The Bull Mastiff is a large breed of domestic dog, with a strong muscular build and a short muzzle.
Game keepers developed the breeds in the 19th century to protect estates from poachers. The colour preferred by game keepers was brindle, which worked as a more effective camouflage, especially at night.
The Bullmastiff was created by crossing the English Mastiff with the now extinct Old English Bulldog. The breed was recognised as a pure breed by the UK Kennel club in 1924, with a genetic background of around 60 per cent Mastiff and 40 per cent Bulldog.
In 1934 the American Kennel club recognised the Bullmastiff with the first standard approved in 1935, the standard as since undergone several revisions. In 1928 the diamond mining company De Beers imported Bullmastiffs to South Africa to guard their mines.
The Bullmastiff should stand 25 to 27in (64 to 69cm) at the withers, with females 24 to 26in (61 to 66cm), they should weigh 100 to 130lb (50 to 59kg), exceeding these dimensions is frowned upon by breeders. There are three coat colours accepted by the American Kennel club, fawn, red and brindle. The fawn can range from a very light brown to a reddish brown, red can range from a light red fawn to a dark rich red, brindles are a striped overlay of fawn and red No white markings are allowed, except for on the chest where a little bit of white is allowed.
One issue that people have with the breed is that they may jump onto an unfamiliar person and tackle them until they are told to stop, for this reason Bullmastiff owners must greet newcomers to the dog at their first interaction.
Bullmastiffs are strong, powerful but sensitive dogs, to become a well-behaved family pet consistency is needed. Because it can be independent, training and socialisation are very important. No special training is needed for them to act appropriately if their owner is in danger, because they are natural guard dogs, they will do what’s needed to protect them.
According to a UK survey, the average lifespan of the Bullmastiff is 7.5 years. The breed is prone to several hereditary diseases including hip and elbow dysplasia, about 25 per cent of Bullmastiffs are affected by hip dysplasia, with elbow dysplasia affecting about 13 per cent. During growth both the ball and socket must grow at equal rates, dysplasia occurs when this doesn’t happen, the result is laxity of the joint, causing degenerative joint disease, which is the body’s attempt to stabilize the loose joint.
Other disorders include entropion, which is a condition where the eyelid folds inwards, also lymphoma, a type of cancer, which affects solid organs such as lymph nodes, bone marrow, liver and spleen. Arthritis and gastric dilatation volvulus also known as bloat can be common problems.
Dogs regularly appear in literature, movies, and advertising, famous Bullmastiffs include Swagger, the live mascot of the Cleveland Browns and Butkus, actual pet of Sylvester Stallone, which appeared in the film Rocky.