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Old English Mastiff Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Old English Mastiff

Start your Old English Mastiff off on the right foot by feeding the right food, giving the right vaccinations, finding the right vet, and if you're going to spay or neuter, don't do it too early.

Jump down to this list of
Old English Mastiff Health Problems

Or check out my advice for raising a healthy English Mastiff puppy or adult dog:

Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your English Mastiff lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet... [read more]

numeral 33 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food
You can dramatically increase your dog's chances of living a long, healthy life by feeding the right food. Cutting right to the chase, the best foods for your Old English Mastiff are... [read more]

Real homemade dog food A Quick Way To Make Homemade Dog Food
Your Mastiff will love real chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs, yogurt, broccoli.... this is not just "people food" and I'll tell you why... [read more]

Dry kibble and canned dog food 5 Best Kibble and Canned Dog Foods
Some are better than others, but I must be honest – I'm not a huge fan of dry or canned dog food. Here are my concerns... [read more]

Information on booster shots for your German Shepherd. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Old English Mastiff puppy really need? Does your adult dog need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed! Find out what some vets aren't telling you... [read more]

Information on spaying Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Should your female English Mastiff be spayed? Current research says, "The AGE at which you spay can be vitally important to your dog's future health." So what's the best age? [read more]

Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Have you been told that you must neuter your male Mastiff? Current research shows that the issue is not so simple. Pet owners are not being told about some risks associated with neutering male dogs, especially neutering too early... [read more]

Information on choosing the best vet Make Sure Your Vet is the Best!
Is your current veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Here's how to tell... [read more]

Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review
Does your Mastiff suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to reduce inflammation and pain. [read more]

Old English Mastiff

Complete list of Old English Mastiff health problems

The Mastiff Club conducted a health survey that included 570 dogs.

The club reports that half of the deceased Mastiffs in their survey died before age 7, and three-quarters of them died before age 10. So this is a short-lived breed.

Most common causes of death

  • The most common cause of death in Old Engish Mastiffs, by far, is cancer – especially bone cancer (osteosarcoma), but also lymphosarcoma.
  • The second major cause of deaths in Mastiffs is bloat, an emergency gastrointestinal syndrome that can kill in a matter of hours.
  • Finally, heart disease is a major cause of death, especially sub-aortic stenosis, cardiomyopathy, mitral valve disease, and occasionally pulmonic stenosis.

Orthopedic diseases in Mastiffs

As you might expect from their size, orthopedic problems are extremely common in Mastiffs, especially hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia.

The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of 12,000 Mastiffs and found 21% dysplastic. That's bad. Elbows are bad, too: of 6900 elbow X-rays, 15% were dysplastic.

Old English Mastiffs are prone to tearing the cruciate ligament in their hind legs, which is a nasty injury that can require expensive surgery.

Young  Mastiffs are susceptible to two syndromes that cause pain and lameness. The most common and milder one is called panosteitis  and is usually self-limiting. The less common one is hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD), which ranges from moderate to severe.


Epilepsy is a serious concern in Old English Mastiffs, especially since it's so difficult to treat in this breed. Most epileptic Mastiffs die by age three.

Urinary problems

Urinary infections are common in English Mastiffs, and a serious urinary disease called cystinuria  is more common in English Mastiffs than in any other breed.

Eye diseases

The most serious eye disease in Mastiffs is progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which can occur as early as 6 months old or as late as 3.5 years old, and which progresses slowly to complete blindness in middle age.

A simple DNA test is available for PRA in Mastiffs, so you can find out at any time whether your dog has the disease, carries the disease, or is completely clear of it.

Other eye diseases in Old English Mastiffs include cataracts, eyelid abnormalities (ectropion and entropion), eyelash abnormalities, cherry eye, persistent pupillary membranes, and retinal dysplasia.

That's a lot of eye diseases...

Thyroid disease

Hypothyroidism is common in all giant breeds. According to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, up to 15% of Mastiffs have low thyroid levels.

Skin problems

Skin problems include allergies (which cause itchy skin and "hot spots"), non-tumorous growths (sebaceous cysts), and chronic bacterial infections, including severe pyoderma.

All of the mastiff breeds, when young, are prone to demodectic mange.

Older mastiffs, because of their great weight, are prone to developing elbow hygroma, a fluid-filled lump that develops over the bony elbow that acts as a pressure point whenever they lie on hard surfaces. Provide your Mastiff with a soft cushy bed that protects his elbows.


Colitis (inflammatory bowel disease) results in chronic diarrhea – not a happy prospect in a giant dog!

Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes extreme weakness in English Mastiffs. A blood-clotting disease (von Willebrand's) also occurs in this breed.

Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if your dog inherits from his parents the genes for an eye disease called PRA, he will go blind and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Dog feeding and health book by Michele Welton But most health problems can be prevented by the ways you raise your dog.

My best-selling book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to raise your Old English Mastiff in all the right ways that help prevent health problems. Become your dog's health care champion!

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.