Canadian Mastiff Club

Breed Characteristics


The Old English Mastiff is one of the heaviest breeds; a male Mastiff can exceed 200 pounds. This dog is very massive, powerful and muscular. The head is heavy and square with a short muzzle. There is a black mask around the eyes and muzzle no matter what the general coat colour. The eyes are medium-sized and dark; and the small ears should also be dark-coloured. For more details, please read the Canadian Kennel Club Breed Standard.


 Originally valued for their abilities as a fierce guard and fighting dog, today's Mastiff is a gentle giant. He is a self-confident, watchful, and patient dog who is gentle-natured towards his family. Intelligent and dignified, he rarely barks, but it is his nature to defend his territory and family. Calm, steady and docile, this dog is normally excellent with children, and responds well to gentle, patient training. Good natured, but very large and heavy, this breed loves to please and needs lots of companionship.

The Mastiff's dominance varies widely depending on the lineage. They can be aloof with strangers or fairly friendly. A born guard dog, brave and loyal; when strangers visit, a Mastiff is likely to refuse to let them in unless they are accepted by its handler. The Mastiff generally holds intruders at bay rather than attacking, and protection training is unnecessary for this naturally protective breed. It is very possessive of home, family and car, yet if properly socialized it will get along well with other animals. The Mastiff tends to drool, and may snore loudly. They can be somewhat stubborn.


Height: Males minimum 30 inches (76cm); Females minimum 27 inches (69cm)

Weight: Males from 175 pounds (80 kg) to 230 pounds (105 kg); Females from 130 pounds (59 kg) to 190 pounds (86 kg)


Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, gastric torsion (bloat), ectropion, entropion, PPM, PRA, and osteosarcomas are just some of the health issues afflicting the Breed. Buyers are encouraged to research the health issues of the Breed. Life Expectancy - 7 to 10 years. Please visit our Health page for more information.

Housing Requirements

A Mastiff can be comfortable in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. They are relatively inactive indoors and a small yard will do.


Mastiffs are inclined to be lazy but they will keep more fit and happy if given regular exercise.


The smooth, short-haired coat is easy to groom. Brush with a firm bristle brush and wipe over with a piece of towelling or chamois for a gleaming finish. Bathe or dry shampoo when necessary. This breed is an average shedder.


The Mastiff is one of the oldest breeds of dogs, most probably originating in the mountains of Asia, and is the ancestor of the giant breeds. Bas relief's of the Babylonian era depict Mastiffs hunting lions and horses. Phoenician traders probably introduced the Mastiff to England where the Romans found them and brought them back to fight in the arena. Marco Polo wrote of the court of Kublai Khan who kept a kennel of 5,000 Mastiffs used for hunting and dogs of war. Hannibal, when he crossed the Alps, left Mastiffs
behind which crossed with local native breeds to produce St. Bernard's, once called the Alpine Mastiff, and all the massive mountain dogs of Spain, France, Turkey, and the Balkans have Mastiff blood in their ancestry. Even the Chow carries his blood as does the Pug, which was originally a form of a dwarf Mastiff.

Of all the countries who used the Mastiff, it was the British who kept him to his purest form. They were kept to guard their castles and estates, releasing them at night to ward off intruders. Henry the VIII is said to have presented Charles the VI of Spain a gift of 400 Mastiffs to be used in battle. The Legh family of Lyme Hall, Cheshire, who were given their estate by Richard the II (1377-1399), kept and bred Mastiffs for many years, and reference is found in Stowe's Annual which shows that James the I (1603-1625) sent a gift of two Lyme Mastiffs to Phillip the III of Spain.

The first conclusive evidence of the Mastiff in the United States comes in the early 1880's when they began to appear at bench shows. World War I saw the decline of the Mastiff in the United States and England. World War II almost eliminated the breed in England altogether. At the end of the war, dogs were imported to England from Canada and the United States to re-establish the breed. Slowly but surely, as time passed, the breed has become popular again.