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The Mastiff is one of the oldest breeds known to man. They have existed since humans learned to write and began recording history. It is probable Phoenicians brought them to Cornwall (UK) during trading expeditions. Mastiffs fought side by side with Roman Legions before Christ was born. They were not only dogs of war in the forefront of battles, they were used to bait bears, bulls, lions, tigers, leopards and human gladiators. They turned the wheels to draw water from deep wells and were called water drawers; they were butchers' dogs, used to bring in and reprimand cattle; they were tinkers' dogs used to carry heavy-weighted tools on their backs; and bakers' dogs and they suffered mutilation (two toes cut off both front feet) to qualify being kept in the Kings' forests to guard their owners. They were and still are natural protectors of home and guardians of families. To learn more about their ancient history, please order my book MASTIFF, ARISTOCRATIC GUARDIAN.

The first Mastiff Club was formed in the UK in 1873 and after its demise another club formed, the Old English Mastiff Club, in 1883. The OEMC is still active, as well as the newer Mastiff Association in the UK. The Mastiff Club of America, Inc. was chartered in New York in 1929 and remains a healthy club today. Even though the club remained in existence, little is known about early US Mastiff breeders although pedigrees survived which enable us to trace present day Mastiffs to Mastiffs in America in 1907 and 1909. All Mastiffs in the world trace back to the same 9 Mastiffs used to resusitate the breed approximately 45 years ago.

The earliest standards date to the mid-to-late 1800s and today's standard varies from those early versions in only minor ways; pied bald colors were once allowed but are no longer considered pure-bred (if a current day litter produces a pied puppy it should be placed in a pet home with neuter/spay restrictions). Rear dewclaws were permitted once upon a time, but are frowned upon today. Correct movement was not addressed and is now an integrel part of the standard. Head type was always a most important desirable in the standard combined with substance and this is still true today. If a Mastiff does not have the correct head and body it simply is not a good Mastiff. Period.

The standard calls for a minimum height at the shoulder of 30" for dogs and 27-1/2" for bitches. There is no maximum height. What this means is if a dog is 30" at the shoulder and has the requisite head type, bone and substance, he is every bit as good, if not better, than a 34" dog that lacks the corresponding qualities. Many new breeders equate quality with how tall the Mastiff is and this is absolute bunk. Height is deliberately not "played up" in the standard. It is only mentioned to give minimums and to state that height should come from depth of body rather than length of leg. The Mastiff is hereditarily a long-backed animal, yet if the depth of body is such that it meets the standard a quick look at a dog will give nearly an impression of squareness, a visual illusion caused BY THE DEPTH OF BODY. Click here to read the AKC/MCOA Mastiff Standard.

On the off chance that someone will say the above is strictly "this breeder's opinion," (which it is, of course) the following is taken directly from the Old English Mastiff Club (of England) Standard of 1883:

"General Description of Body - Massive, broad, deep, long, powerfully built, on legs wide apart and squarely set. Muscles sharply defined. Size a great desideratum if combined with quality. Height of less importance than substance, but desirable, if both points are proportionately combined."

Mastiffs are definitely not for everyone. They are a GIANT breed and at maturity will weigh anywhere from 130 lbs to 230 lbs and up. They can be head strong, stubborn and relentless when they want attention, or something specific. They can be vindictive, they never forget an insult and do not forgive easily. Mastiffs require a lot of attention, they are definitely not a backyard dog. They need to be with the family they love. They shed profusely, slobber and, if bored, can be destructive, especially by chewing. They require pricey quality food and a lot of it. They need meaty bones, vitamins, and regular veterinarian care. Mastiffs are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, they may have genetic urinary or heart problems, bleeding disorders, thyroid problems and allergies. Some also have serious hereditary eye problems which may lead to absolute blindness in both eyes. The growing Mastiff is injured easily, especially the long bones and knees and Mastiffs are affected by growth diseases. For more detailed information of developmental, hereditary and/or environment problems that have been diagnosed in the breed, click below on the link to the "Disclosures" page.

Mastiffs are expensive to purchase, raise and maintain. You can expect to pay upwards of $1,200 for a spayed or neutered pet and $1,500 to $3,000 for a quality show puppy. Do not anticipate making this an investment to be recovered by producing litters. It's not that simple. Mastiffs are difficult to breed and have inherent reproduction problems.

If you have read this far and you are still interested in a Mastiff, let me tell you that being owned by a Mastiff is joy like none other you have ever experienced. What love you give your Mastiff will be returned ten-fold. The Mastiff is one of the most loyal creatures into which God ever blew breath. They will, at maturity, devote themselves to your well being. They will sleep at your bedside and watch over you, they will walk by your side and protect you, they will hold your heart in their paw and never betray you, even it it means giving up their life. Once bonded with you and your family, they will not hesitate to put themselves in front of you the very instant they perceive danger and nothing will move them before the threat is done. It is to love and watch over you that they live.

It is the owner's responsibility to understand the Mastiff nature and earn his respect. You must do gentle obedience to build rapport and respect. You must socialize the Mastiff in all environments so that he is able to distinguish a real threat from a nonthreat. You must give your Mastiff at least an equal amount of love and care as he gives to you. The Mastiff is not an animal that can be placed easily if he "doesn't work out" in your home. Because they love so completely and devotedly, they do not transfer well. If you acquire a Mastiff puppy you don't like, please return him to the breeder immediately so he can be placed somewhere where he will be loved for the very qualities you don't like. It is so much better for the puppy to move while young and flexible.

The Mastiff Club of America, Inc. has a superb Rescue Organization. Members involve themselves with rehoming wonderful Mastiffs that are displaced for a number of reasons: abusive homes, death in family, divorce, etc. These Mastiffs are evaluated by knowledgeable people who understand their temperaments and try to find appropriate homes. Please consider one of these noble rescues if you are not inclined to get a puppy.Click here to contact MCOA Rescue Directors.

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