I am an old breed of dog, dating back over 2000 years. I gave rise to many other breeds, such as the Rottweiler, the Cane Corso, the Great Dane (or German Mastiff), the American Mastiff, the French Mastiff (Dogue de Bordeaux), etc.
I was used to entertain people in Roman times; I was used to bait bears & lions; that is probably why I developed such large, floppy cheeks so that the bears could grab my cheeks without doing a lot of damage.
As a result of my size & bark, I was also used to guard houses.
I come in 4 color varieties – fawn, apricot, brindle and apricot brindle. Common to all colors is the black muzzle, the dewlap (the extra flap of skin under the neck) & the flew (the loose flaps of skin on the sides of the upper muzzle that hang to different lengths over the mouth).
I am not just big, I am Super Sized, XL. Small, or starter mastiffs, weigh around 120#. The largest mastiff on record was 343#. So you are not just adopting a dog, you are adding a person to your family. Big dog = big food bill = big piles.
Like all big dogs, I have big dog issues: joints, knees, hips, bones, enlarged heart. Along with the big issues come big vet bills. My vet bills can run in the thousands. During surgical procedures, I need extra anesthesia. My Rx’s can be outrageous. Keep in mind that not all vets are comfortable treating a dog of my size, as I can be a little intimidating.
I also have ear issues. Those long, floppy ears are beautiful, but they can trap all sorts of bacteria in my ears. A regular ear-cleaning routine should be established.
As a big dog, I am prone to bloat, “When bloat occurs, the dog’s stomach fills with air, fluid and/or food. The enlarged stomach puts pressure on other organs, can cause difficulty breathing, and eventually may decrease blood supply to a dog’s vital organs” (Source: ASPCA website). Without treatment this can be fatal; please know where the closest emergency vet is. Some factors that can lead to bloat are over eating, rapid eating, eating before or after heavy exercise. Common symptoms are:
· Distended abdomen
· Unsuccessful attempts to belch or vomit
· Retching without producing anything
· Excessive salivation
· Shortness of breath
· Cold body temperature
· Pale gums
· Rapid heartbeat
(Source ASPCA website)
Kids? I love kids; they taste like chicken. I’m just kidding – I am super protective of children. But please keep in mind that small children stand about the same height as my tail and I can easily knock them over. Please don’t let them ride on me and be careful of how they play with me. Putting fingers into my mouth, even accidentally, can result in a serious bite; when my jaws close, I can exert a pressure of up to 200psi.
If you get me expecting an exercise buddy, you will be disappointed. At best I’ll make it around the block, but my average tends to be a few houses there and back. I do like to sprint for short periods of time and I like to play. I require tougher, larger (more expensive) toys or I will quickly destroy them.
Be prepared for drool, lots of it, everywhere. Be prepared for me to lay on your bed and your couches, even in your lap. I am not graceful, I step on feet (yours). Expect people to cross to the other side of the street when you are walking me.
I am okay with all dogs (assuming I was exposed to them in a positive manner). Contrary to common belief, I will not eat your little dog. Little dogs can sometimes make me nervous as I can’t see them behind me.
Expect to hear the same questions when you get a mastiff:
Is it a horse? Can you ride it? What’s your food bill?
by Melissa Seaman
Mastiff Rescue Staff