The Majestic Bullmastiff: An Overview of This Loyal and Protective Breed

Bullmastiffs, with their majestic and powerful appearance, are a breed that has captured the hearts of many dog lovers worldwide. Despite their intimidating looks, they are affectionate, loyal, and protective of their owners.

In this article, we will provide you with an overview of the Bullmastiff breed, from their history to their personality, physical characteristics to health issues, and more.

A Brief History of the Bullmastiff Breed

Bullmastiffs are a relatively new breed, originating in England in the mid-19th century. They were initially developed by gamekeepers to protect estates against poachers.

Crossbreeding the English Mastiff with the then-popular Bulldog resulted in a loyal, muscular, and agile breed that was quick to alert its owners of potential intruders.

Origins and Development

The origins of the Bullmastiff breed go back to the 1860s when poaching was a massive problem for landowners and gamekeepers in England. These professionals needed a dog that could be trained to track, pin down, and hold poachers without injuring them.

The gamekeepers achieved this by breeding a Bulldog and an English Mastiff, resulting in the Bullmastiff we know today. The breeding of the Bullmastiff was not an easy task. The gamekeepers had to ensure that the resulting breed was agile and muscular yet not too large or aggressive.

They wanted a dog that was loyal and protective of its owners but not overly territorial or prone to attack without reason. It took years of selective breeding to achieve the perfect balance of traits that would make the Bullmastiff an ideal guard dog.

The Bullmastiff’s Early Roles in Society

The Bullmastiff quickly became popular with British landowners. Their agile and muscular builds allowed them to chase down trespassers with ease, and their loyalty and protective nature made them ideal for guarding families and livestock alike.

During the First and Second World Wars, the Bullmastiff was used by the military as a guard dog and messenger. Their bravery and loyalty to their handlers were highly valued, and many soldiers formed close bonds with these dogs during their time of service.

Physical Characteristics of the Bullmastiff

Originally bred to guard large estates and game preserves from poachers, the Bullmastiff is an intimidating dog. Despite the imposing stature, the breed is loyal and affectionate.

Size and Weight

Bullmastiffs are large dogs, with males standing at around 25 to 27 inches and weighing 110 to 130 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, standing at 24 to 26 inches and weighing 100 to 120 pounds.

Despite their size, Bullmastiffs are not overly active dogs. They enjoy a daily walk but are content to spend most of their time lounging around the house. They are not recommended for apartment living due to their size.

Coat and Colors

Bullmastiffs have a short, dense coat that comes in several colors, including fawn, fawn brindle, red, red brindle, red fawn, and red fawn brindle. Some dogs can have a black mask.

It’s important to note that Bullmastiffs shed moderately, so regular brushing is recommended to keep their coat healthy and clean. They also tend to drool, so keeping a towel handy is a good idea.

Distinctive Features

The wrinkled forehead and droopy jowls may appear intimidating. However, it’s the affectionate eyes and wagging tails that portray the Bullmastiff’s friendly nature best.

Bullmastiffs have a square-shaped head, and their ears are V-shaped, slightly floppy, and set high on the head. The tails are thick at the base and taper to a point.

Breed members have broad chests and powerful legs that allow them to run and play. Their size and strength make them excellent guard dogs, but they are also gentle and loving with their families.

Bullmastiff Temperament and Personality Traits

In terms of personality and temperament, the American Kennel Club (AKC) says that the Bullmastiff is affectionate, loyal, and brave.

Loyalty and Affection

Bullmastiffs are incredibly loyal dogs and are happiest when by their owners’ sides. They are known for their protective instincts, which extend to their owners and families.

They are excellent with kids and have a gentle nature that makes them patient and understanding of children’s behavior. They are also affectionate dogs that love to cuddle and receive attention from their owners.

One of the unique traits of Bullmastiffs is their ability to read their owner’s emotions. They can sense when their owners are happy, sad, or anxious and will respond accordingly. They are quick to offer comfort and support, making them excellent emotional support animals.

Protective Instincts

Bullmastiffs are known for their strong protective instincts. They can sense danger from miles away and will bark at intruders to alert their owners.

Their size and strength can intimidate anyone, and with proper training, they can be reliable guard dogs too. Despite their protective nature, Bullmastiffs are not aggressive dogs.

Intelligence and Trainability

Bullmastiffs are intelligent dogs but can be stubborn and strong-willed at times. Early socialization and obedience training are crucial to prevent any behavior problems from manifesting.

By using positive reinforcement, Bullmastiffs can be trained to be obedient, well-behaved pets. They respond well to praise and rewards, making training a fun and enjoyable experience for both the dog and the owner.

Health and Lifespan of the Bullmastiff

Common Health Issues

Bullmastiffs are predisposed to several serious health conditions, such as:

  • Orthopedic Issues: Joint problems frequently reported in this breed include hip and elbow dysplasia, which cause impaired mobility and pain 
  • Eye Problems: The breed is at high risk of progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which leads to vision loss and cannot be treated 
  • Heart Conditions: The two most common heart problems in the breed are dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and subaortic vascular stenosis (SAS)
  • Lymphoma: The breed has a higher-than-average risk of developing a specific type of cancer called lymphoma 

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and preventative care like vaccinations, deworming, and flea and tick treatment.

Regular vet appointments can detect any potential health problems early and provide the best possible treatment options.

Proper grooming, such as bathing, brushing, ear cleaning, nail trimming, and dental care, can also contribute to the Bullmastiff’s overall health and well-being.

Life Expectancy

The average lifespan of a Bullmastiff is between 7 and 9 years.

With proper care, a healthy diet, and regular exercise, Bullmastiffs can enjoy a long, happy, and healthy life with their owners.


In conclusion, the Bullmastiff is a breed that combines loyalty, affection, and intelligence in a majestic and powerful package. This dog’s protective instincts and gentle nature make it an ideal family pet and watchdog.

If interested in getting a Bullmastiff, research the breed thoroughly to determine if it is the right choice for you. Then, ensure you find a reputable breeder that tests both parents for hereditary conditions.

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