Bullmastiff Breed Information

“The Bullmastiff is a loyal, protective, and family-friendly breed, known for its size, strength, and gentle disposition.”


About the Bullmastiff

Group: Working

Meet the Bullmastiff – a breed that’s all about balance. With roots in 19th-century England, they originally played the role of fierce poacher catchers, but you’d hardy guess that watching them laze on the couch! They love a good nap, but also relish in moderate daily exercise. Experts in drooling, this breed might not suit those who prefer a spotless home. Yet despite their slobber and size, Bullmastiffs are remarkably gentle with children and make excellent family pets. They’re protective but not aggressive, their loyalty is second to none. They’ll enjoy training sessions, but beware, their independent spirit means they can sometimes be stubborn. As massive as they are, reaching up to 130 pounds, they’re surprisingly agile and light on their feet. If you can handle the drool and you’ve got room in your home and heart for a big, loving breed, the Bullmastiff is a brilliant choice.

Physical information

Male Female
Average Height 25-27 inches 24-26 inches
Average Weight 110-130 lbs. 100-120 lbs.
Life Expectancy 8-10 years 8-10 years

Bullmastiff Breed Standard

Let’s take a look at the AKC Breed Standard for the Bullmastiff, which provides detailed guidelines for the breed’s ideal physical traits and temperament.

  • Acceptable Colors: According to the breed standard, Bullmastiff coat colors can be any shade of brindle, fawn, or red. The color must be pure and clear. The muzzle, ears, and the area around the eyes should have a darker coloration, known as ‘masking’.
  • Acceptable Markings: The only explicit markings mentioned in the breed standard are a slight white marking on the chest which is permissible, but not desirable. Other than that, there are no specified acceptable markings for the Bullmastiff.

Personality and Ownership Rankings

Friendliness 5 stars
Good with kids 5 stars
Shedding Level 3 stars
Grooming Needs 2 stars
Drool Level 5 stars
Trainability 3 stars
Energy Level 2 stars

Breed Highlights

  • Loyal: Bullmastiffs are incredibly faithful and devoted to their families, often forming close bonds with their owners.
  • Protective: Trained as a guard dog, the Bullmastiff is naturally protective and makes an excellent watch dog.
  • Gentle: Despite their large size and guarding background, Bullmastiffs are known for their gentle and loving nature, especially around children.
  • Low-energy: They are relatively easygoing and calm, making them suitable for families who prefer a less active breed.
  • Adaptable: Although they do enjoy exercise and playtime, Bullmastiffs are versatile and can adapt to various living conditions including apartments.

National Breed Clubs and Rescues

Clubs and Organizations

Rescue Organizations

Care Needs

The Bullmastiff is generally a sturdy and healthy breed, but like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health conditions. According to the Animal Health Clinic of Fargo, some common concerns include hip and elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and certain kinds of cancers. Regular vet checkups and screening tests can help prevent or detect these conditions early. Owners should also focus on providing a balanced diet and regular exercise to keep their Bullmastiff healthy.

Recommended Health Tests

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

Exercise Needs

Though Bullmastiffs are not as energetic as other breeds, they still require a moderate amount of daily exercise to stay fit and healthy. Prolonged bursts of high-intensity activities are not necessary, rather a steady and consistent routine is best, as advised by PitPat. Walking and playtime combined with periods of rest and relaxation will help keep a Bullmastiff in prime condition.

Actionable Exercise Needs Advice

  • Ensure daily walks are consistent and enduring, preferably one long or two shorter walks a day.
  • Engage in moderate play sessions either indoor or outdoor.
  • Provide toys to mentally stimulate the Bullmastiff and keep it occupied.

Training Needs

Bullmastiffs are intelligent and eager to please which, if utilized correctly, can make training easier. They do have a stubborn streak though, so firm and consistent training methods are vital. Positive reinforcement techniques usually work best, as mentioned in this article from DogTime. While they’re quick learners, it’s important to start training early and use gentle correction when necessary.

Actionable Training Needs Advice

  • Begin training early, as Bullmastiffs are most receptive as puppies.
  • Use positive reinforcement methods, like treats and praises, to reward good behavior.
  • Ensure all family members are consistent with commands and training to avoid confusing the dog.

Nutrition Needs

Bullmastiffs require a balanced diet to maintain their health and well-being. Their large size and specific breed traits mean their nutritional needs may differ somewhat from other breeds. High-quality dog food, homemade or store-bought, that is appropriate for the dog’s age, weight, and activity level should be fed, as suggested by Gentle Giants Bullmastiff Rescue. Owners should monitor their Bullmastiff’s weight, as this breed can easily become overweight which can lead to other health-related complications.

