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AKC Group: Working

The Mastiff descended from the now extinct Pugnaces Britanniae. “Mastiff” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “masty” meaning “powerful.” It is recognized as the oldest breed of English dog. It is believed to have been brought to Britain in the 6th century BC. They were used for the blood sports of bull, bear and lion baiting as well as dog fighting. There is evidence to say that the Mastiff was brought to the New World via the Mayflower, though actual documentation begins in the late 1800s. In 1835, the UK passed the Cruelty to Animals Act that prohibited the baiting of animals and the popularity of the Mastiff began to wane.

Size: 27.5 to 30 inches tall; 175 to 200 pounds

Color: Fawn, apricot or brindle

Life span: 10 to 12 years

Health problems: Luxating patella, strokes, epilepsy, spinal problems, eye problems, thyroid disorders, osteochrondritis dissecans, hypertrophic osteodystrophy, hip or elbow dysplasia, heart defects, bloat, kidney problems, and sensitivity to drugs and chemicals. During the sticky summer months, Mastiffs can suffer from heatstroke.

The Mastiff is a giant dog, with a muscular and powerful build. An alert and keen looking dog, they look menacing without even having to move. The coat of the Mastiff is close fitting, short, and sleek. They may have black markings around and/or between the eyes. Small ears fold down toward the sides of his head. An occasional brushing and wipe down with a damp cloth is all the grooming requirements your Mastiff needs. A Mastiff sheds constantly but lightly.

A dignified, courageous, and loyal dog, a Mastiff has a pleasant nature and a high level of intelligence. Due to his size, he makes an effective deterrent/watchdog. Despite their look, the Mastiff has a even temper and docile nature (unless they’ve been raised not to). Early socialization and confident, assertive training are required. A Mastiff is not a difficult dog to train. If you spend frequent time away from home, a Mastiff is not the dog for you; they thrive on companionship and affection. A Mastiff is not an overly active dog; he does best with a moderate amount of exercise. They don’t bark that much. Unfortunately, they are too large for apartment dwelling. They need a safe, secure yard in which to play and exercise. They should do great with children and animals (though they may try to dominate) that they’ve been raised with. If you’re doing a great job with him, your Mastiff should be friendly and welcoming to guests. If he isn’t, you’ve done something wrong.

English Bulldog

AKC Group: Non-sporting

The English Bulldog was bred from the Asiatic Mastiff in order to use its aggressiveness to bait bulls and bears. In 1835, bull baiting was outlawed. Unfortunately, Bulldog owners turned to dogfighting. Fortunately for Bulldogs they weren’t the greatest of fighters. British Bulldog lovers came together and took ahold of the breed. They were then bred to retain their shape and size, but removed the aggression and made the breed an excellent companion dog instead.

Size: 12 to 16 inches high; 50 to 55 pounds

Color: Red, fawn, brindle, white, piebald, yellow or any combination of colors.

Life span: 8 to 10 years

Health problems: Heart problems, thyroid problems, ectropion, entropion, cataracts, elongated palate, eye disorders, inverted tails, recessed tails, stenotic nares, skin problems. The short hair of the breed begs not to be exposed to extreme temperatures nor be over exerted due to his short muzzle. That muzzle can lead to breathing troubles.

The English Bulldog has a short, stout body and a glum expression. His skin falls in folds around his face and his legs are set wide apart. The Bulldog coat is short, sleek and lays close to the body. His ears are small and hang folded down the sides of his head.

Bulldogs are gentle, easygoing and affectionate dogs that love to entertain. The national symbol of Great Britain, the Bulldog loves to spend time with his family. His personality is amiable and friendly. The Bulldog is dependable with a capital DEPENDABLE. They can have a stubborn streak. They can get a little jealous if another animal tries to take their food. Otherwise they love everyone: kids, cats and dogs. With strangers, it depends. You can help him to be more friendly by socializing him as a puppy. Bulldogs are naturally lazy, so it’s up to you to initiate play and exercise times. Don’t wear him out; all he’ll need is a gentle stroll when it’s mild outside (not in the summer heat nor in the frigid winter). Bulldogs are sensitive and intelligent and thrive in a relaxed household.

To keep him looking handsome, brush him occasionally. When he sheds more heavily, brush him a little more often. He’ll require much more attention to his skin folds on a daily basis than he will with his brush. Clean his face to avoid infections and check on the skin around his tail. (This area will probably require as much cleaning as his face folds.) To commence training, you’ll need to employ positivity and gentleness to teach him that you’re the leader of this pack. (Don’t worry, this isn’t too difficult a concept for him to grasp.) Keep in mind: Bulldogs are extremely sensitive, especially to punishments. If you find your Bulldog to be extra-stubborn, your best bet is to find a puppy obedience class.  When your Bulldog doesn’t respond right away, don’t panic. It takes Bulldogs a few extra seconds to noodle it through. (He’s just trying to determine if the task is worthy of his effort.) As Bulldogs age, they naturally slow down, and it’ll take him even longer to noodle things through. All training sessions should be super-repetitive and last for short bursts of time. They love to please and respond well to praise and treats as a reward. Bulldogs tend to pack on the pounds easily, so try to limit food rewards. Chewing can also be problematic if he feels he’s not getting enough attention. Socialization to other animals and strangers will help him overcome his natural instincts of aloofness or jealousy.

