Bullmastiff 101

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

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The ledgend- lives on.
Barked: Sun Oct 29, '06 6:51am PST 
I always cringe and get a shiver up my spine everytime I hear somebody say they want a Bullmastiff. There are many positives to the breed, but let's learn the cons of the Bullmastiff.

1.) TEMPERMENT- I put this as number one, because so many Bullmastiffs end up in rescue or in shelter, because of their faulty temperment. Bullmastiffs are extremely territorial dogs. In this day in age of BSL, this does not come over well with many city authorities. They will protect their yard, their humans, their house, or their car at all costs. Because of these drives, training them can be difficult, and explaining to a passerby while your Bullmastiff chased them away from their driveway can be difficult and lead to further problems with your city. Many require special home owner's insurance in certian areas.

2.) SAME SEX AGGRESSION- Bullmastiffs are notorious for being same sex aggressive. Males and males (a Bullmastiff with any other breed that is a male) should never happen. They may seem fine at first, and coule be fine for days, weeks, months or years, but you must prepare yourself for the day of all out war. As one highly respected Bullmastiff breeder once said about owning a male Bullmastiff, with a male of any other breed, "You must prepare yourself for the day where there will be an all out brawl. On that day, go inside, get yourself a big tall drink and throw that down. Wait. Then go outside and bury the loser." Yes, folks. It's that bad. I have a friend who went out and bought a male Bullmastiff after meeting Zeus, when she already had a male Boxer. A month or so ago, the Boxer was sent to the emergency vet after the Bullmastiff literally tore into his leg, damaging muscle tissue and ligiments. That Bullmastiff is currently looking for a home.

3.) MALES IN GENERAL- All male Bullmastiffs, unless being used for show or for professional breeding purposes SHOULD BE NEUTERED. Once a male Bullmastiff (even those who are neutered, so image the intact males with the testosterone running through them!) hits one year of age, you will see a signifigant increase in aggression. Because of that, anybody considering a Bullmastiff absolutley HAS to be...

4.) A STRONG, DOMINEERING, CONFIDENT OWNER- You MUST be pack leader with these dogs, or it will be the end of your Bullmastiff, period. These dogs thrive on challenging their owners for the leadership position, and many times, win. Bullmastiffs are known for being extremely bull headed (no pun intended) and stubborn, and at times, have to be reminded to listen to you.

5.) FINDING A REPUTABLE BULLMASTIFF BREEDER is a feat of it's own- When it comes to this breed, quality is not expensive, it's priceless. It is not un-common to spend between $1500-$2500 for a healthy good quality Bullmastiff puppy. Due to the growing popularity of this breed, many backyard breeders and puppy mills especially have picked up on this breed. Health clearances and show titles, plus a breeder with thorough knowledge that will lead you through your quest for the right puppy is key. Getting a healthy puppy whose parents are happy and healthy are important because of the Bullmastiffs...

6.) WIDE ARRAY OF HEALTH PROBLEMS- Bullmastiffs are prone to the following: Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Thyroid Dysfunction, Eye Disorders, Kidney Disease, Bloat, Cancer, Heart Problems, Temperment (Yes, temperment!), Cruciate Ligament Ruptures, Allergies, and skin problems. (Just to name a few!)

7.) THE COST OF MAINTAINING YOUR BULLMASTIFF- Total up-front costs (crate, bowls, bed, ect) will run you upwards of $800. (This does not include the puppy, which price we discussed earlier.) Look at $400 a year for flea and tick preventatives. A full grown Bullmastiff will go through 40 pounds of food a month. ($30-65 dollars/month). Average vet care per year is around $450 dollars (because of all of their health problems. This does not include emergencies). Health specific medications $420. Surgeries concerning health and specific issues (bloat, entropion, TPLO) can run you an average of $2,000 per incident. Plus, there's much more not mentioned. Health wise, they are an expensive breed.

8.) HOUSING YOUR BULLMASTIFF- Bullmastiffs CAN NOT live outdoors due to their shortened snout, which also gives them a shortened respitory tract, and in many breathing problems. They MUST LIVE INDOORS, and that leads me to telling you that they DO drool, they DO shed a lot, they DO like to slop their food and water around, and they DO take up a lot of room! Prepare to lose a lot of cherished items while your Bullmastiff puppy is growing up. They can be very demonstrative and very destructive. Many have been known to chew through walls or doors. Put up your cherished china!

