English Mastiff History
One of the
biggest dogs recognized by the American Kennel Club,
the massive Mastiff loves being around people and is
known to bond closely with his ‘family.’ A
combination of grandeur and good nature as well as
courage and docility, he was bred in England and
used as a watchdog for more than two thousand years.
The breed’s short coat can be fawn, apricot or
As early as 3000 B.C.,
drawings on Egyptian monuments depict typical
Mastiffs. Later, even Caesar noticed the fearless,
strong Mastiff as it fought alongside the British
soldiers in 55 B.C. Impressed by the breed’s
courage, he brought a group of them back to Rome and
forced them to take part in bull baiting, lion
fighting and fights with human gladiators. Later,
the Mastiff became popular with the peasants in
England, where the dogs were used to keep wolves and
other dangerous predators under control as well to
as protect the home.
Mastiff is a powerful yet gentle and loyal
companion, but because of his size and need for
space, he is best suited for country or suburban
life. The breed requires light exercise and minimal
Standard for English Mastiffs
The Mastiff is a large,
massive, symmetrical dog with a well-knit frame. The
impression is one of grandeur and dignity. Dogs are
more massive throughout. Bitches should not be
faulted for being somewhat smaller in all dimensions
while maintaining a proportionally powerful
structure. A good evaluation considers positive
qualities of type and soundness with equal weight.
Size, Proposition, Substance
Size--Dogs, minimum, 30 inches at the
shoulder. Bitches, minimum, 27˝ inches at the
shoulder. Fault--Dogs or bitches below the
minimum standard. The farther below standard, the
greater the fault. Proportion--Rectangular,
the length of the dog from forechest to rump is
somewhat longer than the height at the withers. The
height of the dog should come from depth of body
rather than from length of leg. Substance--Massive,
heavy boned, with a powerful muscle structure. Great
depth and breadth desirable. Fault--Lack of
substance or slab sided.
In general outline giving a massive appearance when
viewed from any angle. Breadth greatly desired.
Eyes set wide apart, medium in size, never too
prominent. Expression alert but kindly.
Color of eyes brown, the darker the better, and
showing no haw. Light eyes or a predatory expression
is undesirable. Ears small in proportion to
the skull, V-shaped, rounded at the tips. Leather
moderately thin, set widely apart at the highest
points on the sides of the skull continuing the
outline across the summit. They should lie close to
the cheeks when in repose. Ears dark in color, the
blacker the better, conforming to the color of the
muzzle. Skull broad and somewhat flattened
between the ears, forehead slightly curved, showing
marked wrinkles which are particularly distinctive
when at attention. Brows (superciliary ridges)
moderately raised. Muscles of the temples well
developed, those of the cheeks extremely powerful.
Arch across the skull a flattened curve with a
furrow up the center of the forehead. This extends
from between the eyes to halfway up the skull. The
stop between the eyes well marked but not
too abrupt. Muzzle should be half the length of the
skull, thus dividing the head into three parts-one
for the foreface and two for the skull. In other
words, the distance from the tip of the nose to stop
is equal to one-half the distance between the stop
and the occiput. Circumference of the muzzle
(measured midway between the eyes and nose) to that
of the head (measured before the ears) is as 3 is to
5. Muzzle short, broad under the eyes and
running nearly equal in width to the end of the
nose. Truncated, i.e. blunt and cut off square, thus
forming a right angle with the upper line of the
face. Of great depth from the point of the nose to
the underjaw. Underjaw broad to the end and slightly
rounded. Muzzle dark in color, the blacker the
better. Fault snipiness of the muzzle.
Nose broad and always dark in color, the
blacker the better, with spread flat nostrils (not
pointed or turned up) in profile. Lips
diverging at obtuse angles with the septum and
sufficiently pendulous so as to show a modified
square profile. Canine Teeth healthy and
wide apart. Jaws powerful. Scissors bite preferred,
but a moderately undershot jaw should not be faulted
providing the teeth are not visible when the mouth
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck powerful, very muscular, slightly
arched, and of medium length. The neck gradually
increases in circumference as it approaches the
shoulder. Neck moderately "dry" (not showing an
excess of loose skin). Topline--In profile
the topline should be straight, level, and firm, not
swaybacked, roached, or dropping off sharply behind
the high point of the rump. Chest wide,
deep, rounded, and well let down between the
forelegs, extending at least to the elbow. Forechest
should be deep and well defined with the breastbone
extending in front of the foremost point of the
shoulders. Ribs well rounded. False ribs deep and
well set back. Underline--There should be a
reasonable, but not exaggerated, tuck-up. Back
muscular, powerful, and straight. When viewed from
the rear, there should be a slight rounding over the
rump. Loins wide and muscular.
Tail set on
moderately high and reaching to the hocks or a
little below. Wide at the root, tapering to the end,
hanging straight in repose, forming a slight curve,
but never over the back when the dog is in motion.
Shoulders moderately sloping, powerful and
muscular, with no tendency to looseness. Degree of
front angulation to match correct rear angulation.
Legs straight, strong and set wide apart,
heavy boned. Elbows parallel to body.
Pasterns strong and bent only slightly.
Feet large, round, and compact with well arched
toes. Black nails preferred.
Hindquarters broad, wide and muscular.
Second thighs well developed, leading to a
strong hock joint. Stifle joint is
moderately angulated matching the front. Rear
legs are wide apart and parallel when viewed
from the rear. When the portion of the leg below the
hock is correctly "set back" and stands
perpendicular to the ground, a plumb line dropped
from the rearmost point of the hindquarters will
pass in front of the foot. This rules out straight
hocks, and since stifle angulation varies with hock
angulation, it also rules out insufficiently
angulated stifles. Fault--Straight stifles.
Outer coat straight, coarse, and of moderately short
length. Undercoat dense, short, and close lying.
Coat should not be so long as to produce "fringe" on
the belly, tail, or hind legs. Fault Long
or wavy coat.
Fawn, apricot, or brindle. Brindle should have fawn
or apricot as a background color which should be
completely covered with very dark stripes. Muzzle,
ears, and nose must be dark in color, the blacker
the better, with similar color tone around the eye
orbits and extending upward between them. A small
patch of white on the chest is permitted.
white on the chest or white on any other part of the
body. Mask, ears, or nose lacking dark pigment.
The gait denotes power and strength. The rear legs
should have drive, while the forelegs should track
smoothly with good reach. In motion, the legs move
straight forward; as the dog's speed increases from
a walk to a trot, the feet move in toward the center
line of the body to maintain balance.
A combination of grandeur and
good nature, courage and docility. Dignity, rather
than gaiety, is the Mastiff's correct demeanor.
Judges should not condone shyness or viciousness.
Conversely, judges should also beware of putting a
premium on showiness.