General Breed Information

Breed Purpose

Originally Bullmastiffs were a combination of 40% English Bulldog and 60% English Mastiff. They were bred specifically to accompany gamekeepers on their rounds, being able to track well and having sufficient size and strength to tackle, overpower and hold a poacher. A product of this century, by 1924 the Mastiff-Bulldog cross had been stabilized and, as the Bullmastiff, the breed was officially recognized in Britain and was accepted for registration by the American Kennel Club in 1933 , where it earned a loyal but numerically small following.
In addition to patrolling estates, the Bullmastiff has also been used as a police, guard and army dog.

Breed Characteristics

A Bullmastiff presents an aristocratic, attentive and intelligent look. He is distinguished from the English Mastiff by his smaller size and more compact face.They have been described as: intelligent, loyal, stubborn, laid back, family oriented, stoic, and even-tempered.

Bullmastiffs rarely bark unless there is a reason. There is a minimal amount of slobbering associated with a Bullmastiff, usually after eating or drinking.

They are a dog that requires consistent and fair training. Unique breed characteristics need to be taken into consideration. Though playful enough as a puppy, the Bullmastiff often takes a rather serious, sombre attitude toward training as he matures. He likes to work and concentrates hard on a new exercise for a given interval. However once he learns it, he will quickly become bored and lethargic if the exercise is not applied in a variety of practical and rewarding ways.

The Bullmastiff seems to be very easy-going and as such tends to integrate well with most other dogs. But as with any breed, you should start socialization early. Puppy kindergarten type situations are definitely a must. As far as the Bullmastiff’s relationship to other animals (other than dogs), size rather than aggressiveness is often more of an issue. Often Bullmastiffs don’t realize their size can hurt a smaller dog, or cat, with rough-house play.

In relationship to people, Bullmastiffs tend to be one family dogs. They bond extremely close with their people and can be suspicious of strangers. Early puppy interaction with lots of different people is key to overcoming potential problems due to this trait. Believe it or not Bullmastiffs can be quite cuddly and demonstrative. They must be integrated as a member of the family. I would say they are not very suitable for being an outdoor dog.

Bullmastiffs are more tolerant of children than many other breeds. Their easy going nature and calmness, tend to make them able to tolerate the energy of younger kids. But again, due to their size, constant parental supervision is a must.

They are a naturally protective dog. They have a suspicious nature in regards to strangers and size people up. Sufficient socialization is extremely important due to this fact. They also naturally guard their family members.

Bullmastiffs are constantly attentive and curious about their surroundings and will be alarmed if any danger is perceived to their pack. Many people who see a Bullmastiff playing with children or other friendly person, cannot believe that this breed can be anything but friendly, however if the need arises the Bullmastiff can quickly take on a 180 degree change in personality and can change from a friendly clown into the most determined guard dog imaginable.

These two factors make, in my opinion, on-going training and early puppy socialization, all important. Without it, Bullmastiffs can become over-protective and over-aggressive towards strangers and other dogs, etc.

Bullmastiffs do not tend to tolerate LARGE variances in temperature. They do not like extreme heat or extreme cold. They will however frolick in a snow drift of two when the opportunity arises.

Exercise Requirements

The Bullmastiff is not a high-energy dog. One longish walk every day should take care of required excercise. But play sessions, trips to exciting places and other highlights should be incorporated as they will otherwise tend to get bored.
NOTE:  Bullmastiffs do tend to have a high tolerance for pain and often will not complain about discomfort until the condition is quite bad.

Suitability for Working People

The Bullmastiff seems to tolerate being left alone well, and would fit into a family where both parties are working. Although it should be noted that any puppy will require someone coming home during the afternoon. Please note that puppies of any breed are a LOT of work and require without a doubt, time, energy and love. On average a puppy requires at least 4 hours per day and probably more if you are into any type of training.

