About the Breed
What role has the Mastiff breed played throughout history?
Heavyset muscular creatures that exude power, Mastiffs are possibly the most imposing dogs in the world. They have an ancient lineage: Carvings of Mastiffs are found on Assyrian friezes dating from the sixth century B.C. The Romans took them to Britain and their name probably derives from the Anglo-Saxon word Masty, meaning powerful. Mastiff is used to describe an entire group of giant dogs.
Mastiffs were the original "dogs of war'. In ancient Babylon, four towns were exempt from taxes in return for training Mastiffs as war dogs for the armr. The dogs were trained to hunt down and capture the soldiers of an opposing army. Their descendants were used centuries later in bloodthirsty bull-and-bear baiting areas.
As they moved from Rome to Britain, their function changed. They became part of the intricate defense system for the British estates. They were known as Tie Dogs as they were tied up during the day and let loose at night to patrol the estate. Here is an interesting bit of trivia. The bull mastiff was developed as an early cross of the Mastiff and the bulldog. Why? The English estates had herds of game, game keepers and poachers. The game keepers needed a faster dog than the giant mastiff to help catch the poachers. That is why the bull mastiff got the nickname "game keepers" dog.
Fast Forward to the 20th Century
The mastiff has adapted over the centuries to suit our more domesticated societybut with one characteristic that is not always viewed favorable in a home environment: the wet mouth.
Fredericka Wagner of Flying W. Farm created the foundation stock of the American Mastiff, infusing Anatolian Mastiffs into the English lines. The result was very similar standard to its Old English Foundation stock with the notable exception of a dryer mouth than is typical for a giant breed. What does that mean? They do drool, when excited and around food, but really no more than most any other breed of dog, and much less than is typical in a giant breed. That is a major plus in the live with quotient with these beautiful giants.
American Mastiffs are excellent watch dogs and demonstrate great loyalty and affection for their owners. They are generally dignified, calm and easygoing pets, but they do need consistent appropriate exercise & diet. Most important to the success of any breed of dog that you add as a member of your family, ongoing training and socialization. They are good with children, but because they are large and sometimes clumsy can accidentally knock over a small child.
Towards its family the American Mastiff is gentle and affectionate. Youg dog will typically follow you from room to room, wait for you outside the bathroom door, and want to sleep at the foot of your bed. Your pet will want to occupy the same four feet you do. The american mastiff is typically good with other pets as long as it has been raised with them. New members to the family need to be introduced cautiously taking into account the dog's size and guarding instincts.
Generally mastiff breeds throughout the centuries was bred to watch and protect. With its history of guardianship, the american mastiff has a protective nature. Your dog will bark to announce that people are either approaching or passing by. Strangers who approach may be met with ferocious woofs. The breed is not an attack dog but it is a watch dog. As with any protective breed, the dog will take its cues from you on how to proceed with a stranger in its territory. Once you release him and allow the stranger permission to enter the yard or house, your dog will probably want to greet these first time visitors it just barked at one moment ago with an enthusiastic dog hello.
Giant breeds of any variety are not generally recommended for first time dog owners. They, like most other breeds, require a firm but gentle hand, consistent & very early work. The first day you bring the puppy home, start training to what will be acceptable behavior for a full grown dog. A 25 lb puppy is cute and jumping might not be a problem now, but at weights in excess of 150 lbs, jumping could definitely be a problem with the full grown version.
The rewards are endless. It is truly a pleasure to enjoy a well trained dog of any breed.