Dog Health & More
The Mastiff is one of the most ancient types of dog breeds. His ancestor, the molossus, was known 5,000 years ago. Then, he was a ferocious war dog, very different from the benevolent behemoth that he is today. He makes a fine companion for anyone who can accommodate his great size and doesn't mind a little drool slung here and there.
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Massive is the word that comes to mind when you first see this dog. Other breeds might match or come close to his height, but the Mastiff outweighs them all. He's considered the largest breed in the world and can weigh 220 pounds or more. A Mastiff named Zorba, listed in the 1989 Guinness Book of Records, weighed in at 323 pounds.
Although the Mastiff's size makes him appear fierce, his temperament is one of good-natured docility. But let danger threaten his family and he will step up to protect them.
Mastiffs, sometimes referred to as Old English Mastiffs, take their name from the Latin word mansuetus, meaning "tame" or "domesticated." The Latin word was eventually transformed via Old French and Middle English into the word mastiff, which was first recorded in Middle English in a work written before 1387.
The breed has come a long way since the days when he fought in battle or was pitted against lions and other wild animals. Kind, dignified, and courageous, he has the same wild puppyhood as any other breed, but matures into a calm and quiet dog who loves being with his people. He loves children, although he can unintentionally bowl them over simply by bumping into them.
Given adequate exercise, he can make himself at home in any environment, from a city condo to a country estate. If you're thinking that the Mastiff is an outdoor dog, think again. He prefers the comforts of home and the presence of his family and will do his best to be a lap dog — or at least a cushy footstool. Left to his own devices, he'll pine away or become destructive, with neither being a desirable result.
Like any dog, the Mastiff has some less attractive qualities. When he shakes that massive head, drool flies everywhere. You'll find, however, that if you let it dry, it's easily wiped away. And you get used to keeping baby wipes or hand towels nearby. To put it politely, he can be flatulent. Often, however, this can be solved by finding a diet that produces a less odorous outcome. He also snores. A snoring Mastiff can make a lot of noise.
Then there's the elephant in the room — his size. If you live in an apartment or condo, will there be room for him when he reaches maturity? Will you be able to get him up and down the stairs if he becomes injured, sick, or old and needs help? His great size also contributes to his lifespan, which can be heartbreakingly short.
All of these are things to consider before acquiring a Mastiff. But if you can live with them, you'll find that his idiosyncrasies are more than outweighed by his enduring love and companionship.