What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Bullmastiff Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013
Though usually mild-mannered, the powerful Bullmastiff is also serious and self-assured. He is afraid of nothing, and once aroused will seldom back down.
Bullmastiff puppies (up to two or three years old) can be rambunctious and have an aversion to keeping all four feet on the ground at the same time.
Fortunately, adults are calm and quiet and need only moderate exercise to maintain their impressive muscle tone.
This breed is intensely loyal to his family and doesn't like being left outside. If he doesn't get enough companionship or personal attention, he may walk through fences just to be with people.
Though sensible with strangers, the Bullmastiff does have well-established protective and territorial instincts. He must be thoroughly socialized at an early age so that he learns to distinguish friend from foe.
He can be aggressive with other dogs of the same sex, and though he may be fine with the family cat, strange animals will not be accepted onto his property.
Tremendously strong and stubborn, Bullmastiffs are inclined to do things their own way and will test members of the family. However, he will respond to early, consistent obedience training that includes leadership, cheerful praise, and food rewards.
Overall, he's a splendid, capable companion for assertive owners, but without ongoing time and effort, socialization and supervision, he is too much to handle.
If you want a dog who...
- Is massive and powerful
- Has a short easy-care coat
- Is calm and quiet indoors as an adult
- Makes an imposing watchdog
- Is serious and self-assured with strangers, yet generally mild-mannered unless aroused
- Needs only moderate exercise
A Bullmastiff may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- A huge dog who takes up a lot of space in your house and car
- A heavy dog who wants to sit on your feet and lean his weight against your leg
- Rowdiness and exuberant jumping when young
- Destructiveness when bored or left alone too much
- Potential aggression toward people in some lines, or when not socialized enough
- Potential aggression toward other animals
- Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
- Snorting, snuffling, wheezing, grunting, loud snoring
- Slobbering and drooling
- Gassiness (flatulence)
- Serious health problems and a short lifespan
- Legal liabilities (public perception, future breed bans, insurance problems, increased chance of lawsuits)
A Bullmastiff may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Bullmastiff
If I was considering a Bullmastiff, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing the proper balance of exercise. Young Bullmastiffs need enough exercise to keep them lean and healthy, but not so much that their soft growing bones, joints, and ligaments become over-stressed and damaged. Adult Bullmastiffs need more exercise to keep them in shape, but not in hot or humid weather for fear of overheating. The proper amount of exercise can be difficult to regulate in giant breeds.
Since you have to minimize their exercise, young Bullmastiffs can be very rambunctious. They will romp with uncoordinated gawkiness all over your house. You need to substitute extra quantities of companionship and supervision. Otherwise, left alone, young Bullmastiffs become bored and destructive -- and their powerful jaws can literally destroy your living room.
- Providing enough socialization. Most Bullmastiffs have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone, which could lead to biting. Some Bullmastiffs go in the opposite direction -- without enough socialization, they become fearful of strangers, which can lead to defensive biting.
If you have children, I do not recommend a Bullmastiff. Young Bullmastiffs (up to about three years old) can be bulls in a china shop. When they romp and jump, they do so with great vigor, and things can go flying, including people. In addition, Bullmastiffs may try to protect their own children from other children, which could lead to tragedy if kids are simply roughhousing and your Bullmastiff decides to stop it.
- Animal aggression. Many Bullmastiffs will not tolerate another dog of the same sex, and some won't tolerate the opposite sex either. Some Bullmastiffs have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.
- The strong temperament. Bullmastiffs are not Golden Retrievers. They have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. Many Bullmastiffs are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
To teach your Bullmastiff to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Bullmastiff Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Bullmastiff sounds. Because of the short face, Bullmastiffs snort, grunt, and snore loudly. The sounds are endearing to some people; nerve-wracking to others.
- Slobbering. Most people are not prepared for how much Bullmastiffs slobber and drool, especially after eating or drinking. When they shake their heads, you will be toweling saliva and slime off your clothes, furniture, and walls.
- Gassiness (flatulence) that can send you running for cover. Fortunately, Bullmastiffs who are fed a natural diet of real meat and other fresh foods have much less trouble with gassiness. See my Bullmastiff Health Page for more information.
- Serious health problems. The lifespan of a Bullmastiff is short and an alarming number are crippled by bone and joint diseases and/or succumb to cancer in middle age.
- Legal liabilities. Bullmastiffs may be targeted for "banning" in certain areas, or refusal of homeowner insurance policies. Your friends and neighbors may be uncomfortable around this breed. In this day and age, the legal liabilities of owning any breed that looks intimidating and has a history as a guard dog should be seriously considered. People are quicker to sue if such a dog does anything even remotely questionable.
Frankly, most Bullmastiffs are "too much dog" for the average household. This is a serious working dog with tremendous strength. Very few people really have the knowledge, facilities, or skills necessary to manage this breed.
To learn more about training Bullmastiffs to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book,
Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Bullmastiff the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Bullmastiff puppy. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Bullmastiff might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Bullmastiff home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT Bullmastiff...
When you're acquiring a Bullmastiff PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Bullmastiffs who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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