9.) SIZE- The average male Bullmastiff will weigh around 140 pounds. The average female will weigh around 100-120 pounds. Do you want that running around with...

10.) CHILDREN- Bullmastiffs can be good with children (if raised with them since they were young. If not raised, jealousy can become a big issue, which you do not want with a 140 pound dog.) Bullmastiffs are so large, and so un-coordinated, children do get knocked over frequently, and do get hurt without the dog knowing what has happened. Bullmastiff puppies love to jump, but generally are so big, can easily knock a child over. Also, if there is a child laying in your Bullmastiff's path, do not expect him to go around the child.

11.) LIFESPAN- Prepare yourself to only have your Bullmastiff around for a maximum of 8-10 years. Due to their size, and all of their health problems, they do not live long, so every moment must be charished.

If you would like further information, please feel free to contact me (Zeus' Mom) or visit http://bullmastiffinfo.org/ where you will learn more about the breed than you ever wanted to know!

Edited by author Mon Sep 21, '09 8:42pm PST


Canine Executive- Officer
Barked: Sun Oct 29, '06 10:42am PST 
I just wanted to reply to give you kudos for being so incredibly thorough! smile

Mad Mutt
Barked: Sun Oct 29, '06 11:13am PST 
I have to say I tihnk you're being a bit negative about the breed. I work for a rescue and we get a lot of Bullmastiffs in, 99% from marrage break ups and similar situations. I have found it rare for them to be at all temperamental and most seem to be fine around other dogs. They have a huge love of children. Though some do guard, most no more so than a Boxer would or something similar - a warning bark basically, though yes some would go further, Bullmastiffs way of guarding is to pin the intruder to the floor, not attack. We have had several in the owners had attempted to turn into agressive guard dogs but had failed because they were too soft! Bullmastiffs are fantastic dogs and make wonderfull comapnions. Training takes a firm voice but they usually pick it up quite quick. I do agree they are not for the first time owner, and I would deffinatly advise looking up health problems and talking to other owners before looking into owning one yourself, but they make wonderfull pets


The ledgend- lives on.
Barked: Sun Oct 29, '06 12:04pm PST 
2 little excerpts from Bullmastiff folks in a different group I'm in. I will leave them un-named since I don't have their permission to cross post these.

The first is from an AKC Approved Judge/Bullmastiff Breeder/ABA (American Bullmastiff Association) Bullmastiff Rescuer/Coordinator:

"Anyone considering having a male with any other male, even if both are neutered, even if they're littermates or have been together for years, must prepare for the day that they won't get along. And at that point, are you ready, willing and able to seperate them for the rest of their lives? If not, you have your answer. And I've done it. Rotating dogs who hate each other SUCKS. It's highly stressful and if one door, one clasp, one hand slips.....you're in for the fight of your life."

Another from a respected Bullmastiff breeder/handler/owner. (Has had only 1 litter because she wants to breed them for the right purposes):

"As someone who has had one litter and been in the breed since 97 I would never sell a male pup to a home who already has a male dog in it. That's just setting myself up for getting that dog back or worse yet, someone getting hurt in the process. Thats not something I'm willing to live with. "

I chose to point out the negatives, because the postitives are not what get these guys put into shelters and rescues. It's the negatives.

I'm not saying they're not good dogs (Why would I own 2 if they weren't?), just save yourself the heartbreak, and save your other pooch the pain, and please, do not ever get a male with a male Bullmastiff. That was 85% the message of my post. I find it my duty to spread that as much as possible, because I feel like I failed with my friend after begging and pleading with her to NOT get this male Bullmastiff with her (older) male Boxer. I feel like I completely failed this Bullmastiff, and now his life has turned to this, because of my failure to educate and get my point across at the beginning. Had I successfully did this, this boy wouldn't be in this position. I may sound completely negative, but if I get my male with another male point across to just one individual, then my purpose here was fullfilled.

Henry, please do try to understand my approach here.

Edited by author Sun Oct 29, '06 12:12pm PST


I Might Be Small- But I Have It- All!
Barked: Mon Oct 30, '06 3:27pm PST 
People need to hear the negative.. if you can still love a breed after all of the flaws, you know you can own one!

The ledgend- lives on.
Barked: Mon Oct 30, '06 4:18pm PST 
Amen, Pugsley.

