Mastiff dogs are believed to be descendants of the now-extinct ancient Molossus livestock guardian dogs, represented in art and artifacts dating back to ancient Greek and Ancient Roman times.
These dogs are one of the oldest dog breeds that have lived with our ancestors for ages. The different Mastiff-type dogs have been developed and used for different purposes throughout history. Some were bred to be guardian dogs, others were reliable shepherds, and some were hunting or even fighting dogs.
Today, many Mastiff breeds have been developed worldwide, most commonly serving the purpose of loving and loyal companions, especially in the western world.
Since the Mastiff breeds were first created, these strong and well-built powerful dogs have developed their particular traits, which are a direct result of their origin and heritage.
Today, when properly socialized and trained, these dogs can become your best friends and your children’s best playmates and guardians. Suppose you have the patience and confidence to teach your Mastiff dog to interact with humans and other dogs and animals properly. In that case, you will end up with an incredibly loyal, loving, and devoted four-legged family member.
Here is an alphabetical list of the Mastiff breeds and all of the specific characteristics and features of each one of them.
Argentinian Mastiff (Dogo Argentino)
Argentinian Mastiffs, also known as Dogo Argentinos, are large, muscular, and powerful dogs. The males have an average shoulder height of 27 inches and weigh about 99 lbs. The females average 26 inches at the shoulder and usually weigh up to 88 lbs.
The Dogo Argentino was developed as a hunting dog for large prey such as pumas and boars, which explains these canines’ athletic and strong physique.
The Argentinian Mastiff may look quite intimidating and even fierce. Still, the dogs from this breed are loving, gentle, and very devoted to all their human family members.
But remember that Dogo Argentinos can be overprotective and distrustful to strangers – both human and canine- so you will need to socialize your dog meticulously from an early age by meeting it with different people and dogs at different places.
Argentinian Mastiffs are energetic and playful pups, but they need to be led and trained by confident, experienced, and consistent owners.
The dogs from this beautiful Mastiff breed are almost all white in color and with short coats. A black spot or two on the head is acceptable too.
They require long daily walks and quite a bit of exercise, so they are suitable pets for people who are used to leading a more active lifestyle.
To keep a Dogo Argentino happy and calm, you will need to provide it with regular physical and mental training and exercise; otherwise, you risk that it gets bored and even destructive.
The dogs from these breeds are excellent pets for experienced owners, but they are also commonly used in the police force and for army or rescue operations.
Due to the bad rep of irresponsible owners who train their Dogos as fighting dogs, this breed has been prohibited in several countries around the world, including Denmark, the UK, Australia, Iceland, and others.
As mentioned above, and as with most other Mastiff breeds, with appropriate training and socializing, a Dogo Argentino can become the most loving and gentle pet you have ever had and a very reliable watchdog for your home and family.
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Alangu Mastiff (Bully Kutta)
This powerful Mastiff breed is also known as a Pakistani Mastiff or a Bully Kutta and is one of the most ancient dog breeds in the history of the world. The ancestors of today’s Alangu Mastiffs were used as war dogs and for guarding prisoners of war back in time by the Persian army.
Today, they are a typical guardian dog and fighting dog breed in the area, commonly owned by wealthier farmers.
The dogs from this ancient Mastiff breed are large, muscular, and usually white. Due to their breeding history and natural instincts, they can be very aggressive towards other dogs and animals and can cause serious injuries and even kill them when aggravated.
The lifespan of the Bully Kutta is about 12 years. An adult dog from this breed will grow to a height of about 30 to 42 inches at the shoulder and a weight of 140 to 170 lbs.
They are brilliant dogs that can become dangerous and completely unmanageable in the arms of an inexperienced owner.
Suppose you are experienced with training dogs of this size and other Mastiff breeds and know how to teach your pup to interact with people and with animals. In that case, the Bully Kutta can become a noble, loving and loyal companion to you and all your family members, including children.
Abruzzese Mastiff (Mastino Abruzzese)
This is just one of the several Italian Mastiff dog breeds. In Italian, these dogs are called Mastino Abruzzese, originally developed as guard dogs for livestock. There are stories about Abruzzese Mastiffs being able to fight off bears and attacks by other large predators.
