It's an autumnal day, red and orange leaves have fallen to the ground, the bushes still have some green leaves amongst the red and orange. A large, muscular, golden dog with a square head, triangular, flopped ears and a short, droopy muzzle sits peacefully on the carpet of leaves.


The term Mastiff might either be an abbreviation of the English Mastiff breed or a general term to describe Mastiff types of dog. The English Mastiff is the biggest dog breed by mass, characterised by a large, square head which always has a black mask. This very large dog breed is known to be gentle, affectionate and often rather lazy.

Mastiff owners who need a dog walker or dog sitter are likely to be looking for borrowers who are strong (for walks) or who like to spend time at home relaxing with big, gentle giants.

A large, heavy-set black dog is sitting on a path in woodland. He's poking his tongue out just a little bit.

What is a Mastiff dog?

Mastiff? Bullmastiff? French Mastiff? Neopolitan Mastiff? English Mastiff? What’s with all the Mastiffs?! Confusingly, the term Mastiff has become a general term for large, molosser dogs, but may also refer to a number of Kennel Club recognised breeds. In the UK, “Mastiff” usually refers to the English Mastiff.

The modern English Mastiff usually stands at at least 70cm and weighs between 55 - 115kg, with males being at the upper end of the weight scale. Like other large dog breeds, they tend to have shorter lifespans than smaller types. Mastiffs usually live for between 7 - 12 years. Their coat is short and smooth and comes in a variety of colours, including different shades of fawn and brindle.

Mastiff owners in the BorrowMyDoggy community have provided some insightful comments about their massive hounds - with some lovely pictures too. You’ll see there’s some variety - some are likely to be the Mastiff type, whereas others are the full English Mastiff. All are very large dogs!

Max is sitting in front of an external door. His head easily reaches to the window pane so he can watch the comings and goings outside

Fun Mastiff facts

Speculative connections have been made between the English Mastiff and the dogs that fought lions, bears and gladiators in the arenas of ancient Rome.

In the mid 19th century, the breed was nearly lost in the UK. It survived due to imports from the US.

Similar looking doggies have been depicted in historical artwork. For keen historians, there is plenty to research and learn about the Mastiff and how it came to be the huge, loyal, gentle hound it is today.

How much exercise does a Mastiff need?

The UK Kennel Club recommends around one hour of exercise per day for Mastiffs. As a giant breed, it’s important they aren’t over-exercised and so walks should be gentle and not excessively long (particularly in the first two years of a Mastiff’s life). That said, daily exercise of up to an hour is important to keep Mastiffs from gaining weight and putting undue pressure on their joints.

Jessie has a short beige coat with dark muzzle and ears. He's fast asleep on a blanket-covered sofa

Jessie's owner, Lisa, says:

“She can have longer walks on lead at a gentle pace and generally walks fairly well at heel but needs someone confident and used to walking large dogs. She is happiest when around someone happy to give her lots of fuss and spends a lot of time asleep!”

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Nala. Nala’s owner, Deanna, says:

Nala loves long walks and lot of attention! She's very energetic and a very big dog.
Nala looks a bit slimmer than many of the others of her breed. She's got golden, short fur

Then we have Otto, owned by Dan, who is a bit more on the docile side. Dan says:

Otto is a big English Mastiff puppy who is just about to turn two years old. He likes his walks - but he enjoys sleeping more than that. Pretty lazy a vast majority of the time when at home.
Otto is a heavy-set dog with a wide face and floppy ears. He has a short, tan coat but darker face.

What is the Mastiff’s temperament?

Mastiffs are described as gentle, loving and loyal dogs. They are known to be relatively sleepy and easygoing.

Given their history, the breed may be wary or suspicious which makes them excellent guard dogs and protective of their family. This means that time should be taken to introduce them to new people and help them get used to visitors coming to the house. That said, they are not an aggressive breed and are known to be very good family dogs.

Mastiffs are known to be good with other animals and children. Due to their size, care should be taken with smaller children as the Mastiff could accidentally knock them without any bad intentions.

Rubi is sitting on grass, looking intently up at the camera. She's got a golden coat and a darker muzzle

Rubi’s owner, Samantha, says:

“Rubi is a very loving dog who loves to follow you around wherever you go. She loves treats and to get out for long walks. She is still a young dog so gets very hyperactive if she doesn't get walked a lot. Rubi is excited and playful with dogs her own size or smaller but will shy away from larger dogs unless she knows them well"

Mastiff training: are they easy to train?

Mastiffs aren’t known for their excellent obedience but they are certainly a trainable breed. They have a strong desire to please their owners which can really help with learning commands.

Diesel looks comfy lying on carpet with blankets around him

Diesel’s owner, Linda, says:

“He is very willing to please and very affectionate. He loves to play fetch, bring and tug of war!...Diesel is fully trained and very good on and off the lead...He is fully house trained and is no trouble at all when left alone.”

Training a Mastiff will require positive reinforcement and repeating clear commands. As the typical Mastiff tends to be very laid back, training may have to happen on ‘Mastiff time’, which will require some patience and perseverance. If you have a Mastiff puppy, the best approach is to start training young and keep it consistent. As with all puppies, toilet training should start immediately (e.g. taking puppies outside after naps and eating) and commands built up one at a time, so as not to confuse them.

Due to their laid back nature and slow, calm movement, Mastiffs are unlikely candidates for dog agility and tracking games. They would prefer to learn the basics, go for easy paced walks and stay happy and relaxed at home.

Why not check out our Hound Hack for some basics for training your Mastiff?

High paws to our lovely community for letting us share these facts about their Mastiffs. Paws crossed you found them helpful :)

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