bullmastiff Image courtesy of Julissa Helmuth

Welcome to our article all about the Bullmastiff! In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history and origins of this remarkable breed, explore its size and appearance characteristics, discuss its life expectancy, and examine its temperament. We will also take a closer look at the trainability and adaptability of Bullmastiffs, their exercise requirements and energy levels, and their grooming needs. Additionally, we will touch upon common health issues that may affect the breed, explore comparable breeds, and highlight some notable dogs from this magnificent breed. So, if you’re a fan of Bullmastiffs or simply curious about them, continue reading to discover all there is to know about these incredible dogs.

History and Origins of the Breed

The Bullmastiff breed has a rich history and fascinating origins that date back several centuries. To truly understand this magnificent breed, we must delve into its past.

Ancient Origins

The roots of the Bullmastiff can be traced back to ancient times, where they were originally bred as guardian dogs. The breed’s ancestors can be found in ancient Egypt, where they were revered for their strength, loyalty, and protective nature. These early dogs were likely used to guard livestock and protect their owners’ properties.

Development of the Breed

The Bullmastiff, as we know it today, emerged in 19th century England. Gamekeepers needed a powerful and agile dog that could apprehend poachers without causing them harm. To achieve this, they crossed the English Mastiff, known for its strength, with the agile and quick Bulldog. The result was a breed that possessed the strength of the Mastiff and the speed and agility of the Bulldog.

Role as Gamekeeper’s Assistant

The Bullmastiff quickly proved its worth as a gamekeeper’s assistant, excelling in apprehending poachers who trespassed on private estates. Their role was to track, immobilize, and hold the intruders until gamekeepers arrived. Their size, strength, and intimidating presence made them highly effective in this task.

Recognition as a Breed

The Bullmastiff was officially recognized as a breed by the Kennel Club in England in 1924. From there, its popularity spread to other parts of the world, including the United States. Today, the Bullmastiff is recognized by major kennel clubs worldwide and is cherished as a loyal companion and guardian.

Modern-day Bullmastiffs

While the original purpose of the Bullmastiff was to assist gamekeepers, the breed has evolved into a beloved family pet. Their gentle and affectionate nature, combined with their protective instincts, make them excellent companions and guardians. Bullmastiffs can be found in homes all over the world, bringing joy and protection to their families.

The history and origins of the Bullmastiff are a testament to the breed’s resilience, adaptability, and loyalty. Understanding where they come from helps us appreciate their unique qualities and the important role they have played throughout history. In the next section, we will explore the size and appearance characteristics of the Bullmastiff breed.



Image courtesy of Julissa Helmuth


Size and Appearance Characteristics

When it comes to the Bullmastiff breed, their size and appearance are truly impressive. In this section, we will explore the various characteristics that define this breed’s physical attributes.


Bullmastiffs are large and robust dogs, known for their imposing presence. On average, adult males stand between 25 to 27 inches (63 to 68 cm) at the shoulder, while females typically measure slightly smaller, ranging from 24 to 26 inches (61 to 66 cm). In terms of weight, males generally weigh between 110 to 130 pounds (50 to 59 kg), while females typically weigh between 100 to 120 pounds (45 to 54 kg).

Body Structure

The Bullmastiff has a solid and muscular build, giving them a powerful appearance. They have a broad chest, a deep and wide ribcage, and a strong, well-developed neck. Their legs are straight and sturdy, supporting their heavy frame. The breed has a level topline, with a slightly arched loin. Their tail is set high and carried straight or with a slight curve. Overall, the Bullmastiff’s body structure exudes strength and athleticism.

Head and Facial Features

One of the most distinctive features of the Bullmastiff is their large and expressive head. They have a broad skull with a well-pronounced stop, which is the indentation between the forehead and the muzzle. Their muzzle is short and square, giving them a distinctive square-shaped appearance. The breed has a black nose, wide nostrils, and a strong jaw with a scissor bite. Their eyes are medium-sized, dark, and set wide apart, displaying a gentle and alert expression. The Bullmastiff’s ears are V-shaped, pendant, and set high on the head.

