Are Mastiffs Diggers? 
Are they bored? Or is it a breed thing?

by Ken Alden

As one of the largest dog breeds, Mastiffs are hard to miss. With that in mind, a popular question among dog owners looking to bring home this breed is are Mastiffs diggers? That question becomes more important when you’re dealing with a dog of this size.

So Are Mastiffs Diggers? And Why?

The short and simple answer is--yes. They have an instinctual attraction to and being outdoors. So, between their massive size and their affinity to dig, they love a big yard. They are naturally territorial dogs so when they dig, it is partially because they know that land to be theirs and can be a way of marking it as such.

Understanding why are Mastiffs diggers, what to do about it, and other activities that will help distract them, are all important when you own one. With Mastiffs ranging in sizes around 30 inches tall and up to 230 pounds, you want to keep an eye on this habit. Read More Below...

are mastiffs diggers?

The 3 Main Reasons Mastiffs Dig…

Mastiffs are some of the most distinguishable dogs on earth. Their enormous stature and their big, lovable faces are too cute to pass without saying hello. But some of their characteristics can become tricky when you are dealing with a dog that size. Your Miniature Poodle digging a 5-inch hole in the garden vs. your 200-pound Mastiff digging a hole big enough to fit a car, are slightly different.

Luckily, they are not necessarily predisposed to digging, such as breeds like Terriers, who are notorious diggers. But that doesn’t mean they won’t get into it from time to time.

1. They're Territorial by Nature

Mastiffs are considered some of the most territorial dogs. This also means they are some of the most loyal dogs to their families. They love their owners and will do anything to protect them and the family home. But that territorial nature can also lead to digging.

When they are out in the yard for playtime or to go to the bathroom, they will spend much of their time sniffing around the perimeter and throughout the yard, as any dog would do. But because of their territorial nature, they may be more prone at times to digging if they pick up a scent that doesn’t seem to belong there.

Maybe another animal had burrowed into the earth the day before. If your Mastiff catches that scent, they will try to find what was done there and why. They want to literally and figuratively get to the bottom of it all.

For territorial dogs, digging can also be to show their claim to that land. The same way a dog will mark its territory with its scent, this is another way for them to show the rest of the neighborhood who's boss in this yard.

2. They Have Primal Instincts

Mastiffs have some of the longest and most impressive lineage dating back thousands of years. There is even evidence of Mastiff-like dogs going back to 2500 B.C.E. in the mountains of Asia, according to the National Pure Bred Dog Day.

When there is such an amazing lineage to a dog breed or type, there tends to be many very primal instincts that are easily triggered within them. Some dogs will have certain traits bred out of them over the years as they evolve, but there are core instincts and traits that will always be present.

Dogs such as Mastiffs, which have such rich histories, tend to lean into those primal moments. For example, when a dog is too warm on a hot day, their instinct may kick in and drive them to dig a hole in a shaded area where the cool dirt will feel good against their bodies. 

Mastiffs react heavily off their instincts, so digging is a natural answer to some needs such as 

  • preparing for birth
  • protecting from inclement weather
  • alleviating aggression or energy

3. They Love Fun and Mischief or Might Even Be Bored

So when it comes to our question are Mastiffs diggers, we can spend a lot of time trying to figure out the reasons why they do what they do. We look to science and statistics, and studies from top veterinarians. But at the end of the day, sometimes the reason is simple; "I'm bored. This looks fun."

Mastiffs are not overly playful dogs that need to have the attention on them every second with a new toy or game. But they still are curious animals with a lot of power and strength that sometimes just need a release.

How to Handle Your Mastiff’s Digging Habits

First, you want to establish what the actual reason was. So, if you have already figured that out, that is half the battle. Reprimanding a dog for digging is a tricky one because it feels like a natural thing for them to be doing.

But when it comes to a dog as big and powerful as a Mastiff, it is something you need to at the very least keep contained before you have a rainy day and that ‘hole’ becomes an inground swimming pool.

Distract Them

If you’re lucky enough to catch them in the act, you should immediately go to them and tell them “No” in your stern voice that they know means business. Then try to distract them to another area of the yard to play or take their minds off the digging.

Give Them an Approved Area

Many Mastiff owners have succumbed to the idea of their gentle giants just needing to go dig a hole sometimes to let out some energy. If this is the case, you can still control the area where your dog is digging. This can take a while but with persistence and diligent training, you can teach them where it is okay and where it is not.

If there is a corner of the yard that your Mastiff likes to dig in, then keep that as his/her area. But be sure to reprimand them if they begin tearing up other areas. If you are consistent in your efforts to always reprimand when they are in other areas but allow them when they are in that allowed space, it will become understood by them. 

If you want to go the extra mile, even congratulate them when they dig in the proper area.

Make Sure They Have Ample Exercise

When a dog is digging a lot, it could mean they have too much energy, and they are looking for a new outlet to release it. If you notice an increase in your Mastiff digging a lot, then begin adding some time onto your daily walks and playtime. Make sure their exercise is physically and mentally stimulating.

If they enjoy the process and feeling of digging, you may also want to incorporate some additional dog toys for them that allow them to let some of their energy out on a sturdy toy that can take a beating from these big pups.

Give Them Alternatives

Boredom can be a factor as to why they dig as well. Making sure your pooch has a few favorite toys or chews can go a long way to distract from digging. Mastiffs love Kong Toys filled with treats which can not only keep their gums and teeth healthy but keep them occupied for hours.

Are Mastiffs Diggers?...Some Final Thoughts

While these dogs may not be the biggest culprits when it comes to their digging habits, they still get into their fair share of mischief in the backyard. In order to minimize or eliminate Mastiff digging should it become a problem…

  • Understanding why they dig in the first place helps
  • Distract them if caught in the act
  • Give them an approved area to dig
  • Make sure they have ample exercise
  • Give them alternatives like chews or Kong Toys

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About Author

About the Author...

Ken Alden, a dedicated Mastiff owner for over eight years, is acclaimed for his expertise in care, grooming, and training. Read more About Me and my dog Shadow.

Learn Even More About The Mastiff Breed Here...

  1. Mastiff Guide Home
  2. Mastiff Dog Information
  3. Are Mastiff Diggers