Mastiffs are the largest dog breeds, with big droopy faces and gentle eyes that will melt your heart. They’re super affectionate and loyal and can be complete goofballs as well. Before jumping out to get a Mastiff though, there are some things you should keep in mind. Their gigantic size and training difficulties are not something everyone can get used to.
But rest assured, if you are aware and ready to handle the responsibilities, you will be blessed with a loving best friend that will never leave your side.
FeedFond has gathered all the information you need to know to make the decision easier for you. So, keep reading to find out exactly what an English Mastiff needs, and whether you can keep up with their personality.
Contents & Quick Navigation
- Feeding Guidelines for your English Mastiff
- Grooming your English Mastiff
- How Much Exercise Does an English Mastiff Need?
- Training your English Mastiff
- Common English Mastiff Health Issues
Feeding Guidelines for your English Mastiff
English Mastiffs grow really fast and only need a medium protein and fat diet. In fact, from the time it turns three months old, you can start feeding your English Mastiff adult dog food. Just make sure to check the labels on the package for proper nutrition guidelines.
If you feed your Mastiff commercial dog food, it should have 20 – 25% protein, 12 – 18% fat content and 3 – 5% iodine, along with the recommended phosphorus and calcium content.
A Mastiff needs to be fed just twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. By dividing their daily calorie intake throughout the day into two parts, you will prevent bloating and help your dog to digest its food.
#1. When buying commercial food, make sure the first three ingredients are animal proteins.
#2. The best sources of protein are chicken, beef, fish, and lamb. Meat meals where all forms of moisture are removed are also a good option.
#3. Some healthy sources of fat are chicken fats and fish oils. Fish oil has Omega fatty acids which will keep your Mastiff’s coat shiny and skin healthy.
#4. DHA is a type of Omega fatty acid which is good for your Mastiff puppy’s eyes and brain.
#5. You should keep your Mastiff away from food that causes an allergic reaction or irritation. Some common items are chocolate, caffeine, onion, wheat, corn and dairy products.
#6. Strictly avoid treats that contain preservatives, artificial colors, and sweeteners
#7. Break treats up into smaller bits instead of giving them an entire one. You don’t want your Mastiff to become obese.
Mastiffs are one of the thirstiest dog breeds and need to drink very frequently. This is one of the reasons that they drool so much. This is why you should keep an easily accessible bowl of water for your Mastiff throughout the day. Keep an eye on the bowl and fill it up whenever it is empty. That’s not all though. Mastiffs also drool in their own water dish, and once the water is infected, it won’t even touch the water.
So, you’ve got to rinse out that water dish quite thoroughly as well.
Additional Read: Low Sodium Dog Food Reviews- Guide to the Right Diet
Grooming your English Mastiff
Mastiffs don’t need a lot of attention with their grooming and are an overall clean breed, except for the constant drooling. However, there are certain things you can do to keep your Mastiff looking its best.
English Mastiffs don’t require intensive hair care. You only have to brush their short coat once a week with a rubber curry brush or dog gloves. However, they do shed during the fall and spring. So, in those periods you’ve got to be extra careful about getting rid of all of the accumulated dirt, dandruff and tangles in their fur.
An easier way to keep your Mastiff’s coat looking neat is by using your hands. Simply wet both of your hands and run them along with your dog’s coat from the back to the front. Do this again in the opposite direction and you’ll be able to remove all the dead and loose hair effectively.
This will not only keep your dog’s coat prim and proper, but it is also a great bonding experience for you and your Mastiff.
Keeping their Face Clean
Mastiffs, as we all know, have very wrinkly faces. These wrinkles are also a favorite hiding place for bacteria and dirt, so make sure to clean them once a week. Use baby wipes to clean out the dirt and then dry it with a soft towel immediately.
Mastiffs can also wake up with a lot of gunk around their eyes which isn’t a pretty sight. They’re also more prone to developing eye infections if you don’t do anything about it. So once again use baby wipes or a gentle moistened cloth to wipe away the gunk.
Keep in mind that you are touching your dog’s eyes, which are sensitive. So don’t be rough and scare away your Mastiff.
Mastiffs tend to accumulate wax and dirt in their ears as their ears aren’t very well ventilated. That is why cleaning dog ears are very important. Never use Q-tips as these just push the wax further down into your dog’s ears. Use a washcloth or cotton balls dipped in baby oil and navigate the ear canals gently to get the wax out.
