The Bullmastiff: Complete Breed Information Guide

Close up of face of red Bullmastiff male with tongue out

The Bullmastiff is a robust and powerful dog breed known for its impressive strength and protective instincts. If you’re considering adding a furry friend to your family and you have space and time for a large breed, the Bullmastiff puppy might just be the perfect choice. Originally bred to guard estates in the 19th century, these dogs are still valued for their loyalty and gentle temperament when it comes to their human companions. Despite their large size, Bullmastiffs can be wonderfully kind and patient with kids, making them excellent family pets.

When you’re looking to learn more about Bullmastiffs, it’s beneficial to turn to those who know them best. Nicole Riesgo, a dedicated Bullmastiff fancier with a wealth of experience, has offered insights for this article. She works at a Veterinary Eye Clinic, giving her a unique perspective on the health and care of these dogs. Nicole’s expertise will guide us through understanding what it takes to raise a healthy and happy Bullmastiff, from recognizing their distinct needs to providing the right environment for these gentle giants.

Choosing a Bullmastiff means you’re bringing a lovable, yet protective member into your home. Puppy years are crucial in every dog’s life, and for a Bullmastiff, this time is used to build a strong bond with you, establish training routines, and set the foundation for a well-mannered adult. These puppies grow rapidly, but with proper care, they mature into steadfast and affectionate companions. Stay tuned as we explore the world of Bullmastiffs together, from the characteristics that define them to tips for keeping your puppy healthy and active.

So, What Is A Bullmastiff? Breed Overview

The Bullmastiff is a powerful, large-sized breed known for its physical strength, protective instincts, and gentle temperament. Originally bred in England for guarding estates from poachers, it combines the agility of the Bulldog with the size and strength of the Mastiff, making it a formidable yet affectionate family guardian.

As a proud dog mom of three Bullmastiffs, I can tell you these dogs are absolute love sponges. They are deeply in tune with their owners, and they’re far more likely to be velcro dogs and easy companions, than they are to be aggressive watchdogs.

While the Bullmastiff does still have a defense drive, they’re not working dogs. They are protective, but they are also sensitive and gentle dogs that work better as companions and family members than guard dogs. 

They are generally good with kids and other animals if they are properly socialized, but they can have some same sex aggression with other dogs. So, if you have a male Bullmastiff, it’s best not to get another big male dog at the same time. 

While Bullmastiffs benefit from a long daily walk or hike to keep fit (they do tend to chew on things when bored), their next favorite activity is snoozing on your bed or couch. 

As a bigger dog, they have helped create several other Bulldog-type breeds, such as the Mammoth Bulldog and the Leavitt Bulldog, and some designer breeds like the Saint Bermastiff.

Weight100-130 pounds120-230 pounds
GuardingNatural protectorGentle giant
Exercise NeedsModerateModerate
LifespanSlightly longerSlightly shorter

If you’re seeking a devoted guard dog who’s also a great family pet, the Bullmastiff could be your match. They may share a heritage with the Mastiff, but they’re truly a unique breed with their own merits.

Bullmastiff History and Origins

Bullmastiff female dog standing

What Breeds Make a Bullmastiff Dog?

Ancestral Breeds

The Bullmastiff’s legacy traces back to England around 1860, created from a need for a vigilant yet controlled guardian. This breed originated from a mix of 40% Bulldog and 60% Mastiff, to combine the speed and tenacity of the Bulldog with the size and strength of the Mastiff. Your Bullmastiff’s ancestors were engineered to be fast and daring yet not overtly aggressive, aiming to catch and restrain rather than harm.

Historical Significance

Initially, this breed served as the gamekeeper’s right hand to protect against poachers on grand estates. Poaching posed a substantial risk, with high consequences, thus necessitating a dog that could quietly track and immobilize a trespasser. Your Bullmastiff is the result of those selective breeding efforts, bringing forth a canine capable of a stealthy approach and a decisive, non-lethal hold.