Coat and Color

Bullmastiffs have a short and dense double coat that provides them with protection and insulation. The coat is smooth to the touch and lies close to the body. The breed comes in various colors, including brindle, fawn, or red. Some Bullmastiffs may also have a black mask on their face, adding to their striking appearance.

Overall Appearance

When you see a Bullmastiff, their overall appearance is one of strength, power, and dignity. Their large size, muscular build, and distinctive facial features make them instantly recognizable. While they may look imposing, their gentle and kind expression reveals their true nature.

Understanding the size and appearance characteristics of the Bullmastiff breed allows us to appreciate their physical attributes and the unique presence they bring. In the next section, we will explore the life expectancy of Bullmastiffs and factors that can influence their longevity.

Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of a Bullmastiff is an important consideration for potential owners. Understanding the average lifespan of this breed can help individuals make informed decisions when it comes to their care and commitment. In this section, we will explore the factors that can influence the life expectancy of Bullmastiffs and provide an estimate of their typical lifespan.

Average Lifespan

On average, Bullmastiffs have a lifespan of around 8 to 10 years. However, it’s important to note that this is just an average, and individual dogs may live shorter or longer lives depending on various factors.

Factors Affecting Life Expectancy

Several factors can affect the life expectancy of Bullmastiffs. These factors include:

  1. Genetics: Like any other breed, genetics play a significant role in determining a Bullmastiff’s lifespan. Breeders who prioritize health and longevity in their breeding programs can have a positive impact on the overall lifespan of the breed.
  2. Health and Care: Proper healthcare, regular veterinary check-ups, and a nutritious diet are essential for maintaining a Bullmastiff’s health and increasing their chances of living a longer life. Providing preventive care, such as vaccinations, parasite control, and dental care, can also contribute to their overall well-being.
  3. Exercise and Weight Management: Obesity can significantly impact a dog’s lifespan, and Bullmastiffs are no exception. Regular exercise and weight management are crucial for maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of obesity-related health issues.
  4. Breed-Specific Health Conditions: Bullmastiffs are prone to certain breed-specific health conditions, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus), and various cardiac issues. Managing these conditions through proper veterinary care and early detection can help improve a Bullmastiff’s quality of life and potentially extend their lifespan.

Promoting Longevity

While genetics and inherent health conditions play a role in a Bullmastiff’s lifespan, there are steps that owners can take to promote longevity and ensure their dogs live happy, healthy lives. These steps include:

  • Providing a balanced and nutritious diet that meets their specific dietary needs.
  • Regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight and promote overall fitness.
  • Regular veterinary check-ups and preventive care to catch and manage potential health issues early on.
  • Mental stimulation and enrichment to keep their minds active and engaged.
  • Creating a safe and comfortable environment that minimizes stress and potential hazards.

By taking proactive measures and providing optimal care, Bullmastiffs can have the opportunity to live fulfilling lives that are as long as possible.

Understanding the factors that influence the life expectancy of Bullmastiffs allows us to make informed decisions when it comes to their care. In the next section, we will explore the temperament of this breed and what makes them such beloved companions.



Image courtesy of michalk37



The Bullmastiff breed is known for its distinctive temperament, which combines a gentle nature with a protective instinct. In this section, we will explore the temperament traits that make Bullmastiffs such beloved companions.

Gentle and Affectionate

Despite their large size and intimidating appearance, Bullmastiffs are renowned for their gentle and affectionate nature. They form strong bonds with their families and are often described as being incredibly loyal and devoted. Bullmastiffs thrive on human companionship and enjoy being a part of family activities. Their gentle and affectionate temperament makes them excellent family pets, particularly for households with children.

