THE BULLMASTIFF

The history of the Bullmastiff can be traced back hundreds of years despite only being registered as purebred in the early 1920’s. The breed was developed to accompany the English Gamekeeper who patrolled the Royal Game reserves to prevent poachers from stealing the monarch’s “game” animals. In those days poaching was punishable by death and anyone caught was expected to put up a fierce fight and many Gamekeepers were seriously injured or killed. A powerful and fearless animal was sought to not only dispatch the poacher’s dogs but also to knock down and hold the poacher until his master arrived to affect an arrest.

Gamekeepers sought a brave, faithful dog who would cope with the rigours of long patrols but also the frequent battle at the end. Primarily a cross of the old style English Mastiff and Bulldog was used as these were very formidable and athletic dogs at the time. This cross had been in existence for many hundreds of years and there is still debate if the Mastiff and Bulldog are distinct breeds or just varieties of the one animal. A few other breeds were also introduced as working ability was more highly prized than maintaining pure blood. 

In the early 1920’s Gamekeepers held shows to parade their cross bred “Night dogs” and within a few generations they were accepted by the UK kennel Club as pure bred. The “Farcroft” kennels bred many of the early winners and their long legs, moderate bone and height and healthy muzzle length was  a result of the fact that they were often working Gamekeepers dogs by night and show dogs by day.   

The breed saw a huge surge in popularity but slowed partially during the first and second world wars before the famous “Bulmas” kennels come to the fore. “Bulmas” kennels developed a bulkier, stronger headed animal that was to become a model for modern day Bullmastiffs. It was in fact a “Bulmas” dog that was the first Bullmastiff to be exported to Australia and after a quiet start the breed established a dedicated following.

The Bullmastiff Club of New South Wales was established in 1988 and 2018 saw us celebrate our 30th Anniversary at the September Championship show Judged by Chris Quantrill from the UK.

The modern Bullmastiff is a large and powerful animal whose formidable appearance disguises his loyal, loving and humorous nature. The sharp temperament of the original dogs has mellowed somewhat but even the most laid back character can be protective when provoked. Should you be looking for a family guardian whose love for children is well known then the breed may be ideal. The breed can also be stubborn and requires proper socialisation to become a well mannered member of the family.

Males should grow between 25 and 27 inches tall and weigh between 50- 59 kilograms, with females an inch shorter and 10 kilograms lighter than these limits. The breed should be compact, well balanced and powerful without being cumbersome. The head is important for type and should be square in appearance with a square muzzle. The bite is undershot or level preferred but judges need to remember the Bulldog heritage before penalising slightly undershot animals too harshly.

The breed comes in three colours described as red, fawn and brindle, all with a distinctive facial mask. This mask defines expression with a black muzzle, black areas around the eyes and small ears that are slightly darker than the coat colour.

The breed is incredibly quiet and rarely makes a noise without provocation and persistent barking should be investigated. They require periodic grooming if kept inside as they can shed a little but the coat is generally care free. They require moderate exercise and are happy lazing around and sleeping on the lounge. Apart from the lounge, one the breed’s favourite position is next to their master and even sitting directly upon their feet. They don’t eat a huge amount considering their large size and care should be made to keep puppies lean in growing periods to prevent skeletal disease.

As with most large breeds they are generally not long lived and while ages in double figures do occur they are most likely to reach 7-8 years of age. Bone cancer and Lymphatic cancers can often affect the breed and in fact Lymphatic cancer heavily contributes to premature death. They can suffer from hip and elbow problems but since it is compulsory to score before breeding, all puppy buyers should be able to view these health reports and make an informed decision. The breed can sometimes suffer allergies and eye problems such at entropion.

The breed is incredibly dedicated to family and if you are after an imposing dog to deter would be thieves without being overly active and noisy then the breed could suit your needs.

Recommended Literature:

The Bullmastiff Fancier’s Book (Hard Cover) – Bill Walkey
The Bullmastiff Today – Lyn Pratt
The Mastiff Bullmastiff Handbook – Douglas Oliff
Bullmastiff – Clifford Hubbard
The Bullmastiff Fancier’s Manual – Bill Walkey
Peerless Protector – Jack Shastid, Geraldine Roach
Bullmastiffs – Alan & Mave Rostron

Click here to download an information booklet about the Bullmastiff

The Bullmastiff Breed Standard

General Appearance:
Powerful build, symmetrical, showing great strength, but not cumbersome; sound and active.

Characteristics:
Powerful, enduring, active and reliable.

Temperament:
High spirited, alert and faithful.

Head And Skull:
Skull large and square, viewed from every angle, fair wrinkle when interested, but not when in repose. Skull broad and deep with well filled cheeks. Pronounced stop. Muzzle short, distance from tip of nose to stop approximately one-third of length from tip of nose to centre of occiput, broad under eyes and sustaining nearly the same width to end of nose; blunt and cut off square, forming right angle with upper line of face, and at the same time proportionate with skull. Under-jaw broad to end. Nose broad with widely spreading nostrils, flat, neither pointed nor turned up in profile. Flews not pendulous, never hanging below level of lower jaw.

Eyes:
Dark or hazel, of medium size, set apart the width of muzzle with furrow between. Light or yellow eyes highly undesirable.

Ears:
V-shaped, folded forward, set on wide and high, level of occiput giving square appearance to skull which is most important. Small and deeper in colour than body. Point of ear level with eye when alert. Rose ears highly undesirable

Mouth:
Level desired but slightly undershot allowed but not preferred. Canine teeth large and set wide apart, other teeth strong, even and well placed.

Neck:
Well arched, moderate length, very muscular and almost equal to skull in circumference.

Forequarters:
Chest, wide and deep, well let down between forelegs, with deep brisket. Shoulders muscular, sloping and powerful, not overloaded. Forelegs powerful and straight, well boned, set wide apart, presenting a straight front. Pasterns straight and strong.

Body:
Back short and straight, giving compact carriage, but not so short as to interfere with activity. Roach and sway backs highly undesirable.

Hindquarters:
Loins wide and muscular with fair depth of flank. Hindlegs strong and muscular, with well developed second thighs, denoting power and activity, not cumbersome. Hocks moderately bent. Cow hocks highly undesirable.

Feet:
Well arched, cat like, with rounded toes, pads hard. Dark toe nails desirable. Splayed feet highly undesirable.

Tail:
Set high, strong at root and tapering, reaching to hocks, carried straight or curved, but not hound fashion. Crank tails highly undesirable.

Gait/Movement:
Movement indicates power and sense of purpose. When moving straight neither front nor hind legs should cross or plait, right front and left rear leg rising and falling at same time. A firm backline unimpaired by powerful thrust from hindlegs denoting a balanced and harmonious movement.

Coat:
Short and hard, weather resistant, lying flat to body. Long, silky or woolly coats highly undesirable.

Colour:
Any shade of brindle, fawn or red; colour to be pure and clear. A slight white marking on chest permissible. Other white markings undesirable. Black muzzle essential, toning off towards eyes, with dark markings around eyes contributing to expression.

Sizes:
Height:
Dogs 64-69 cms (25-27 ins) at shoulder
Bitches 61-66 cms (24-26 ins) at shoulder

Weight: Dogs 50-59 kg (110-130 lbs)
Bitches 41-50 kg (90-110 lbs)

Faults:
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.

Notes:
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.