The Breed Today

Transitioning from their historical role, modern Bullmastiffs now find their place as loyal companions within the family home. Exhibiting a calm and steadfast demeanor when properly trained, they continue to embody the protective spirit instilled by their forebears.

Kennel Club Recognition

Taking note of the Bullmastiff’s role and refined characteristics, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed in October 1933. Your Bullmastiff’s recognition is a testament to its established presence and valued attributes as a distinguished breed.

Throughout these developments, the Bullmastiff honed its craft of protection without malice, carving a unique spot in canine history. Your understanding of Bullmastiffs’ past and their journey from estate guardians to beloved family pets enhances your appreciation for this gentle, yet formidable breed.

Physical Characteristics

Close up fawn Bulldog female

The Bullmastiff is a perfect blend of power and agility. Surprisingly nimble for its size, it carries a dense coat in shades of red, fawn, or brindle.

Size and Build

Height25 to 27 inches (63.5 to 68.6 cm)24 to 26 inches (61 to 66 cm)
Weight110 to 130 pounds (50 to 59 kg)100 to 120 pounds (45 to 54 kg)

You’ll notice Bullmastiffs have a solid and muscular build, with males standing taller and slightly heavier than females. Their robust frame gives them an imposing presence, yet they are known to move with surprising grace and ease.


A Bullmastiff’s head reflects its keen intelligence and alertness. It has a large skull with well-developed cheeks and a broad and deep muzzle. Eyes are dark and medium-sized, and its ears V-shaped, adding to its attentive expression. The overall facial appearance is one of alert earnestness, with a preference for a dark muzzle and black nose broad nostrils.

Coat and Colors


It’s short and dense, offering protection from various weather conditions. Expect a touch-it-and-feel-it type of coat that begs for petting yet stands up to the great outdoors.


Known for their attractive coats in red, fawn, and brindle, Bullmastiffs carry these colors richly, often accented with darker muzzles. While a small white spot on the chest may occasionally appear, it is not typically desired.

When you’re looking to understand more on the standards of the Bullmastiff breed, an examination of the official standards can prove to be insightful. Here, you can delve into the specifics that make this breed truly unique.

Temperament and Personality

When you bring a Bullmastiff into your home, you’re getting a dog with a complex personality and an array of behaviors influenced by its temperament. Let’s explore their general disposition, how they fare with family and other pets, and their natural guarding instincts.

General Disposition

The Bullmastiff is a blend of strength, endurance, and courage. They are known for being calm and quiet by nature, which complements their imposing size. Despite their powerful build, Bullmastiffs typically have a docile and affectionate temperament when they’re with their family, making them reliable companions. As with any dog, individual personalities may vary, but you can expect a protective yet gentle giant who values peaceful coexistence.

Suitability With Children & Other Animals

If you’re considering a Bullmastiff for a household with children or other animals, rest assured they can be a loving addition. With proper socialization, they often show friendly behavior towards kids, displaying a playful side with a gentle approach to younger family members. When it comes to other pets, the Bullmastiff’s friendly nature typically prevails, but they should be introduced slowly and with supervision due to their dominant presence.

Guarding Instinct

The Bullmastiff has roots as a guard dog, a trait that’s alive and well in the breed today. Your Bullmastiff will likely have a strong protective instinct, especially around strangers. This aspect of their personality means they are always protective of their household, making them excellent for families seeking a loyal guardian. However, this instinct should be managed with firm, consistent training to ensure it doesn’t lead to aggression.

Health and Lifespan

When you own a Bullmastiff, it’s important to understand that your dog’s health and longevity could be influenced by several factors, including genetic health conditions. As a breed, Bullmastiffs typically have a lifespan of around 8 to 10 years.

General Disposition

Bullmastiffs are known for their strength and loyalty. However, they are also prone to certain hereditary health issues that can influence their quality of life. Being aware of these potential problems will help you to provide the best care for your canine companion.

