Bullmastiff Temperament & Personality



Bullmastiff Temperament & Personality


What do you need to know about the Bullmastiff dog breed, and what does it mean to own one? First, Bullmastiffs are very loving but large dogs. If 10 pounds of fluff and muscle, large amounts of drool, and the need to squeeze on your couch to sit down sound like the ideal canine companion, you will not mind keeping a Bullmastiff in your home!


However, be mindful of the responsibility that comes with the large size. You need to own a home or living in a space that accommodates a dog that size. Also, make sure you are patient enough to train the dog yourself or hire a trainer. Because of the breed’s large size, you cannot allow a Bullmastiff to take charge. Make sure that it understands early on that you are the boss.



Quick Overview

The Bullmastiff is a breed of domesticated dog with a short muzzle and a rock-hard build. These dogs fall into the "mastiff" type, developed and trained by gamekeepers in the 19th century to guard their estates.


The Bullmastiff is a breed developed via fusion of two other breeds – English Mastiff and Old English Bulldog. Their hair can be red, brindle, or fawn. The Bullmastiff dog has a lifespan of 8-10 years.


The common adjectives used to describe the temperament of Bullmastiffs include:


  • Calm
  • Loving
  • Alert
  • Protective
  • Reliable



About the Bullmastiff

Growing to a height of 27 in (male: 25 – 27, female: 24-26) and weight of 130 lbs (male: 110 – 130 lbs, female: 100 – 120 lbs), Bullmastiffs are affectionate and gentle. However, their laid-back attitude with family members can change upon the intrusion of a stranger. They are suspicious of people they meet for the first time. Thus, these dogs are among the group of dogs that are used to discourage intruders.


Although Bullmastiffs may have animosity towards strangers, they do not bite that often. When they do resort to biting, they charge fast to inflict a powerful bite. Also, Bullmastiffs are hostile towards other dogs of the same sex. If not trained to be friendly, they can inflict severe injury to other dogs.



big dog out in the forest



History of the Bullmastiff

This Bullmastiff breed was nicknamed “The Gamekeeper’s Night Dog,” a fitting description considering its history. In the 19th century, gamekeepers had to stave off poachers who were targeting vast country estates.


Since the penalty for poaching was death, poachers, when cornered, would choose to shoot it out with gamekeepers rather than face the gallows. Gamekeepers bred a new breed that was tractable enough to hold but not to harm a poacher. The new breed was a combination of mastiff (40%) and bulldog (60%).


The Bullmastiff entered dog shows in England, and by 1924, it joined the ranks of the Kennel Club of England. Full recognition of the Bullmastiff breed was granted by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1933. Some similar breeds include the Great Dane, Tibetan Mastiff, Dogo Argentino, and surprisingly Pugs.


Related Dog Breed: Tibetan Mastiff Temperament and Personality



Bullmastiff Dog Breed Information and Personality Traits

The Bullmastiff has a flat face and shortened muzzle. Flat-faced breeds often suffer from breathing issues, but that does not apply to the Bullmastiff. A family caring for a Bullmastiff has a loyal and loving companion with an easy-going nature. Take extra precautions when this dog is around your children. It can easily knock a child over because of its large body. Provide lots of training and socialization. Expose the dog to new people, situations, and places, and do this while the dog is still a puppy.





National Bullmastiff Clubs and Rescue

One rescue service for Bullmastiffs in the US is the American Bullmastiff Association Rescue Service or ABARS.


  • They help Bullmastiffs that live in shelters find a new home.
  • They also rescue Bullmastiffs from owners whose financial situation has changed.



If you want to join a community of Bullmastiff fanciers, one great place to go is the American Bullmastiff Association. The group aims to educate and share expertise among members.



Bullmastiff Care

Rowdiness is a trait of Bullmastiffs, and when young, they do exuberant jumping. Carefully supervise the puppy. While it has boundless energy, its play must be carefully managed to avoid injury to developing joints.


Perform daily checks on the dog’s skin wrinkles. Check for inflammation. If it has skin problems, use a clean, damp cloth to wash the affected area. After washing, dry the skin and coat thoroughly. Moisture left in wrinkles can result in sores and swelling. Consider consulting your vet to avert the worsening of any skin problem.



Bullmastiff Grooming

Brush the dog weekly with a bristle brush. Its short coat is dense and resistant to the elements. Also, Bullmastiffs do not shed much. Infrequent bathes can help preserve its coat’s natural oils and ability to resist the elements.


When cleaning the dog’s ears, make sure to use a vet-approved cleaning solution. Your vet will also advise on the frequency and method of cleaning your dog’s ears. Keep the dog’s nails trimmed to avoid developing joint problems. Failure to keep the nails trimmed will force the dog to shift its weight, leading to muscular or skeletal issues.



Bullmastiff Exercise

Brisk walks are an excellent exercise for Bullmastiffs. They enjoy walking so much but take extra care if the dog is still a puppy. Over-exercising is unhealthy for a puppy, especially in a period of rapid growth.


Bullmastiffs are not the ideal breed if you want a canine as a running partner. This breed is not well-suited for running, as it is known to be brachycephalic, which means:


  • These dogs have abnormalities in their throats and noses that make breathing difficult.
  • If subjected to extended periods of labor, the hearts of these dogs beat dangerously faster.



Bullmastiff Training

Early training is crucial for Bullmastiff owners. These dogs are strong and tend to be independent, so early training is essential.