Thank you very much for your show of support.
Vance CGC

You kids g'off- my lawn!
Barked: Mon Oct 30, '06 4:59pm PST 

Hence my turning away from the shelter Bullmastiff I'd put on hold (I have a connection in the shelter... But he still had to be neutered) when my family let slip that they were afraid of him. He was an awesome dog... You could just sort of tell. I still wonder what may have been, sometimes.

In regards to Bullmastiffs in rescues not seeming so bad - They are out of their element, in a shelter or foster sitution. A lot of dogs like to get good and comfortable before they decide to make a move. Also, a good chunk of rescue dogs, period, are given up because they're unruley teenagers. At that point, they're still very puppyish and may not have come into their gaurd, or care much about pack order - Yet.

So I'd like to add that. If you're looking at a breed with characteristics like a Bullmastiff, remember that puppies are just that - Puppies. They're goofy and playful and still in love with the world. Just because you've found a 7-month old Bullmastiff that loves everything it sees, does not necessarily mean it's going to stay that way for long. Always keep the adult breed profile in mind.

Edited by author Mon Oct 30, '06 4:59pm PST


You can get- anything if you- sit pretty!
Barked: Mon Oct 30, '06 7:09pm PST 
Not to down the breed (I do not believe all dogs are the same)
I got bitten in the face by an uneutered male bullmastiff, I was in his house he was kissing me all over but when I went to touch "his female" a little spayed pom, he lunged and took off a bit of my lip, I had to have 12 stitches and had a puncture wound on my forehead.
This was not a "bad" dog he was just protecting his female and the owners did not tell me that he was protective over her until after the fact!
Another case was a friend of mine that does rescue, a bullmastiff killed a peke that was in the yard with him.
Now, before everyone jumps me for "downing the breed" which I am not.
Everyone that hears of my bite (not attack, just a bite) can not believe it, they say how gentle and easy going they usually are so I know that they are not all like that but any dog could do that.
I don't hold it against the breed or the dog, it was just one of those things that happens.
The only bad thing is that now I am scared of big dogs (which I NEVER was in the past) and I wish I could get over it.
All dogs have their quirks and they need to be addressed and out in the public so everyone knows the possibilities of what "could" happen.
We had a rescue Yorkie that killed a pom, and a Jack Russell that had to be put down today because of aggression, so you just never know.

The ledgend- lives on.
Barked: Tue Oct 31, '06 6:04am PST 
You are most certianly not downing the breed, however, you are proving my point on males (specifically those who are intact). They are dangerous, especially if left intact. When Zeus came home with us that day, I had not researched the breed. I work as a vet tech at what is now the duo's vet. We were originally looking for an English Mastiff (since that's what my boyfriend's had his entire life). You should have seen the look on the staff's face when they saw I had been given a BULLmastiff. I got a lot of remarks like, "You know they don't have the same temperment as the English Mastiff, right?" or, "You plan on neutering him, right?" As I said, males are territorial and very aggressive. Could you imagine if there was another male in either of the households you explained, Tippy?

Thank you for your stories and for again, shedding some light on the not-so-nice side of the breed. I get a lot of comments from people saying, "Ooooh! I want a Bullmastiff! Where'd you ge them from?" when they meet Zeus and Grace. These people do not understand the time and effort I put into being a responsibe and dominant Bullmastiff owner, which many do not. I worked HARD very HARD to get my dogs as nice, socialized, and well-behaved as they are. My goodness, I spend more time with my dogs (go to work with me everyday, run errands with me everyday, ect.) than I do my other half, just because I want them as well socialized as possible! (If you're wondering, no, the other half isn't as well socialized as them either...BOL!)

We are sorry to hear what happened to your Mom, Tippy. If it's any consolation Zeus is going to give you a BIG HUGE SLOBBERY kiss (with no teeth involved!) and followed by Miss Grace kisses.

The ledgend- lives on.
Barked: Tue Oct 31, '06 6:15am PST 
Also adding, Vance's post, so true.

That wrinkley rollie pollie happy (though still chewing on your arm) puppy is going to grow up to be a charged 140 pound muscle machine.

Think about it.

We got Grace because Zeus needed a companion. And needed a companion that was his size. (Zeus ADORES my Mom's Shih Tzu--but I cannot say that she loves him back because he's so BIG that when they play, she gets knocked around the place.) Luckilly, Grace came into the picture. She had been raised with Boxers (and ONLY Boxers) so she had (and still has) the mentality to this day that she's a Boxer. It's worked out great. Male and female. (Of course, spay/neuter first.) A winning combination!
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