Common Health Problems

Some of the health problems that Bullmastiffs may face include hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, both of which can lead to mobility issues. Cancer, including lymphoma, is also a significant health risk in the breed. Bullmastiffs can be prone to Cerebellar degeneration, causing movement and coordination difficulties, and entropion, a condition affecting the eyelids. Additionally, progressive retinal atrophy, which leads to blindness, can occur, as can Urolithiasis – cystine, a type of stone formation in the bladder or urinary tract.

Other conditions such as pyometra, a potentially life-threatening infection of the uterus, and vaginal hyperplasia/vaginal prolapse in females may also be observed. Bloat, a dangerous condition where the stomach dilates and twists, is another concern in larger dogs like the Bullmastiff.

Preventive Measures and Care

  • Regular vet check-ups;
  • Screening for common genetic issues;
  • A balanced diet and regular exercise to prevent obesity; and
  • Being attentive to the signs of bloat and other urgent health issues.

As you care for your Bullmastiff, it’s essential to monitor their health closely and consult your vet if you have any concerns. Early detection and treatment can help manage some conditions, ensuring your Bullmastiff lives a full, happy life.

Exercise and Housing Needs

Brindle Bullmastiff female lying down

How much do you need to exercise a Bullmastiff?

Daily Exercise Requirements

You’ll find your Bullmastiff is a breed with moderate energy needs. Aim to provide them with at least 30 to 40 minutes of exercise per day. This can include walks, play sessions, or training activities. Breaking this up into two outings can help manage their energy levels and maintain their muscular physique.

Remember, always watch out for signs of fatigue, especially in hot weather, as they can overheat due to their short muzzles.

Space Requirements

Your Bullmastiff doesn’t necessarily require a large home, but they do appreciate space — a yard where they can stretch their legs and explore is ideal. If you’re living in an apartment, regular walks are crucial. Ensure they have enough room indoors to move around comfortably without feeling cramped.

Suitable Living Conditions

Creating a comfortable living environment for your Bullmastiff includes providing a cool, shaded area during warmer months and a warm spot during the cold. Their short coat doesn’t offer much protection against extreme temperatures. When it gets particularly chilly, consider a dog coat for extra warmth on walks.

Inside, they’ll need a soft bed to cushion their joints. Since they can be prone to certain joint issues, such as elbow luxation, comfort is key to prevent any additional stress on their bodies. Regular, gentle range-of-motion exercises can be beneficial for their joint health. Keep their living area free of obstacles to avoid injury, and ensure they have stress-free access to their favorite resting spots.

Training and Socialization


When you train your Bullmastiff, remember that intelligence and a strong-willed nature are key traits of the breed. They can be quite obedient, but it’s essential you start training early. Positive reinforcement techniques work best. Given their energy level, you should keep sessions short and engaging to maintain their interest.

Socialization Needs

Your Bullmastiff needs to be well-socialized. Introduce them to different people, animals, and situations starting from a young age. This will help your dog to become a well-rounded and social pet, decreasing the chances of them being overly territorial or aggressive.

Behavioral Training Tips

  • Exercise: Regular activity is vital. Aim for at least 30 to 45 minutes per day to help manage their energy levels.
  • Playfulness: Use playful training to tap into their natural playfulness. It makes learning more enjoyable for both of you.
  • Consistency: Always be consistent with commands and rules. Bullmastiffs are smart enough to exploit any lapses in your guidance.
  • Patience: They might test your boundaries, so patience is crucial.

Remember, each Bullmastiff has its own personality. Your approach should account for their individuality, ensuring your pet gets the exercise, socialization, and structured training they need.

Diet and Nutrition

So, what is the best diet for a Bullmastiff?

Dietary Needs

Your Bullmastiff has specific dietary needs to maintain its health and vitality. A well-balanced diet should include proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals. Protein is crucial for muscle development, particularly for such a large and muscular breed. Look for foods with high-quality protein sources like chicken, beef, or fish. Fats are also important for energy, and they help to keep your dog’s coat shiny. Carbohydrates provide fiber which aids in digestion. Remember to pick a dog food that’s formulated for large breeds to ensure it meets the nutrient requirements of your Bullmastiff.