The dogs from this Mastiff breed are very strong white muscular dogs, which are believed to descend from the ancient Alabai Greek Shepherd dog breed and a few large Albanian dog breeds.
There are different sub-types of the Abruzzese Mastiff breed, including the lion-like Marsciano, the wolf-like Pescocostanzo, and the bear-like Peligno and Maiellae Mastiffs. The sub-type with the most impressive and large structure is the Aquilano.
These extremely powerful, large-sized dogs can reach a weight of 220 lbs. and more and have a lifespan of about 12 years.
They are balanced, affectionate, energetic and very loyal dogs that can become your best friend and most devoted pet, no matter how many family members or other dogs are in your household.
Remember that, like all large-sized guardian dogs, the Abruzzese Mastiff can be quite protective of strangers, especially if they enter your home.
The dogs from this Mastiff breed require brisk walks and daily exercise and will feel perfect if you have a properly fenced backyard where they can spend time roaming and playing.
Brazilian Mastiff (Fila Brasileiro)
The Fila Brasileiro is a highly recognizable breed due to the large size and wrinkled skin of these Mastiff dogs. The male Brazilian Mastiff has an average height of 29.5 inches at the shoulder and weighs about 110 lbs. The females are slightly smaller – with an average height of 27.5 inches and a weight of 90 lbs.
This unique mastiff breed is a result of a cross between Bloodhounds and Mastiffs. The dogs from this breed are exceptional trackers and are quite aggressive by nature as well.
Despite their aggressive instincts, Brazilian mastiffs can be perfect pets. They will become strongly devoted and loyal to their humans, but only if they are trained and socialized properly and promptly.
Since they are naturally distrustful of strangers and have strong protective and guarding instincts, early socialization is an absolute must if you want your dog and yourself to stay out of trouble and keep it from harming others.
These large dogs will love playing with your children and, despite their size, will be very gentle and patient with kids of all ages. Still, they are mighty and large dogs with strong aggressive and protective instincts, so they are definitely not suitable for new dog owners or for people who do not have the confidence, skills, and experience in training and raising dogs of this type.
The American Mastiff is another giant dog, which can reach an average of 36 inches in height at the shoulder and a weight of 200 lbs. when it grows up. At the same time, American Mastiffs are one of the gentlest and most patient dogs, especially regarding interactions with children.
They are non-aggressive by nature but at the same time can be very protective of their human family and will react if a potential threat to them is detected.
The breed is a result of a cross between Turkish and English Mastiffs and originated in America. The main point of the developers of the breed was to create a Mastiff dog that doesn’t drool as much as most of the other dogs in this category.
The coat of the American Mastiff can be brindle, apricot or fawn in color, and some white spots and markings on the feet, chest, chin or nose are also acceptable for the dogs of this breed.
These mellow and kind-natured dogs have a life expectancy of 10-12 years. They require moderate grooming and will become loyal and protective companions to any owner or family.
The Bullmastiff is a cross between Bulldogs and English Mastiffs and was first developed in England as a guard dog used to protect estates and properties against poachers.
The Bullmastiff largely relies on its power and size to protect the property, unlike other watchdogs from the Mastiff group, which tend to be more aggressive and get aggravated more easily.
The dogs from this impressive mastiff breed have short coats that are usually fawn red or brindle in color and have very specific black facial masks. Like many large-sized breeds, bullmastiffs have a short life expectancy of just 7 to 9 years, but nevertheless, they are very loyal and gentle companions and devoted pets.
The male dogs from this breed are usually 25 to 27 inches high and weigh about 100 to 130 lbs. The females are a tad smaller – with a shoulder height of 24 to 26 inches and a weight of 100 to 120 lbs.
While they are not aggressive by nature, their powerful build, large size, and natural stubbornness make them suitable dogs only for people with previous experience with training dogs of this type. They are definitely not suitable for first-time owners or timid people.
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Canary Mastiff (Presa Canario)
This breed is also known as Presa Canario or Perro de Presa Canario and, as the name suggests, originates from the Canary Islands.
The ancestors of this breed were used as guardians for the native people and their food reserves. Still, when the English migrants arrived on the islands in the 18th century and brought their bull terriers and bulldogs, the Canary Mastiff resulted from the crossbreeding between the native breed and the western breeds.
