A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BREED
The known history of the Bullmastiff begins about the year 1860 in England. It is probable that the story of the breed is centuries old. The Bullmastiff was bred to aid gamekeepers in protecting the game on large English estates. Poaching on the estates was an expensive problem for the landowners, and it was the gamekeeper’s duty to catch the thieves. Gamekeepers needed a dog that could track quietly, cover short distances quickly, and pin and hold poachers without mauling them.
Gamekeepers experimented with several breeds, looking to the mastiff, who was too slow, and then the bulldog, who was at the time a more ferocious dog than he is today–too ferocious. Out of these breeds, the Bullmastiff was born. He combined the best of both breeds for the job required of him. He is now primarily a family companion with a calm, dependable disposition when properly trained and socialized. The Bullmastiff was accepted as a recognized breed of the American Kennel Club in October 1933.
At the time of its creation, there were many large estates in England, the owners of which frowned upon the game in their estates being poached. Gamekeepers were employed to oversee and protect the game in the estates and they needed an able assistant; the poachers being a rather dangerous lot since punishment for poaching was hanging. Mastiffs were tried but found to be somewhat slow and to not have the drive necessary to down and hold a man. Bulldogs (a quite different type than we see today) were tried, but the bulldog of that era was very ferocious and tended to tear the poacher up too much.
So, crosses were made of the Bulldog and Mastiff until a ratio of 60% Mastiff/40% Bulldog was achieved. This type of dog, eventually called the Bullmastiff, served the needs of the gamekeeper very well. The dog could track a man in the forest at night; work quietly; and, when close enough spring to a hard charge, knocking the man down and holding him there until the gamekeeper arrived. This was no mean feat since the poachers used every trick and tool at their disposal to escape, knowing that they faced hanging. The Bullmastiff had to be very brave and tenacious and more than one suffered death at the hands of a desperate criminal. But, the breed was exactly what the gamekeeper needed and they did their job well.