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Mastiff temperament and behavior

Children | Other dogs | Animals | Strangers | Family

Kaiser and MikaSome hundred years ago the Mastiff was a great warrior. He fought the battles man put him in, and he fought them well. Those days are long gone, and no one seems to be happier about that than the Mastiff himself.

The English Mastiff is now a completely retired fighter, dedicated to watching over his family and friends. With his great sense of patience and affection, he must be said to be the best example of "man's best friend". In this article you will learn what the English Mastiff's temper is like, and get some ideas about what you need to consider if you have, or are planning to get, one of these giant dogs.

Children

The English Mastiff is normally great with children. He seems to understand that they are "puppies", and treats them gently. He is both patient and protective, and despite of his size and weight, he can be trusted to look after even small children. If the dog isn't used to children at all, he is able to learn how to deal with them even if he's fully grown. The ideal situation is of course to bring up the puppy with the "human puppies". Some dogs don't have the same respect for children as they have for adults. The Mastiff would never harm a child, but the most dominant males may try to inform the youngster that he doesn't want to be treated like dead meat. This doesn't mean that he'll hurt the child. It's more likely that he'll grab the child's arm or hand gently, to say "don't do that!".

We often hear the expression "child friendly" about dogs. The most important thing to decide how any dog will act towards children, is whether the child is "dog friendly" or not. As a dog owner, you must teach your child to treat your Mastiff with respect. Most Mastiffs treat kids with an angel's touch, but how much can you ask for? There has to be a limit, even for a dog like the English Mastiff. Kids can be terrible with animals, it's up to you to see to that your child is "dog friendly".

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Other Dogs

If the Mastiff couldn't handle being with other dogs, you would never want to have one! It would be totally impossible to control a 200 lbs. aggressive male, believe you me! All there is to say about this, is that you have no reason to worry at all! The English Mastiff is a very peaceful and tolerant breed. Even if another dog attacks, the Mastiff often turns his back to the opponent. He will NOT fight unless he has to. Self defense is the only reason for an average Mastiff to use his strength. I'm not saying you won't ever find aggressive Mastiffs, but this is how the "normal" representative of the breed acts. Many Mastiffs love to be with smaller breeds.

Some say they are not aware of their impressive size, and that they feel comfortable playing with small dogs because of that. The chances are bigger that many Mastiffs almost never meet other dogs as big as themselves, and therefore they find such big dogs just as scary as smaller dogs often do. Mirrors does not exist in a dog's world. They experience their own strength by playing (and fighting...) with other dogs. If a dog seldom gets the opportunity to play, he won't be able to be aware of his might. On the other hand, this might be an advantage with a powerful breed like the English Mastiff! I can't think of any good reasons why I should want my Mastiff to find out that he's stronger than any other dog in the city. No reason at all!

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Other Animals

As you probably have noticed, the Mastiff is a peaceful and very calm dog. Because of this he is fully capable of living peacefully with other animals as well. He is not a hunter, and will under normal circumstances not harm other animals unless they represent a threat, or because he has to defend himself or his family. This is not the entire truth, though. Mastiffs ARE dogs, and what could be more exiting than chasing cats? Rabbits and similar animals also need to move their feet with a Mastiff around! Some Mastiffs love this kind of activities, while others don't bother about cats at all!

And now some more good news: The Mastiff's calm temper makes it rather easy to teach him not to chase cats! If he's allowed to chase them, no one can blame him for doing so. What you have to do, is to teach him that cats are a "do not touch" thing. Put on the leash, and go to a place with lots of cats. When he sees them, tell him "Do not touch!", "Stay!", "No!", or whatever command you find the best.

After a few days with this kind of training, you will find out whether your Mastiff is ready for the big test: Will he stay if you unleash him? You'll find out soon enough! Say the command, and cross your fingers. If he stays, put the leash back on, and give him lots and lots of praise! If he chases the cat, follow him, and tell him what a bad dog he's been when you catch him! (Tell him in a calm, persistent and convincing way. Make him feel ashamed about it!)

Do not EVER use any kind of physical punishment - such a behavior is totally unnecessary with a Mastiff! (and with any other dog, for that matter!). There is absolutely no problem raising a dog on a farm with lots of animals. He will most likely be a great companion for both you and the creatures living there!

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Strangers

Many books state that Mastiffs are suspicious with strangers. This is to a certain extent true, but do not misinterpret those kind of statements! Some Mastiffs are very friendly with everyone, some are more of the "elective" kind, while others do not like to meet strangers at all. Kind of a human behavior, in other words! With most Mastiffs, meeting strangers is no problem at all.

A normal English Mastiff is not aggressive towards any living creature. If you've let him guard your house and garden while growing up, he will continue to do so the rest of his life, because he thinks that's his job. But - a Mastiff will under normal circumstances never bite or harm anyone. He will keep them on a safe distance, and if they come to close, he might grab one of their arms just tight enough to convince the intruder that this is as far as he gets.

You should never train a Mastiff to attack people. If you do so, you must take the full responsibility if your friend hurts someone. A large and heavy dog like this will easily beat any man if he gets angry, and you must never teach him anything that has to do with aggression! Don't even think about it! Please!

Sometimes the dog seems to have problems understanding that a stranger can be a friend of yours. If he doesn't know him, the stranger can't be part of the group. Despite of this, he is fully capable of getting used to your new relationships. When a strange person has visited your house a few times, he will accept that his owner has given him permission to enter the house. It's really not a problem at all, at least not more than with any other dog breed. When your Mastiff becomes familiar with the new person, he will think of him as a friend, too, and treat him likewise.

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Family

And now some more great news! The English Mastiff is the perfect family dog! If you have read the rest of this article, you already know what a great family dog this breed might be. The giant size isn't a problem either, since his behavior is so relaxed and calm. You will probably need a rather big car, though... It's not a good solution to put a Mastiff in the backseat if you have other passengers!

The fact that this breed is great with kids and peaceful with other dogs and animals in general, makes him very easy to deal with. Patience is an important quality when you're looking for a family dog, and the Mastiff is most definitely a patient breed! He also is very loyal, and loves to spend time with his family more than anything else.

Affection is another important keyword. You do not need to take your Mastiff for a two hour walk every day to keep him happy. He's normally satisfied with less than an hour. But - keep in mind that a social breed like the Mastiff needs to spend far more time with you than the one hour walk. He wants to be where you are. He wants to sleep with his head on your foot. He wants to play an important part of your life.

If you can make these wishes come true, you will have a happy companion that will do all he can to show him how much he loves you. If you can handle his drooling, snoring, and the size, you probably can't make a better choice for a family dog. That's all there is to say!

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