The Presa Canario dogs are very large and powerful dogs with short coats in brindle color and with black face masks.
They are very independent and confident canines that are definitely not friendly to strangers. That is why you will need to meticulously socialize your Canary Mastiff and meet it up with different people and dogs from a very early age.
If you fail to socialize a dog of this breed, it can become unmanageable and aggressive to people and other dogs, which you must agree is pretty dangerous.
The Canary Mastiffs are energetic dogs that require daily exercise. The best housing option for these dogs is a house with a safely fenced yard where they can spend time roaming and using their excessive energy.
Once again, this breed is definitely not recommended for timid, inexperienced, and first-time dog owners.
They are also not the best choice for families with small children either.
This is the heaviest dog breed in the world. The male English Mastiffs can reach a weight of up to 220 lbs. The females typically weigh up to 180 lbs. and their height is about 26 inches at the shoulder.
This hefty and strong dog breed was developed to act as bait for large prey such as lions, bears, and bulls, and thus is an extremely resilient and enduring dog breed.
English Mastiffs are also excellent rescue dogs for rescue operations and searches in difficult conditions. Plus, they are excellent therapy dogs too.
Even though they weigh so much, English Mastiffs are very gentle and loving pets. They tend to drool quite a bit, like all other Mastiffs, but are loyal companions for all kinds of families.
One potential problem of this breed is that the English Mastiffs are prone to suffering from separation anxiety, so you shouldn’t leave them alone for long periods of time because they can become destructive.
These large-sized dogs are resilient to bad and cold weather but are not very happy when it is too warm outside. They are heavy dogs, but English Mastiffs are energetic and require daily exercise and walks.
Overall, these heavy and large Mastiff dogs are quite even-tempered, calm and faithful pups. They can get along with all family members, including children and even other dogs and pets, if they have been appropriately socialized and trained from an early age.
German Mastiff (Great Dane)
You probably know this breed under its more common name – the Great Dane. These regal-like dogs are one of the tallest canine breeds and can reach a height at the shoulder of 30 inches and an average weight of about 120 lbs.
The Great Dane was bred by crossing Irish Wolfhounds and English Mastiffs. The dogs from this breed may be taller than many humans when they stand on their hind legs, but they actually often act and feel like small-sized pups.
They are friendly and reliable companions who can be great playmates for children and other dogs and pets, but you will need to supervise these interactions because of their large size and weight, just in case.
Great Danes require daily short walks and some exercise, but they are not suited to live outdoors only, so if you need a dog that will live in a kennel outside, this is not the best breed to choose.
Even though they are often referred to as “gentle giants”, Great Danes are also quite protective and have strong watchdog instincts, so you will need to socialize them from a young age and ensure that your backyard has a safe and secure fence, just in case.
These elegant dogs have short coats and require little grooming. They come in various colors, but given their size and genetics, they are prone to various health problems and have a short lifespan of about 8 to 10 years.
Like most mastiff dog breeds, Great Danes are suitable pets for owners with experience bringing up, training and caring for large-sized dogs.
Italian Mastiff (Cane Corso)
Also known as Cane Corso, the Italian Mastiff is a beautiful, muscular and powerful dog. The males are usually about 28 inches high at the shoulders and weigh about 110 lbs. The females are slightly smaller – with a height of 26 inches and a weight of 99 lbs.
The Cane Corso dogs are powerful and agile canines that need serious obedience training and socializing from an early age.
They become very devoted to their human families and can also be fiercely protective of them too.
The dogs from this Italian breed will do their best to please you and will always stay close to you – both indoors and outside. They are excellent watchdogs and hunting dogs, and are loyal, intelligent and loving companions.
They have a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years and are absolutely brilliant dogs to add to your family, but only if you have the confidence and experience to train a dog of this size and with such a temperament.
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Japanese Mastiff (Tosa Inu)
Otherwise known as Tosa Inu, the Japanese Mastiffs are large and majestic dogs that are generally very gentle with their human families but are prone to aggression if they feel like they are being threatened.
Dogs from this Japanese Fighting Dog breed originally weigh about 80 to 135 lbs. but some variations bred outside of Japan can reach a huge weight of 130-150 lbs. and an impressive height of 24-32 inches at the shoulder.
The Tosa Inu dogs’ coats are short, can be fawn, red or brindle, and are very easy to maintain.
