Things You Need To Know
Before You Adopt a Mastiff Puppy

The Mastiff is an excellent family companion, protector and friend. He is however one of the largest breeds of dogs, with the adult male measuring a minimum of 30 inches at the shoulders and weighing anywhere from 175 to 230 pounds. Obviously, this is a breed that requires some space and is not the breed for everyone. As with all breeds, before you consider bringing any dog into your life, there are many things you should know. Once you bring a dog into your home, he becomes a family member and deserves to be treated as such. This is a lifetime commitment and you must be prepared to care for him for his entire life. Here are just a few things that you must consider:

  • While every breed is different and each individual dog is unique, generally a particular breed shares certain traits. The Mastiff is part of the Working Dogs group — He enjoys activities such as tracking, carting, weight pulling, obedience, search and rescue and therapy work. While regular exercise will help keep the Mastiff in good shape, this is not an overly active breed and he can adapt quite well to a placid type of lifestyle.
  • The Mastiff by nature is gentle and calm. However, if not properly socialized, the dog can exhibit aggressive behaviour. There are different types of aggression including dominant aggression which is often exhibited by a dominant dog, fear motivated aggression usually in response to a lack of socialization, or aggression toward other dogs usually due to the lack of time spent with other dogs. All of these issues can usually be resolved if training and socialization is started at a young age. The Mastiff is intelligent, eager to please, very sensitive and can also be quite stubborn. Training should be done in a positive manner at all times. Because of the Mastiff's sensitivity, those who are not thoroughly socialized to new situations, places, and things can easily become shy which in itself can lead to aggression. The Mastiff puppy should attend puppy kindergarten classes and obedience training starting at a young age. The puppy should also be taken to various places to be exposed to as many different situations as possible. — If you cannot devote the time required to ensure that proper training and socialization is completed over an extended period of time, then this may not be the right breed for you.
  • The Mastiff is an excellent home and family guardian. This is not, however, the breed to be used as a commercial guardian or a guard dog otherwise left outdoors to guard. The Mastiff is very devoted and develops a strong bond with his family members which in turn helps develop his protective instincts and he will protect his family and home wholeheartedly in a non-aggressive manner. Under most circumstances, his size and stance alone is enough to ward off an intruder. The Mastiff exhibits his protective instincts in subtle ways rather than through any signs of aggression. Often times with his owner not even being aware that he is being protected.
  • From food to veterinary bills, to medication, to toys, to the size of the crate, to everything in between — Whatever the item, the Mastiff needs more of it than the average size dog. Therefore, the cost of owning a dog the size of a Mastiff is more expensive than owning a smaller breed. If you are not prepared financially for a breed this size, then please consider a smaller dog.
  • The Mastiff, while naturally gentle and calm and known to be excellent with children, is not a recommended breed for the elderly, the disabled or for a family with very young children. He can very easily knock down anyone who is not steady on their feet or otherwise unintentionally cause injury.
  • There's no doubt, the Mastiff is a large dog and, with that size, comes the need for space — If you live in a small apartment or a small house, you may want to reconsider and choose a smaller breed. While he can easily adapt to apartment life, the Mastiff does need to be able to move around and the best environment includes a house with a fenced back yard.
  • The Mastiff is not a dog to be left alone for hours on end. He wants nothing more than to be by your side and made part of the family. The Mastiff can suffer from separation anxiety and, through loneliness and boredom, can develop some very destructive habits, such as chewing or digging. If you're away from home for long periods of time or work long hours and cannot devote the necessary time needed to spend with your dog, then perhaps you should reconsider the idea of getting a dog at this time in your life.
  • If you insist on having a clean home at all times, then the Mastiff is not the breed for you. From dog hair everywhere, to slobber hitting the walls and floors, to having your furniture rearranged, the Mastiff does all of these things and more.

If you are not familiar with the Mastiff breed, research is a must — with the Internet today, there is an abundance of information available at your fingertips. The Mastiff is not a rare breed and there are several good websites devoted to the breed. Keep in mind, however, that every breed has its negative aspects. Whether it is health problems, temperament or behavioural issues, too large, too small, too loud, too quiet. They are all different and you need to be sure that your choice of a Mastiff is the right one, before you make the purchase.

Additional Reading:

  • MCOA FAQ — From the Mastiff Club of America. This is a very thorough "Questions & Answers" document covering many aspects of the Mastiff.

Finding a Breeder:

Once you've made your decision that this is indeed the breed for you, the next step is to find a responsible and reputable Breeder. This is not a task that should be taken lightly and again, research is necessary. The Mastiff is not a rare breed and there are several breeders available. Visit as many as possible and don't be afraid to ask questions. A Breeder should always be more than willing to provide you with all the answers to your questions and then some. The Breeder should be open and honest about health and temperament testing, and provide you with certificates as requested. In return, you should expect to be questioned (or rather, grilled) as well — A responsible Breeder is always very particular about who he/she sells his/her dogs to. If you visit a Breeder and you feel that you have revealed very little about yourself and yet the Breeder is ready and willing to sell you a pup with virtually no questions asked — Walk away! This is not a responsible Breeder. Whether you are looking for a family companion; a show dog; a dog to be trained in therapy or search and rescue; a dog to have fun with in competitions such as obedience, carting, or weight pulling; the most important aspects are the dog's physical and mental health.

