Search Menu
  • Temperament: Courageous, Dignified, Good-Natured
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 28 of 194
  • Height: 30 inches & up (male), 27.5 inches & up (female)
  • Weight: 160-230 pounds (male), 120-170 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 6-10 years
  • Group: Working Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Mastiff standing sideways facing left
Mastiff head facing left
Mastiff lying on its side sideways facing left, head turned forward
Mastiff coat detail
Mastiff

Find a Puppy: Mastiff

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Mastiff Puppies

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Mastiff is a large, massive, symmetrical dog with a well-knit frame. The impression is one of grandeur and dignity. Dogs are more massive throughout. Bitches should not be faulted for being somewhat smaller in all dimensions while maintaining a proportionally powerful structure. A good evaluation considers positive qualities of type and soundness with equal weight.

HEAD

In general outline giving a massive appearance when viewed from any angle. Breadth greatly desired. Eyes set wide apart, medium in size, never too prominent. Expression alert but kindly. Color of eyes brown, the darker the better, and showing no haw. Light eyes or a predatory expression is undesirable. Ears small in proportion to the skull, V-shaped, rounded at the tips. Leather moderately thin, set widely apart at the highest points on the sides of the skull continuing the outline across the summit. They should lie close to the cheeks when in repose. Ears dark in color, the blacker the better, conforming to the color of the muzzle.

NECK, TOPLINE, BODY

Neck powerful, very muscular, slightly arched, and of medium length. The neck gradually increases in circumference as it approaches the shoulder. Neck moderately “dry” (not showing an excess of loose skin). Topline – In profile the topline should be straight, level, and firm, not swaybacked, roached, or dropping off sharply behind the high point of the rump. Chest wide, deep, rounded, and well let down between the forelegs, extending at least to the elbow. Forechest should be deep and well defined with the breastbone extending in front of the foremost point of the shoulders. Ribs well rounded. False ribs deep and well set back. Underline – There should be a reasonable, but not exaggerated, tuck-up. Back muscular, powerful, and straight. When viewed from the rear, there should be a slight rounding over the rump. Loins wide and muscular.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders moderately sloping, powerful and muscular, with no tendency to looseness. Degree of front angulation to match correct rear angulation. Legs straight, strong and set wide apart, heavy boned. Elbows parallel to body. Pasterns strong and bent only slightly. Feet large, round, and compact with well arched toes. Black nails preferred.

HINDQUARTERS

Hindquarters broad, wide and muscular. Second thighs well developed, leading to a strong hock joint. Stifle joint is moderately angulated matching the front. Rear legs are wide apart and parallel when viewed from the rear. When the portion of the leg below the hock is correctly “set back” and stands perpendicular to the ground, a plumb line dropped from the rearmost point of the hindquarters will pass in front of the foot. This rules out straight hocks, and since stifle angulation varies with hock angulation, it also rules out insufficiently angulated stifles. Fault – Straight stifles.

COAT

Outer coat straight, coarse, and of moderately short length. Undercoat dense, short, and close lying. Coat should not be so long as to produce “fringe” on the belly, tail, or hind legs. Fault Long or wavy coat.

1
2
3
4
5
6

About the Mastiff

For the uninitiated, a face-to-face encounter with these black-masked giants can be startling. A male stands at least 30 inches at the shoulder and can outweigh many a full-grown man. The rectangular body is deep and thickly muscled, covered by a short double coat of fawn, apricot, or brindle stripes. The head is broad and massive, and a wrinkled forehead accentuates an alert, kindly expression. Mastiffs are patient, lovable companions and guardians who take best to gentle training. Eternally loyal Mastiffs are protective of family, and a natural wariness of strangers makes early training and socialization essential. Mastiffs are magnificent pets, but acquiring a powerful giant-breed dog is commitment not to be taken lightly.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Mastiff

Find a Puppy: Mastiff

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Mastiff Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

For rapidly growing giant breeds such as the Mastiff, proper nutrition is critical through puppyhood and up to 2 years of age. Slow and steady growth is optimal. If fed a densely caloric diet lacking an appropriate calcium/phosphorous ratio, Mastiff puppies and young adults are prone to skeletal disorders. Most breed experts recommend that puppies start on an adult dog food formulation with a protein percentage no higher than 26 percent, and a calcium/phosphorous ratio of approx.1.2:1. Feeding scheduled meals is recommended, rather than free-feeding, to avoid excessive weight gain.

