The Bullmastiff was developed by English gamekeepers during the 19th century to help protect game preserves from poachers. These poachers sought game for food and profit. They did so with the help of a dog known as a Lurcher, a cross between a Shepherd and a Greyhound. Lurchers were trained to drive game into traps set by the poacher and also to attack on command.
The gamekeeper needed a quiet, fearless dog with enough speed, strength and size to overpower the Lurcher, then catch and hold (but not maul) the poacher. At the same time, it had to possess a stable, trainable temperament so it wouldn't attack innocent travelers on public footpaths that often ran through the preserves from one village to another. In addition, the dog would be living with the gamekeeper's family, which made stability and good temperament very important.
Several breeds were tried and eventually a cross between the Mastiff and the Bulldog worked best. The Mastiff possessed courage, power and size but lacked the speed and aggressiveness needed. The Bulldog (the Bulldog of that era quite different than the Bulldog of today) was strong and tenacious, but a little too fierce and lacked size. Combining the two produced what the gamekeeper wanted and the Bullmastiff was born.
The early Bullmastiffs were bred for utility, not looks. Since their work was often done at night (hence the name "Gamekeeper's Night Dog") the dark brindle color was preferred for stealth. Eventually, as poaching began to disappear, the Bullmastiff came into demand as a guard dog and the light fawn color became popular. Appearance became a higher priority and breeding efforts focused on achieving a specific type that would establish the Bullmastiff as a pure bred dog. In 1924 the English Kennel Club granted that recognition, followed in 1933 by the American Kennel Club.
Enjoy viewing the video by Kennel Librrani as they give us a glimpse into the past of the Bullmastiff.
Did you get the big, powerful part? Let's start there. These dogs weigh between 100-130+ pounds of mostly muscle. They're very confident. This means they can be very strong willed and there is going to be a battle over who is in charge.
Then there's the loving part. Bullmastiffs thrive on sharing family life and affection. They are faithful, loyal, sensitive and intelligent. They are expressive and fun. They are courageous, discerning and protective of their family. They are guardians. BUT they need love, affection and inclusion as a family member. If you are willing to be a pack leader, the Bullmastiff may be for you.
Bullmastiffs generally cost $1200 to $3000, but that is only the beginning. They can eat 3-6 cups dry food plus canned food per day and they never met a treat they didn't like. ($75-150 or more monthly) They love veggies and fruit! Be careful for the foods to avoid. Get ready to spend, spend, spend on: leashes, collars (they outgrow about every 4-6 weeks), crates (hard at first- maybe soft later-crate training is a must if you want your home to remain in tact!), chew bones, fluff toys, bully sticks, dog beds, the list goes on... All of those spendy little things that make you and your Bullmastiff happy. Don't forget about the vet bills. In addition to the vaccinations, nail trims, heart worm/flea/tick prevention... there are always unexpected emergencies. It is often times easier to offer to make your veterinarian's house payment- sometimes several of them. If you are truly prepared to make this kind of on-going investment, the Bullmastiff may be for you.
Obedience training and the Bullmastiff is not an option... it is a must! You need to do it early and often. Do it at 4 months of age when you are still bigger and stronger than your Bullmastiff. Things that are cute at less than 80 pounds are often not cute at all at 120+ pounds. Remember, good obedience training is not how to punish your dog. Good obedience training teaches YOU effective ways to control your dog. It takes time and effort. It may not be fun to work all day then go to obedience class at night so your dog can humiliate you. If you have the determination and the will to maintain obedience consistently through out the life of the Bullmastiff, the Bullmastiff may be for you.
Socialization...another MUST. It involves getting your Bullmastiff out with dogs and people. (This is a great benefit of being a member of CNBC! Being able to socialize your Bullmastiff in safe environments with other Bullmastiff owners, some of who have over 30 years experience.) Take your Bullmastiff everywhere: fairs, shopping, walks, city, country- anywhere they can have new experiences, meet new people, places, things. Why is this important? Upon maturity (18-24 months) Bullmastiffs can show signs of dog aggression. Not all do, proper socialization can help combat the issue. So far we have touched on the initial cost, Obedience training, Socialization...
What physical environment are you prepared to provide? Bullmastiffs do the best when they live WITH the family. In the house. Not outside in a kennel, NEVER tied, NEVER running free. Fenced yards are great providing the fence is 6' or higher and the yard is large enough. If you do not have an appropriately sized and fenced yard the Bullmastiff will need to be walked and exercised more than once daily. Do you fit the bill?
Ok, if you've made it this far...How do you feel about slobber? How do you feel about drool? How do you feel about "slingers" flying as your dog shakes their head? Get the picture???? Bullmastiffs do drool, some more than others. When they drink water, they like to come over and share their experience with you. On the other hand, Bullmastiffs are clean dogs with a short coat and don't require a lot of grooming.
One other thing.
When they love you, they will give their life for you. They will be the best friend you'll ever have.