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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Why was the Bullmastiff breed developed?

What are the health issues of the Bullmastiff?

Do Bullmastiffs slobber?

Do I need to be big and physically strong to have a Bullmastiff?

Just how intelligent is a Bullmastiff?

What sort of training does a Bullmastiff require?

How much exercise does a Bullmastiff need?

Is it OK to let my Bullmastiff run off-lead with other dogs?

How much does a Bullmastiff eat?

What should I feed my Bullmastiff?

Where should my Bullmastiff sleep?

Is a Bullmastiff suitable for working people?

What sort of grooming does a Bullmastiff require?

What are Bullmastiffs like with children?

Are Bullmastiffs aggressive towards people or other dogs?

How long does it take a Bullmastiff to be fully grown?

Should I get my Bullmastiff desexed?

 

 

Why was the Bullmastiff breed developed?
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 and overpower a poacher. In the late 1800s, poaching of game on large estates was commonplace with poachers prepared to kill the gamekeeper rather than face the death penalty if they were caught. The game keeper needed a tough brave dog that could wait silently in the dark for the poacher to approach and then bring the offender down so he could be apprehended. The Bullmastiff was quick, strong and courageous enough to attack on command and hold the poacher yet not maul him.

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What are the health issues of the Bullmastiff?
The health problems that Bullmastiffs are prone to include:

  • Bloat
  • Cancer
  • Developmental bone issues
  • Eye problems
  • Heart problems
  • Joint disease
  • Skin problems

You can visit our Health Issues pages to find out more about these conditions.

Like all living creatures that are the result of a complex genetic heritage, there can be no guarantee that a Bullmastiff will be disease-free for it's whole life, even it is the result of breeding two disease free dogs together. On top of any defective genes that a dog may inherit from it's ancestors, there are a range of nutritional, growth related and environmental factors that may cause or contribute to health issues.

Don't buy into the myth that cross bred dogs are healthier than pure bred dogs.  When looking at a cross bred dog you need to consider the genetic makeup of at least two breeds.  There may be some health problems that are common to both breeds (increasing the chances that this health problem will show up) and some that are unique problems for each breed.  The cross bred progeny will inherit genes from both parents and could potentially inherit the range of genetic disorders of all the breeds in it's makeup.  The health status of the parents will often be unknown as most breeders of crossbred dogs don't do health testing.

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Do Bullmastiffs slobber?
Yes they do to varying degrees. Most slobbering occurs after eating, exercise or drinking, but even thinking about food can produce those shoestrings!

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Do I need to be big and physically strong to have a Bullmastiff?
No, but you do have to be the calm and confident leader your Bullmastiff needs. Be willing to assume the role as alpha dog and work hard to earn the right to be the alpha dog.  That means going to classes and spending whatever is necessary in time, money and effort to make your Bullmastiff a pleasant member of your family and community. While the dog is part of your family, everyone else in your family must be higher in the pecking order than them.

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Just how intelligent is a Bullmastiff?
A Bullmastiff's intelligence relates to the job it was bred to do. They have great instincts for assessing the level of threat in most sitatuions and countering it with an appropriate level of response. While they were bred to live and work in partnership with humans, their traditional work environment (patrolling estates in the dark) also required them to have the ability to think independently as the Gamekeeper could often not see the poaching activities that the dog detected and so relied on the dog to assess the situation and take the necessary action to disarm, knock down and pin the poacher until the Gamekeeper could arrive and take control.

While a Bullmastiff is quite trainable and learns words quickly, they are reknown for often considering commands before deciding if they will obey them, and then tend to do so in their own sweet time. This is not to say that cannot excel at obedience or other disciplines, but training should be tailored to suit your Bullmastiff, as they will quickly get bored of excessive repetition which they will regard as pointless and a waste of energy.

It is important that you don't fall into believing in the "Lassie syndrome."  Dogs do not understand every word you say and do not have the ability to reason as humans do.  They are dogs - love them for what they are; don't try to turn them into people - it can't be done.  Instead learn to appreciate the dignity, affection and independent thinking of this instinctive family protector.

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What sort of training does a Bullmastiff require?
Their development as a "Gamekeepers Night Dog" has instilled in the breed an independence of thought, territorial instincts and a definite stubborn streak. These characteristics mean that it is essential to make sure your Bullmastiff is well socialised with other animals and people from an early age.  Puppy preschool is definitely recommended. Choose a class that promotes positive reinforcement.  Punishment and physical discipline can have a negative effect on your puppy's social skills. They are a dog that requires strong leadership and consistent and fair training. Rewards and praise will get the best response from a Bullmastiff while punishment or harsh methods will only result in an apparently deaf dog who stares into the distance with a faraway look and won't move an inch if he feels he is being bullied! They are very sensitive, and usually a stern voice is all that's needed for discipline.

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How much exercise does a Bullmastiff require?
The Bullmastiff is not a high-energy dog. One or two short walks a day will suffice with the remainder of the day usually spent sleeping. Being an intelligent dog, the Bullmastiff will benefit from the stimulation of human companionship, games, play and trips out and about to prevent boredom.

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Is it OK to let my Bullmastiff run off-lead with other dogs?
Generally the answer is no, unless your dog's playmates are very familiar and comfortable with your Bullmastiff. In a group situation, the strong and confident personality of the Bullmastiff may lead to problems with other dogs who aren't willing to submit to their leadership.  You must ensure that your Bullmastiff is under control at all times - that means properly confining your Bullmastiff in a safely fenced yard or kennel, protected from teasing children, stray animals and dog theives. When outside your yard, your Bullmstiff should be on a lead in all public places.

