Mastiff Temperament and Personality
Consider These Pros & Cons Before Acquiring One 

Whenever you’re thinking of getting a dog, there’s numerous things to consider.  Things like how much they will eat, where they will sleep, what health conditions to watch out for.  But any dog—small or large—will become a member of your family and a loyal companion.  It only makes sense then that you would want to know a little about what the Mastiffs nature is like should you be considering this breed.

What are Mastiff’s temperament and personality?  Some of the personality traits of a Mastiff are not surprising, given they are such large dogs.  Don’t let their size fool you—Mastiffs are surprising, complex dogs. 

Here is an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of a Mastiff’s personality:

Pros...

-Gentle natured
-Great family dog
-Great guard dog
-Loyal and protective
-Doesn’t bark often
-Easy maintenance on grooming
-Overall very sweet natured
-Doesn’t need much exercise
-They are mostly calm in temperament

Cons...

-Giant in size, needs more room
-Not for young children
-Not bred to be watch-dog
-Can be territorial
-They drool a lot!
-Sheds heavily
-Health issues due to size
-Need time and companionship 
-They mature more slowly 

If you are planning to adopt a Mastiff or already have done so, you’ll need a guide to breakdown their behavioral traits and the psychology behind understanding those traits. This guide will focus predominantly on temperament/personality pros and cons, but things like drooling and grooming are also important factors for owners to consider. By the end of this guide, you will have a new respect for this ancient breed and all of the love they can contribute to your household! Read More Below...

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young girl playing with her mastiff


Mastiff Temperament and Personality – Pros and Cons

This powerful and entrancing breed feels as if they are the size of a horse when you’re standing beside one. A human can only realize how small and weak they are when in close proximity to a breed like this.

The largest Mastiff on record won the Guinness Book of World Records in the 1990s for World’s Largest Dog. His name was Zorba that weighed an incredible 343-pound and measured over 8-feet from nose to tail!

It’s no wonder this breed can be intimidating to pet owners and quite an undertaking to adopt and care for. 

The main factors we will weigh out are:

  • Personality and temperament
  • Family-applicability
  • Grooming concerns
  • Health concerns

If you are on the fence about this breed, you should know that they are one of the most loving and good-natured dog breeds out there, ranking 29 of 195 Popular AKC Breeds for their adorably sweet nature.

I hope the pros and cons don’t deter you away from this breed because these big “teddy bears” contribute greatly to any family that adopts them.

The Pros of Owning a Mastiff

Some of the major wins for this breed that should sell you on their charm include:

  • Their loving nature – Mastiffs are linked back to a mysterious past which trails through Tibet, Rome, Babylon, and Egypt! The exotically large Mastiff breed eventually became known as ‘War-Lions’ by the Romans and were used as Guard dogs around the palaces and royals.

    A dog with a purpose always feels more reason for being. Hunting dogs love to hunt, herding dogs love to herd, and your Mastiff absolutely lives to protect and guard your family. 
  • They are incredibly loyal – since they were bred to serve and protect, they will latch onto your family like butter on grits. If you take care of your Mastiff and make him/her feel cherished, they will repay you with loyalty tenfold.

  • You will feel safer – Ultimately, who’s going to attack you with a 2-300 bear dog at your side? You will not need to worry about intruders or danger with a secure insurance policy in the form of a loving, drooling pup.

  • They are more gentle-natured than little dogs – Despite being a larger dog that could seem intimidating to many, the larger dogs are known for being the more gentle-breeds. As Psychology Today puts it regarding the differences psychologically in small dogs versus large ones, “These results seem to confirm the stereotypes about small dogs, namely that they are less obedient, more excitable and aggressive, and more prone to anxiety and fearfulness.”

    Your Mastiff knows he can eat anyone, so this is why he won’t. It’s a psychological priming of his strength and essentially the source of his teddy-bear like sweetness. 
  • Exercise, but not too much! – These dogs need some exercise but not so much that you’ll be exhausted afterward. One long walk a day is perfect, or two short ones with quick potty breaks in between.  

