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What Is a Bullmastiff?

19th-century oil on canvas of bullmastiffs by English painter Wright Barker.

I
n the early 19th century, English gamekeepers created this noble breed by crossing the Old English bulldog with the English mastiff to obtain fleet-footed, powerful dogs — known as night dogs — for protection against poachers. These dogs combine tremendous physical strength and guarding instinct with an affectionate disposition and devotion to their master.

Fleetness of foot and the instinct to pursue have remained characteristics of the bullmastiff. Because they are so powerful, it is essential that they be trained early not to jump on people. They are most intelligent and easily obedience trained; however, a bullmastiff has a definite mind of its own. Its independence of spirit makes your relationship with it more of a working partnership than the conventional dog/master association that many expect.

A bullmastiff will give you and your family boundless love and devotion, but will retain of portion of itself as a free spirit, capable of making its own decisions and acting on them. Your children will be its charges, to protect and love—but they must respect the dog and not be allowed to torment or tease it.

The bullmastiff asks only to be made as much a part of the family as possible. It will reward such treatment with a devotion and genuine friendship that is not exceeded in any other breed.