I want a Mastiff

So I’m in the park with my girlfriend the other day and we come across this group that apparently finds homes for Mastiffs in Manhattan (not the most practical dog for the city I would expect). Between the dogs they brought with them and local Mastiff owners who came by with their dogs, there were probably half a dozen of these enormous 200+ lb English Mastiffs all hanging around, each with a head the size of a basketball.

Well, now I want one. I have absolutely no use for a humongous dog. I share a one-bedroom with my girlfriend and we have absolutely no room for something that big. I can’t even imagine how we would take care of it. Nevertheless, they seem like awesome dogs (if you happen to like unaturally large dogs).

(Note: I don’t plant to get a dog I don’t have room for and can’t take care of properly)

My mother called me about a week ago telling me that she and my stepfather wanted a new dog and they were thinking about a Mastiff. I explained to her that they are stupid dogs (look up “dog intelligence” rankings. They are very near the bottom) and have a low lifespan that tends to be less than 10 years and often much less than that. I know that someone will pop in shortly to tell me how that isn’t true but the facts remain that it absolutely is true once you get clear of the apologists rhetoric

I love big dogs and I believe they are loving. I have a 100 pound Samoyed myself. If I lived by myself, I would gladly adopt one by myself but they are really some big stupid dogs that get bad health problems. BTW, my mother is looking at Malamutes and Australian Shepherds now.

I’ve never had a Mastiff, but I’ve had two Great Danes. The giant breeds tend to be low-energy dogs and really don’t need a bunch of room (other than your bed… sleeping with two Danes is very cozy!)

My fear with my big dogs has always been that if something happened to them that made them unable to walk, I wouldn’t be able lift, or even drag them to get them into the car.

I met a group of Mastiffs at a dog show. They really are something aren’t they? I wish there was a way I could rent one every other weekend or something like that.

Just ad a Mastiff or two to your wish list for when you get that estate in the country.

Mastiffs are too big?


The English Bulldog


My sister had one, and he was a wonderful dog. He’d play gently with kids, and if you asked him to howl, he’d form his big floppy lips into a perfect “O” and howl with you. We’d play games of chase around the house, and he could snore with the best of 'em.

When he was 6 years old, he developed some weird aggressions and in the end became completely unpredictable. It was a sad end to an otherwise fantastic pet.

Mastiffs are lovely dogs. Large breeds DO have health issues, but knowing you might
have to deal with it is not the same as a guarantee that it will happen. It’s up to each
individual to weigh the pros and cons to see if a dog of breed X is worth it.

I love giant dogs - my next dog will be a newf. I would consider one of the mastiff breeds more, except I worry that they generally have a greater tendency to dog aggression. Not
a BIG tendency per se, but less than some other breeds.

er. MORE than some other breeds.

‘Preview’ isn’t just for decoration, eh!

And they dont live long.

I got to pet a mastiff that someone was walking at a street festival this past weekend. I love mastiffs and newfies. Mr. Neville doesn’t like large dogs, so we won’t be getting one, but if I see you out walking your mastiff or newfie, I’m going to come over and ask if I can pet it (And no, I don’t mind if they drool or shed on me).

I have heard they don’t live that long (9-10 years) and often have hip problems.

I’m not sure if dumb is such a bad thing. Growing up we had two black Laboradors. One was really smart, the other dumb as a brick. The smart one would get out of any enclosure we’d put him in and had no trouble getting at anything that wasn’t hidden 12 feet of the ground. The dumb one was pretty much content to lounge about any encousure she couldn’t escape by ramming her head through. Unfortunately at 100 lbs (which is heavy for a lab) there was a lot of stuff she could ram through.

These Mastiffs I saw last weekend seemed pretty even tempered. Even when a strange Mastiff came over, mostly they just stood up and challenged each other with a loud “WOOF!!”.

We lived next door to a mastiff for a couple of years. He was a house dog – only came outside to do his business and for exercise, usually on a leash, dragging his owner all over the yard.

He’d play with our dog, a mixed breed about the size of a small Lab, and our dog could actually run under him without ducking. Great fun.

He had a room of his own in their house. When they moved to Colorado, the new owners said the room had slobber halfway up the walls, all the way around.

Do all mastiffs slobber? Huge ropes of slobber? That’d be a deal-breaker for me.

The ones I know of do. My friend’s parents usually have two rescue mastiffs at once and the dogs drink out of a communal bowl and slobber all over. Ropes of slobber with dog hair mixed in. They have no occasional furniture like a coffee table in the main room the dogs hang out in because it would get smashed. The dogs barked like mad at any distraction from outside and are LOUD! They thunder around you if you walk around and sit there drooling if you’re eating. Their tails can really smart if they whip you in the leg.

Of course, I doubt they’ve ever had any training.

I hear they don’t live that long. Like, their average lifespan was 20 minutes in 1960.

