Choosing a Mastiff


Are you ready?

Before considering what breed is appropriate for your family be sure you are ready for any dog at all. Everyone in the family must be on board with the new addition. Never expect that children will take care of the dog. You will be making a lifelong commitment to care for and train your dog. Not only will the dog depend on you but so will your community. It will be your responsibility to ensure that your dog is a good citizen. It must be trained and socialized to keep the dog, you and everyone around you safe. All dogs must be trained, but it is critical with giant dogs. It is one thing for a toy dog to jump up on a person but if a mastiff does it the results can be injury! Do not add a dog to your family on a whim. Give it careful consideration and be a responsible dog owner. Remember: A GIANT BREED IS A GIANT COMMITMENT.


Research All breeds have been bred with a specific purpose in mind. Make sure that the basic character of the breed you are interested in fits in with your lifestyle.

  • Don’t get a Mastiff if you run 5 miles every morning and want a running companion!
  • Don’t get a Mastiff if the thought of little slobber is offensive!
  • Don’t get a Jack Russell terrier and wonder why he isn’t a couch potato!
  • Don’t get a Greyhound and wonder why he wants to chase every squirrel in the park!
  • Don’t be surprised when your border collie starts herding your children!

Research the health issues for the breed you are interested in. Large and giant breed dogs are more prone to hip problems. Dogs with excessive skin wrinkle may be prone to skin issues. Understand these problems and what, if any, health test can be done to minimize the risks of these health issues. Some health test results are stored and searchable online at There is a health section on the Mastiff Cub of America website ( please take the time to visit and print out the Mastiff Health Information Sheet.

Research breeders and meet the dogs in person. It is one thing to look at pictures of a giant breed like the Mastiff and another to meet one in person. Attend dog shows so you can see many dogs in one place. Visit to find a local dog show. Go to to get the names, addresses and websites of breed clubs. These clubs, including MCOA, have breeder referral information and can help point you in the right direction of a reputable breeder. MCOA also has pages on Questions to Ask a Breeder, Mastiff History and Frequently Asked Questions.

Breeder vs Pet Store vs Shelter/Rescue

When you buy or adopt a dog, you are looking to add a new member to your family. A pet who will, hopefully, be part of your family for many years to come. You want a dog whose breeder considered health, temperament and breed type before doing any breeding! It can be guaranteed that puppies sold in pet stores were bred first and foremost to make money not improve the breed. Any reputable breeder who has taken the time and effort to health test and do all the work necessary to breed healthy, well-tempered pups that are good representatives of their breed would NEVER sell to a store. The breeder would have no control over who bought the pups. A reputable breeder wants to be sure that the pups go to good homes, that they will never end up in shelters. A good breeder always sells their pups with a contract and is there for the owners throughout the dog’s life.

There are many dogs in shelters — many of these are even purebreeds. Every AKC breed has a rescue group which can be contacted through the breed’s parent club. Go to to get the names, addresses and websites of breed clubs. For people who want to give a dog a second chance at a happy home, or don’t want to go through the puppy years, rescuing a dog is a great option. Families have found fantastic lifelong companions this way. Many dogs have been put up for adoption through no fault of their own. They may have been the wrong breed for the family or perhaps the original family had a lifestyle change. Search shelters via or find the breed’s rescue contacts through the breed clubs listed at The MCOA site has links to all of the approved regional Mastiff rescue groups

Purebreed vs Designer Dog vs Mixed Breed

Pure breed dogs have been bred with very specific tasks in mind and each breed has a standard that every breeder strives to conform to. There is consistency within these breeds. This consistency applies not only to looks but to temperament as well. A reputable breeder also makes every attempt to breed healthy dogs and improve the overall health of the breed with each litter.

Designer dogs are mixed breed dogs with fancy names and price tags. These are not recognized by the AKC. There is no consistency in breedings in type or temperament. There is no guarantee when crossing breeds that you will get the best of both breeds, you may wind up with the worst characteristics of both breeds. Take the American mastiff for example. This dog is a mix of the Anatolian Shepherd, a fiercely loyal dog bred to protect its family and very suspicious of strangers, to a mastiff, a giant dog with significant mass and strength. What would the purpose be to cross the Anatolian Shepherd and the Mastiff? According to the breeders you get a dry-mouthed dog but is that worth the possible disastrous temperament mix of these dogs?

The designer dogs are rarely health tested. They are sold for as much as, if not more than, a purebred dog. You may as well go down to your local shelter and give a good life to a mixed breed dog that is desperate for a home. Put that extra money towards obedience training! Remember many dogs at the shelters are there through no fault of their own.