English Mastiffs do a pretty good job of staying clean on their own so they don’t need much help. Washing will actually make your Mastiff’s skin dry so only do it when your dog really needs it. If you do give your Mastiff a bath, use a canine shampoo and conditioner. Apply these products below the neck and never on the face. Also, make sure to use warm water to rinse it off properly.
Now bathing this gigantic dog is not an easy feat so remember: there is no shame in seeking professional help!
Although the other parts of the grooming process aren’t that much of a hassle, you’ve got to keep your Mastiff’s nails under check. An English Mastiff’s nails should be cut every week. Make sure to use a special canine clipper that is big enough. Pick a day for nail clipping and stick to it every week so that your Mastiff gets used to this schedule.
This is quite difficult as your dog is huge and might not stand still. A wiggly dog will only cause more damage, so having another pair of hands to hold it still will be of great help. Clip the nails while your Mastiff is standing and be careful not to nip any veins. Check behind the toenail for nerve endings. This is pretty easy to identify if you look carefully.
Then proceed with the trimming, but only cut the parts of the nail that have grown since the last cutting.
While brushing your Mastiff’s teeth daily is recommended, two to three times a week will also do. Brushing is necessary to keep your dog’s teeth healthy and avoid bacterial infections and tartar build up. You’ll also be doing yourself a favor because oral hygiene makes your dog’s breath way more bearable. However, always use a specific toothpaste and brush meant for larger dogs.
Never force your dog into brushing its teeth. Calmly introduce it to toothpaste by making it taste it first and use your fingers to do the brushing initially.
Related Read: Best Dog Beds For Large Dogs: A Complete Buying Guide
How Much Exercise Does an English Mastiff Need?
English Mastiffs may be gigantic but they don’t need as much physical activity as other large dog breeds. Although their ancestors were a working breed, Mastiffs are actually house dogs and prefer the indoors. However, they still need some form of regular mental and physical exercise to keep up their health. Without any exercise, your Mastiff will become bored and destructive.
Daily walks of no more than 30 minutes are the best form of physical activity for your Mastiff. But always observe your Mastiff and keep him harnessed and an eye on whether he is getting tired or dehydrated. It is important to understand that Mastiff puppies should have limited physical activities until their bones are properly developed. So, a daily exercise routine should not be introduced until they are at least two years old.
As for mental exercise, try playing games like fetch using frisbees and balls, or giving him chew toys filled with treats to play with. This will keep your Mastiff mentally stimulated.
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Training your English Mastiff
Mastiffs are one of the most difficult breeds to train as they have quite a relaxed personality and like to do things at their own pace. This attitude is commonly known as the ‘Mastiff tempo’. While they’re people-pleasing breeds, Mastiffs can have their stubborn periods.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t get him to follow instructions. You’ve just got to train your Mastiff at a level it will understand.
Obedience training will make your life much easier and also give your Mastiff activities to accomplish. When your Mastiff works hard at something and succeeds, it will feel happy and appreciated. It will also keep his brain stimulated and serve as a good bonding experience for you and your Mastiff.
You should start obedience training your Mastiff early on, preferably from 10 weeks old. Begin with teaching basic commands and wait until he knows them by heart. Use positive reinforcement and treats to teach your Mastiff.
Remember Mastiffs are very sensitive and negative attitudes can be very demoralizing for them!
#1. Identifying Places
You can train your Mastiff to go a specific place. Let’s suppose you want your Mastiff to go to the play mat. Say ‘go to the mat’ and place a treat on the mat, showing your Mastiff. It will definitely follow the instruction in the hope of getting the treat.
After a while, leave a treat on the mat beforehand and don’t show your puppy. Simply say ‘go to the mat’. If your Mastiff follows the instruction and finds the surprise treat, he will know that following your commands might lead to something good.
You can even teach your Mastiff the difference between outside and inside. Simply take some kibble and yell ‘outside’ while throwing a piece outside. As your Mastiff runs to eat it, throw another piece inside and yell ‘inside’.
Doing this regularly will teach your dog the meaning of outside and inside fairly quickly.
#2. Identifying People
Use certain names to identify people to your Mastiff. This is not as hard as it seems but it will take some time. So, if you want your Mastiff to go to your mom, say ‘go to mother’ and point towards your mom. That is when your mom should call your dog’s name, holding a treat.
By repeating this process, your Mastiff will know who ‘mother’ is.