Yeah, I’m not too fond of dumb humans, but dumb pets are a different story. A friendly dimwitted dog can be more fun than a smart, strong-willed one is.

I can’t see keeping such a large dog in an apartment over the long term, but if your apartment allows pets maybe you could talk to the rescue agency people about being a short term foster home if the rescue organization needs to put a dog somewhere on an emergency basis? Or if they ever get puppies? (I’m guessing most people don’t give up that kind of dog until it’s an adult and they realize how huge they are, but just an idea!)

I want one of those too. They are adorable, and I’ve always wanted a dog who was bigger than me. No reason, I just do. Like you said in your OP, I just have a thing for unaturally large pets (just ask my 17-lb cat & giant rats).

I don’t know about Mastiffs in particular, but I do know that many large-breed dogs are actually great apartment dogs, simply because they’re not as active as some smaller breeds.

Never had a Mastiff, but we’ve had Saint Bernards. Also big, friendly, happy, low energy and short-lived. These ultra-huge breeds are at the far edge of what’s even possible for a dog, and some hereditary ailments ensue. When our first Saint developed bone cancer (not uncommon in Saints, we were told) we also learned that there was no treatment. They are too big to get around on 3 legs, and generally can’t tolerate a prosthesis.

Huge dogs don’t eat as much as an equivalent weight of little dogs would consume, and I agree they often are quite content to lie around all day. If you want them to run about you have to encourage them, which actually isn’t a good thing because that can lead to a “twisted stomach” as the innards flop around inside that massive body. Yeah, that’s what did in our second Saint.

I’d love to have another one, but won’t because it’s just too sad to lose such a sweet animal after only about 5 or 6 years. And they leave such a huge emptiness.

Pretty much. It’s those big loose lips …

My BIL and his wife have bull mastiffs. They keep a dish in every room with a washcloth on it. It’s for the slobber. They’ve had a dog shake her head and get slobber on the ceiling.

Yep, giant breeds are shortlived. A healthy dog may live about 10 years. But there is also the possibility of hip and joint problems, Gastric Torsion (bloat), heart disease, cancer, etc. that will make their life much shorter.

Another thing to consider with a giant breed is when it gets sick everything will cost you more. If your dog bloats, you could spend a few k on treatment. If it gets a simple infection, it could cost hundreds of dollars for antibiotics. If your dog dies it could cost you a lot of money to dispose of the remains, even if you don’t want the ashes.

You also need to consider what you will do if something does happen to the dog and it can’t walk. Can you carry a 200 pound dog to the vet? If it gets aggressive, are you prepared for the possible liability if your giant dog bites someone?

They also do drool a lot.

We are now on our third Mastiff. Not a Bullmastiff, an English Mastiff.
They are by far the best dogs I have ever known. They are utterly devoted, calm, dignified companions. They don’t bark too much, they are undemanding, they simply want to be with you.

A note about intelligence:
Mastiffs are not dumb. They do not have the problem-solving ability of, say, a German Shepherd, but these are not dumb dogs at all. Their instincts are good and they can learn many, many commands.
Read about Mastiffs in Daniel Tortora’s book, The Right Dog For You.

Nobody should buy from back yard breeders, but you are especially asking for trouble with a Mastiff with temperament troubles or hip problems. Buy from a reputable breeder who genetically tests and can vouch for his puppies’ lineage. Or if you want to try rescue, look up Mastiff rescue on the internet,
but educate yourself about the breed before taking on that challenge. Mastiffs are adorable pups–but they grow.

Our first Mastiff lived 10 and a half years. He probably would have lived longer but for an old injury that crept up on him.
Our second survived bloat but had an auto-immune disorder that finally caught up with her at almost 8 years. Our third is 2 and a half years old and doing fine.
His best buddy is a 7 lb kitten.
All three were/are dear, gentle giants, but we certainly did Obedience with each.
A responsible owner will do obedience with any size dog, but a 185 lb dog should know to lie down when he’s told.

These are not high energy dogs, and they will be lazy if you let them. They do not need any more food than a healthy Labrador. But if they need medication, it will cost you. And yes, if they lose mobility, you’ve got a big problem.

Mastiffs do slobber. There is this new “breed” called American Mastiff which is supposed to be dry mouth. I dunno. For me, it’s part of having a Mastiff.
Mastiffs may not live as long as a smaller canine, but while you have one, it’s a lot of dog, both body as well as heart.

At the shelter where I used to volunteer we’d a Mastiff of some description (big as a Shetland Pony) he had horrible eyes because the loose lips were dragging the skin on his face downward, pulling his lower eyelids down and exposing the inside of the lid - thereby running the risk of infections…A home with an eccentric elderly woman who lived alone and had a [rescued] horse in her orchard, and wanted a big dog was found for him. Last I heard he was having the time of his life galloping around the orchard with the horse.