Dogs 101: English Mastiff Biggest Dog Breed Fun Facts- Animal Facts
Massive is the word that comes to mind when you first see this dog. Standing up to 30 inches at the shoulder and weighing up to a whopping 250 pounds, the English Mastiff is one of the largest and heaviest dogs in the world.
But despite his enormous proportions, the mastiff is famous for his gentle and loving nature. A loyal family guard and playful companion, the English Mastiff is a friendly beast. Let’s see what facts we can dig up about him.
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10. The Mastiff descends from one of the most ancient types of dogs, the molosser, which likely originated in the mountains of Asia, in Tibet or northern India.
Depictions of Mastiff-type dogs appear in human artifacts throughout the ages, in Egyptian, Babylonian and classical Greek civilizations. Archaeologists excavating the palace of the Babylonian ruler Ashurbanipal uncovered artifacts dating to the seventh century BCE — more than 2,500 years ago — of a Mastiff-type dog fighting lions.
9. In England, where the modern Mastiff was developed, the huge dogs guarded estates, patrolling the grounds at night. Lyme Hall was famous for its strain of Mastiffs, which were bred from the 15th century through the early 20th century, and played a role in saving the breed from extinction.
8. He is THE Mastiff. The name “mastiff” can be confusing because there are several dog breeds with that word in their names, the Neapolitan Mastiff and the Tibetan mastiff for example. Officially, these breeds are known as “mastiff-type dogs.”
When kennel clubs use the name “mastiff” without qualification, it’s usually safe to assume they’re referring to the breed also called the English Mastiff or the Old English Mastiff.
7. Of the 102 passengers aboard the Mayflower, the iconic ship that famously brought the Pilgrims to America, we know of one who brought along his two dogs. That man was 25-year-old John Goodman. The names of Goodman’s dogs are lost to time, but they were an English Mastiff and an English Springer spaniel. You didn’t think the Puritans sailed all the way to the New World without man’s best friend in tow, did you?
Goodman’s dogs became essential members of the settlement, providing protection and accompanying their owner on hunts.
6. The heavy-boned English Mastiff gives an impression of grandeur and dignity. The breed standard doesn’t provide a maximum height but gives a minimum height at the top of the shoulder of 30 inches for males and 27.5 inches for females. In fact, these massive dogs can range up to 36 inches tall. There is no weight given in the standard, and they should weigh anywhere from 160-230 pound for males and 120-170 pounds for females.
Zorba, the Mastiff, once held the record for the world’s largest dog. He set the record in November 1989, when he was eight years old. He was 37 inches high at the shoulder, 8 feet 3 inches long from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail, and he weighed a staggering 343 pounds. Now that’s a lot of dog.
5. The size of a breed is a difficult thing to hash out sometimes because there are so many different ways you can look at a dog’s bigness. For example, the Great Dane and the Irish Wolfhound are noticeably big dogs, and they tend to be taller than the English Mastiff.
However, when we’re talking pound-for-pound mass, the English Mastiff is the biggest dog breed on Earth.
4. Kennel clubs accept three Mastiff coat colors.
You get to choose between fawn, which is a light yellowish tan, apricot (light reddish brown) or brindle which can be either fawn or apricot mottled with black. If you see a dog of any other color advertised as a mastiff, it’s not a pure mastiff.
3. As you can probably imagine, mastiffs eat a ton of food, which makes them expensive to keep as pets. Mastiffs dwindled in popularity in the early 20th century because World War I caused food shortages that made these dogs unaffordable. There was a point at which zero mastiffs were registered in America, and only a few left in the UK. A concerted breeding effort revived mastiffs, although the cycle repeated during and following World War II.
Even today, he might not be the right breed for the budget-minded dog fancier.
2. Because the English mastiff’s tagline might as well be “bigger is better,” it should be no surprise that they have some of the biggest litters among dog breeds as well. A typical English Mastiff litter of puppies is going to be between 10 and 12 dogs. However, the biggest litter on record was twice that size. The mother had 24 puppies, and of those puppies, 20 of them survived past the first week. In terms of breeding that is a huge success, and in terms of world records it hasn’t been beaten yet.
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1. Despite their size, Mastiffs do fairly well with a sedentary lifestyle but will be in their best physical condition with a moderate exercise regime. They are wonderful at simply being a member of the family, but also make good watchdogs and therapy dogs. If you train them and keep them in proper physical condition, they can also succeed at carting, tracking, conformation, obedience, and search and rescue.
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