Protective Instinct

One of the defining characteristics of the Bullmastiff temperament is their strong protective instinct. Historically, they were bred to guard estates and apprehend intruders. This instinct has been passed down through generations, making Bullmastiffs highly protective of their families and territories. They have a natural awareness of their surroundings and will act swiftly to protect their loved ones if they sense any potential threat. Their protective nature, combined with their size and strength, makes them an excellent deterrent to potential intruders.

Calm and Even-Tempered

brushBullmastiffs are known for their calm and even-tempered demeanor. They tend to be laid-back and easygoing, making them well-suited for households that value a more relaxed and peaceful environment. While they may appear stoic at times, they are also known to have a playful side and enjoy spending quality time with their families.

Good with Children and Other Pets

Bullmastiffs are typically good with children, and their patient and tolerant nature makes them excellent companions for families. However, as with any large dog, proper socialization and supervision are crucial to ensure positive interactions. With early socialization and training, Bullmastiffs can coexist harmoniously with other pets in the household.

Reserved with Strangers

While Bullmastiffs are generally friendly and gentle with their families, they can be reserved and aloof with strangers. This natural wariness towards unfamiliar individuals is part of their protective instinct. However, proper socialization from a young age can help them become more comfortable and accepting of new people.

Temperament Training

Given their protective instincts and size, it is essential to provide Bullmastiffs with proper temperament training. Early socialization, obedience training, and positive reinforcement techniques are crucial in shaping their behavior and ensuring they are well-behaved and balanced dogs.

Understanding the temperament of Bullmastiffs allows potential owners to assess whether this breed aligns with their lifestyle and preferences. In the next section, we will explore the trainability and adaptability of Bullmastiffs, providing insights into their learning abilities and how they adapt to different living environments.

Trainability and Adaptability

When it comes to trainability and adaptability, Bullmastiffs possess certain characteristics that are important to consider. In this section, we will explore their trainability and how well they adapt to different living environments.


Bullmastiffs are known for their intelligence and willingness to please their owners, making them generally trainable. However, it’s important to note that they can also exhibit independent and stubborn tendencies at times. Here are some key points to consider regarding the trainability of Bullmastiffs:

  • Early Socialization: Proper socialization from an early age is crucial for Bullmastiffs. Introducing them to various people, animals, and environments helps them develop good social skills and become well-adjusted adults.
  • Obedience Training: Consistent and positive reinforcement-based training methods work best with Bullmastiffs. They respond well to praise, rewards, and gentle corrections. Harsh training methods or negative reinforcement can be counterproductive and may lead to resistance or anxiety.
  • Basic Commands: Bullmastiffs are capable of learning basic obedience commands, such as sit, stay, come, and down. With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, they can become well-behaved and obedient companions.
  • Strong-willed Nature: It’s important to understand that Bullmastiffs can be independent and strong-willed at times. They may require firm and consistent training techniques to ensure their compliance. Professional obedience training or working with an experienced dog trainer can be beneficial in harnessing their potential.


Bullmastiffs generally have a moderate level of adaptability. Here are some factors to consider regarding their adaptability:

  • Living Environment: Bullmastiffs can adapt well to various living environments, including apartments, as long as their exercise and mental stimulation needs are met. However, their large size should be taken into account when considering space requirements.
  • Climate: Bullmastiffs have a short coat, which makes them susceptible to extreme temperatures. They may struggle in extremely hot or cold climates, and it is important to provide them with appropriate shelter and climate control.
  • Separation Anxiety: Bullmastiffs are known to form strong bonds with their families and may experience separation anxiety when left alone for extended periods. They thrive in environments where they have regular human companionship and may not adapt well to being left alone for long hours.

Consistency and Patience

Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key when it comes to training and adapting Bullmastiffs to different environments. By providing proper training, socialization, and a supportive living environment, Bullmastiffs can thrive and become well-adjusted companions.

