Deciding to add a new dog to your family is a big step. Deciding which breed of dog to choose is a whole different question!
With a little help and some diligent research, this isn’t as hard as you might think. Resources such as our Spot Pet Insurance dog breed guides are here to help you make an informed, responsible decision so everyone in your family (including your new furry friend) can thrive.
Today, we’re putting the bullmastiff in the spotlight.
These “Silent Guardians” are in the top 30% of dog breeds by popularity, as recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), thanks to their loving personalities, easy maintenance, and strong instincts.
Read on to learn about bullmastiff history, traits, training, adaptability, exercise, grooming, health care, and more.
The crossbreeding of Bulldogs and Mastiffs in the mid-19th century resulted in what we know today as the bullmastiff.
Bred primarily as guard dogs, their purpose is obvious at first glance. Their appearance could scare off intruders without the need to bark or bite.
To properly help gamekeepers in England combat poachers, bullmastiffs were intentionally bred to combine the size and strength of mastiffs with the fiery tenacity (and improved mobility) of 1800s English bulldogs.
The breed made such effective working dogs that they were exported from England to places where powerful guard dogs were needed, including mines in South Africa.
We can still see the instincts that the bullmastiff inherited from being a gamekeeper’s night dog today, even though many are now domesticated to regular pet life.
What is it?
Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition in which the hip joint and thigh bone don’t align properly, causing the two to grind together. This condition is prevalent in larger breeds with heavy bones. Since the bullmastiff develops so quickly and can be clumsy as a puppy, the breed is at a higher risk.
Predisposition to this condition is passed down genetically, so it’s important to determine whether your dog’s parents were cleared. Obesity can increase the risk of hip dysplasia, so monitoring your dog’s weight is a key preemptive measure.
90% = $2,160
80% = $1,920
70% = $1,680
What is it?
Ectropion is a genetic condition where your dog’s eyelids grow outward abnormally, sometimes called “rolling.” If your dog’s eyelid appears to be sagging, ectropion might be affecting them.
Ectropion can be congenital (inherited) or acquired (caused by another condition, such as injury or disease). Bullmastiffs are at risk for Congenital ectropion, as are both breeds they come from (Mastiffs and Bulldogs).
Other potential health conditions:
90% = $1,800
80% = $1,600
70% = $1,400
How well do bullmastiffs get along with their owners?
Bullmastiffs are some of the more affectionate dogs among similar guard-dog breeds.
They are loyal to family and will protect their parents and siblings, even with their life if necessary. In some cases, they may even be a bit overprotective, especially towards children.
Are bullmastiffs aggressive towards strangers?
Bullmastiffs have strong protector and watchdog instincts. They are vigilant to potential threats, which in their mind naturally includes strangers.
With this breed, there is a possibility for aggression towards other animals or people. This can depend on the individuals in question and the nature of the meeting.
Proper early socialization training can help reduce risks, but you should always keep your bullmastiff leashed and make sure you are in control of your dog while in public. At home, a secure fence is a must to keep your bullmastiff from pursuing nearby threats and prevent anything from encroaching on its territory.
How well do bullmastiffs adapt to new situations?
Despite their size, this breed is fairly adaptable to different living situations.
While this breed will need standard exercise and some mental stimulation, they won’t demand constant attention. This makes a bullmastiff a great fit for families who need to be out of the home for sizable chunks of the day due to work and school.
Thanks to their relatively low energy and mellow demeanor, small living spaces can work for this breed, although it may be tricky for you and your family.
Outdoor space and larger homes will likely be more ideal, although any outdoor space should be securely fenced. Bullmastiffs will try to claim new territory if they can so lock down the area they have access to.
When your bullmastiff is outside, be wary of heat. They are fairly tolerant of cold weather but not hot, so keep them indoors with AC during humid, hot weather.
Do bullmastiffs make good guard dogs?
Bullmastiffs were bred to be guard dogs and can fill the role superbly. They are always vigilant and aware of their surroundings. Note that they are not a particularly vocal breed, although this can vary from dog to dog.
Will a bullmastiff be a fun dog to have around?
Those looking for a strong, loyal family member will find much joy in a relationship with a bullmastiff. Those looking for a running partner or high-energy dog may be disappointed.
Bullmastiffs can be moderately playful and enjoy some exercise, but they aren’t going to run all day long. This can suit many families perfectly, especially those who are very busy.
Are bullmastiffs good with children?
Family relationships are never a worry for a bullmastiff, and children are no exception. You can expect affection and loyalty from your dog towards their human siblings.
The protective nature of this breed carries over to children, sometimes in excess. Don’t let them become overprotective, or they won’t let anyone near.
As with any dog, and especially such a large breed, never leave children unsupervised with your dog. Even though your dog likely has the best intentions, their size could easily injure a child. During play, the bullmastiff can be especially intense – even a full-grown man could easily be knocked over and hurt.
Ensure any children who interact with your bullmastiff know how to properly approach a dog, especially a large breed.
How are bullmastiffs with other dogs?
Watchdog instincts are strong in this breed, which can make interactions with unfamiliar dogs tense. Suspicion is natural, but it’s essential to train your dog not to react or become aggressive towards new dogs. This is most easily done from an early age.
Bullmastiffs have a short coat that is typically smooth.
Coat colors include:
Red Fawn Brindle
Markings can include:
Black mask, white markings
Daily brushing, occasional bath, regular nail trims
Easy to train.
No, bullmastiffs are not hypoallergenic.
As short-haired dogs, brushing once a week is generally recommended to keep their coat smooth and clean.
Monitoring your dog’s skin for excessive dryness or oiliness is also recommended, as this can be a problem for some bullmastiffs.
Knowledge is power when it comes to caring for your bullmastiff. Understanding your dog’s wants, needs, physical traits, and instincts prepares you to give them the care they need, where and when they need it.
Check out our Spot Pet Insurance Blog to continue your pet parent learning journey with even more helpful resources like this guide!
Adoption fee ( purebred puppy): $1,000-$3,000
Yearly care cost (first year): $5,000
Yearly care cost (following years): $2,040
Bullmastiff instincts are strong, so they need equally strong training. Use the tips below to get things moving in the right direction.
As with any breed, there are certain foods a bullmastiff should never eat, as they can be toxic to dogs. In general, dog food is always a better option than human food.
Here are some of the most common foods that need to be avoided:
Bullmastiffs need moderate daily exercise due to the breed’s moderate energy levels. At least half an hour of exercise every day is a minimum.
In general, bullmastiffs don’t enjoy overly long or intense periods of exercise. They’re not quite as active as similarly-sized breeds like the greyhound, great Dane, or golden retriever, so they don’t have the same exercise needs.
Puppy: 18 – 20 months
Adult: 1 year – 6 years
Senior: 6 years – end of life
Bullmastiffs, like any breed, come with their own challenges and charming features. Consider carefully if the breed is right for you, and be prepared for a loyal, strong family dog if you add this gentle giant to your home!