When you think Mastiff, the words which immediately come to mind are: colossal, giant, majestic, and intimidating. The fact is that Mastiffs are ancient dogs that have been beside humans for much longer than many of the other breeds.
They are believed to be descendants of the ancient Molossus dogs which are now extinct and which lived back during the Roman Empire and in Ancient Greece.
Throughout the ages, these giant, well-built and strong canines have been used as guardians, shepherds, hunters, as well as war and fighting dogs.
The Mastiff family includes a number of giant, massive, and powerful breeds, each of which is unique and has its own specific traits worth noting.
Dogs from most of the Mastiff breeds can become a devoted and loving member of the family, given that it is meticulously trained and socialized from an early age. Still, these massive dogs will protect their families.
They are typically droolers and take up a lot of space, but if you have experience with Molossus-type dogs and other large dog breeds, and have the time and the patience to train and properly socialize a dog from one of these breeds, you will have a loyal, loving and devoted dog.
Read on to find out more about the traits and specific characteristics of the different Mastiff breeds from around the world.
The Dogo Argentino is a recognizable white, muscular dog with a powerful build. The males have an average shoulder height of 27 inches and a weight of 99 lbs. and the females are about 26 inches in height and weigh up to 88 lbs.
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This loyal dog was originally bred for boar and puma hunting, which explains their large size and athletic figures.
Despite its fierce looks, the Argentinian Mastiff is a very gentle dog which loves all of its human family members and will do everything to protect them. This can make it distrustful to strangers as well as strange dogs and other animals. Actually, the Dogo Argentino is a playful dog which is easy to train by consistent, confident, and experienced owners.
The dogs from this breed are predominantly white in color and have short coats. They can have one or more black spots on their heads as well.
The Dogo Argentino requires daily exercise and long walks, so it is suitable for active people and families. You will need to keep a dog from this Mastiff breed constantly physically and intellectually active in order to prevent it from becoming bored and destructive.
Dogo Argentino dogs are commonly used as hunting, and working dogs, including as police and army dogs, and are also essential in human rescue operations as well.
Because of the bad reputation created by the illegal dog fight organizers around the world who use Argentinian Mastiffs for their fights, this breed has been prohibited in Australia, the UK, Denmark, Iceland, and others.
With the proper training and socializing by an experienced and confident owner, this dog can become the perfect loving and gentle pet, and an excellent watchdog.
The Alangu or Pakistani Mastiff is better known as Bulli Kutta or Bully Kutta. It is an ancient breed which was used by the Persian Army for guarding campsites and prisoners of war. Today, the dogs from this breed are usually owned by wealthy farmers in India who use them for guarding and dogfighting.
The Alangu mastiff is a muscular dog which is usually white, and is very protective and can be aggressive and may kill or injure other animals.
The dogs from this breed live for about 10-12 years, they weigh about 140-170 lbs. and grow to a height of up to 30-42 inches.
The Bully Kutta dogs are intelligent and noble dogs which though can become unmanageable and dangerous if owned by an inexperienced person.
When socialized and trained well, the dogs from this breed can become best friends with the children at home and loyal and loving companions to the adults.
In Italian, this breed is called the Mastino Abruzzese. Originally bred and used for guarding livestock, these impressive white dogs are known to successfully deter bear and other predator attacks. It is believed that the breed is a decedent of the ancient Greek Shepherd dog also known as Alabai and several Albanian dog breeds.
There are various sub-types of Abruzzese Mastiffs, including the Marsicano which has a head like a lion, the Pescocostanzo which has a wolf-like head, the Peligno, and the Maiellae which both have bear-like heads, and the Aquilano which has the most impressive body structure.
These large and strong dogs live to about 12 years and when fully grown can reach a weight of up to 220 lbs. (for the Peligno sub-type).
Overall, the Abruzzese Mastiff dogs are well-balanced, loyal, affectionate and quiet energetic dogs. They are devoted pets and can live well with large families and even with other pets, but can be cautious and protective when strangers enter the house.
The Abruzzese Mastiff does require daily exercise which can consist of long brisk walks as well as playtime outdoors in a large and safely fenced yard.
This colossal dog can easily reach a weight of 200 lbs. and a height of 36 inches, but is known to have a golden heart and a mellow temperament. The American Mastiff loves its family and is especially gentle and patient with children.
This is a non-aggressive breed but can become overly protective if a threat to the family or children is detected.
It was developed in the US as a result of a cross between English and Turkish mastiffs.
The biggest difference between the American Mastiff and other Mastiffs is that it doesn’t drool as much as the others, which is a huge plus for people who dread the mess and cleaning up, associated with drool everywhere.
