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  • Temperament: Affectionate, Loyal, Brave
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 48 of 194
  • Height: 25-27 inches (male), 24-26 inches (female)
  • Weight: 110-130 pounds (male), 100-120 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 7-9 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.

Bullmastiff standing sideways facing left
Bullmastiff standing in three-quarter view facing forward
Bullmastiff head and shoulders facing left
Bullmastiff sitting in three-quarter view
Bullmastiff coat detail
Bullmastiff

Find a Puppy: Bullmastiff

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

That of a symmetrical animal, showing great strength, endurance, and alertness; powerfully built but active. The foundation breeding was 60 percent Mastiff and 40 percent Bulldog. The breed was developed in England by gamekeepers for protection against poachers.

HEAD

Expression – Keen, alert, and intelligent. Eyes – Dark and of medium size. Ears – V-shaped and carried close to the cheeks, set on wide and high, level with occiput and cheeks, giving a square appearance to the skull; darker in color than the body and medium in size. Skull – Large, with a fair amount of wrinkle when alert; broad, with cheeks well developed. Forehead flat. Stop-Moderate. Muzzle – Broad and deep; its length, in comparison with that of the entire head, approximately as 1 is to 3. Lack of foreface with nostrils set on top of muzzle is a reversion to the Bulldog and is very undesirable. A dark muzzle is preferable. Nose – Black, with nostrils large and broad. Flews – Not too pendulous. Bite – Preferably level or slightly undershot. Canine teeth large and set wide apart.

BODY

Neck – Slightly arched, of moderate length, very muscular, and almost equal in circumference to the skull. Topline – Straight and level between withers and loin. Body – Compact. Chest wide and deep, with ribs well sprung and well set down between the forelegs. Back-Short, giving the impression of a well balanced dog. Loin-Wide, muscular, and slightly arched, with fair depth of flank. Tail – Set on high, strong at the root, and tapering to the hocks. It may be straight or curved, but never carried hound fashion.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders – muscular but not loaded, and slightly sloping. Forelegs-straight, well boned, and set well apart; elbows turned neither in nor out. Pasterns straight, feet of medium size, with round toes well arched. Pads thick and tough, nails black.

COAT

Short and dense, giving good weather protection.

HINDQUARTERS

Broad and muscular, with well developed second thigh denoting power, but not cumbersome. Moderate angulation at hocks. Cowhocks and splay feet are serious faults.

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Bullmastiff

About the Bullmastiff

The Bullmastiff isn’t quite as large as his close cousin the Mastiff. Still, standing as high as 27 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 100 and 130 pounds, this is still a whole lot of dog. After the first impression made by the Bullmastiff’s size, it is the large, broad head that conveys the breed’s essence: the dark eyes, high-set V-shaped ears, and broad, deep muzzle all combine to present the intelligence, alertness, and confidence that make the Bullmastiff a world-class protector and family companion. Coats come in fawn, red, or brindle.

These are biddable and reliable creatures, but as with any large guarding dog, owners must begin training and socialization early, while the puppy is still small enough to control.

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.
Bullmastiff

Find a Puppy: Bullmastiff

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.
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Care

NUTRITION

Most Bullmastiff breeders advise feeding adult dog food or large-breed puppy food for puppies in order to ensure slow and steady growth. Several small meals are best for puppies, and two meals daily is a good routine for adults, so dogs don’t have to digest too much food at each meal. Because of the risk of bloat, exercise is discouraged immediately before and after eating. Bullmastiffs should be kept lean, especially as puppies, as they grow very rapidly, which can tax their systems.

GROOMING

Seasonal shedding is to be expected, though unusual hair loss should be noted as a possible problem. A balanced diet and a healthy environment are most important for coat health. Frequent grooming ensures that shedding can be managed, and dogs should be bathed as needed. The skin and coat should be monitored in order to ensure that dryness or oiliness are not issues. These can be related to diet, and sometimes to allergies.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Occasional Bath/Brush

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Bullmastiffs enjoy daily exercise. Some are more sedentary, while others are very active by nature, but moderate exercise should be encouraged. Brisk walks and outdoor play are favorites of the breed, although secure fencing is a must for outdoor areas. Fencing is critical to ensure that the dog is safely contained and so strangers and unfamiliar animals do not intrude on the Bullmastiff’s territory. Puppies should not be overexercised, especially during periods of rapid growth. Bullmastiffs are not the ideal breed for people who want a canine running partner, but they are great walking companions.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Energetic

TRAINING

Early training and socialization are critical for Bullmastiff puppies. The breed can be quite strong willed, and dogs and owners will both benefit from training regimens instilled in puppyhood. Rules and routines should be put in place early and adhered to as dogs grow up. Many breeders will encourage new owners to enroll in local puppy classes in order to ensure that puppies are exposed to other dogs and that owners have access to training assistance and information. Bullmastiffs can excel in agilityobedience, rally, even scent work and tracking, so training should begin immediately and be a part of the lifelong bond between dog and owner.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Agreeable

