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English Mastiffs: Characteristics of the breed and how to live with an English Mastiff
The English Mastiff, also known as the Old English Mastiff, is one of the giants of the dog world. They are famed for their huge size and you definitely won’t miss one walking down the street! Below we will talk about their physical characteristics, but also their personalities. We will try to give some advice at the end that will allow you to live easier with an English Mastiff in your life. If you are thinking about taking the plunge, then read on!
Physical characteristics of an English Mastiff
As mentioned, the English Mastiff is a massive dog. A male might typically be 76cm or 30 inches tall and weigh 72kg or 160 Pounds. The females are slightly smaller, but still tip the scales around 68kg. In exceptional cases a male English Mastiff can weigh over 200 pounds, making them easily as heavy as many grown men.
In terms of looks, they have large and heavy heads with a square shape. The muzzle of a Mastiff is usually half the length of their skull. Their eyes are medium-sized and usually brown or dark hazel. They are fairly wide apart in their head and will have a black mask around them. Their nose is also dark in colour. They have relatively small ears that are V-shaped. When we say small, we mean in proportion with their heads, so not exactly small. Their ears are also dark in colour. An English Mastiff will have big teeth that meet in a powerful scissor bite. The teeth do not show when the mouth is closed.
Their bodies are thick set and muscular. They have high set tails with wide bases. The tail is not particularly long – it tapers to a point and reaches about halfway down the dog.
There are a variety of shades that an English Mastiff can be, including a golden fawn colour, a lighter fawn, or a more silvery look. Their coat is smooth and short haired, so they are easy to brush and don’t require too much grooming.
Unfortunately, due to the shape of their head and the amount of skin around their muzzles, the English Mastiff is a breed that has a tendency to drool quite a lot, to wheeze when breathing with their mouths closed, and to snore loudly. Though some owners may find this endearing, it may put people off!
Though they are prone to laziness, an English Mastiff will be healthier and happier if they are given regular exercise. They won’t be too bouncy indoors, and only require a small yard, but it is good to take them on decent walks to maintain their fitness levels.
Personality of an English Mastiff
Good: Dominance levels in English Mastiffs do vary, even within a litter of puppies, but the dog is often called a gentle giant.
The English Mastiff makes a born guard dog. They rarely bark, but they have it in their nature to defend their territory and their family. When they catch an intruder they are more likely to hold them safely at bay than go for an all-out attack. They can do this by either trapping them in a closed area or lying on top of the intruder. You don’t need to put effort into training your Mastiff for guarding. Though they may appear very friendly, when they sense danger they have powerful instincts to guard. If the owners are there to tell the dog that everything is ok then they will relax.
English Mastiffs are not especially dependent, rather they are self-confident. They are watchful and patient. Despite their size, they are generally excellent with children. They are usually intelligent and even-tempered.
They will respond well to training so long as it is firm but not harsh. If you are patient, you will see that they love to please their owners. They actually need plenty of human leadership to feel totally relaxed and happy. Socializing them properly is important, and will allow them to get along well with other dogs.
Bad: The English Mastiff must be socialized well to stop them becoming haughty and aloof with strangers. They must also be trained properly to ensure that they are as calm and predictable as their characteristics allow. It can be tough to achieve this if you don’t know what you are doing.
If you are the owner, it is necessary for you to be firm and confident with your treatment of the dog. You must be calm and consistent and show your dog that you are naturally in charge. They must know that you are dominant otherwise this can lead to problems. If you do not achieve this, the result will be the same that you get with most dogs – they will show you their displeasure in any situation by growling and eventually biting. This might be tolerable in a tiny dog, but in a Mastiff it is something that you definitely need to steer clear of!
How to live with an English Mastiff
The objective when you are living with and training your dog is for you to achieve a status that makes you the pack leader. Dogs have a natural instinct to look for order within their pack, and when dogs live with humans the humans become part of their pack. This is important because the entire pack usually cooperates under its single leader. The leader defines the lines that must not be crossed, and sets the rules. The objective for you as an owner is to show your Mastiff that you are the pack leader in all situations.
A good way to show how this works is to think about going for a walk with your dog. In the dog’s mind, the pack leader controls the pace and direction of the walk. This must be you, so you need to make sure that your dog is kept to heel or walks behind, rather than in front.
To get more insights like this it is probably best to read extensively and to spend some time with an experienced trainer.
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