The American Mastiff can be apricot, fawn or brindle colored, and can have a few white markings on the chest, feet or nose or chin.
The life expectancy of the dogs from this giant breed is 10 to 12 years. They are average shedders and require moderate grooming.
The Brazilian Mastiff is also known as the Fila Brasileiro and is a distinctively large and wrinkled dog, which on average will reach a height of up to 29.5 inches and a weight of 110 lbs. for the males, and 90 lbs., 27.5 inches for the females.
A cross between a Mastiff and a Bloodhound, the Fila Brasileiro is famous for its excellent tracking abilities as well as for its aggressiveness.
The dogs from this breed can become loving and completely devoted to their families and can get along with other dogs and pets if socialized and trained properly by experienced owners.
They are instinctively distrustful to strangers and are highly protective of their families once bonded, so early socialization is a must.
The Brazilian Mastiffs are very patient and gentle with children too.
But given their powerful build, huge size and strength and their protective and aggressive nature, only experienced and confident owners should adopt a Fila Brasileiro.
Originally bred in England from English Mastiffs and Bulldogs, the Bullmastiff is a massive canine that is highly intelligent, loyal and affectionate. The breed was developed to protect estates from poachers, but the Bullmastiff is unlike other watchdogs and is quiet and relies on its size and strength to protect the property. The Bullmastiff doesn’t get angry or aggressive easily.
Bullmastiffs have short coats and can be red, fawn, and red and fawn brindle. They have black masks on their faces. Their life expectancy is 7-9 years, and they can be very devoted pets and gentle companions to their humans.
The male Bullmastiffs will reach an average shoulder height of 25-27 inches and a weight of 110-130 lbs. and the females are slightly smaller – with a height of 24-26 inches and a weight of 100-120 lbs.
Then again, dogs from this breed can be quite stubborn and can get highly protective of its family, so meticulous socialization and training from an early age is absolutely mandatory. Again, this Mastiff breed is not suitable for first-time or timid dog owners.
The Canary Mastiff is also known as the Perro de Presa Canario or the Presa Canario and originates from the Canary Islands. The ancestors of this Mastiff breed were used as protectors as well as for food by the natives prior to the 14th century.
In the 18th century, the modern Canary Mastiff breed was defined with the arrival of English migrants to the islands who brought bulldogs and bull terriers who bred with the local dogs to produce today’s Presa Canario.
The dogs from this breed are powerful, large, and strong and have short rough and smooth coats in brindle tonality and blackface masks.
They are independent, fearless canines that are not friendly to strangers. Without the proper socializing from an early age, they can be aggressive to both humans and animals.
They do require daily exercise and will feel well in homes with fenced yards where they can use up their energy.
As with all other Mastiffs, this breed is not recommended for first-time and inexperienced owners. Plus, they are not the best dog to add to a household with small children.
The English Mastiff is the world’s heaviest dog breed. The males weigh up to 220 lbs. and the females can reach a hefty weight of up to 170 lbs. The height of the English Mastiff at the shoulder is about 26 inches.
The English Mastiff was originally bred to act as a bait dog for bears, lions, and bulls, which explains the size and the strength and endurance of these canines.
They are very good rescue dogs in difficult conditions and can make excellent therapy dogs as well.
These drooling giants are gentle with all family members but can suffer from separation anxiety and become destructive if left alone often or for long.
They will thrive well in very cold weather but not so well in the heat. The English Mastiff dogs may be very heavy, but they still do require daily walks and exercise.
Otherwise, the dogs from this giant Mastiff breed are incredibly loyal, calm and even-tempered which get along with other pets and children, when socialized and trained correctly.
The German Mastiff is more popular than the Great Dane. The dogs from this breed can reach a height of 30 inches at the shoulder and a weight of 120 lbs. but it is very common that they are not aware of their huge size and act like small dogs.
The breed is a result of the cross between an English Mastiff and an Irish wolfhound.
Great Danes are dependable and friendly and are good with children and pets, but given their height and size, these interactions need to be supervised.
The Great Dane requires moderate daily exercise, which can include a short walk or some playtime outdoors. You shouldn’t kennel a Great Dane outdoors, because it is not suited for living outside only.
Although these dogs are considered to be “gentle giants” they do have a protective and watchdog instinct, so make sure that they are confined securely away from passersby and strangers, and that they are trained and well-socialized from a very early age.
Their coats require little maintenance and the Great Danes can come in a variety of colors. Unfortunately, as most large sized dogs, they have a relatively short lifespan of only about 8-10 years.
As a whole, these tall and large dogs make excellent pets for families or owners who have experience with dogs of this size and type.
The Italian Mastiff is better known as Cane Corso and is an impressive muscled and powerful dog. The Cane Corso males will reach a height of about 28 inches and a weight of up to 110 lbs. The females are usually about 26 inches at the shoulder and can weigh up to 99 lbs.
