The Bullmastiff is a large and powerful dog, often used for guarding. He is usually devoted to his human family and would be courageous in defending them. However, he does not make an ideal family pet due to his strength and size, and needs an assertive and experienced owner. He needs to live in a large house with a large garden and should have plenty of exercise. The Bullmastiffs’ average lifespan is under 8 years.
Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)
The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 8.7% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'
Effective Population Size - EPS101.47
EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.
Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)
- Skeletal problems associated with very large size and weightiness: Arthritis; Cruciate ligament rupture (severe lameness of hind leg)
- Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) (breathing problems caused by a shortened skull)
- Skin problems due to facial skin folds
- Gastric dilatation volvulus (Torsion/Bloat) (stomach fills with air and can twist – requires urgent vet treatment – common in deep chested breeds)
- Hip dysplasia (malformation of the hip joints causing pain and lameness): breed mean score 21.7 – very high (parents should be much lower)
- Elbow dysplasia (malformation of the elbow joint causing pain and lameness: (ideally O:O)
- Eye disease: Persistent pupillary membrane (PPM) (cloudiness of the cornea) (litter screening); Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) (annual testing)
Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:
DNA Tests Available
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA-rho)
- Canine multi-focal retinopathy (CMR)
- Dominant Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA-D)
Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes
Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.
Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)
- Heart disease: Pulmonic stenosis (narrowing of pulmonary artery)
- Canine acne
- Foot dermatitis
- Osteochondrosis (back leg and shoulder) (abnormalities of joint cartilege, causing chronic discomfort and pain)
- Cancer: Lymphoma (lymph glands); Mast cell tumors (nodular skin tumors but can also be internal); Osteocarcoma (bone cancer)
- Entropion/Ectropion (growing inwards and growing outwards of eyelid)
- Cherry eye
- Urolithiasis (formation of stones in urinary system, causes discomfort and pain as well as difficulty urinating)
- Kidney disease
Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.
Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.
You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP): www.puppycontract.org.uk
You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding: