These 7 Different Types of Mastiffs Are Mighty, True, and Ready for Full-Body Cuddles
Maybe you're a fan of massive mastiffs because you loved the French mastiff in the Tom Hanks movie Turner & Hooch (or the new Disney+ reboot!) Or you obsessively hit 'replay' dozens of times on TikTok to giggle over the ginormous bear-like Tibetan mastiff climbing into the back of a tiny car. But did you know there are actually six different types of mastiffs? And each one offers ample amounts of mammoth doggie love!
Jo Myers, DVM, of Salida, Colo. is a telehealth practitioner on Vetster. She says mastiffs were bred to be guardians, so they have endearing temperaments, great devotion to their families—and a smidge of a lazy streak. "These are hard-working, giant dogs, but they're also content with a relatively inactive lifestyle," she says. "If you're looking for something heavy to hold down your couch, one of the mastiff breeds could fit the bill."
Mastiffs require a lot of mental stimulation and training, and also thrive with early socialization and exposure to a wide variety of situations. "As the mastiff matures, a window closes on what the dog considers to be their home and family," Myers says. "As a result, they're more likely to be wary and defensive around people and things that fall outside that definition."
While mastiffs are truly large lovebugs, Myers recommends they only join families with older children. "Even when the dog means no harm, it's easy for a toddler to get bumped into, knocked over, jumped on, or receive a blow from a wagging tail," she says.
Majestic and loyal, these incredible canines hail from most parts of the world, with some breed origins dating back 3,000 years. How much do you know about the different types of mastiffs? Let's take a look.
Mastiff (English Mastiff)
Good-natured, intelligent, and eager to please, this mastiff is enormous! In fact, the breed standard only lists a minimum height for him—which might start at 30 inches at the shoulder—and he can weigh as much as 230 pounds. A direct descendant of the ancient Molosser dog breed, he faced gladiators and lions. But if you only want to teach him a few tricks then cozy up by the fire, he's OK with that.
The bullmastiff, also from England, has bulldog and mastiff parents. She might be the reason why we use the term 'man's best friend' to describe dogs. While her sweet disposition allows friendly interactions with most creatures, she genuinely would rather spend time with only you—preferring to be right by and even on you! She's also a top contender for therapy dog training, providing comforting full-body, 120-pound hugs.
High from the Himalayan mountains is the relatively rare and furbulous Tibetan mastiff, an independent deep thinker who, while devoted to his people, is unlikely to fawn over them. But he'll happily walk a fenced yard with an experienced dog owner who understands his 'I've got to be me' attitude, because even though he's often 26 inches tall and 150 pounds, he's rather nimble and quick!
You won't have to groom a Neapolitan mastiff very often, but a bib might be nice, as those large jowls release a lot of drool! Regardless, this Italian beauty captivates dog lovers with her charm, wits, and generally calm nature. If you have a big enough apartment to make a 150-pound dog comfortable, this type of mastiff might be the perfect fit, as she only needs a casual daily stroll and plenty of nap space to be happy.
Sometimes referred to as an Italian mastiff, the cane corso has a proud, regal bearing and is both serious and sensitive. You might recognize this breed if you're a Game of Thrones fan. The average height and weight are less than most members of the mastiff line—usually about 27 inches tall and 110 pounds—but they're a lot more active, and as an intelligent working breed, expect to have a job to do. Cane corsos are better suited to experienced dog owners who are familiar with this willful, confident breed.
Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff)
Does the Dogue de Bordeaux (pronounced dohg duh bore-DOE) get noticed? Oui! Although they only average 100 pounds, they technically have the largest head of all canines—not just mastiffs! Dedicated positive reinforcement training benefits these sweet pups who are super affectionate and laid back with their owners. They're also quite zippy despite their size, so finding the right leash is essential for enjoying the great outdoors together.
Boerboel (South African Mastiff)
In the Afrikaans language, the name boerboel (pronounced boo-r-bull) means 'farmer dog', and he's 200 pounds of courage and loyalty. This mellow furred companion adores his people, but his people should have experience handling big, smart dogs who are surprisingly agile! If he's not minding a herd, a fenced yard for play or even a swim now and again is exercise he'll enjoy.
Mastiff Dog Health and General Care
You have to make each day count when loving these doggos, as the average lifespan among the different types of mastiffs is approximately 7–10 years.
Additionally, these hefty dogs reach skeletal maturity slowly: over approximately two years as opposed to 12 months for most other dog breeds. Consequently, Myers says they're prone to hip dysplasia, joint issues, and osteoporosis, usually as a result of obesity. If you can't feel a mastiff's ribs and backbone, he's overweight. "Being overweight decreases the life expectancy of a mastiff by 2–6 years, so it's important to avoid overfeeding," she says.
Each type of mastiff also has particular health concerns such as kidney disease or heart disease, so always investigate mastiff breeders thoroughly and discuss heritable conditions and other specific wellness issues. Myers adds that it's also important to consult a veterinarian about the costs associated with keeping big dogs healthy. "Giant dogs usually mean you'll have giant veterinary expenses as well," she says. "Even routine care costs, such as heartworm prevention, are usually two or three times higher than what they would be for a conventionally-sized dog."
Daily care is essential with mastiff dog breeds. Deep wrinkle folds can harbor ingrown hairs, cysts, and infections, so they must be cleaned multiple times throughout the day. Saggy eyelids might cause vision problems, too, such as cherry eye. And while some types of mastiffs shed just a little, while others (we're looking at you Tibetan mastiff) release so much fur, it fills the air!
Oh, and there will be so much slobber! All over everything! "After more than 25 years as a veterinarian, I've learned the dead giveaway of a seasoned mastiff owner is the ever-present bandana or tea towel hanging out of a back pocket or from a belt loop. These people never go anywhere without a drool rag!" Myers says.
But in spite of these challenges, she adds that people have long loved these gentle giants and will continue to do so. Their endearing temperaments and unique appearance will see to that.