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

Bullmastiffs are a large breed with heavy bone. Breeders strive to adhere to the standard and to avoid overdone animals. In order to do the job of a guard dog, this working breed must be mentally and physically sound. Responsible Bullmastiff breeders support the American Bullmastiff Association Health & Research Committee, and screen their breeding stock for cardiac issues, hip and elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism and eye problems. Like many dogs, both purebred and not, Bullmastiffs can develop cancer as well as bloat, a sudden and life-threatening swelling of the abdomen; owners should educate themselves about its symptoms and what to do should bloat occur. Heredity and environment play roles in the health of the breed, so breeders and owners must work together in order to breed and raise healthy dogs.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

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

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

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Bullmastiff
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Bullmastiff

History

The Bullmastiff’s nickname is “The Gamekeeper’s Night Dog,” and this pretty much sums up the breed’s early history.

During the mid- to late 19th century, the vast country estates and game preserves of the English aristocracy were the irresistible targets of poachers. “Penalties were severe,” wrote a breed historian, “yet poaching seemed impossible to eradicate by mere laws.” Because a poacher might face the death penalty if captured, they had nothing to lose when encountering an estate’s gamekeeper. They might choose to shoot it out with the gamekeeper when cornered, rather than face the gallows.

Gamekeepers responded by breeding dogs big, swift, and brave enough to pursue and pin a man prowling the grounds in the dead of night. Eventually they hit upon just the right combination of breeding stock by crossing Mastiffs to Bulldogs at a ratio of 60 percent Mastiff and 40 percent Bulldog. The new breed was smart enough to work on command, tractable enough to hold but not maul a poacher, a big enough to scare the bejesus out of any intruder.

Inevitably, rivalries developed among Britain’s gamekeepers over who had the best-quality Bullmastiffs. Competitions and exhibitions of the best specimens were staged, and from there it was but a short leap for the Bullmastiff into the show ring. Dog shows in England were gaining in popularity just as Bullmastiff fanciers were standardizing their breed. By 1924, the Bullmastiff as we now know it was ready to join the ranks of the Kennel Club (England). The AKC granted the breed full recognition in 1933.

Did You Know?

The known history of the Bullmastiff begins about 1860 in England.
The Bullmastiff was known for some time as the Gamekeeper's Night Dog because of his utilitarian purpose.
A mature adult male Bullmastiff will average 26 inches and 120 pounds.
Bred to guard against poachers who threatened gameland in England.
The Bullmastiff has been with the AKC since 1933.
The primary use of Bullmastiffs now is as a firm, dependable and warm family dog.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

That of a symmetrical animal, showing great strength, endurance, and alertness; powerfully built but active. The foundation breeding was 60 percent Mastiff and 40 percent Bulldog. The breed was developed in England by gamekeepers for protection against poachers.

HEAD

Expression – Keen, alert, and intelligent. Eyes – Dark and of medium size. Ears – V-shaped and carried close to the cheeks, set on wide and high, level with occiput and cheeks, giving a square appearance to the skull; darker in color than the body and medium in size. Skull – Large, with a fair amount of wrinkle when alert; broad, with cheeks well developed. Forehead flat. Stop-Moderate. Muzzle – Broad and deep; its length, in comparison with that of the entire head, approximately as 1 is to 3. Lack of foreface with nostrils set on top of muzzle is a reversion to the Bulldog and is very undesirable. A dark muzzle is preferable. Nose – Black, with nostrils large and broad. Flews – Not too pendulous. Bite – Preferably level or slightly undershot. Canine teeth large and set wide apart.

BODY

Neck – Slightly arched, of moderate length, very muscular, and almost equal in circumference to the skull. Topline – Straight and level between withers and loin. Body – Compact. Chest wide and deep, with ribs well sprung and well set down between the forelegs. Back-Short, giving the impression of a well balanced dog. Loin-Wide, muscular, and slightly arched, with fair depth of flank. Tail – Set on high, strong at the root, and tapering to the hocks. It may be straight or curved, but never carried hound fashion.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders – muscular but not loaded, and slightly sloping. Forelegs-straight, well boned, and set well apart; elbows turned neither in nor out. Pasterns straight, feet of medium size, with round toes well arched. Pads thick and tough, nails black.

COAT

Short and dense, giving good weather protection.

HINDQUARTERS

Broad and muscular, with well developed second thigh denoting power, but not cumbersome. Moderate angulation at hocks. Cowhocks and splay feet are serious faults.

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Bullmastiff

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Fawn Check Mark For Standard Color 082
Fawn Brindle Check Mark For Standard Color 088
Red Check Mark For Standard Color 140
Red Brindle Check Mark For Standard Color 148
Red Fawn Check Mark For Standard Color 150
Red Fawn Brindle Check Mark For Standard Color 318

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Black Mask Check Mark For Standard Mark 004
Black Markings 002
Black Mask, White Markings 005
Fawn Mask 009

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