All About Bullmastiffs

About This Breed

The Bullmastiff was developed in the 19th century by breeding Bulldogs and Mastiffs together. The Bullmastiff was bred to protect English estates from illegal hunters. This breed’s job was not to hurt the trespassers, but to hold them until the owners could arrive.

Physical Characteristics

The Bullmastiff is a large, powerfully built dog. It has a big blocky head with a black mask on its face, wrinkles on the forehead and dark ears.

COLOR(S)

The Bullmastiff is most commonly seen in fawn, red and brindle.

COAT

The coat of the Bullmastiff is short.

Personality and Temperament

ACTIVITY LEVEL

Medium to High

POSITIVES

The Bullmastiff is very protective of the family.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

The Bullmastiff can be aggressive toward strangers, and some can drool quite a lot.

Care

IDEAL LIVING CONDITIONS

The Bullmastiff would do well in the country with lots of outdoor space to move around, but can also live in small homes or in apartments as long as a little drooling and tail-table-clearing isn't an issue. 

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

The Bullmastiff needs daily exercise to reduce the incidence of obesity.

Health

The following conditions are commonly seen in the Bullmastiff:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Skin problems

History and Background

The development of the Bullmastiff is recent compared to its ancestor, the Mastiff, which is one of the oldest breeds in Britain. As early as 1791, there were some references to the Bullmastiff and to cross-breeding between the Bulldog and Mastiff. There is little evidence to support the crossing of the breeds at that time, though. 

The history of the Bullmastiff is most often associated with the late 1800s, a time when the violent surge of poachers threatened the lives of gamekeepers. The gamekeepers, in turn, required a strong and daring companion that would quietly wait until a poacher arrived with his dog, overcome the dog, and attack when commanded. The Bulldog was not large enough and the Mastiff was not swift enough, so gamekeepers crossed the two breeds to create a perfect dog, naming it the "Gamekeeper's Night Dog." The dark brindle color of the mix was preferred, as it blended with the night. 

With the dog’s rising popularity, several estate owners selected it to work as a sentry. Many preferred the lighter fawn ones, which had black masks. This coloration was reminiscent of the dog’s Mastiff ancestry. Breeders started aiming for pure-breeding strains instead of crossing the Bulldog and Mastiff. They aimed to produce a dog breed with about 40 percent of the Bulldog’s traits and 60 percent of the Mastiff’s traits, thus creating the modern Bullmastiff. 

The breed was considered pure by 1924, when the English Kennel Club recognized it, followed by the American Kennel Club in 1933.