The English Mastiff is a rare breed in Norway, as in the rest of the world. Today (2001) there are a little more than 100 mastiffs in the country. The first English Mastiff import to Norway was born in 1904. She came to the country in 1905, and was owned by William Mustad. The dog’s name was Rita. A male and a bitch was imported in the middle of the seventies, but both of them was in a rather bad condition and didn’t live very long. They left no puppies. In 1981 a bitch was imported from Finland, and after that time several other imports have been made. The first Norwegian puppies were born in 1990.
It is not expected any particular growth for the breed in the near future. Puppies are very rarely born, the average is about 0-10 puppies every year in the whole country. Many mastiffs find their way to Norway through England and Sweden. Under these circumstances the breed has not much of a chance to grow in numbers. At least the number of mastiffs has been quite stabile the last few years. Even if many people are impressed by the mastiff, there are a few reasons why they think twice when it comes to getting one for themselves:
- He is really big and heavy, and requires a lot of space!
- He eats a lot!
- He drools (some drools a bit, and some a lot)
- He snores, passes gas and has a bad breath (sorry).
- He usually doesn’t live that long (6-8 years is normal)
- He’s rather expensive to buy.
If you’re planning on getting a mastiff despite of the mentioned minuses, I’d like to say as a friend of mine once said: “These things are just charming. Those are just part of the breed!” Very optimistic, yes, but also quite true. As a mastiff-owner you most certainly will get noticed (which can be both fun and annoying). The usual comments you must expect to hear just about every day are “Good God! What’s that? A pony?” or “I hope he’s not hungry!”.
Practically no one has ever seen the breed before, so you better getting used to explaining what a mastiff is and how his personality is. People that are impressed by the massiveness and power of a mastiff often stop to ask questions. Anyway, the questions you get basically circles around amount of food, weight, age, personality and training, so they shouldn’t be too hard to answer. If you still wonder what positive sides this dog breed might have, you should keep on reading. Believe me, there ARE many positive sides!
- The mastiff is both affectionate and loyal.
- He is very calm and quiet (except for his snoring).
- He is no barker, and normally very patient.
- He is not aggressive towards other dogs, and does not try to start a fight.
- He is gentle and patient with children.
- He loves to take a walk, and adapts whether you take him for a daily three hour mountain-tour or just a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood.
- He is the perfect watch-dog!!!
- He won’t run away, and is not particularly interested in hunting activities.
- He is easy to teach most things as long as he feels the things you’re doing has a meaning. The mastiff has the ability to think for himself, and doesn’t like to repeat things again and again that is no fun. Things are often executed in the so called mastiff-tempo, which means pretty slowly, but the mastiff can be both fast and surprisingly accurate if he feels he has a good enough reason for it!
THE NORWEGIAN ENGLISH MASTIFF CLUB
The mastiff society in Norway is small, but most of the owners of the about 100 Norwegian mastiffs have some kind of contact with the Norwegian English Mastiff Club. Every year the club has their own mastiff dog show. This event gathers about half of the mastiffs in the country. During the same day the member’s annual meeting is arranged. Here the club’s “Board of Directors” is elected.
Inge Arild Næss, Åsenveien 33, 5306 Erdal
The club is working towards a higher goal; to make sure that only fitted members of the breed are being used for breeding. They also try to spread information about the mastiff, and to create a social environment for mastiff owners throughout the country. The club has a person who is responsible for knowing where to buy mastiff puppies, mainly in Norway, but also in the neighbor countries. The club also has a register of practically all the mastiffs in the country, with pictures and some information about dogshow results and other subjects.
The members of the club are spread throughout the country, but except from the annual mastiff-gathering, some of the most active travelers to dog shows meet as they exhibit their dogs. Some of the members attend most of the dog show in Norway, which means travelling basically every weekend.
The mastiff owners aren’t very active when it comes to activities as hunting, agility and obedience training. Even so, experiences from abroad shows that mastiffs can compete in other arenas then in the ring. A mastiff loves to do meaningful things, so the possibility to train a mastiff to do other things than competing in dog show is there! Nothing would be more exciting than to see this fantastic dog in these other activities in the future.