They are agile and strong animals that are very gentle with their humans but can become fiercely protective of them too, which can pose a problem if the dog is not obedience trained and socialized in a timely and correct manner.
At home, the Cane Corso is usually quiet and will do everything to please its family. Outdoors, the dogs from this giant breed also prefer to stay close to their owners, so you won’t have problems with your pet wandering off.
The life expectancy of the Cane Corso is 10 to 12 years.
The Italian Mastiff was bred as a hunting and guarding dog and is a highly intelligent and confident dog who can be a loyal and loving companion.
The Japanese Mastiff is better known as the Tosa Inu or the Japanese Fighting Dog. The dogs from this breed are stately and large animals which are gentle with their humans but can also be aggressive when feeling threatened.
The Tosa Inu weighs 80-135 lbs. in Japan, but many non-Japanese breeders raise dogs from this breed which can reach a height of 24-32 inches and weigh 130-200 lbs.
They have short coats that are usually red, fawn or brindle and which require minimal maintenance.
In the past, the Tosa was used for Japanese dog fights and was taught to be quiet when fighting because of the strict rules in the country. This has made these dogs very sensitive to the voice and commands of their owners.
An owner who is able to establish himself or herself as a pack leader over the Japanese Mastiff will be able to curb its aggression towards people, other dogs,and animals.
When trained and well established, the Tosa Inu will be a good pet and will be gentle and loving to the family, children and other pets.
The Tosa is a relatively rare breed that has recently been introduced in the US but is banned in some countries as a dangerous and aggressive breed.
The Japanese Mastiff is a beautiful and powerful dog, a faithful companion and an excellent watchdog, but is definitely not the right dog for people with no experience in training and raising a dog of this type.
The Dosa Gae or Dosa Mastiff has a short, shiny and silky coat and can be red, chocolate or mahogany in color. It has the typical appearance of a Mastiff dog – with a large head and a body which is heavily wrinkled.
This large-sized dog is intelligent, dignified, loyal and good-natured. The Dosa enjoys human companionship and if socialized and trained in an orderly manner will become an inseparable and faithful companion to all family members in the household.
As with all other giant breeds, you will need to supervise the dog around small children to prevent accidents due to the weight and size of the Dosa Gae.
The size of the males is about 25.5-30 inches and 160-185 lbs. while the females are about 23.5-27 inches high and weigh about 145-165 lbs.
The Korean Mastiff is a fast-growing dog and requires quite a lot of playtime as a puppy. When it is fully grown, it will be happy with moderate daily exercise.
The dogs from this breed are moderate shedders and require little grooming apart from weekly brushing and cleaning of the many skin folds. Their life expectancy is 7 to 12 years.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a close cousin to the Cane Corso, but it is a much more massive dog than the Italian Mastiff.
The dogs of this breed cannot be mistaken. They have large heads and huge jowls, body skin folds, and their faces are wrinkly.
The breed can be traced back to the ancient Roman dogs of war which were used as watchdogs. The male Neapolitan Mastiffs can grow to a height of 30 inches and a weight of 150 lbs. and the females are usually shorter than 28 inches and weigh up to 130 lbs.
Neapolitan Mastiffs do not require a lot of exercise and long walks.
But just like all other Mastiff breeds, they do require obedience training and serious socialization by an experienced person in order to curb their natural protective instincts.
The dogs from this breed are not recommended for families with very small children because of accidental injuries which can occur due to their huge weight and size.
But overall, they are loving and happy pets given that you provide them with the attention and love they need, a walk or two a day and that you don’t leave them home alone for long.
This large-sized dog which originates from the Pyrenees in Spain can reach an impressive weight of up to 220 lbs. and a height of 30 inches.
The dogs from this Mastiff breed are gentle and calm, but also quite stubborn and independent which means that they do tend to wander off if left unsupervised or unleashed. They become strongly devoted to their families, but do not feel comfortable around strangers – neither human nor canine. Like with the other Mastiff dogs, they need to be socialized with people and dogs from an early age. Their stubbornness can cause problems when it comes to training, especially when the owners are not experienced.
These giant dogs are quite loud and will bark when they hear noises. They do need daily exercise and will enjoy nice long walks outdoors, but will thrive better in cold conditions rather than in warm weather.
Unlike most of the other Mastiff breeds, the Pyrenean Mastiffs do require quite a bit of grooming – including brushing once a week in normal circumstances, and daily brushing when shedding.
These giant dogs are droolers and sloppy drinkers, but with the proper care and training, they can become loving, gentle and loyal pets and companions.
South African Mastiff
The South African Mastiff is better known as a Boerboel and like most of the other dogs from the Mastiff breed is a large, muscular and quite intimidating dog. The giant breed was used for protection of the South African farms from attacks by wild animals like hyenas and lions.
At the same time, the Boerboel is a family-friendly, calm and loving dog that is especially gentle with the children in the family.
The dogs from this South African breed are quite territorial and protective but can be faithful and completely devoted companions to their humans.
These intelligent and obedient dogs require little maintenance, but need a lot of exercises and are prone to chewing and pulling on things, so they need to undergo serious obedience training from an early age.
The average weight of a male Boerboel is about 110-200 lbs. but many of these giant dogs will reach a weight of way over 200 lbs. when fully grown. The males are about 24-28 inches in height, and the females are slightly shorter and will grow to a height of 22-25 inches at the shoulder.
For people with experience in training and socializing large watchdog breeds, the South African Mastiff can become the perfect protective and loyal friend.
The Spanish Mastiff is also known as the Mastín Español. It is an excellent watchdog, and no so friendly to people and other dogs like most of the other Mastiff breeds.
The dogs from this Mastiff breed can reach a height of up to 35 inches and a weight of up to 220 lbs.
The Spanish Mastiffs are very protective and have strong territorial instincts which makes them suitable only for highly experienced owners.
They are also prone to barking and are very independent, and given the fact that the Spanish Mastiffs are usually not as affectionate to their families as the other large dogs from the Mastiff family, they are not the perfect pet for everyone.
They have short but dense coats which need regular brushing, and they require moderate daily exercise. The Spanish Mastiff can adapt well to all climates but will prefer living in a dryer climate.
These majestic canines are massive and heavy coated mountain dogs which are known for their independence, intelligence, protectiveness, and their reserved nature.
These traits make this ancient breed suitable only for a certain type of owners who are willing to devote a lot of patience and time to train them.
Since the Tibetan Mastiffs have minds of their own, they are hard to train, and will rarely respond to commands or come when called. In fact, they do not respond well to obedience training at all.
The height of the males can reach 26 inches and that of the females can be up to 24 inches, and their weight is about 90 – 150 lbs. for the males and 70-120 lbs. for the females.
The breed is ancient and originated in Tibet where these intimidating canines were used as guardian dogs for livestock.
At home, the Tibetan Mastiffs are calm and devoted to their families, as well as protective of any strangers. If left without sufficient mental and physical exercise these dogs can become bored and destructive.
They are very patient with the children at home as well as with other animals and dogs but can become protective of the young and older family members when a stranger enters the home or approaches them.
Their double coats do not require too much maintenance other than brushing once a week and using a de-shedding tool when the shedding season comes at the beginning of the summer.
This ancient breed which originated in Turkey is also referred to as Kangal or Anatolian Mastiff. It is a sensitive guard dog which is quite independent but is a great working dog.
The Kangals are at their best when working in pairs to guard sheep and other cattle from predators, and are quite good at effectively protecting up to 150 animals. They have light golden coats and dark masks on their faces and ears.
Being bred to guard livestock, the Kangals are gentle to sheep and other animals as well as to little children. At the same time, they can show aggression towards predators.
Still, if you have young children at home, you should always supervise the communication between them and your Kangal, because accidents can happen due to its large size and weight.
The male Kangals are usually 30-32 inches at the shoulder and weigh up to 145 lbs. but despite their impressive size, they are very agile and are incredibly fast. In fact, they are considered one of the fastest of the Mastiff breeds and can reach a speed of up to 30 mph.
They require quite a lot of physical and mental exercise, so this breed is suitable for people willing to stay active and spend a lot of time outdoors jogging, hiking, cycling or playing with their pets.
They also require more grooming than most of the other Mastiffs.
If socialized and trained well, the Turkish Mastiff is a calm and quiet pet that is devoted to its family and gets along with strangers until it senses a threat.
As you can see, most of the dogs from the Mastiff breeds can become perfect pets and companions, but their history of guarding, protecting and fighting, as well as their large size and massive weight, makes them dogs which are suitable for pets for responsible, confident and experienced owners.
Having a dog that can weigh more than an average person and is much stronger than other dogs, animals and humans is a great responsibility.
If you are ready to spend time making sure that your dog from any of these Mastiff breeds gets to meet as many people and to visit as many places when it is young, this will help make it a more social animal and will help curb its instinctive protective instincts and aggression. Also, training your Mastiff pup to be obedient is essential if you want to have full control over this dog later on when it grows up and becomes larger and stronger than you and everybody else.
Overall, all of the dogs from these Mastiff breeds are majestic, beautiful and very impressive canines, which can become the most loyal, loving and devoted pets you have ever had!