Dogue de Bordeaux

AKC Group: Working

Also known as a French Mastiff or Bordeaux Bulldog, this breed is a result of England’s brief occupation of Aquitane, a province in France. English Mastiffs were bred with the local French guard dogs. “Dogue” is derived from the Latin word “canis” and simply means (you got it) dog. Since the 1200s, Dogues have been used for many activities. They have protected livestock, hunted fox and bear and hauled heavy loads (including wounded soldiers during wartimes). Disgustingly, they have also been used in dogfighting circles. Dogue aficionados are experiencing a resurgence in population in France and around the world.

Size: 23 to 30 inches high; 100 to 150 pounds

Color: Solid red-brown, fawn or mahogany. May have white patches on the chest or extremities.

Life span: 10 to 12 years

Health problems: Hip dysplasia and cancer have been noted. A breed-specific ailment happens during birthing as Dogues have very high litter sizes. If you have a female Dogue who becomes pregnant, secure some veterinary assistance.

These massive dogs are muscular with a well-balanced, powerful build. Though they are large, they don’t have long legs. They are set much lower than English Mastiffs. Though Dogues look frightening, they are actually a calm, affectionate canines that make excellent companions. A Dogue is a loyal dog, so much so that long periods of time spent alone make him feel like he’s been abandoned. His size makes him an effective watchdog. His past work as a herder make him great with kids and other pets, provided they’re smaller than him (other pets that is, not children). A larger dog companion may call up his hunting instincts (did you miss the part where he was once used to hunt bear?)

The Dogue is a low energy breed and extremely intelligent. Keep training sessions under an hour. You do need to be assertive when training because Dogues have little to fear (this does not mean to be violent!) Deep down, a Dogue is an obedient, eager to please breed that excel in obedience courses. Brush him with a firm bristle brush to remove excess hairs. Mostly though, all you’ll need to do is wipe him down with a dry towel or damp washcloth.


AKC Group: Working

While the Dutch were traveling through Africa, the Boerboel was developed. Boerboel are considered a Mastiff type of dog, though they are smaller. These “Mastiffs” were bred with local African dogs. When the English arrived in the early 1800s, they brought their English Mastiff type dog and Bulldogs. These dogs were then bred into the fold. The English Bulldog and Bull Mastiff were the key influences to the Boerboel breed. All Boerboels have to be vet checked and pass health tests to be registered with the South African Boerboel Breeders Association. (The Association was formed to prevent continued crossbreeding.)

Size: 23 to 28 inches tall, 154 to 200 pounds.

Color: Reddish brown, cream, brindle, tawny. Boerboels can have black masks (or not) and possibly white on the chest.

Life span: 12 to 15 years.

Health problems: The selective breeding and little veterinary care led Boerboels to be naturally healthy dogs. Their large size leaves them vulnerable to hip or elbow dysplasia. Vaginal hyperplasia occurs with females bred with abnormal tissue in the vaginal area.

The Boerboel is an extremely large, muscular, imposing looking dog. The head is large and square with a thick muzzle. Triangular ears fold down and lay close to the head. The skin around their eyes is always dark. Noses are black and a dark mask can cover the muzzle and top lip. Boerboels have an arched neck and shoulders. Chests are deep and broad. The back is straight and long. Tails are often docked, but, if not, a Boerboel has a long tail. Energetic, Boerboels walk with purpose and a spring in their step.

Intelligent, loyal and protective, a Boerboel makes an excellent companion. They bark loudly to announce an arrival and are quick to learn who is a friend and who is a foe. Boerboels prefer to use their size and strength first to protect their territory and only resort to violence when necessary. For a harmonious life, your yard needs to have a fence. They love to be with their family and will play with children for hours. They tolerate rough housing and the overzealousness of young children; a Boerboel is a friend to children of any age. The Boerboel quickly learns when to be gentle with children and other small companion animals. Boerboels are sensitive and will reflect your mood, so be careful. Proper socialization will aid a Boerboel in determining friends from threats. If you won’t be walking your Boerboel, it’s a must that your Boerboel is familiar with the pitch hitter. Boerboels do better with an experienced dog owner. He is not the dog for you if he’s your first ever dog.

Grooming is easy thanks to their short (but thick) coat. Brush once or twice a week and trim the nails if you don’t give your Boerboel exercise on hard surfaces. Training will be useless until he understands that you’re the boss. This shouldn’t be taught via harsh, punitive or violent methods. A Boerboel that doesn’t learn he isn’t in charge will become a domineering nightmare! Firmness and consistency is your way to success. When left in too small an area for too long, a Boerboel becomes destructive. A combination of exercises and playtime interspersed with training will help him concentrate and stay motivated.