Originally, the Tosa Inu dogs were used for dog fights, and due to the strict regulations in Japan have been taught to be very quiet even when engaging in a furious fight. They are also trained to recognize and listen to their owner’s commands no matter what.
Suppose you are a confident person who is able to establish yourself as the leader of the pack. In that case, you can easily train a Japanese Mastiff and curb its natural aggression towards other dogs, animals, and people.
Due to its reputation as a fighting dog, the Tosa Inu is banned in some countries, and it is still a rare breed in the US.
If you socialize and train your Tosa Inu well, it will grow into a very loving and gentle pet and companion to you, your family, and even other pets. It will also watch over your family and property and become your most loyal companion.
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Korean Mastiff (Dosa Gae)
Korean Mastiffs are better known as Dosa Mastiffs or Dosa Gae dogs. They are highly intelligent, large-sized canines with a good nature and can be completely loyal to their owners.
The Dosa Mastiffs have shiny, short, and soft coats, which can be mahogany, chocolate, or red in color. They have large heads and heavily wrinkled bodies, which is pretty typical of all Mastiff dogs. Their coats do not require too much grooming. They shed moderately, but you will need to clean their skin folds regularly.
As with all other giant dog breeds, you should supervise the interaction and playtime between your Korean Mastiff and your children.
The dogs from this breed can weigh up to 160 to 185 lbs. and reach a height at the shoulder of 25.5 to 30 inches.
They are fast-growing dogs that require quite a lot of exercise and playtime when puppies. Once fully grown, a Dosa Gae dog will be happy and satisfied with moderate daily walks and some playtime.
The life expectancy of the dogs from this Korean breed is from 7 to 12 years.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is yet another mastiff originating from Italy. It is a much heftier and more massive dog than its cousin – the Cane Corso.
The Neapolitan Mastiffs have huge heads and jaws. as well as wrinkly faces and a lot of skin folds on their bodies.
They are believed to originate from the ancient Roman war dogs, which were faithful watchdogs during the Roman empire.
The males from this breed will grow up to a height of 30 inches at the shoulder and a weight of up to 150 lbs. The females are only slightly smaller – with a height of 28 inches and a weight of up to 130 lbs.
These large-sized dogs do not require intensive exercise or long walks. Still, just like the other giant Mastiff breeds, you will need to socialize and train your Neapolitan Mastiff from a very early age to control their natural strong protective instincts.
Due to their serious size and weight, the dogs from this breed are not the best choice if you have small children.
But they are still very loving and happy pups if you give them the love and attention they need and do not leave them home alone for long periods of time.
This Mastiff originates from Spain and is of the largest mastiff breeds. The male Pyrenean Mastiffs will grow up to a height of 30 inches at the shoulder and an average weight of up to 220 lbs.
They are calm and gentle dogs but are also known to be pretty independent and somewhat stubborn, which can be a handful for inexperienced owners.
They shouldn’t be left unsupervised off the leash because they tend to wander off.
Even though Pyrenean Mastiffs become strongly devoted to their owners and human families, they distrust strangers – humans and dogs.
These massive dogs have a loud and scary bark and will protect your home by barking at any strange noise. They require moderate daily exercise and will be happy if you take them on long walks daily.
The Pyrenean Mastiffs can withstand cold and wet weather and do not thrive well when it is too hot outside.
Unlike most of the other Mastiff breeds – the Pyrenean Mastiff requires quite a bit of weekly grooming throughout the year and daily brushing in the shedding seasons.
They drool quite a lot but are otherwise gentle, loyal, and loving pets if you can train and socialize them in a timely and proper manner.
South African Mastiff (Boerboel)
These intimidating dogs, also known as Boerboels, were bred to protect the farms in South Africa from lions, hyenas, and other large predators.
The Boerboels are calm, friendly animals that can be very patient and gentle with children and all other family members.
They are devoted dogs with strong territorial instincts and can be very protective of their property and family.
They do not require too much maintenance, but given their energy levels, the Boerboels require a lot of daily playtime and exercise. They are prone to pulling and chewing on just about anything. They are very protective, so it is essential that any dog from this breed is meticulously trained and socialized by a knowledgeable and experienced trainer or owner from a very early age.