Here are training tips:


  • Put a collar at the early age of 8 weeks: Place a collar onto the puppy a few times a week.
  • Keep lessons short: Bullmastiffs get easily bored. Do not be repetitive with the commands. Also, use a firm growling “NO” when the dog displays disobedience or misbehavior.
  • Food: Try to use healthy snacks and food to trick a Bullmastiff into obedience.



person training a dog



Bullmastiff Health

Pay attention to your Bullmastiff’s health and grooming. The breed has low-maintenance coats, so a weekly brush is enough for removing dead hairs. Keep the dog in good shape by feeding it two times a day. Food should not be available all the time as your dog is prone to weight gain. In terms of health, the Bullmastiff scores very low. Control carbohydrates in your dog’s diet with meat as the main component.





Bullmastiff Common Diseases

Health problems among Bullmastiffs include cardiac problems and issues related to their intestines, eyes, skin, and bones. Skin problems are generally due to the wrinkly skin that these dogs have. Ligament and bone issues stem from their dense and heavy-boned skeleton.



The Bullmastiff’s skin is prone to irritation and sores. They are also prone to contact and inhalant allergies, including:


  • Mildew
  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Detergents and other chemicals


Atopy is one usual skin problem with the breed, affecting skin folds, belly, ears, and feet. Symptoms develop from age one year old and worsen as years pass by. Common signs of the disease include:


  • Ear infection
  • Rubbing of face
  • Paw licking


Bloat (Gastric Dilation and Volvulus or GDV)

Stomach bloating is a usual health issue with dogs that have deep, narrow chests. That means your Bullmastiff is prone to bloating, and bloating causes your dog’s intestines to twist and fill with gas.
When that happens, the blood supply to the stomach decreases. That can also happen to the dog’s spleen. Restlessness is one of the signs of bloating in dogs.


Cardiac Problems

Bullmastiffs with heart conditions face a life-threatening health problem. Foremost of these diseases is DCM or cardiomyopathy, wherein the heart becomes large, thin, and weak. The condition compromises the ability of the heart to pump blood.


Symptoms include:


  • Acting weak and tired
  • Collapsing
  • Labored breathing
  • Susceptibility to the disease is detectable early in the life of the dog. Vets recommend heart screening as early as one year old.



Two eye problems to watch out for are:


  • Ectropion – This disease causes a defect in the conformation of the eyes. It is characterized by sagging eyelids and too much of the eyes being exposed. The condition irritates the dog’s eyes.
  • Entropion – The eyelids fold inward, causing the eyelashes to rub against the cornea. The collision of these parts is very painful to the dog and produces symptoms that include:
  • Excessive tearing
  • Sagging skin and puffiness around the eyes
  • Redness
  • Decreased vision
  • Sensitivity to light and wind



This disease is a hormonal disease, where the thyroid gland does not secrete enough of its hormone into the body. It is not life-threatening, but mental and physical sluggishness is observable. Bullmastiffs contract this disease by the age of 2-3 years.


Symptoms include:


  • Changes in skin and coat
  • Weight gain (without increasing in appetite)
  • Heat-seeking (the dog feels cold)
  • Exercise intolerance


These symptoms relate to the slow metabolism that hypothyroidism causes.


Kidney and Urinary

For kidney failure, there are two types: acute and chronic. Acute kidney failure results from the consumption of rat poison or ethylene glycol. Leptospirosis is another cause of acute kidney failure. On the other hand, chronic kidney failure is a silent killer and the most common form of kidney disease among dogs.


Kidney failure exhibits the following symptoms:


  • Excessive consumption of water and urination
  • Listlessness
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea


In the case of urinary issues, the most common among dogs is urinary tract infections. The condition is due to the presence of bacteria. Symptoms include straining to urinate, presence of blood in the urine, foul smell, and cloudiness.





Orthopedics/Joint Disease

Growing Bullmastiffs can develop painful inflammation in the long bones of their legs, starting at around six to ten months of age. The pain can shift from leg to leg and result in an abnormal gait. Upon medical check, your vet may require rehabilitation exercises for such a condition.

Avoid allowing your Bullmastiff to grow fast. That might cause the cartilage at their joints not to attach to the bones properly. Weigh your puppy regularly and avoid over-feeding. Also, do not use calcium as a supplement.


Bullmastiff General Appearance

  • Prominent physical features of the Bullmastiff dog include:
  • Broad and wrinkled head
  • Short and square-shaped muzzle
  • Black nose
  • V-shaped ears hanging downward
  • The body is large, powerful, and square-looking



Characteristics of the Bullmastiff

The temperament of the Bullmastiff dog breed is described as:


  • Playful
  • Gentle
  • Friendly
  • Outgoing


These dogs are a working breed with a low and infrequent barking level. They are a high-intelligence working group of dogs with a propensity to be suspicious of strangers.



Bullmastiff Diet and Nutrition

Do not overfeed Bullmastiffs as they can grow too fast, which can hamper their musculoskeletal development. For the same reason, limit carbohydrate-rich food and focus on providing more protein-rich stuff.


Do not feed more than two times a day, and avoid supplements, such as calcium.



dog relaxing on bed



Where to Adopt or Buy a Bullmastiff

Bullmastiffs are a common breed in the US. For adoption information, reach out to the American Bullmastiff Association Rescue Service or the AKC. Depending on where you look there are many classified dog breeds. Out of the 189 breeds listed by the AKC, the Bullmastiff ranks 48th (1 being the most popular).





More About Bullmastiffs

Vaccinating your dog is your responsibility as a pet owner. For a Bullmastiff puppy, vaccination may be advised at about the sixth week and another at about the 12th week. Another schedule may be required for the 16th week. After that, your vet may schedule subsequent annual vaccination.


As additional information, you may also need to know that the Bullmastiff dog breed has made it to the list of banned canines among home insurance providers. Twenty-four percent of home insurance provider listings include the Bullmastiff breed as a reason for these companies to deny coverage if the homeowner owns the breed.

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