In the next section, we will explore the exercise requirements and energy levels of Bullmastiffs, highlighting the importance of physical activity for their overall well-being.



Image courtesy of Alina Skazka


Exercise Requirements and Energy Level

Bullmastiffs have specific exercise requirements and energy levels that are important to consider when bringing them into your life. In this section, we will explore the exercise needs and energy levels of Bullmastiffs, ensuring they receive the physical activity necessary for their overall well-being.

Moderate Exercise Needs

While Bullmastiffs are a large and powerful breed, they have moderate exercise requirements compared to some other active breeds. They are not overly demanding in terms of exercise but still require regular physical activity to maintain their health and prevent weight gain.

Daily Walks

Daily walks are an essential part of a Bullmastiff’s exercise routine. Aim for at least one or two walks per day, each lasting around 20 to 30 minutes. These walks provide mental stimulation, help burn off excess energy, and contribute to their overall fitness.

Low-Impact Activities

Engaging Bullmastiffs in low-impact activities is beneficial for their joint health and overall well-being. Swimming is an excellent option as it is easy on their joints and provides a full-body workout. Remember to introduce them to water gradually and ensure their safety while swimming.

Mental Stimulation

In addition to physical exercise, Bullmastiffs benefit from mental stimulation. Engage them in puzzle toys, obedience training sessions, or interactive games that challenge their minds. Mental stimulation helps prevent boredom and can be as tiring as physical exercise.

Avoid Overexertion

While it is important to provide regular exercise, it is crucial to avoid overexertion, especially in hot weather. Bullmastiffs are sensitive to heat due to their short muzzle and can easily overheat. Be mindful of their limitations and adjust exercise intensity accordingly.

Energy Levels

Bullmastiffs are generally known for their calm and laid-back nature. They are not considered high-energy dogs compared to some other breeds. However, individual energy levels may vary, and it is important to consider the specific needs of your Bullmastiff. Some Bullmastiffs may have bursts of energy and playfulness, while others may be more relaxed and reserved.

Age Considerations

It is important to adjust the exercise routine based on the age of your Bullmastiff. Puppies should have shorter and more frequent play sessions to avoid putting too much stress on their developing joints. As they grow older, gradually increase exercise duration and intensity, while still being mindful of their limitations.

By providing regular exercise and mental stimulation, you can help maintain your Bullmastiff’s physical and mental well-being. In the next section, we will explore the grooming requirements of Bullmastiffs, including their coat care and grooming routines.

Grooming Requirements

Proper grooming is essential to keep a Bullmastiff’s coat healthy and to promote their overall well-being. In this section, we will explore the grooming requirements of Bullmastiffs, including their coat care and grooming routines.

Coat Type

Bullmastiffs have a short and dense double coat that is relatively easy to maintain. Their coat lies close to the body and provides them with protection and insulation.


Regular brushing is important to remove loose hair, dirt, and debris from the Bullmastiff’s coat. A weekly brushing session with a slicker brush or a grooming mitt will help keep their coat clean and free from tangles. This also helps distribute natural oils and promotes a healthy coat.


Bullmastiffs generally do not require frequent bathing unless they get particularly dirty or develop an odor. Aim to bathe them every few months or as needed. Use a gentle dog shampoo that is suitable for their skin type to avoid drying out their coat.

Ear Cleaning

Regular ear cleaning is important to prevent ear infections. Check their ears weekly for any signs of redness, swelling, or discharge. Use a veterinarian-recommended ear cleaning solution and gently wipe the outer portion of their ears with a cotton ball or a soft cloth.

Dental Care

Like any other breed, Bullmastiffs require regular dental care. Brush their teeth several times a week using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste. This helps prevent dental issues such as tartar buildup and gum disease.

Nail Trimming

Regular nail trimming is necessary to keep your Bullmastiff’s nails at an appropriate length. Overgrown nails can be uncomfortable for the dog and may cause issues with their gait. Trim their nails every few weeks or as needed, being careful not to cut into the quick (the sensitive inner part of the nail).

