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
- Bloat/Gastric torsion (stomach fills with air and can twist – requires urgent vet treatment – common to large, deep chested breeds)
- Hip dysplasia: (abnormality of the hip joint causing pain and disability) breed mean score 13.3 (both parents should be lower than this)
- Elbow dysplasia: ideally O:O (swollen, painful elbows and lameness)
- Eye disease: Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) (annual testing) (gradual loss of vision)
- 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
Identified by the UK Kennel Club as part of their Breed Health and Conservation Plan.
Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:
DNA Tests Available
- Dominant progressive retinal atrophy (PRA-D)
- Canine Multi-focal Retinopathy (CMR1)
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA-rho)
- Hyperuricosuria (HUU)
Unofficial (Breed Club) 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: Mitral dysplasia (abnormal mitral valve leads to heart failure); Pulmonic stenosis (narrowing of the pulmonic valve)
- Atopic dermatitis (hypersensitivity to pollens and other protein particles – causes intense itching)
- Canine acne (skin infection of the muzzle0
- Cranial cruciate ligament rupture (hindlimb pain and lameness)
- Panosteitis (bone inflammation in young dog)
- Shoulder and knee osteochondrosis (abnormalities of bone and cartilege, causing pain and lameness)
- Cancer: Osteosarcoma (bone cancer); Lymphoma; brain tumour
- Ectropion (outward turning eyelashes, leaving the eye exposed to dust and dirt)
- Entropion (inward turning eyelashes, causing irritation and damage to the eye)
- Cystinuria (bladder and kidney stones develop, causing pain and difficulty urinating)
- Vaginal prolapse (young bitches)
- Persistent papillary membranes (remnants of foetal membrane that persist as strands of tissue across they eye
- Prolapse of the nictitans gland (‘Cherry Eye’ – third eyelid is displaced forward and becomes visible)
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: