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WHAT IS THE BULLMASTIFF?
The Bullmastiff has the following physical characteristics:
• Short coated
• Strong, compact body
• Broad mouth with short muzzle
• Physically very strong
Bullmastiffs belong to the large breed group, weighing from 35 to 65 kg.
They are 55 - 60cm high at the shoulder.
Bullmastiffs come in the following colours:
• Red (reddish brown)
• Fawn (grey or cream)
• Brindle (black mixed with the red or fawn)
The muzzle (nose) is always black.
The Bullmastiff is sometimes confused with other broad-mouthed breeds.
•The Boerboel, an indigenous South African breed, has a longer muzzle with less facial wrinkles, and a docked tail. The Bullmastiff always has a long tail.
•The Mastiff is a larger, heavier dog with a larger head and more wrinkles above the eyes. It is of British origin.
•The Boxer, which originated in Germany, is slightly smaller than the Bullmastiff, with a more athletic build, a smaller head and a docked tail. Boxers often also have white markings on their faces, chests and legs. The only white allowed in a Bullmastiff is a small white patch on the chest.
Origin of the Bullmastiff
The Bullmastiff is of British origin and was used to guard gamekeepers' properties against poachers. They would pounce on a poacher, holding him down on the ground until the gamekeeper arrived. These dogs had to be fearless and strong in order to be able to hold down an adult human being. However, they were not expected to attack and kill, although they had the physical ability to do so, as their ancestors had been used in bear and bull baiting.
The modern Bullmastiff is still a natural guard dog and is now utilised as a loyal family companion and protector.
Temperament is a term used to describe the way an animal behaves in different circumstances. The following behavioral tendencies characterize the temperament of the Bullmastiff:
• High territorial instinct
• Good guarding ability
• Moderately active and excitable
• Moderate to high tendency of aggression to strange dogs
• Barking not excessive
These are general breed characteristics but it must be remembered that temperament is heavily influenced by an animal's environment. The following factors will determine a dog's temperament:
•Adequate socialisation - providing lots of positive exposure to different people and environmental stimuli.
•Proper training, starting at a young age.
•The right home - not every home is suitable for a Bullmastiff.
•Recognising and treating a behavioral problem early on.
•Genetic predisposition is one of many factors determining temperament.
The right home for a Bullmastiff
If you have the following, you will have a good chance of being a successful Bullmastiff Owner
• Time: A dog is a social animal and needs ample human interaction, especially in the first 6 months, which are the formative months of a dog. Socialization and training classes are essential and require time. Quality time spent with your dog is extremely valuable for the long-term development of a stable temperament.
•Responsibility: A puppy is a long-term commitment and investment. The life span of a Bullmastiff is from 10 to 15 yrs. The owner has to accept lifelong responsibility for the well being of a new dog.
•Money: A good Bullmastiff is not cheap. Apart from the buying price, the feeding and veterinary costs of a large breed dog are considerable and need to be planned carefully.
•Physical and mental strength: A Bullmastiff is a strong and heavy dog, and can easily attempt to dominate its owner. A frail or non-assertive person will not be able to handle one.
•A Well-fenced in property: Due to the highly developed territorial instinct of the Bullmastiff, it is essential to have a well-secured property.
•Background knowledge: As a potential dog owner you should acquaint yourself with the breed by talking to and visiting breeders or owners of bullmastiffs, and by reading on general dog management and behavior, to arm your self with the knowledge which will enable you to raise a Bullmastiff successfully.
The Bullmastiff Club of Southern Africa
If you are interested in attending and participating in dog shows, and if you consider breeding with your dog, or would like to learn more about the breed, you will benefit from being a member of the Bullmastiff Club of Southern Africa. The club was founded in 1954 and became affiliated with the Kennel Union of South Africa in 1955.
As a member, you will receive 3 SA Bullmastiff News magazines keeping you informed of the activities of the Club, giving you the opportunity to become involved in fun days, championship shows and other interesting events. You will also be able to meet other Bullmastiff people and learn more about the breed while making more friends.
Please contact the club if you are interested in joining or if you need more information about Bullmastiffs at
or complete the 2012 Membership Application
and return the completed form to the Secretary
Produced by the Bullmastiff Club of Southern Africa
May 2004, Copyright reserved