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 ones 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
The Bullmastiff & Children
Most Bullmastiffs are good with children if they are brought up with children and common sense is used. Never forget that while not an aggressive dog, the Bullmastiff is a guard dog protective of those it is guarding, particularly if they are children. If it fears your child is in danger it will react. If other children are at your home and are running, screaming, wrestling or punching each other, the dog may not be able to distinguish whether those actions are serious or not. If the dog feels they are serious, it may try to interfere, and while not intending to do so, may inadvertently injure a child. The Bullmastiff should never be left unsupervised with other people’s children, and the dominant puppy in a litter should never be placed in a home with kids. If you have children, it is suggested you read the following articles before bringing a Bullmastiff into your home.
Because of its size and its stubborn nature, the Bullmastiff is a breed that requires early, consistent training, before becoming too large to handle. The Bullmastiff is a relatively smart dog, but is also independent, and will not always be willing to please you. Praise and food are the perhaps the best incentives for training a Bullmastiff; punitive measures rarely work and will only serve to make the dog angry. Along with training, the best thing for your Bullmastiff is to socialize it, early and often, so that it develops into a reliable and well-behaved dog.
99% of the time, the Bullmastiff is an affectionate, laid back, sweet and loyal dog. Many who see a Bullmastiff playing with children or hanging out on the couch cannot believe that this dog can be anything but friendly. Always remember that although the Bullmastiff is not by nature an aggressive dog, it was bred as a guard dog, and should be treated and respected as such.