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Mastiff Appearance

The Mastiff breed is powerfully built, with a massive body, broad skull and head of generally square appearance.

The Mastiff size should be very large and sound and give an impression of power and strength when viewed from any angle. The Mastiff body is massive with great depth and breadth, especially between the forelegs, causing these to be set wide apart. While no height or weight is specified for this breed, the approximate height is 27 inches to 32 inches (70 to 80 cm) and weight is 80 kg to 90 kg (175 to 200 lb).

The short Mastiff coat is close-lying and the colour is apricot-fawn, silver-fawn, fawn, or dark fawn-brindle, always with black on the muzzle, ears, and nose and around the eyes.

Guinness Book of World Records previously recognized a mastiff from England named Zorba as the heaviest dog in the world, at over 343 lb (155 kg). (Guinness has since removed this category due to concerns of pets being intentionally overfed.) Zorba stood 37 inches (94 cm) at the shoulder and was 8 feet 3 inches (251 cm) from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. Zorba set this record in November 1989, when he was 8 years old.

Mastiff Temperament

The Mastiff breed is a combination of grandeur, dignity, and courage; calm and affectionate to its master, but capable of guarding. The Mastiff breed is innately good natured, calm, easygoing, and surprisingly gentle. The Mastiff is a well-mannered house pet but needs sufficient room to stretch out. The Mastiff is an extremely loyal breed and, though not excessively demonstrative, it is devoted to its family and good with children. However, it can be very protective of its owners and must be handled sensibly, since it is exceptionally powerful and can be difficult to control. When an "unrecognisable" visitor enters the home, the Mastiff will usually place itself between its master and the visitor until their master has recognized the visitor in a way that appears to be compassionate or friendly.

Mastiff Health

This is a particularly large dog demanding correct diet and exercise. The expected lifespan is 9 to 11 years.

Major issues include hip dysplasia and gastric torsion. Minor problems include obesity, osteosarcoma, and cystinuria. Problems only occasionally found include cardiomyopathy, allergies, vaginal hyperplasia, cruciate ligament rupture, hypothyroidism, OCD, entropion, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and persistent pupillary membranes (PPM).

When purchasing a purebred Mastiff, experts often suggest that the dog undergo tests for hips, elbow, eyes, thyroid, and DNA for PRA.

Mastiff History

The Mastiff has a distinctive head with a large dewlap and flewsThe Mastiff name probably evolved from the Anglo-Saxon word "masty", meaning "powerful". The Mastiff is descended from the ancient Alaunt and Molosser and is recognized as the oldest British breed. The Mastiff might have been brought to Britain in the 6th century BC. It was used in the blood sports of bear-baiting, bull-baiting, dog fighting, and lion-baiting. Throughout its long history, the Mastiff has contributed to the development of a number of dog breeds.

When Sir Peers Legh was wounded in the Battle of Agincourt, his Mastiff stood over and protected him for many hours through the battle. Although Legh later died, the Mastiff returned to Legh's home and was the foundation of the Lyme Hall Mastiffs. Five centuries later this pedigree figured prominently in founding the modern breed.1

Some evidence exists that the Mastiff came to America on the Mayflower, but the breed's documented entry to America did not occur until the late 1800s.

In 1835, Britain passed legislation making baiting illegal. Subsequently, the Mastiff lost popularity and was virtually decimated in England by the Second World War; however, sufficient numbers had been brought to America by that time to keep the breed going. Since that time, it has gradually risen in popularity.

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