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How much does a Bullmastiff eat?
Given the size of a Bullmastiff, they probably eat less than you would expect due to their fairly sedate lifestyle! My Bullmastiffs eat less than the Kelpies I previoiusly owned and my greatest challenge is not allowing them to become overweight. It is very important to keep your Bullmastiff slim, particularly during their growth period where excessive weight can damage soft joints and bones. 

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What should I feed my Bullmastiff?
My dogs are raw fed and most days get a chicken frame or other raw meaty bones in the morning, and then a couple of cups of vege mush in the evening. I can't say what this would equate to in tinned or dry dog food.

If you want to see your pets live healthier, longer lives and also potentially reduce your vetbills, then feed a high quality diet  - either a correctly formulated raw food diet (as I do), a premium commercial dog food with meat as the first listed ingredient, or one of the new hybrids where you mix fresh meat with a rehydrated dry formula. Your Bullmastiff will love you for it!

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Where should my Bullmastiff sleep?
Bullmastiffs can sleep indoors or out, but may be glad of a coat if sleeping outdoors during winter. If your Bullmastiff does sleep outdoors, his sleeping place should be sheltered, dry, raised off the ground and free from draughts. It is important to create a 'den' for your Bullmastiff. The need for a den, a quiet place that belongs to your dog where he can retreat and rest, is deeply embeded into your dog's instincts. The den can be a kennel, a crate or a bed but it should be away from the busy, noisy parts of the house and it should be the dog's private place where he is not bothered.  All members of the family should be taught to leave the dog alone when he is in his den. 

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Is a Bullmastiff suitable for working people?
If given daily exercise, most Bullmastiffs are happy to relax and sleep for the rest of the day and tolerate being left alone quite well. It's a good idea to leave toys to keep them occupied if they are feeling active. You do need to m
ake your Bullmastiff a member of the family though and that means spending quality time with your dog. They MUST have social interaction and your family is the only pack they have.  Quality time could also involve taking up a dog sport like obedience or showing or equally valuable would be a daily walk or play time together.
You may also consider having two pets that can keep one another company. Puppies will need some human contact during the day, particularly as they may need feeding once or twice during working hours.

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What sort of grooming does a Bullmastiff require?
Although the Bullmastiff is a short haired breed, they do shed and will need grooming once a week or so to remove dead hair. I use a rubber palm brush to give the dogs a quick once over, with an occasional bath (using a very mild pH balanced shampoo) to help the shedding process.

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What are Bullmastiffs like with children?
Bullmastiffs are generally great dogs to have with children and will consider it their responsibility to protect every member of the family.  Gentle and patient though the Bullmastiff is with children, like any dog they should never be left unsupervised with youngsters. The sheer size of a Bullmastiff means a bump or a pat with a playful paw is enough to knock a small child down.

Most dogs, even those that are well-trained, don't naturally consider children as authority figures so it is essential that families teach their Bullmastiff and children to respect and cherish each other.  Bullmastiff owners should socialise their puppies to small children at an early age. That being said, it is crucial that young children and dogs never be left alone together as, besides the size difference, neither are skilled at reading the signals and body language of the other.  A defensive reaction by a Bullmastiff that misinterprets a child's intentions can have serious consequences.   Children should be taught to never hit dogs with their hands or an object, not to shout when playing with the dog, to leave the dog alone when he's sleeping, eating, or ill, and to never tease a dog. 

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Are Bullmastiffs aggressive towards people or other dogs?
There is definitely the potential for aggression in a Bullmastiff because of their original purpose. Always remember that the Bullmastiff is a SERIOUS guard dog with the possessive and territorial tendencies that come with this role. They were bred to guard and to protect their owner and property, and their instinct to do this will take over when the need arises, despite most Bullmastiffs having a friendly and calm temperament 99% of the time. This is why it is essential to properly socialise a Bullmastiff puppy with people and dogs, and undertake obedience training so that you have control over your dog as an adult, Even then the Bullmastiff owner needs to be aware of situations that may provoke the guard instinct in the Bullmastiff. Many Bullmastiffs can tend to be dog aggressive, particularly with dogs of the same sex, so again it is up to the owner to avoid confrontational situations.

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How long does it take a Bullmastiff to be fully grown?
It is important to grow your Bullmastiff slowly. Your Bullmastiff can take three or more years to mature, being a lot slower than many other breeds in their physical and mental development.  Keep your dog slim, prevent jumping and restrict exercise to puppy play ONLY until at least 12 months of age to enable joints and bones to grow strong and stable in their own time.  The adolescent period can seem very long, but like human teenagers, they will come out the other side as well adjusted and well behaved adults if you apply patience, perseverance and consistency in managing their behaviour.

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Should I get my Bullmastiff desexed?
Unless your dog is destined for the show ring and is potentially of sufficient quality to breed from, it is a good idea to simplify your life by desexing your Bullmastiff.

The truth is that male dogs are usually better pets if they are neutered. They have less desire to roam, to mark territory (including furniture), or to dominate family members. They are also healthier pets: no testicles means no testicular cancer, which is not uncommon among aging intact male dogs. Females also tend to be better pets if they do not experience oestrus every six to nine months. Heat cycles bring hormonal changes that can lead to personality changes. Repeated heat cycles increase the risk of uterine and mammary cancers and uterine infections. Some bitches also experience false pregnancies that can be a bother to deal with.

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"My goal in life is to become as wonderful as my dog thinks I am."
-Toby & Eileen Green

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