Boerboels can reach a weight of up to 200 lbs. and a height of 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder, so be prepared to add a huge new member to your family if you have decided to adopt a South African Mastiff.
Spanish Mastiff (Mastin Espanol)
The Spanish Mastiff breed is also known as Mastin Espanol and is not as friendly to humans or other dogs, like most of the other dogs from the Mastiff type.
They are superb watchdogs that are about 35 inches high at the shoulder and can reach a massive weight of up to 220 lbs.
They have very strong territorial and protective instincts and thus are suitable dogs only for highly experienced dog owners.
The Spanish Mastiffs also bark quite a lot and are very independent dogs, so they are not as loving and affectionate as most other large-sized dogs.
They are easy to groom and require moderate daily activity and walks. They thrive well in dry climates but can easily adapt to any weather.
Overall, the Spanish Mastiff is an excellent choice if you need a large and intimidating watchdog. Still, if you are looking for a loving and devoted large dog, you should look at another one of the Mastiff or other large canine breeds instead.
The Tibetan Mastiff is one of the most impressive of all Mastiff breeds. These majestic and massive canines are known to be highly independent, protective, and quite reserved.
This makes them suitable pets only for experienced owners with the time, energy, and patience to train stubborn and independent dogs because these large-sized pups have minds of their own and rarely respond to commands or to training.
You can expect a male Tibetan Mastiff to grow to a height of up to 26 inches at the shoulder and to weigh up to 90 to 120 lbs. The females are just about 2 inches shorter in height and about 30 lbs. lighter.
This is one of the most ancient breeds used to guard livestock and properties in Tibet.
These dogs are pretty calm and are very devoted to their families but are fiercely protective of strangers – both human and canine. If left without daily exercise – both physical and mental, the Tibetan Mastiff can become bored and destructive too.
Otherwise, they are gentle with kids and are perfectly devoted and loving pets to owners who know how to deal with their temperament and stubbornness.
Even though they have impressive thick double coats, the Tibetan Mastiffs do not require any special maintenance and grooming, except for weekly brushing and de-shedding when the summer begins.
Turkish Mastiff (Kangal, Anatolian Mastiff)
Also known as the Kangal or the Anatolian Mastiff, the Turkish Mastiff is an exceptional working dog. These large-sized and strong animals are excellent guard dogs and are used to working in pairs. They were and still are used to guard livestock such as sheep and cattle from wild predators. A pair of these dogs can efficiently guard up to 150 animals.
The Anatolian Mastiffs have black masks on their faces and light golden-colored coats. Because they were developed to guard and take care of livestock, they have a gentle nature and are very tender with other animals and children.
Naturally, just like with any huge dog, you should keep an eye on the interactions between the dog and your small children to stay on the safe side.
These large Mastiffs from Turkey are about 30 to 32 inches high and can grow to weigh up to 145 lbs. But even though their size is pretty impressive, they are incredibly fast animals, which can reach a speed of up to 30 mph.
Kangals require a lot of mental and physical training and exercise, so they are suitable for people who live active lifestyles and don’t mind spending much time outdoors with their pets. They also require more grooming than most of the other Mastiff breeds.
When socialized and undergone proper obedience training, the Turkish Mastiff can become a devoted, quiet, and calm pet that can get along with strangers as long as it doesn’t sense a threat to your family.
It is clear that the dogs from the various Mastiff breeds are not suitable for all kinds of owners and families, especially those with little or no experience with dogs of this size and type.
Then again, with the proper attention, care, and training, most of these dogs can become loving, devoted, and gentle pets that will guard you and your family and become best friends with your children.
Please, keep in mind that most of these dogs will grow up to weigh more than an average human and that they were bred as working, hunting, and guard dogs. You will need to train your Mastiff and meet it up with many different people and other dogs from an early age to curb its protective, territorial, and even aggressive instincts.
If you are ready to devote a lot of time and effort and have the patience and confidence to train one of these dogs, you will end up with one of the most loving and faithful pets you can have.
Just make sure that you can teach the dog to be obedient and to be controlled by you, to avoid incidents when it grows up, and you will have an excellent loving companion for years to come.
Mastiff dogs are truly amazing, majestic, and powerful dogs that will impress just about anybody. They can be superb pets when properly taken care of, raised, and trained.
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