Getting to know the Bullmastiff

The definition of temperament is that it is ones basic nature or disposition. Temperament is certainly not the same from breed to breed. Because of the work or purpose of each breed, the temperament of each breed varies. Dogs were developed with not only certain physical characteristics, but also mental characteristics for the work intended for them.

The Bullmastiff was bred as a guard, and has the temperament suited for that job. They are possessive, territorial, loyal dogs with an innate sense of who does and who doesn’t belong on one’s property. They seem impelled to stop intruders, yet are (or certainly should be) more than willing to accept those people accepted by their masters.

The Bullmastiff standard describes the breed temperament as “fearless and confident, yet docile. The dog combines the reliability, intelligence, and willingness to please required in a dependable family companion and protector.”

If we follow the description of temperament in the standard, we are describing a dog that will have no hesitation in protecting what he considers his own (family, friends, territory), he is sure of his abilities to do so, and can be controlled without undo effort. He is a dog we can depend on to be consistent in his responses, bright enough to learn what we want, and willing to do what we ask, for whatever reason he attaches to that willingness.

Bullmastiffs, being the territorial, possessive creatures that they are, seem happy to do their guarding on any sized property. They are just fine as long as they understand their position in the family hierarchy, and that position is the proper one. The worst thing that can happen to a Bullmastiff is to belong to someone who is incapable of commanding that dog’s obedience and respect. The dog is first AFTER ALL THE PEOPLE IN THE HOUSEHOLD.

THE BULLMASTIFF IS NOT THE BREED FOR EVERYONE. There is nothing wrong with the Bullmastiff being strong-willed, possessive and territorial. That is the breed’s temperament. On the plus side, there are very few strong-willed dogs who are dumb. On the minus side, if this type of dog ends up with wishy-washy or inappropriate people, there is going to be a problem.

The Bullmastiff is a wonderful breed. Its temperament is ideal for its purpose in life. It needs a home where it is made to understand from the beginning (the second one takes possession) that it is loved, wanted and a part of the household, but as such will obey because that’s the way life is. As with small children, security comes from knowing ones boundaries. A dog that understands its position in the pack (family) is secure and happy. It is a safe pet. It follows the lead of its family superiors.

A strong-willed, fearless and confident dog such as the Bullmastiff is a joy to own, if owned by someone worthy and capable of owning a dog of this temperament.

Taken from “Bullmastiff Temperament” by Carol Beans

Common Questions

1.Do they drool?

All dogs drool, but sometimes Bullmastiffs may drool more often than other breeds. 

2. How BIG do they get?

The breed standard calls for a dog that is between 25-27″ for a male and between 24-26″ for a female.  Weights are between 110-130# for a male and 90-110# for a female.  However, there are many Bullmastiffs that fall either under the standard or over the standard.  So you may see a female as small as 22″ tall and 85# or a male as large as 29″ tall and 170# or more.  Ideally, a breeder breeds to the breed standard and the pups that may fall outside the parameters of the standard are placed as companion animals.

3. How much food do they eat?

An adult Bullmastiff usually eats between 2-3 cups of dry kibble twice a day.   This averages out to 40-60# of dog food per month.  Some may eat more and some may eat less. Each dog is different so you need to gauge the amount of food to the size of the dog.  The important thing to remember is do not let your Bullmastiff become overweight.

4. How much do they cost?

Prices vary from coast to coast, but the average is as follows.  For a companion animal the price range may be from $1,800.00 – $2,000.00 plus any shipping costs that may apply.  For a show puppy, the price range is from $2,000.00 – $3,000.00 plus shipping costs that may apply.  For a companion pup, breeders usually make it mandatory to have the pup spayed or neutered.  This helps protect the integrity of the breed.  If the puppy is not show potential then it should not be bred.   Breeders also place companion pups on Limited Registration.  Show pups are usually on co-ownership contracts with heavy restrictions towards breeding the animal.  

5. Do I have to show my dog?

If you are interested in showing a dog, then work with your breeder on getting the best quality pup you can.  Most breeders will gladly help you along the way in this wonderful sport.   Most breeders keep their pick pups, so it could take a year or more to get just the right pup for you.  Be patient.  Let you breeder help you and teach you.  They are your mentor.

If you do not want to show a dog, then be up front with the breeder. Do not sign a show contract. Many people want a show quality pup and because you are getting a companion animal doesn’t mean that it is a lesser quality.  Tell the breeder what you want.   Many top quality show prospects go to pet homes to be wonderful couch ornaments.

6. Are they good family dogs?

Yes! This breed needs to be an integral part of the family unit.  This breed IS a guard breed and does require a lot of early socialization so that they become accepting to everyone you invite into your home.  They are very rough as puppies and may knock small children down without even noticing.  They would protect you with their life, if the need ever arose.

7. Do I need to take my dog to obedience school?

YES!!!   Obedience training is in a class situation and provides socialization as well as valuable training.  If your dog is not under control, he may knock someone down and hurt them.

8. What colors do they come in?

The recognized colors are red, red fawn, fawn and brindle.  They should have a black mask and dark eyes, ears and nails. (see the AKC Breed Standard)

9. How much exercise do they need?

This breed requires moderate exercise.  As a pup, start with very slow short walks, then increase the length of the walk as the dog gets older.  Do not attempt any high impact events until the dog is well over 18 months of age.

10. How do I find a reputable breeder?

Do your homework.  Interview each breeder you talk to.  Make up your own set of questions before you talk with them. (see ABA accredited breeder section of this website)   The breeder will have a set of questions to ask you.  Do not be offended by these questions as they are being asked to protect the pup! This pup will be a part of your family.  Make sure your breeder will be available to answer your many questions, no matter how silly you may think they are (no question is EVER silly).  If the breeder states that their dogs have certifications on hips, elbows, eyes, thyroid, cardiac, etc, ask to see the certifications.  If they cannot provide you with copies, then the dogs do not have those health clearances and you should be wary of them.  If the breeder has a contract, go over each clause with that breeder.  There may be clauses in that contract that you do not understand or agree with.  If you do not feel comfortable with those clauses, talk about them with the breeder and come to an agreement.  If this cannot be done then DON’T take the pup.   DO NOT IMPULSE BUY.

Tracy  Ferrick Wild West Bullmastiffs