What You Need to Know About Mastiffs

by Naomi Millburn
    Mastiffs are big droolers.

    Mastiffs are big droolers.

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    Mastiff enthusiasts often admire the enormous dogs because of their delightful fusion of sweetness, dedication and bravery. While the big dogs are tough guardians, they're also usually total softies to their own humans. Mastiffs are often referred to as Old English mastiffs and just English mastiffs. Many large mountain dogs have mastiff in their name and mastiff in their blood -- but they're not purebred mastiffs.

    Mastiffs have ancient origins, their forefathers thought to have existed in central Asia's mountain regions as long ago as 3,000 B.C. In Britain as early as the 11th century, they were bred to be formidable and strong dogs, though not as large as their forebears. Historically, mastiffs are linked to many parts of the world, including Russia, China, India, Egypt, and Italy and the Roman Empire. They've held diverse jobs, from battling in war to hunting to protecting humans. Their modern day counterparts are calmer in nature than the original purpose-bred specimens.

    Weightwise, mastiffs are the biggest dogs around. Mature individuals typically weigh between 120 and 230 pounds. Mastiffs usually grow to between 27.5 and 30 inches in height. The males are generally larger than the females. Their double coats appear in brindle, apricot and fawn. Mastiffs have solid and sinewy builds. Other memorable physical traits of these dogs include their inconspicuous ears, wrinkled visages, broad chests, deep brown eyes and sizable, squarish heads.

    Mastiffs aren't ideal for life in cramped confines, and they need space to exercise. A city apartment won't suit these dogs. The big guys need ample room in which to move freely. Because of that, they do well in suburban and rural residences. They need daily exercise, whether in the form of play sessions or lengthy outdoor walks. Mastiffs dislike hot temperatures. Because of that, life indoors alongside their family members is optimal for them.

    Mastiffs' grooming requirements aren't at all extensive. Their short, thick and straight fur typically stays in good condition with routine once-a-week brushing sessions. Regular brushing helps get rid of pesky loose hairs that linger in their coats. It's important to keep the wrinkles on their faces tidy, too. You can accomplish that by wiping them gently with moist cloths, getting into the folds, and then thoroughly drying them. Keeping a mastiff's face immaculate helps minimize the possibility of infection.

    Mastiffs typically display valiant and faithful temperaments. When it comes to keeping the people they love safe, they're serious animals. They are extremely focused on territory -- a result of their guard-dog roots. When unfamiliar people come near them, they often react through barking noisily and persistently. Not only are their barks noisy, they're also notably deep. When they protect, they tend to choose barking -- and keeping strangers in the distance -- rather than attacking, although rare exceptions occur. Mastiffs generally aren't truculent toward people or other pets, indicates the Mastiff Club of America. While aggressive mastiffs are few and far between, they do exist, generally as a result of insufficient early socialization. Never allow an aggressive mastiff near children.

    While mastiffs are famously protective, they also have a lighter side -- a much lighter one. Mastiffs who are socialized well and given a lot of positive attention from people are usually pleasant, sweet and serene in behavior. With their families, they're generally cuddly and extremely affectionate. Mastiffs frequently accompany their owners on the couch as they sit down and relax for the night, for example. They also like to faithfully tag along as their owners move from one area of the house to another.

    Socialized mastiffs, for the most part, do well alongside kids and fellow animals. It isn't even uncommon for mastiffs to show their nurturing sides to them. While they can be wonderful and extremely patient around children, it's important for potential owners to be aware of the possible risks. Since they're so large, they can unintentionally frighten or harm small kids. Because of that, it's important to always carefully monitor children when they're in the presence of even socialized mastiffs.

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    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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