Feeding Schedule

Feeding your Bullmastiff twice a day — once in the morning and once in the evening — is generally recommended. This helps prevent bloating, which can be a serious condition for large dogs. Always measure your dog’s food portions to maintain an ideal weight and prevent obesity, which Bullmastiffs are prone to. Keep fresh water available at all times.

Special Dietary Considerations

Some Bullmastiffs may have specific dietary needs due to health issues. For example, dogs with a condition like chylothorax may require a special low fat diet with medium-chain triglycerides. Always consult your veterinarian for advice if your Bullmastiff has health conditions affecting its diet. Additionally, when Bullmastiff females are pregnant, they need a well-balanced and nutritious diet to support their recovery post-whelping. Keep an eye on your dog’s nutrition and adjust their diet as recommended by your vet.

Grooming Needs

Bullmastiffs are large, powerful dogs with a distinct physical appearance that requires regular grooming to maintain their health and appearance. Proper grooming keeps them comfortable and helps prevent problems such as infections and skin issues.

Grooming Frequency


You’ll want to brush your Bullmastiff at least once a week to minimize shedding and keep their coat healthy. During shedding seasons, usually in spring and fall, you might find brushing several times a week beneficial.


Bathe your dog every 2-3 months or as needed. If your Bullmastiff gets dirty or starts to smell, it’s time for a bath. Too much bathing can strip the coat of natural oils, so avoid overdoing it.

Nail Clipping

Check the nails monthly and trim them as necessary to prevent overgrowth, splitting, or cracking.

Dental Care

Brush your dog’s teeth regularly, aiming for a couple of times a week at least, to prevent dental diseases.

Grooming Tools

  • Brush: A rubber grooming brush or a bristle brush is effective for their short coat.
  • Nail Clippers: Use specially designed dog nail clippers or a grinder.
  • Shampoo: Opt for a gentle dog shampoo to avoid irritating their skin.
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste: Use canine-formulated toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Grooming Tips

  • Ears and Eyes: Clean your dog’s ears to avoid wax and debris build-up which can lead to infections. Wipe their eyes gently to remove any discharge or crust.
  • Shedding: Although Bullmastiffs have short hair, they can shed quite a bit. Regular brushing will help manage this.
  • Comfort: Make grooming a positive experience with treats and praise, ensuring that your Bullmastiff remains calm and cooperative.

Remember, consistent grooming is not just for your dog’s good looks, it’s crucial for their overall health.

Cost of Ownership

Initial Cost (Bullmastiff Puppy Price)

When you decide to bring a Bullmastiff puppy into your home, be prepared for the initial purchase price. On average, these puppies can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 from reputable breeders. However, prices can vary depending on the puppy’s lineage and the breeder’s reputation.

Ongoing Costs

Once you’ve got your Bullmastiff, the expenses don’t stop there. Your furry friend will need regular veterinary care, high-quality dog food, and other essentials. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect:

  • Veterinary Visits: Routine check-ups and vaccinations are crucial. Unexpected health issues, such as pyometra, can lead to higher costs. Keeping your pet healthy can save on costs long-term.
  • Food: Bullmastiffs are large dogs, so they eat quite a bit. Quality dog food can cost around $50 to $80 per month.
  • Supplies: Initial supplies including a bed, collar, leash, and toys can add up to $200 or more.
  • Grooming: While Bullmastiffs are not high-maintenance in the grooming department, occasional grooming sessions or supplies will add to your expenses.
  • Insurance: Consider getting pet insurance to help cover some veterinary costs.

A Bullmastiff can live around 8 to 10 years. Think of owning one as a long-term investment in both money and love.

Adoption and Buying Tips

So where can you get a Bullmastiff?

