(Click images for a larger view)
English Mastiff – A Very Short History
The history of Mastiffs date back to 3000 B.C. Egyptian monuments showed drawings of typical English Mastiff. During 55 B.C. Caesar noticed the bravery and courage of the Mastiffs as they fought alongside the British soldiers. He took a group of the Mastiffs to Rome and used them for bull baiting, fighting with gladiators and even lion fighting. Long after that, English peasants took up Mastiffs for keeping away predatory wolves and other threats away and for the protection of their own homes. English Mastiffs are known as Guard Dogs and they were recognized by the American Kennel Club in the year 1885.
English Mastiff Standards
American Kennel Club or AKC has a set of officially defined guidelines for English Mastiff. The general guidelines are mentioned below:
- Appearance: In general, English Mastiffs are symmetrical, massive and large and have a very well-knit frame. Dogs are massive but bitches can be smaller in overall dimensions and should never be faulted as long as they have powerful and proportional structure.
- Back and Lions: The back of an English Mastiff should be straight, powerful and muscular. Slight rounding over rump must be visible when viewed from the back. The lions of a Mastiff must be muscular and wide.
- Canine: Canine teeth must be wide apart and healthy. English Mastiff must have powerful jaws and it must preferably have scissors bite.
- Chest: It should be rounded, deep and wide and must be let down all the way between forelegs. The chest must extend at least up to the elbow of the dog. Extending to the front of shoulders’ foremost point, the breastbone must define the forechest pretty well. The forechest must also be deep.
- Ear Standards: Ears must be proportionally small compared to skull and must have rounded corners and ears must have a V-shape. The ears must be placed widely from the highest points on the skull in either direction and must outline the summit. The leather of the ears should be moderately thin. In repose state, the ears must stay very close to the cheeks. The ears must be darker and the blacker the color of the ears, the better it is. The golden rule of thumb is that the ear colors must conform to the muzzle color.
- Eye Standards: The eyes of the English Mastiff must be set apart widely and they must not be too prominent. They must not be greater than medium size. The eyes must give an expression of being alert but still kindly. The color of the eyes must be brown. The darker the color of the eyes, the better it is. The eyes should not show haw and they must not have a predatory expression. They eyes should not be light either.
- Head Structure: A massive structure must be outlined from any angle. It is desirable to have a good breadth.
- Height and Weight: The English Mastiff or the Old English Mastiff or simply the Mastiff should ideally weigh 150 lbs. to 200 lbs. in case of males and in case of bitches, the ideal weight is 120 lbs. to 180 lbs. The ideal height of a male Mastiff at the shoulder must be 30 inches minimum and a female Mastiff must have a height of 27.5 inches minimum at the shoulder.
- Legs: The front legs must be heavy boned, straight, wide apart and strong. The rear legs must be wide apart and must appear parallel when viewed from behind.
- Lips: The lips must have an obtuse angle divergence with septum and must be capable of showing square modified profile with sufficient pendulous nature.
- Muzzle: This should be broad and short right under eyes and must run with equal width to the nose end. The muzzle should be truncated creating right angle with face’s upper line. The muzzle must also have big depth to underjaw from nose point. The underjaw must have rounded shape and it must be broad till the end. The muzzle must be dark in color. The blacker the muzzle is, the better it is.
- Neck Structure: The neck of an English Mastiff must be arched slightly and must have medium length. It should be muscular as well as powerful. The circumference of the neck must gradually increase as it approaches close to the shoulder. There should not be excessive loose skin on the neck.
- Nose Structure: The nose must be broad and the nostrils must have a flat spread. The blacker the nose, the better it is.
- Proportion: English Mastiffs are generally rectangular and the length from forechest of the dog to the rump of the dog is generally longer than height at withers. The dog’s height must come from the body depth instead of the length of its legs.
- Size: Bitches should be at least 27.5 inches at shoulder and dogs must be at least 30 inches at shoulder. Anything below the minimum defined is considered to be faulty.
- Skull Structure: The skull structure of the English Mastiff between the ears must be flattened and the forehead must have a slight curve showing off marked wrinkles. In attention, the marked wrinkles become very distinct. Brows must be raised moderately and the temple muscles must be well developed and the cheek muscles must be very powerful.
- Substance: English Mastiffs must have powerful structure of muscles and must be heavy boned and massive. Slab sided or lack of muscles and other substances is considered to be faulty.
- Tail: The tail of an English Mastiff should have a moderately high setting and must reach either to hocks or slightly below it. The end must be tapered and root must be wide and in repose, it must hang straight with a slight curve and should never be on top of the dog’s back while in motion.
- Temperament: Should be docile, courageous and good natured and should reflect dignity and not gaiety. The dog should not be shy or vicious.
- Topline: The topline of English Mastiff must be firm, level and straight. It should not have a sharp drop behind rump’s high point. It should not be roached or swaybacked either.