The Cons of Owning a Mastiff

It would only be fair to the pros if we weighed out the inevitable cons. No one’s perfect, right? The cons you should be aware of and consider for the Mastiff breed are:

  • The sheer size – yes, he is a cuddly teddy-bear, but he’s a giant one. This is all well and dandy, but what isn’t dandy is the amount of food your Mastiff will require, which one Mastiff owner estimates will cost about $120 per month. This will vary per dog-food brand, but you can estimate about $100 per month for a well-fed Mastiff, which is about $1200 per year in food cost alone.

    Those are not the only expenses to consider before adopting a Mastiff.  The vet bills can be nearly $1,000 for the first year of shots alone.
  • They drool… a lot – we wouldn’t lie to you, and the verdict on these pups is that their drooling is second to none. If this bothers you, it might not be the right breed for your family. You may consider keeping them outside for some of the time which could protect your furniture, but the issue here is that Mastiffs are very social creatures (relating back to their bred-purpose of serving and protecting your family) Which leads us to –

  • They can get destructive – only if they aren’t getting what they need. So if you throw them in the backyard and never spend quality time with your Mastiff or take it on walks, you will quickly see the volatile side of this honey-bear.

    Mastiffs can start to tear up the yard, rip up furniture, chew shoes, or bark more than normal. If your Mastiff is acting out in these ways, it means you are not giving him/her something that they need to be satisfied.


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This YouTube Video Will Help You Learn More About This Breed...


  • They are not watchdogs – the main difference between a watchdog and a guard dog is that a watchdog won’t attack. To mention a chihuahua again, they are watchdogs because they yap but can’t do much else. A guard dog will take necessary action against danger and not just make noise. So if you don’t want a dog that is capable of the attack-part-of-the-equation – don’t adopt a Mastiff. But get an alarm system.

  • They mature more slowly – A usual puppy is considered a full-grown adult by year 1. A Mastiff will not be considered a full-fledged adult until around year 3. This is due to the Mastiff's large size, which takes more time to grow into. This delay will also cause their mental growth to be slightly slower meaning it will feel like you have a puppy for the first couple of years.

    If it feels like your Mastiff is taking a long time to mature, this is normal, and you have nothing to worry about. You will see a shift in their personality to an even calmer temperament by around year 3.

You Should Not Own a Mastiff If...

  • You want a small-sized dog 
  • You want an energetic dog that is super athletic
  • You want a dog that can not only be a watchdog but also protect the family and attack an intruder if necessary
  • You enjoy getting outside and want an excuse to take more walks
  • You like dogs that look dignified and carry themselves in a regal manner
  • You want a dog that required minimal grooming
  • You plan to leave them in the backyard, which will make them depressed/destructive
  • You want a guard dog to protect the family and look more threatening than he really is
  • You want to have room in your car for things other than yourself and your dog
  • You have a smaller home, apartment, or lack of a back yard 
  • You don’t want a dog that slobbers too much 
  • You don’t want to deal with the heavy shedding, despite the minimal grooming required 
  • You don’t want a large dog that is quite that large. The only thing to watch out for is if you have a home with very young children (under age 8-9) or elderly people. This is because the Mastiff dog is very gentle, but they also don’t know their own size.

You Should Own a Mastiff If...

  • You have other pets that are small or cats. Mastiffs get along with other larger dogs, and most will be friendly towards all breeds over time, but it will take the Mastiff a moment to warm up as they are suspicious and territorial in protecting their family. They can usually get along with cats but be careful that their hunting instincts don’t kick in or mistake the cat for prey.
  • You don’t want a guard dog 
  • You want a large dog (some people just don’t like small dogs. I love them both, but one is certainly notorious for being yappier than the other!)
  • You want a calm dog that will mostly be chill
  • You have a large home that can host such a large dog
  • You're looking for a loyal, lovable, sweet friend

Mastiff Temperament What To Expect

These giants among dogs are as sweet as they are large. These highly intelligent dogs love to have an objective in mind.

Because of this, the Mastiff is very trainable and loves to use their intellect to please you as their owner.

Since they are very trainable, you can tell your Mastiff to sit/stay/etc. and they will listen on command, making them very easy to control and lead. 

The overall temperament of the mastiff will be very strong yet soft, calm, even-keeled, and reliable.