Actionable Nutrition Advice

  • Gradually change food types to avoid stomach upset and rejection.
  • Maintain a feeding routine and avoid frequent changes.
  • Monitor the amount of food intake to prevent obesity.
  • Consider adding supplements like glucosamine for joint health, especially for older Bullmastiffs.

Bullmastiff Breed History

The Bullmastiff breed traces its origins to mid-19th century England, developed by gamekeepers who needed a large, strong, and swift dog to defend estates from poachers. It is believed the breed was initially made up of 60% Mastiff and 40% Old English Bulldog, a mix that yielded the perfect balance of strength, speed, and tenacity.

Shaped by their early roles, Bullmastiffs were developed to be fearless and dependable. The breed fully emerged in 1924 when the Kennel Club of England recognized the Bullmastiff with a detailed breed standard specification. The breed was officially standardized in aspects including temperament, size, coat color, and more.

Popularity of the breed spread outside of England. It wasn’t long before the Bullmastiff breed was embraced worldwide due to its unique characteristics and appealing nature. By 1933, the breed had gained popularity in the United States and was recognized by the American Kennel Club, with the American Bullmastiff Association forming the following year.

The breed’s popularity came with its challenges. Bullmastiff’s strength and size became targets for unethical breeding and adverse living conditions. Animal organizations and breed lovers have endeavored to thwart these difficulties through awareness campaigns, stringent breed regulations, and responsible homing and breeding incentives.

The Bullmastiff of modern times retains many of its historical traits. They are famous for their protective nature that endears them to families and homeowners. However, their size and strength require they be socialized and trained from an early age to prevent any potential aggressive tendencies. The breed is known for its loyalty, strength, and friendly nature, making it a beloved breed to this day.

Bullmastiff Fun Facts

  • Silent Protectors: Bullmastiffs were bred to sneak up and pin poachers without barking, earning them the nickname “The Gamekeeper’s Night Dog.”
  • Relative Size: Despite their large size, Bullmastiffs actually have one of the shortest lifespans among dog breeds, typically living 7-9 years on average.
  • Hollywood Stars: Bullmastiffs have been featured prominently in several films and TV shows, including “Rocky” and “Homeward Bound 2.”
  • Definitive Look: Bullmastiffs are known for their dark face mask, which is a standard breed characteristic.
  • Training Blues: Though intelligent and eager to please, Bullmastiffs are known for being stubborn and may require professional obedience training.
  • Nap Enthusiasts: Despite their working dog breed origin, Bullmastiffs are quite happy to enjoy a good nap.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much exercise does a Bullmastiff need?

While not overly energetic, Bullmastiffs require regular, moderate exercise such as daily walks or playtime to stay healthy and stave off boredom.

2. Are Bullmastiffs good with children and other pets?

Yes, Bullmastiffs are known for being excellent with children and can get along well with other pets if properly socialized from a young age.

3. Do Bullmastiffs drool a lot?

Yes, Bullmastiffs are a brachycephalic breed and are known to slobber and drool, especially after eating or drinking.

4. How trainable are Bullmastiffs?

Bullmastiffs are intelligent and eager to please, making them relatively trainable, although their stubborn streak may require consistent, positive reinforcement training methods.

5. Are Bullmastiffs suitable for apartment living?

Given their calm demeanor and lower energy levels, Bullmastiffs can adapt to apartment living, provided they get regular exercise and mental stimulation.

Breeds Similar to the Bullmastiff

  • Mastiff: Sharing a similar ancestry, Mastiffs are also large, intelligent, and protective breeds, making them ideal for families looking for a large, loving and calm companion. They share the gentle and loyal personality of Bullmastiffs.
  • Boxer: Like Bullmastiffs, Boxers are protective and require a lot of exercise. They’re great with children, enjoy company and are known for their playful, energetic, and cheerful personality.
  • Great Dane: A more unusual choice, Great Danes could be an alternative choice due to their gentle and loving nature. They’re similarly large breeds and despite their imposing size, they’re known for being friendly and patient with kids.
  • Tibetan Mastiff: One of the most ancient breeds, Tibetan Mastiffs share similar protective instincts while being strongly bonded with their human families. They are intelligent, somewhat stubborn, and require early socialization similar to Bullmastiffs.