Now, crate training is primarily for Mastiff puppies up to six months old. They just don’t make large enough crates for Mastiffs older than this. However, crate training is important for your dog to learn to be independent and it makes potty training much easier.
If your Mastiff is an adult, you can still crate train him by enclosing him in a small room, or an area enclosed by baby gates.
How to Crate Train your Mastiff
First of all, buy a proper crate for your Mastiff that is just the right size. Make sure that it’s not too big, or else your Mastiff will think it’s okay to potty there. Place the crate somewhere you can keep an eye on it and where you are visible to your Mastiff as well.
Keep soft bedding, a towel, and a few toys inside and lure your Mastiff inside with a treat. Let him explore the crate the first few days and once he gets comfortable, start shutting the door. Gradually start closing the door and leaving the room, but only for short periods of time. Don’t open it as soon as your Mastiff starts barking.
When potty training, it is important to note down the times your Mastiff usually goes to the bathroom. Puppies need to go at least six times a day, so it’s best to set alarms. Fix a certain place as the potty area and take your Mastiff there whenever you feel like it wants to potty. Make sure you give your Mastiff lots of praises and treats whenever he uses the right potty area.
If you live in an apartment but still have a backyard, don’t let your Mastiff puppy go out on its own. Use a litter box covered in linoleum as an indoor bathroom and wait till he is three months old to take him outside to potty.
Teaching your Mastiff Social Skills
If your Mastiff isn’t socialized at a young age, it can be quite aggressive towards other animals. They’re also quite territorial and protective, so you’ve got make sure they know how to interact with new people. Their gigantic size and strength can be a danger if a Mastiff doesn’t have proper social skills.
Before they are 16 weeks old and provided they are vaccinated, you should be taking your Mastiff out to new surroundings, like dog parks. This is peak bonding time and also the time when your dog is the most accepting of new situations. Introduce your Mastiff to new people, sounds and dogs, so that it gets used to everything.
Common English Mastiff Health Issues
Mastiffs have a shorter lifespan than other dog breeds. Their average life expectancy is 10 – 12 years. Some health problems you should look out for if you’re a Mastiff owner include:
Since Mastiffs are so big, they have a lot of structural issues, which can start as early as when they are puppies. Hip and elbow dysplasia are the most common joint problems this breed faces. You can prevent these problems by giving your Mastiff a healthy diet and making sure it is not overweight. However, avoid strenuous exercise. Control your Mastiff’s weight through its diet.
You should also make sure your Mastiff doesn’t have any sort of pressure on its back. The flooring on your house should not be slippery and children should not be allowed to carry your puppy.
Mastiffs are prone to suffering from gastric torsion, more commonly known as ‘bloating’. This is when there is an overproduction of gas that blocks your dog’s stomach. If your dog is bloated, he will be excessively thirsty, have abdominal swelling and drool more than usual. There will be dry retching, but your dog won’t be able to vomit. He will also display signs of discomfort such as restlessness and pacing.
However, there are things you can do to prevent bloating. Give your dog a well-balanced diet and well-spaced meals. When buying a food bowl, pick one that is close to the floor but has raised partitions so your Mastiff won’t eat too fast.
Treatment depends on the seriousness of the condition. Your vet will initially try methods to release the gas that has been built up.
This is a kidney disease that Mastiffs are genetically predisposed to have. It causes bladder stones and may block the urinary passage. If your dog is having problems urinating, its best to get him checked right away. But since canine cystinuria is a genetic disease, you can’t really control or prevent it.
However, you must keep a careful watch on your dog at all times. If stones have developed, there is the treatment you can seek. Your dog will have to go through surgery to unblock his urinary passages.
Additional Read: Dog Vaccination Guide: The Right Vaccination & Schedule
Mastiffs are a pretty chilled out breed that can prove to be amazing companions. They’re a little difficult to train and tend to be a little clumsy, but once they outgrow this behavior, they’ll be the best house pets you could imagine. Although Mastiffs can adjust to any type of housing, keep in mind that they are huge and need a lot of space.
They may be couch potatoes, but they’re big couch potatoes, so if you have a one bedroom apartment, don’t opt for this breed. Mastiffs love humans and can get along with other pets as well. They’re gentle, protective and incredibly entertaining. They give big slobbery kisses and like to be with you even when you sleep.
If you’ve read through this article and decided on getting a Mastiff, good decision! Here’s hoping you’re ready for the drooling mess and unconditional love you’re about to get!
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