Mastiff Personality What To Expect

These dignified animals will be loving and affectionate, wonderful for families. Some words to describe the personality of the Mastiff breed are:

  • Loyal
  • Loving
  • Very affectionate
  • Territorial
  • Noble
  • Instinctive
  • Gentle
  • Low-maintenance
  • Obedient
  • Protective
  • Well-mannered
  • Self-assured
  • Calm
  • Observant
  • Suspicious of strangers

It is important to the Mastiff’s personality and proper development that they receive socialization as a puppy.

A breeder should not sell a Mastiff puppy before the 11th-12th week of their life. Any earlier than this and your puppy won’t have time socializing with their siblings to learn play and socialization with the mother to train them on biting, behaving properly, and trusting others.

Without this crucial time, your Mastiff can misread situations, be too suspicious of strangers, and you risk them attacking a non-threat. Be certain your dog has standard behavior qualities that do not seem odd, aggressive, or beyond their normal three years of puppy-maturity.

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Grooming

We realize this article is more about the temperament of the breed, but in weighing the pros and cons, you need to be aware of quick information on the grooming requirements and health of this breed, which may alter your decision before adopting this breed.

Mastiffs do not require immense grooming and are quite affordable in this sense.

They will shed quite a bit, so what you can do as a Mastiff-owner is to take them outside once a day for a quick brushing. This will remove the dead skin follicles and hair to aid in new growth. It will also keep their skin cleaner, reduce skin irritation from a lack of grooming, and minimize the shedding.

You will need to trim their nails, clean ears, and dental hygiene cannot be forgotten either. Use these guides on the following necessities:

Mastiff Health Issues

This may contribute to the cons on your list, breaking down the Mastiff breed’s feasibility into your home and lifestyle. Sadly, the Mastiff breed does have quite a bit of health issues, but it can be reduced by adopting from a reputable breeder that is breeding with ethical practices.

The common health issues to watch out for with the Mastiff breed include:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Canine Cystinuria
  • Cataracts
  • Osteochondritis
  • Gastric Dilatation (the second leading cause of death in Mastiffs, also known as bloat. This can be reduced by feeding your dog many small meals a day instead of one large one).

This helpful article of ours goes more in depth on the various health issues that Mastiffs have.

Their life-span is between 9 to 10 years.

Unfortunately, these health issues are mostly due to the Mastiff’s large size, and larger dogs have a shorter lifespan than smaller dogs.

With their maturity coming later in life and their death coming sooner than many breeds, this is a factor you should absolutely consider when balancing the pros and cons. 


Final Tips on Mastiffs

The Mastiff breed is overall one of the calmest and most gentle breeds you can choose.

They will not require a lot of attention from you, won’t require incredible amounts of exercise, and will be very go-with-the-flow. They are affectionate and will cuddle up to the family they love, making you feel appreciated and cared for.

They are easier to satisfy than most breeds and won’t bark much if at all. They’re playful but not too playful and won’t ask a lot from you as an owner in the categories of exercise, grooming, or activity. They will need mental stimulation and bonding time with the family unit to be properly socialized and content.

The Major Takeaway...

  • Adopt if you want a "watch" dog not a guard dog
  • Adopt if you want a loving family dog, but your kids aren’t too little (over age 9)
  • Adopt if you want a calm dog with an even-temperament
  • Adopt if you want an easily trainable dog that is intelligent
  • Don’t adopt if you hate drooling
  • Don’t adopt if you’re intimidated by the size of this breed
  • Don't adopt if you can't afford this breed (they eat a lot)
  • Don’t adopt if you have young children (under age 9) 

Mastiffs get very attached and don’t respond well to change. Please be certain you are ready to adopt a Mastiff before doing so, or you will most likely break their hearts once they’ve gotten attached to you and chosen you to be loyal to.

Ripping them away from a home that they’ve become attached can lead to destructive and depressive behaviors that impediment their growth.

These eternally loving fur-babies are a wonderful addition to any home and are worth the large poop-scoops. Consider adopting one today from a reputable breeder by using the American Kennel Club’s Mastiff Marketplace Organization of reputable breeders

Learn Even More About The Mastiff Breed Here...


  1. Mastiff Guide Home
  2. Mastiff Dog Information
  3. Mastiff Temperament And Personality