Bullmastiff illustration
Working

Bullmastiff

Courageous and powerful, originally a gamekeeper’s dog

Breed characteristics

Size
Large
Exercise
More than 2 hours per day
Size of home
Large house
Grooming
Once a week
Coat length
Short
Sheds
Yes
Lifespan
Under 10 years
Vulnerable native breed
No
Town or country
Either
Size of garden
Large garden

About this breed

This old English breed was developed as a guard dog in the 19th century to assist gamekeepers in their attempts to thwart poachers. The Bulldog and the Old English Mastiff are the ancestors of this breed, a combination designed to give the breed forbidding size and a courageous temperament. The Bullmastiff certainly possesses these qualities, combined with sufficient athleticism to chase away any intruder. In the early days the gamekeeper preferred brindle dogs for camouflage when working at night but the fawn, often with a black mask, is now more numerous.

Read the breed standard

Images for this breed

The Working breed group

Over the centuries these dogs were selectively bred to become guards and search and rescue dogs. Arguably, the working group consists of some of the most heroic canines in the world, aiding humans in many walks of life, including the Boxer, Great Dane and St. Bernard. This group consists of the real specialists in their field who excel in their line of work.

 

Breed standard colours

Breed standard colour means that the colour is accepted within the breed standard and is a traditional and well-known colour in this breed.

Breed standard colours in this breed include:
  • Brindle
  • Brindle With Black Muzzle
  • Fawn
  • Fawn With Black Muzzle
  • Red
  • Red With Black Muzzle

Other colour/s

'Other' means you consider your puppy to be a colour not currently known within the breed and one that does not appear on either the breed standard or non-breed standard list. In this instance you would be directed through our registrations process to contact a breed club and/or council to support you on identifying and correctly listing the new colour.

Non-breed-standard colours

Non-breed-standard colour means that the colour is not accepted within the breed standard and whilst some dogs within the breed may be this colour it is advised to only select a dog that fits within the breed standards for all points.

Colour is only one consideration when picking a breed or individual dog, health and temperament should always be a priority over colour.

Health

Whether you’re thinking of buying a puppy, or breeding from your dog, it’s essential that you know what health issues may be found in your breed. To tackle these issues we advise that breeders use DNA tests, screening schemes and inbreeding coefficient calculators to help breed the healthiest dogs possible.

More about health

Priority health schemes and tests

The Kennel Club's Assured Breeders must use the following schemes, tests and advice. All other breeders are strongly advised to also use these.

Important health schemes and tests

We strongly recommend that all breeders, both assured breeders (ABs) and non ABs, use the following schemes, tests and advice.

Find out about a particular dog's results

Please visit our Health Test Results Finder to discover the DNA or screening scheme test results for any dog on The Kennel Club's Breed Register.

You can also view the inbreeding coefficient calculation for a puppy's parents, or for a dog you're thinking of breeding from.

Health issues in flat-faced dogs

Dogs with a flat, wide shaped head, are said to be brachycephalic (brachy, meaning short and cephalic, meaning head). This particular skull shape will often give these dogs a characteristic flattened face and a short muzzle. Although the shape of these dogs’ heads can make them look very cute, dogs with a very flat face and short muzzle have a higher risk of developing certain health issues associated with their features, such as:

Breathing difficulties

The soft tissue in the nose and throat of some brachycephalic dogs may be excessive for the airways, making it difficult for them to breathe normally (causing heavy panting or noisy breathing). Some dogs may also have narrow nostrils making it even more difficult to breathe.

More information can be found on:

Skin problems

Some brachycephalic dogs may have an excess of skin, which creates folds, especially around the front of the face. These folds can make a warm, moist environment which is perfect for bacteria and yeast to grow, possibly leading to infection and severe itching.

More information can be found in our article on skin problems in flat-faced dogs.

Want to buy a puppy responsibly?

Not all flat-faced dogs will have the health issues described, but it is important that if you are thinking of buying a puppy, that you take extra precautions

Have any questions about health in your breed?

If you have any concerns about a particular health condition in your breed then you may wish to speak to your vet or you could contact your breed health co-ordinator.

Breed health co-ordinators are individuals working on behalf of breed clubs and councils who are advocates for the health and welfare of their chosen breed. They acts as a spokesperson on matters of health and will collaborate with The Kennel Club on any health concerns the breed may have.

Contact the breed health co-ordinator for the Bullmastiff.

Breed watch

Category 2        

Particular points of concern for individual breeds may include features not specifically highlighted in the breed standard including current issues. In some breeds, features may be listed which, if exaggerated, might potentially affect the breed in the future.

Read more

Breeding restrictions

There are a number of The Kennel Club rules and regulations that may prevent a litter from being registered, find out about our general and breed specific breeding restrictions below.

More about breeding

There are not currently any additional breed specific restrictions in place for this breed.

More information

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