The Mastiff is an extremely large dog both in height and girth who will consume enormous quantities of food. He needs a large house to live in and a large garden to roam in. In addition he should have plenty of exercise. His coat is short and dense, requiring grooming once a week. He is generally a good-natured dog but can be protective of his owner. He is an exceptionally powerful dog and can be difficult to control. He needs a physically strong, dedicated and experienced owner. The Mastiff is not an ideal family dog.
Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)
The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 13.3% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'
Effective Population Size - EPS70.55
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)
- The Mastiff’s extreme size and weight could result in unnecessary strain on his joints
- Skin folds around his face and neck could cause skin problems
- Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV) (Bloat/Torsion. Common in large, deep chested breeds
- Hip dysplasia: breed mean score 13.3 (parents should be lower)
- Elbow dysplasia: ideally O:O
- Eye disease: Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) (annual testing)
- The Mastiff is one of the high profile breeds designated by the Kennel Club as requiring particular monitoring by reason of visible conditions which may cause health and welfare concerns
Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) : No EBVs are currently available for this breed
DNA Tests Available
DogWellNet and IPFD Harmonisation of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD)
- Dominant progressive retinal atrophy (ADPRA)
- Canine Multi-focal Retinopathy 1 (CMR1)
- Canine Multi-focal Retinopathy 3 (CMR3)
- Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
- Coat colour dilution Alopecia
- Hyperuricosuria (HUU)
- Cystinuria Type 111
Availability of a DNA test does not mean that it is always necessary or even desirable for breeders to use this test. Good breeders will have followed the recommendations of the appropriate breed clubs, Kennel Club and/or other qualified experts.
Other Breed-Specific Health Screening Schemes
- Bitches under 20 months not to produce a litter
- Bitches over 6 years not to produce a litter
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: Atrial fibrillation; Mitral dysplasia; Pulmonic stenosis
- Cranial cruciate ligament rupture
- Osteochondrosis – shoulder and stifle
- Cancer: Osteosarcoma; lymphoma
- Persistent papillary membranes
- Prolapse of the nictitans gland (‘Cherry Eye’)
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: