. However, a bullmastiff is not a "true" guard dog. The bullmastiff was bred to track and hold the poacher but also to defend the gamekeeper. All bullmastiffs will defend their family and property but they will not be the frontline of defense as some of the other mastiff breeds were bred to be. Therefore, no guard training is necessary for a Bullmastiff to react appropriately if his family is threatened. However, unless that threat occurs, you may never see that side of your Bullmastiff. Because silence was a virtue for Bullmastiffs guarding estates, you cannot sneak up on a poacher if you are barking!
Bullmastiffs and children
In general, Bullmastiffs do very well with children. They have a high pain tolerance and are not likely to snap in reaction to a pulled tail or tugged ear. It is imperative, however, that Bullmastiffs be taught to respect children, and that children be taught to respect Bullmastiffs. Remember that these are large dogs, and what is meant to be a playful swat with a paw could knock a small child over easily. Never leave a child unattended with your Bullmastiff or any dog. A Bullmastiffs' size should certainly be considered when children are involved. Accidents can and do happen. A Bullmastiff simply turning their head quickly to one side can produce a fall or damage to a small child. Also, remember that all large breed dogs are puppies until they are 2-3 yrs of age. That means, your bullmastiff will not respect your children (or property) until they are out of their puppyhood. Raise your dog appropriately and use common sense. A Bullmastiff is a dominant breed and if allowed will position themselves above the younger members of the family. So, proper training is a MUST for all bullmastiffs.
Bullmastiffs and other animals
Remember that bullmastiffs were bred to work alongside of man and not necessarily care for other animals. Most Bullmastiffs can be taught to share a home with cats, though some with a high prey drive never seem to lose the temptation to give chase. Because the bullmastiff was developed to work independently and to be wary of canine intruders, Bullmastiffs are frequently not accepting of other dogs. In most cases, males and females will get along, but a Bullmastiff with another dog of the same gender (any size/breed of dog) can spell trouble. The dogs may do well with one another for years and then some small trigger sets them off and they will be enemies for life. A fight involving a Bullmastiff almost always involves extensive, expensive veterinary care, and you must separate the dogs from one another for the remainder of their lives as a precautionary measure.
Bullmastiffs are independent thinkers. In general, they want to please their owners, but they rarely see the value in repeating the same actions again and again. For this reason, training a Bullmastiff to do obedience work must be approached differently than training many other breeds. You must understand that they are very intelligent, learn very quickly and get bored very quickly. Bullmastiffs can excel in conformation, obedience, agility, tracking, and carting if proper training methods (positive reinforcement) is used. Bullmastiffs can make excellent therapy dogs and can bring a smile to the face of those they visit.
Bullmastiffs are best as family companions who live indoors with their loved ones. Despite their large size and tough-guy good looks, a Bullmastiff can have a very soft temperament where loved ones are concerned. They are happiest when they are spending time with their family, and are best suited as indoor pets. Most bullmastiffs don't require a lot of exercise, and a brief walk or two or a romp in the yard may be all they need. You do not have to have a large yard to keep a Bullmastiff; they can live happily in an apartment with a few daily walks. Be aware that Bullmastiffs are very intolerant of extreme heat. Because of their shortened muzzles, you must take care to be sure they do not overheat on warm days, and restrict activities to the coolest hours of the day. Bullmastiffs should never be allowed outside, even in fenced yards, unattended. If they think their family has left the home, they will often go through the fencing to search them out. They rarely test the fencing when their family is home. But, do not leave your bullmastiff outside and leave for work or the grocery. You won't likely find them in the yard when you return. Also, remember that bullmastiffs are guard dogs and as their territory expands if they are allowed to patrol the neighborhood. Your neighbors won't be happy if your bullmastiff starts to claim the neighborhood as their's and create problems with the neighborhood dogs.
It is often said that the Bullmastiff is a wash and wear breed. Their short coats don't require a lot of care, though they will certainly benefit from a quick daily brushing to remove dead hair and keep their coats shiny. Like all dogs, their ears and teeth must be cleaned regularly, and their toenails should be kept short.
Health and Longevity
Dogs are subject to health problems, and Bullmastiffs are no exception. Common health issues are cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, torn anterior cruciate ligaments, bloat, skin and coat problems, thyroid problems and entropion. You can learn more about those issues and what the American Bullmastiff Association Health and Research Committee is doing to learn about these problems on the ABA Health and Research page.
Cost of Ownership
When you are thinking of adding a Bullmastiff to your family, please take into consideration not only the initial cost of purchasing a puppy (average current prices for puppies range from $1000 to $1800), but also the cost of health care. Remember that all dogs need annual veterinary visits, and that even routine medication, such as those to prevent fleas and ticks, are very expensive for such a large dog. Medical costs associated with large breed dogs are higher primarily due to size in general. Other costs to consider include the purchase of quality food, toys and supplies. A teething puppy requires many items to occupy their time otherwise your furniture and other property may suffer.
What is a bullmastiff?
The history of the Bullmastiff begins around the year 1860 in England. The Bullmastiff was bred to aid gamekeepers in protecting the game on large English estates. Poaching on the estates was a serious problem for the landowners, and it was the gamekeeper's duty to catch the thieves. However, poaching was punishable by death so the thieves would often kill the gamekeepers to avoid capture. Gamekeepers needed a dog that could track quietly, cover short distances quickly, and pin and hold poachers without mauling them. The gamekeepers experimented with several breeds, looking to the mastiff, who was too slow, and then the bulldog, who was at the time a more ferocious dog than he is today--too ferocious-nothing left of the poacher. The gamekeepers wanted not to destroy the poacher but to capture him to make public examples of them during execution. From the cross of mastiffs and bulldogs, the bullmastiff was born. The bullmastiff is now primarily a family companion with a calm, dependable disposition when properly trained and socialized.