GROOMING

The Mastiff’s short, dense coat is easy to groom, usually requiring only a quick brushing every few days. During periods of heavy shedding once or twice a year, more frequent sessions with a strong, toothed comb are recommended to remove dead hair. The ears and the deep wrinkles around the Mastiff’s head, eyes, and muzzle should be regularly inspected and cleaned, and the nails trimmed short. Finally, Mastiffs drool! Most owners keep cloths at hand to wipe “slingers” off their Mastiff’s face and their own and visitors’ clothing.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Occasional Bath/Brush

EXERCISE

Bred to be guardians of “hearth and home,” Mastiffs have comparatively low exercise requirements and can live happily in an apartment. They benefit physically and psychologically from free play and daily walks—a mile or two for adult Mastiffs. However, owners must be careful not to overtax growing puppies and young adults: Don’t allow them to run up and down stairs, jump from heights, or engage in long walks. Begin with no more than half a block for a 2- to 3-month-old puppy. Additionally, Mastiffs are notorious for plopping down during walks when they are tired or overheated. Therefore, a rule of thumb is to not walk them farther than you can carry them back!

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Obedience training and early socialization are “musts” for Mastiffs. Mastiffs learn quickly and want to please. However, the repetitions in a typical training class will quickly bore them, at which point they may lie down, snoring. Make eye contact with your Mastiff; they communicate a great deal with their eyes, and they are excellent at reading your expressions and body language. Use praise and positive rewards—you can easily hurt their feelings by raising your voice. Hold several short sessions during the day, keeping it fun and varied. When treated with love, inclusion, and respect, Mastiffs can be trained to excel in almost any sphere.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Agreeable

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

The Mastiff Club of America (MCOA) provides in-depth information on breed health. Responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as seasonal allergies, eye anomalies, heart disease, cancer, eye and hip dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease, degenerative myelopathy, and epilepsy. Hygromas—harmless natural “cushions” that protect the elbow joints when the Mastiff is lying on hard surfaces—are common. Do not allow the vet to drain them. Finally, Mastiffs can experience bloat, a life-threatening condition where the stomach suddenly distends and often twists as well. Owners should educate themselves as to what symptoms indicate this is occurring and what to do should it occur.

 

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Exam
  • Cardiac Exam

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Mastiff
Mastiff
Mastiff
Mastiff

History

In tracing the history of this noble breed, we can avoid confusion by noting the distinction between mastiffs, with a lowercase “m,” and Mastiffs, the traditional giant breed of England, sometimes called the Old English Mastiff. Dogs known as mastiffs have been known around the world for thousands of years. Surviving evidence from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, and Tibet all bear traces of ferocious giant canines classified as mastiffs. The Tibetan Mastiff and Neapolitan Mastiff are examples of these ancient breeds that have endured to this day.

The British mastiff type, the AKC breed we know as the Mastiff, is similarly ancient breed. When Julius Caesar led an invasion of Britain in 55 b.c., he was impressed by the mastiffs who helped defend the island against his legions and made note of it in his campaign journal. British mastiffs were brought back to Rome to battle wild beasts and human gladiators in the arena.

The Mastiff as we know it came into focus in medieval England, used as big-game hunters, nighttime guardians of estates, and war dogs. In the “Canterbury Tales,” Chaucer calls them “Alaunts” (a French breed name) and says they were “as great as any steer/To hunt at the lion or the deer.” Mastiffs fought alongside the British against the French in 1415 at the Battle of Agincourt, later immortalized by Shakespeare.