Where to Adopt/Buy

When considering adding a Bullmastiff to your family, you might want to explore rescue organizations or shelters as a compassionate choice. By adopting, you give a pet a chance at a new life. You can find Bullmastiffs in need of a home at dedicated rescue groups or larger shelters.

What to Look for in a Breeder

If you’re purchasing from a breeder, ensure they adhere to ethical breeding practices. A reputable breeder will prioritize the health and socialization of the puppies. Ask to meet the parent dogs and observe their living conditions. Look for indications that the dogs are well-cared for and have ample space.

Choosing the Right Puppy/Dog

Choose a puppy or dog that has been properly socialized within a household setting. Physical attributes are important, but so is an even temperament, especially since Bullmastiffs are large, heavy pets which require secure handling. Confirm that the dog feels comfortable around other animals and adapts well to a family environment.

  • Supervision: Never leave a Bullmastiff alone for extended periods, as they need regular interaction for their wellbeing.
  • Playfulness: Look for signs of gentle playfulness in a puppy — a good match for families.
  • Property: Ensure your property is suited to a large dog, with enough space for them to move and a secure, fenced yard.

Remember, when you bring a Bullmastiff into your life, you become responsible for their care and happiness for the entirety of their life.

Breed-Specific Considerations

When searching for a Bullmastiff through breeders or the American Kennel Club (AKC), it’s essential to understand the breed-specific considerations to ensure a good fit for both you and the dog.

Climate Suitability

Bullmastiffs are adaptable, but they prefer moderate climates. Their short coat doesn’t provide much insulation in cold weather, and their large size makes them susceptible to overheating in hot temperatures. You’ll need to provide a comfortable environment, possibly with air conditioning during hot spells and warm bedding during colder months.

Compatibility with Lifestyle

These dogs are known for their loyalty and are suited for families. They require space to move around and prefer homes with yards. Due to their size and strength, they may not be the best match for smaller living quarters like apartments. Your lifestyle should also accommodate time for daily exercise to maintain their physical health.

Special Needs

Potential health issues are a vital consideration, and research suggests that specific genomic signatures can lead to inherited health problems. Therefore, when adopting or acquiring a Bullmastiff, being aware of their health background is important. The American Bullmastiff Association might provide resources for breed-specific health concerns.

Breed-Specific Legislation

Be aware that some areas have breed-specific legislation which may include restrictions or requirements for owning a Bullmastiff. You should check local laws to ensure you’re in compliance and whether such legislation affects you.

In conclusion, choosing a Bullmastiff should be a well-researched decision, taking into account your living conditions, lifestyle, and the ability to cater to the breed’s needs.

50 Best Names For A Bullmastiff Puppy

When naming your Bullmastiff puppy, you want a name that reflects their strong and loyal nature. Below is a list of names that suit the dependable and protective character of this breed. Remember, the best name for your puppy is one that resonates with you and fits their unique personality.

Male NamesFemale Names
1. Titan1. Bella
2. Duke2. Luna
3. Max3. Daisy
4. Brutus4. Molly
5. Thor5. Sadie
6. Rocky6. Rosie
7. Bear7. Ruby
8. Gus8. Zoe
9. Leo9. Stella
10. Samson10. Maggie
11. Oscar11. Chloe
12. Bentley12. Abby
13. Ace13. Gracie
14. Apollo14. Sophie
15. Tank15. Lola
16. Boomer16. Honey
17. Tyson17. Pepper
18. Moose18. Bailey
19. George19. Sasha
20. Marley20. Lexi
21. Bruce21. Izzy
22. Rex22. Ellie
23. Scout23. Mia
24. Diesel24. Emma
25. Murphy25. Gigi

You’ll notice some names are inspired by their size like “Titan” and “Tank”, while others, like “Bella” and “Luna”, might reflect a softer side. “Rocky” and “Rosie” offer a nod to the breed’s stout and sturdy temperament. Whatever name you choose, make sure it’s one you’re happy calling out for years to come!