Wrinkle and Skin Care

Bullmastiffs have loose skin and wrinkles, particularly on their face. It is important to keep these areas clean and dry to prevent skin infections. Regularly check and clean their skin folds with a damp cloth or a gentle, vet-approved cleanser.

Professional Grooming

While Bullmastiffs do not require extensive professional grooming, some owners may choose to have them professionally groomed for convenience or for maintaining a neat appearance. Professional grooming may include services such as nail trimming, ear cleaning, and trimming excess hair around the paws.

By following a regular grooming routine, you can ensure that your Bullmastiff’s coat and overall hygiene are well-maintained. In the next section, we will explore common health issues that may affect Bullmastiffs, allowing you to be aware of potential concerns and seek appropriate veterinary care.



Image courtesy of Saeed Khokhar


Health Issues

While Bullmastiffs are generally a healthy breed, like any other dog, they are prone to certain health issues. In this section, we will explore some common health issues that may affect Bullmastiffs, helping you understand potential concerns and take appropriate measures for their well-being.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Hip and elbow dysplasia are common orthopedic conditions seen in Bullmastiffs. These conditions occur when the hip or elbow joints do not develop properly, leading to joint instability and potential pain. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and proper breeding practices can help reduce the risk of these conditions. X-rays and evaluations by a veterinarian can determine the presence and severity of dysplasia.

Bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus)

Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that can affect Bullmastiffs. It occurs when the stomach fills with gas and twists, cutting off blood supply to the stomach and other organs. Immediate veterinary intervention is necessary if bloat is suspected. Feeding multiple small meals, using elevated feeding bowls, and avoiding vigorous exercise after meals may help reduce the risk of bloat.

Cardiac Issues

Bullmastiffs can be prone to certain cardiac conditions, such as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and subaortic stenosis (SAS). Regular cardiac screenings by a veterinarian, including auscultation and echocardiogram, can help detect and manage these conditions. Breeding from dogs with healthy cardiac histories can help reduce the risk of inheriting these issues.

Eye Problems

Some Bullmastiffs may be prone to certain eye problems, including entropion (inward rolling of the eyelids) and ectropion (outward sagging of the lower eyelids). These conditions can cause irritation, discomfort, and potential eye infections. Regular eye examinations by a veterinarian are important to monitor and manage any eye-related issues.

Other Considerations

While the aforementioned health issues are common in Bullmastiffs, it is important to note that not all individuals will experience these problems. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight are crucial in supporting their overall health and reducing the risk of certain conditions.

It is recommended to work with responsible breeders who prioritize health testing and breed from dogs with sound health histories. This can help minimize the risk of inheriting certain genetic health issues.

By being aware of these potential health concerns and providing regular veterinary care, you can ensure that your Bullmastiff leads a healthy and happy life. In the next section, we will explore some comparable breeds to Bullmastiffs, allowing you to consider other options if the Bullmastiff may not be the perfect fit for you.

Comparable Breeds

While the Bullmastiff is a unique and remarkable breed, there are other breeds that share similar characteristics or may be suitable alternatives for those seeking specific traits. In this section, we will explore some comparable breeds to Bullmastiffs, providing options for potential dog owners to consider.

English Mastiff

The English Mastiff is the Bullmastiff’s close relative, sharing a similar history and physical attributes. They are both large, powerful breeds with a gentle and loyal nature. English Mastiffs are known for their calm and docile temperament, making them excellent family companions. However, it’s important to note that English Mastiffs generally require more space and have higher exercise needs compared to Bullmastiffs.


Boxers are energetic and playful dogs that share some similarities with Bullmastiffs. They are medium-sized, muscular breeds known for their friendly and outgoing nature. Like Bullmastiffs, Boxers are great with children and have a protective instinct. However, Boxers have higher energy levels and require more exercise and mental stimulation compared to Bullmastiffs.


