English Mastiff vs Bullmastiff: The battle of gentle giants

If your motto is ‘bigger, the better,’ you should have heard about the Mastiff. English Mastiff vs Bullmastiff is a famous debate among dog owners who like to own a giant breed. One of the primary differences is that the name has uppercase ‘M’ in English Mastiff and lowercase in Bullmastiff. The English Mastiff is the traditional breed of England and hence the name.

Both the mastiffs are bred for their courage and aggressive protective nature. English Mastiffs’ participated in the invasion of Britain with Julius Caesar in 55BC? The Mastiff is known for its valor and courage. They carry their legacy until today.

But you need not worry about the dog being aggressive or has a warmongering nature. They are quite loving, docile, and couch potatoes. You will get a lot of attention when you walk either of these dogs because of their giant size. Some people think that you are walking a pony or a horse.

A heads up for first-time dog owners is that both these breeds are suitable for you. But know that they are huge and you will require lots of space. Let us know about both these breeds through a proper comparison.

Origin and History

The exact origin of both these dogs is still uncertain. Roman poet Grattius Faliscus described Mastiffs as a superior breed than Greek Molossus. Historians relate that these depictions to English Mastiff.

The English Mastiff is bred for game hunting and wars. It is believed that the English Mastiff has its origin in the 6th century BC in Phoenicia. Another source cites that the English Mastiff’s ancestor is Alaunt, an extinct dog breed.

These ancient English Mastiffs were courageous, aggressive, and are eager to work.  These traits were slowly inhibited after 1835, cruelty to Animals act by Britain government. This act prohibited the use of dogs as baits that resulted in progressive suppression of aggressive behavior in these dogs. But still, these dogs have a genetic instinct to protect their family, and they do that without a second thought. The American Kennel Club recognized this breed in the year 1885.

The Bullmastiff is the progeny of English Mastiff. It is created by crossing English Mastiff with English Bulldog in the mid-1800s. Their primary purpose of these dogs is to protect the estates from poachers. The English Kennel Club recognized this breed in the year 1924 and by the AKC in 1934.

Physical Appearance

These two dog breeds are known for their sheer size. English Mastiff is the largest known breed in terms of its mass. The record size of an English Mastiff is held by a male dog named Zorba in 1989.  He weighed around 343 pounds, and he remains undefeated. But an average English Mastiff weighs between 150 – 200 pounds.

An English Mastiff has a broad skull, wide eyes, and wrinkled forehead. A male Mastiff weighs around 150 – 200 pounds (68 – 90 kgs) and 30 inches (76 cm) in height, whereas a female weighs between 120 – 200 pounds (54.5 – 90 kgs) and 27.5 inches (70 cm) high.

The coat of an English Mastiff requires moderate grooming as they are not typical heavy shedders. An English Mastiff coat occurs in three distinct colors; apricot, brindle, and silver; irrespective of the coat color, all of them will have black muzzle, nose, and ears.

A Bullmastiff is distinguished from English Mastiff by its short, stout skull. It is often referred to as a flat-faced dog (brachycephalic) with a black muzzle. Similar to the English Mastiff, the Bullmastiff is known for its enormous size. It is slightly less massive than its predecessor.

A male Bullmastiff 110 –130 pounds (50–59 kgs) and stands 25–27 inches (64–69 cm) tall. The female Bullmastiff weighs 100–120 pounds (45–54 kg) and measures 24–26 inches (61–66 cm) height. The coat color of a Bullmastiff occurs in three variants; red, brindle, and fawn.

Both English Mastiff and Bullmastiff have drooping ears approximated towards the head. The black muzzle is also another similarity between these two dogs.

Behavior and Temperament

These two giants are bred for one purpose; as guardians. People will be intimidated because of their enormous size. It is known that the Bullmastiff was once used as a guard dog for the diamond mines in South Africa.

Since Bullmastiff and English Mastiff are genetically related, both have almost similar traits. They are very courageous dogs and put themselves in line during dire situations. But it does not mean that they are aggressive dogs. They are very docile and gentle giants.

Sydenham Edwards described the Mastiff as a Lion. They are fierce but maintain their temper and generosity. These dogs will not bite the intruders, but they will pin them down until told to leave by their owners.

Since they are large breeds with senile attitude, training these dogs requires a lot of repetitions. These two dogs are independent thinkers. They do not obey your commands quickly. You can find quick success with English Mastiff, but the Bullmastiff is a bit stubborn.

Another point to consider is that these two dogs forget about their size, and they tend to sit on you. So, get ready to get mushed.

Both dogs need early socialization; if not, they tend to pin down everyone. A properly trained Mastiff is tender-hearted and filled with lots of love. Because of their gigantic size, both breeds are not suitable if you have kids.

Exercise and Grooming

As these two dogs are large breeds, they require a large amount of space. Since they are docile, rigorous physical exercise is not needed. A daily walk for about 30 to 45 minutes will suffice.

But their size demands space. Make sure to provide enough room to stretch legs. They are couch potatoes that lead their most of their time sleeping. A couch that suits their size is recommended. 

The English Mastiff and Bullmastiff shed minimally and do not require daily grooming. They are suitable in all types of weather, but the tropics and subtropics can be a bit difficult for them to cope up.

Lifespan and Health

As an old saying, ‘Heaven gives its favorites an early death’ seems to be true for these two dogs. The English Mastiff and Bullmastiff have a relatively lesser lifespan than other average sized dogs.

The average lifespan of an English Mastiff is about 10 – 11 years, whereas it is about 7.5 years for Bullmastiff. The common health problems of these two dogs include:

  • Hip Dysplasia (as seen in Labrador retrievers)
  • Gastric torsion
  • Eye problems (Progressive retinal atrophy)
  • Cancers
  • Obesity

It is excruciating to admit that these two sweet dogs, especially the Bullmastiff, has a short life period. But it is a fact, and you must be prepared for it if you own one.

The Best Gentle Giant for You

No one will win this gentle battle of English Mastiff vs Bullmastiff. These two breeds are excellent guard dogs and are less aggressive than a German Shepherd or a Rottweiler.

Both dogs are suggestible for first-timers if certain conditions are met:

  • You must have enough space in your house.
  • You must be prepared for extra expenditure because they eat a lot.
  • Constant attention to their drooling.
  • If you don’t have kids or toddlers

But to choose between both, I would go for the English Mastiff. It is because they are less stubborn, and I like a bigger dog. If you made a choice already, let us know what made you select your choice of dog.

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