The Mastiff is a massive dog, descended from the Molossers brought to Britain in the 6th Century BC by Phoenician traders; when the Romans invaded they were so impressed by them that they sent dogs back to Rome to fight in the arenas, and indeed in Elizabethan times and onward the Mastiff was used in the UK for bull and bear baiting, until it was outlawed in 1835. It is said that the French used them as war dogs and Henry VIII sent them as gifts to French and Spanish monarchs.
They are referred to in the Forest Laws of King Canute which instructed that any Mastiffs living near the Royal Forests should be lamed by having three toes removed from a front foot. At this time they would have been used mainly as guards against bears and wolves.
Following the eradication of bears and wolves in the United Kingdom they began to become redundant, a large dog to feed they would not have been kept without good reason, though they remained a favourite in the great houses of the aristocracy. By the end of the 19th Century they had found a place as a show breed and the Old English Mastiff Club was formed in 1883.
Both World Wars took their toll of the breed and in 1946 there was only one bitch of breeding age left in the UK, Sally of Coldblow, who was bred to Templecombe Taurus and it was this mating that preserved the old bloodlines. Since then there has been enormous work done to re-establish the breed.
He is a large dog, though the Breed Standard does not specify any height, but requires size combined with quality. Calm and affectionate in temperament he is not naturally aggressive or an over-keen guard. However, he is a big dog who needs plenty of space and very careful rearing if he is to fulfill his potential.
Click here to read the Mastiff Breed Standard.
Mastiff Breed Clubs
Mastiff Rescue and Rehoming
Thelma Green Dyfed 01267 253515
Keith & Maureen Taylor Worcs 01299 250530
Old English Mastiff Club Rescue
Mrs Irene Boner (Co-ordinator) 07759 266407
If you are looking for a puppy contact the Breed Clubs and the Breeders listed and visit the puppyfinder website where there is a great deal of information on hereditary conditions. If you are a Breeder and wish to advertise your puppies puppyfinder is an excellent showcase.