At the end of World War II, England stood victorious but depleted. It was estimated that only 14 Mastiffs survived in the entire country. The Mastiff population was rebuilt with the help of U.S. breeders who exported specimens from good British stock back to the mother country. Today’s Mastiff is more docile and friendly than his ancient forebears, but no less courageous.

Did You Know?

The Mastiff was supposed to have originated in Asia.
Caesar described Mastiffs in his account of invading Britain in 55 BC.
The Mastiff entertained nobility in dog fights, and later the general public, at places like the "Westminster Pit" in London, a fashionable sporting establishment.
Drawings on Egyptian monuments depict typical Mastiffs dating about 3000 BC; in literature, the earliest Mastiff reference occurs 1121 BC.
The Mastiff was matched against human gladiators as well as against bulls, bears, lions, and tigers.
The Mastiff is documented in Chaucer, who describes them as "large as steer."

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Mastiff is a large, massive, symmetrical dog with a well-knit frame. The impression is one of grandeur and dignity. Dogs are more massive throughout. Bitches should not be faulted for being somewhat smaller in all dimensions while maintaining a proportionally powerful structure. A good evaluation considers positive qualities of type and soundness with equal weight.

HEAD

In general outline giving a massive appearance when viewed from any angle. Breadth greatly desired. Eyes set wide apart, medium in size, never too prominent. Expression alert but kindly. Color of eyes brown, the darker the better, and showing no haw. Light eyes or a predatory expression is undesirable. Ears small in proportion to the skull, V-shaped, rounded at the tips. Leather moderately thin, set widely apart at the highest points on the sides of the skull continuing the outline across the summit. They should lie close to the cheeks when in repose. Ears dark in color, the blacker the better, conforming to the color of the muzzle.

NECK, TOPLINE, BODY

Neck powerful, very muscular, slightly arched, and of medium length. The neck gradually increases in circumference as it approaches the shoulder. Neck moderately “dry” (not showing an excess of loose skin). Topline – In profile the topline should be straight, level, and firm, not swaybacked, roached, or dropping off sharply behind the high point of the rump. Chest wide, deep, rounded, and well let down between the forelegs, extending at least to the elbow. Forechest should be deep and well defined with the breastbone extending in front of the foremost point of the shoulders. Ribs well rounded. False ribs deep and well set back. Underline – There should be a reasonable, but not exaggerated, tuck-up. Back muscular, powerful, and straight. When viewed from the rear, there should be a slight rounding over the rump. Loins wide and muscular.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders moderately sloping, powerful and muscular, with no tendency to looseness. Degree of front angulation to match correct rear angulation. Legs straight, strong and set wide apart, heavy boned. Elbows parallel to body. Pasterns strong and bent only slightly. Feet large, round, and compact with well arched toes. Black nails preferred.

HINDQUARTERS

Hindquarters broad, wide and muscular. Second thighs well developed, leading to a strong hock joint. Stifle joint is moderately angulated matching the front. Rear legs are wide apart and parallel when viewed from the rear. When the portion of the leg below the hock is correctly “set back” and stands perpendicular to the ground, a plumb line dropped from the rearmost point of the hindquarters will pass in front of the foot. This rules out straight hocks, and since stifle angulation varies with hock angulation, it also rules out insufficiently angulated stifles. Fault – Straight stifles.

COAT

Outer coat straight, coarse, and of moderately short length. Undercoat dense, short, and close lying. Coat should not be so long as to produce “fringe” on the belly, tail, or hind legs. Fault Long or wavy coat.

1
2
3
4
5
6

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
APRICOT Check Mark For Standard Color 002
BRINDLE Check Mark For Standard Color 057
FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 082

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
BLACK MASK Check Mark For Standard Mark 004

Other Breeds to Explore