Grooming Requirements

Bullmastiffs are a short-haired dog which have minimal shedding. The brushes I have found that work the best are: rubber palm brushes used in a circular motion to lift out dead hair and bring the oil to the surface followed by a slicker brush to trap the hair. A grooming session at least once a week should be sufficient. Ear cleaning and nail clipping is a definit must.


Specific Health Problems

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a progressive degeneration of the coxofemoral joint that occurs following the development of joint laxity when the dog is growing. The word dysplasia means simply ” improper growth”. Since the hip is composed not only of bone but, also the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joint capsule holding the bones together, there are limitless ways in which ” improper growth” can occur. Therefore, hip dysplasia is not an all-or-nothing disease, but is a syndrome, that may progress from clinically undetectable to marked hindlimb debility. (All dogs have normal hips at birth).

If, due to hereditary predisposition or enviromental influence, the bones and soft tissues mature out of synchrony, there develops an incompatibility of the parts of the hip. This leads to joint instability so that the ball and socket are not held together properly. When joint instability is present, the weight of the animal is no longer borne only by the perfectly smooth cartilage surfaces of the joint. Lesions (therefore, pain) develop at these sites of abnormal pressure. This is the start of degenerative joint disease or arthritis, which is what actually produces the signs we recognize (e.g., wobbly gait, soreness, slow rising, nonweight bearing).
Breeders who have bred only dogs with radiographically normal hips have decreased the incidence of hip dysplasia (in offspring) without exception! The Bullmastiff ranks 6th out of the top ten breeds for Hip-Dysplasia ( as of 1994 ).
Nothing we can do, however, will completely limit the occurrence of hip dysplasia in any line or breeds of dogs. When looking for a new pup always check the Dam and Sire’s OFA’s. These are certification numbers given to dogs who’s x-rays have been taken on or after the age of two, and been certified by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. This will give you a good idea of the shape of the dogs hips. In Canada hip x-rays can be certified by the Ontario Veterinary College – OVC  at the age of 18 months.
The following is an example of a dog’s OFA number and what it means:
BMF-558G24M-T BMF – Bullmastiff
558 – 558th Bullmastiff certified
E – Excellent, G – Good, F – Fair
24 – X-rayed at 24 months
M – male
T – tattooedThe OVC number would look something like AA0918 and state only wether the dog shows any radiographic evidence of hip dysplasia.
Osteochondritis Dessicans or Elbow Dysplasia

OCD, Osteochondritis Dessicans or Elbow Dysplasia affects dogs of the large rapidly growing breeds between the ages of four and twelve months. It usually is found in the shoulder joints, but rarely it can affect the hocks or stifles. It is due to a defect in the cartilage overlying the head of one of the long bones. A puppy who jumps down stairs might sustain such an injury. The tendency for cartilage to be easily damaged may be hereditary. Repeated stress to the joint perpetrates the condition. The signs are gradual lameness in a young dog of one of the larger breeds, typically between six to seven months of age. OFA and OVC now certifies elbows as well as hips.


Hypothyroidism – This condition is due to inadequate thyroid hormone from the thyroid gland. Signs of thyroid deficiency are lethargy, obesity, drooping of the eyelids, mental dullness and irregular heat cycles.Thyroid deficiency causes the hair to become thin and scant.The hair is coarse and brittle and falls out easily, skin gets thick, tough and dark in color.This can cause many problems and you should ask about this in parents and grand-parents. The condition is easy to treat with thyroid hormone given daily. Usually it is permanent and requires lifetime treatment.

Eye Problems

Entropion – This condition causes the eyelid and lashes to roll inwards causing irritation and possible ulcerization to the eyeball. It can be effectivitly treated with surgery. The symptoms are: puffy eyes with discharge, eyes that look half closed.

Lymphoma Sarcoma

Some Bullmastiff breeders are seeing an alarming trait in some lines with the development of lymphoma sarcoma. You should talk with the breeder to make sure that this trend did not exist in past litters of both parents and grand-parents.

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