Health & Research: An Introduction

This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. It is not to be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem, nor is it a substitute for professional care. If you suspect that your dog may have a health problem, please consult your veterinarian.

The American Bullmastiff Association (ABA) encourages health education through the free exchange of information that is both accurate and pertinent as it regards the Bullmastiff breed. As part of the effort, the ABA wants all owners and breeders to be aware of health problems that affect the Bullmastiff.

A list of Common Diseases and Conditions in the Bullmastiff offers an educational tool for both breeders as well as potential and new owners. It provides a means to establish an open dialogue between breeders and buyers regarding health issues and serves as a guide to help owners understand a possible health problem. Finally, it enables them to take preventive or early action to combat the problem.

The ABA believes all breeders should encourage health discussions prior to purchase. They should disclose to potential and new owners any and all health problems known to affect their lines. Honesty and openness will likewise encourage new owners to discuss health problems they encounter over the life span of their Bullmastiff. This communication is crucial to improve the health of our dogs and the future of the breed.

New owners are entitled to purchase a healthy Bullmastiff, regardless of whether it is to be a family pet, a performance dog, or a breed champion. It is extremely important to be familiar with the health problems in Bullmastiffs, and equally important to ask breeders to provide as much information as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! A reputable breeder will not hesitate to provide answers. Visit as many breeders as possible, check references, and get copies of the health certifications of the sire and dam of any puppy being considered. If purchasing an older dog, ask for a health history and speak with the veterinarian whenever possible.

In keeping with information sharing, potential buyers should expect a reputable breeder to ask detailed, personal information. As the selection process unfolds, expect lengthy questionnaires and signed contracts. These steps help to ensure that the puppy is going to a safe, loving home. Various health issues should be addressed in the breeder’s contract; make sure there is a full understanding of these issues before signing it. Often, these contracts will include a spay/neuter clause and limited registration. Such steps are an important tool to help responsible breeders maintain control over their breeding stock and are not a reflection on the buyer. They are a means to preserve the breed characteristics that we all strive for. A “defect” such as a poor bite, incorrect tail set, light eyes, etc. doesn’t mean that the puppy is not healthy or won’t make an ideal family pet — it simply means that the puppy has a characteristic that is undesirable to the breeder.
Although not a disease or condition, temperament is considered an important aspect of overall health. Temperament is one of the most difficult assessments to be made. However, one of the best ways to get an idea of the temperament of a puppy or dog is to visit the breeder and meet the parents and other dogs of that line. Different breeders produce dogs that may be different in temperament. Take the time to find the right dog.

The diseases and conditions listed are by no means common only to the Bullmastiff. Furthermore, the potential exists for any of these problems (and unforeseen other illnesses) to develop in a Bullmastiff, despite the breeder’s best efforts and regardless of the line, pedigree, certifications, and family history. Health information on the Bullmastiff is largely anecdotal and very little is known about hereditary factors related to the diseases and conditions listed. Where there is strong research evidence that a condition has hereditary components (i.e.: hip dysplasia) it is clearly stated; otherwise, it is unknown or not definitive.

Finally, it is worth noting that Bullmastiffs have an unusually high tolerance for pain and often do not “complain”. Changes in bowel or bladder habits, eating habits, and temperament should all be considered symptoms of an underlying health problem.