A responsible and ethical Breeder's main goal is to produce only the highest quality Mastiffs that will better the gene pool. The responsible Breeder studies the pedigrees for quality, health, longevity, temperament and working ability, sometimes travelling great distances to find the best male to match the female. The responsible Breeder views health testing of their breeding stock as the norm in their breeding program and will provide you with copies of certifications. Most responsible Breeders are involved in some aspect of competition, whether it is the show ring for Conformation titles or competitive sports such as Obedience or Carting. While this may not be something you are interested in pursuing with your new dog, it is still an important point in that it helps prove the Breeders real interest in the betterment of the breed itself. Ask for references from previous puppy buyers as well as information on any clubs that the Breeder may be a member of. Verify these references and check that the Breeder is in good standing with the club(s).

The importance of finding a reputable breeder cannot be stressed enough. It doesn't matter if you simply want a great companion dog and have no intentions of showing, competing or otherwise working with your dog — you still need to find a healthy and mentally sound puppy. The only place to find this is through a responsible breeder.

For more information on finding a responsible breeder, see:

Keeping in mind that you should never, ever buy a puppy from a pet store, and that many responsible breeders do not advertise their puppies in newspapers, the best places to go to find a Breeder include the following:

  • The Mastiff Breeders section of this website — Breeders listed with links to their websites where you can learn more about them, if and when puppies are available, the pedigrees of the parents are usually available, and some sites have indepth breed information available as well. Please note, in order to be listed on the Canada's Guide to Dogs website, certain criteria must be met; however, we do not recommend, endorse or support any one of these Breeder listings.
  • Mastiff Breed Clubs — Several clubs are listed here with links to websites. The clubs are a good place to go to get member Breeder listings. Please note, a Breeder's membership in any club does not guarantee responsible and ethical breeding.

In Canada, in order for any of the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) recognized breeds to be legally sold as "purebred" dogs, they must either already be registered with the CKC or they must be eligible to be registered with the CKC within six months of the date of sale. This is the law. In addition, Breeders in Canada are fully responsible for registering the puppy at their expense. Avoid any Breeder who offers you a puppy at a cheaper price without papers.

Further Information and Suggested Reading:

Health Issues:

Like all breeds, the Mastiff is susceptible to certain inherited/genetic health conditions.
See Mastiff Health for further details.

The Canadian Mastiff Club Code of Ethics states:

"No one will contemplate breeding even one litter of Mastiffs, unless:
  1. The Breeder is prepared to keep and maintain every puppy in a proper environment and provide for all its needs until properly placed.
  2. The Breeder is sure any Mastiff used for breeding is physically sound, of sound temperament, adheres to the Breed Standard, and has been certified clear for the following health tests:
    • Hip and elbow x-rays must receive a passing grade by a recognized orthopedic registry. Cerf testing is highly recommended. Any Mastiff known to be affected with PRA can not be bred. Executive approval would be required in advance for special circumstances.
  3. The CMC encourages Club members to do further testing on their Mastiffs prior to breeding such as Thyroid, Cardiac, Patella, vWD, PRA-DNA and Cystinuria."

The Standards:

The Mastiff Breed Standards are listed on the main breed page. These are the ideals for the breed and describe the Mastiff's appearance and temperament.

Consider an Adult Dog:

Have you considered an adult Mastiff? In many cases, the responsible Breeder has a waiting list for puppies and, if you can't wait for the next litter, consider adopting a homeless Mastiff from a rescue organization or shelter. Many of these dogs end up homeless through no fault of their own and all legitimate rescue organizations ensure that the dogs are spayed/neutered, up to date on vaccinations, and they will work with you to ensure that the dog meets with your requirements — the last thing they want is to see the dog come back to them.

Another consideration is that occasionally Breeders may have young adults available. There are several reasons why a Breeder may have a dog available: (1) A buyer may have returned a dog for some reason — In most cases, responsible Breeders will take their dogs back rather than have them go to a shelter. (2) The Breeder may have decided to keep and show the dog for a while. (3) The Breeder may have initially kept the puppy for breeding purposes but has since changed their mind. There could be a number of reasons why a Breeder could have on hand an adult or young adult dog available.

There are many advantages to adopting a dog that is beyond the puppy stage — housetrained, crate trained, obedience trained, socialized, to name a few.

Please note, the information provided here is intended as a guideline to help you in your search for a physically and mentally sound Mastiff. Before you buy — Do your research, learn about the breed, and be certain that this is the dog for you. Once you are absolutely positive about it, take the time and effort to find a good Breeder. Remember that this dog will become a member of your family and he should never be treated as anything less.