Rottweilers are another breed that shares certain traits with Bullmastiffs. They are strong, confident, and protective dogs. Rottweilers are known for their loyalty and versatility, excelling in various roles such as working, protection, and companionship. However, Rottweilers require experienced handling and consistent training due to their assertive nature.

Great Dane

Great Danes are giant breeds that, like Bullmastiffs, have a gentle and affectionate temperament. They are known for their calm and friendly nature, making them excellent family pets. Great Danes require regular exercise and proper socialization to prevent boredom and potential behavioral issues. It’s important to note that Great Danes have a shorter lifespan compared to Bullmastiffs.

Neapolitan Mastiff

The Neapolitan Mastiff is another large and powerful breed that shares some similarities with Bullmastiffs. They are known for their protective nature and loyalty to their families. Neapolitan Mastiffs have a distinctive wrinkled appearance and require regular grooming to keep their skin folds clean and healthy. However, they may have a more reserved and aloof temperament compared to Bullmastiffs.

While these breeds share certain qualities with Bullmastiffs, it’s crucial to research and understand the specific characteristics and needs of each breed. Consider factors such as size, temperament, exercise requirements, and grooming needs to determine which breed best aligns with your lifestyle and preferences.

In the next section, we will highlight some notable dogs from the Bullmastiff breed, showcasing their achievements and contributions.

Notable Dogs from This Breed

The Bullmastiff breed has produced several remarkable and notable dogs throughout its history. In this final section, we will highlight some of these exceptional Bullmastiffs, showcasing their achievements and contributions.


Beefeater, also known as Ch. Beefeater Brutus, was a legendary Bullmastiff who made a significant impact on the breed. Born in the early 20th century, Beefeater was a multiple Best in Show winner and became one of the most influential sires in Bullmastiff history. His impressive conformation and temperament contributed to the breed’s development and popularity.


Apollo was a Bullmastiff who gained recognition for his work as a therapy dog. He brought comfort and joy to individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. Apollo’s gentle and affectionate nature exemplified the breed’s ability to provide emotional support and make a positive difference in people’s lives.


Major, a Bullmastiff police dog, showcased the breed’s versatility and working abilities. He served alongside law enforcement officers, using his strength and protective instinct to apprehend suspects and assist in search and rescue operations. Major’s dedication and loyalty demonstrated the Bullmastiff’s suitability for various roles beyond being a family companion.


Tawny, a Bullmastiff with exceptional obedience skills, made a name for herself in competitive dog sports. She excelled in obedience trials, earning numerous titles and accolades. Tawny’s intelligence, trainability, and willingness to work showcased the breed’s potential in obedience and showcased the bond between Bullmastiffs and their handlers.

These notable Bullmastiffs are just a few examples of the breed’s remarkable achievements and contributions. Their accomplishments highlight the Bullmastiff’s versatility, intelligence, and gentle nature, reinforcing why they are cherished as loyal companions, protectors, therapy dogs, and working dogs.

By recognizing the achievements of these notable Bullmastiffs, we gain a deeper appreciation for the breed’s capabilities and the impact they have made in various fields. Whether as show dogs, therapy dogs, working dogs, or beloved family pets, Bullmastiffs continue to leave their pawprints on our hearts.

Thank you for joining us on this comprehensive journey through the world of Bullmastiffs. We hope this article has provided you with valuable insights and answered all your questions about this amazing breed. Whether you’re considering adding a Bullmastiff to your family or simply have a fascination for these gentle giants, we hope you have gained a newfound appreciation for their history, characteristics, and contributions.

The roots of the Bullmastiff can be traced back to ancient times, where they were originally bred as guardian dogs. The breed’s ancestors can be found in ancient Egypt, where they were revered for their strength, loyalty, and protective nature. These early dogs were likely used to guard livestock and protect their owners’ properties.

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