Additional Resources

If you’re keen on learning more about Bullmastiffs, you’ll find a variety of resources to quench your curiosity. The following is a curated list designed to guide your research and expand your knowledge on these majestic dogs.

Literature on Genetic Diversity

For insights into the genomic diversity within Bullmastiffs, you can read a comprehensive study available at PLOS ONE.

Genomic Signatures and Health

To understand how genomic analysis can inform us about Bullmastiff health and disease risks like lymphoma, check out the thorough research on the topic at MDPI.

Disease-Specific Studies

To dig into specific conditions affecting Bullmastiffs, such as glomerulonephropathy, which impacts kidneys, you might want to take a look at the work published by SAGE Journals.

  • Online Databases and Biobanks:
    You might also find the Bullmastiff biobank to be valuable in your research on genetic diversity, mentioned in an article by MDPI Animals.

Learning from Pedigrees

Pedigrees can offer you a wealth of information on the lineage and breeding history of Bullmastiffs. To dive into this area, there’s a study that covers pedigrees dating from 1980 to 2013, detailed by researchers at the PLOS ONE Journal.

Remember, always cross-reference your findings with reputable sources to ensure accuracy. Your understanding of Bullmastiff health, genetics, and breed-specific traits will be much richer for doing so. Happy learning!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In this section, you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions about Bullmastiffs, helping you understand this breed better.

What is the typical temperament of a Bullmastiff?

Bullmastiffs are known for their loyal and affectionate nature. They are typically gentle and calm, but also have a brave and protective temperament when needed.

How much does it usually cost to purchase a Bullmastiff puppy?

The cost of a Bullmastiff puppy can vary, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 from a reputable breeder. Prices might be higher for puppies with top lineage.

How long do Bullmastiffs typically live?

Bullmastiffs have a life expectancy of around 8 to 12 years. Proper care and a healthy environment can contribute to their longevity.

What is the average weight for a Bullmastiff?

Adult Bullmastiffs typically weigh between 100 to 130 pounds, with males usually being heavier than females.

What colors can Bullmastiffs come in?

Bullmastiffs can come in several colors including fawn, red, and brindle. All colors should have a distinctive black mask on their face.

Are Bullmastiffs considered good family dogs?

Yes, Bullmastiffs are considered good family dogs as they are known to be affectionate with their families and gentle with children. However, due to their size and strength, supervision with younger children is recommended.

Final Thoughts

When you consider bringing a Bullmastiff into your life, you’re welcoming a devoted companion. These gentle giants are known for their protective nature and loyalty to their families. They’re big dogs with even bigger hearts, and they often form an unbreakable bond with their owners.


Remember, Bullmastiffs demand responsible ownership. They require regular exercise, but due to their size, they need to be managed carefully to avoid joint problems. Your Bullmastiff’s diet should be nutritious to maintain their health and energy levels.


Start training early and be consistent. Your Bullmastiff will thrive on positive reinforcement and clear boundaries. Socialization is also key in developing a well-rounded dog, especially with a breed that can be protective.


Be aware of potential health issues, such as familial glomerulonephropathy, which can affect Bullmastiffs. Regular check-ups with your vet are important to catch any issues early.

  • Companionship: Find comfort in knowing that your Bullmastiff will be a loving member of your family for years to come.
  • Protection: Feel secure with a breed known for its natural instinct to guard.
  • Joy: Expect heartwarming moments and a lot of drooly smiles.

Your experience with a Bullmastiff can be incredibly rewarding, provided you’re ready for the responsibility that comes with these noble dogs.

Tamsin de la Harpe

Tamsin de la Harpe, with a lively spirit and 15 years of experience in dog training and behavior, brings a unique flair to the team. Based in South Africa, she is deeply engaged in rehabilitating dogs, focusing on their mental and nutritional health. Tamsin's approach to dog behavior is hands-on and heartfelt, shaped by her life with her own dogs and horses. Her journey in canine behavior is ongoing, as she continues advanced studies in this field.

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