Mastiff Temperament and Personality
Consider These Pros & Cons Before Acquiring One
by Ken Alden
What are the Mastiff temperament and personality like? Learning what you can expect before bringing one home is vital information to prevent any later regrets.
Mastiff Temperament and Personality Overview...
-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
-Mostly calm in temperament
-Giant in size, needs more room
-Not for young children
-Not bred to be watch-dog
-Can be territorial
-They drool a lot!
-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...
Pro-tip: Ever try lifting a Mastiff? Their weight can hurt not only your back but their joints when they hop down from cars, sofas or even your bed. To protect your back and theirs check out the best Mastiff ramps on Amazon.com now.
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
that weighed an incredible 343-pound and measured over 8-feet from nose to
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
- Personality and
- 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
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 which is one of the great Mastiff temperament and personality qualities.
- 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.
Pro-tip: Mastiff anxiety, aggression, destructive
chewing, jumping up, fearfulness, and other behaviors can be controlled with
the right training program.
Here’s a great course that
addresses these issues along with many other dog training basics: Check it out now!
- 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.
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.
So be patient as this is part of the Mastiff temperament and personality.
You Should Not Own a Mastiff If...
- You want a
- 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
- 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
Because of this,
the Mastiff is very trainable and loves to use their intellect to please you as
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 Mastiff temperament and personality will be very strong yet soft, calm, even-keeled, and
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:
- Very affectionate
- Suspicious of
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.
Pro-tip: Mastiff's (and their owners) love dog crates…and for good reasons. Crates keep dogs from mischief while you're away, are perfect for house training, for traveling by car, and provide the dog a place to de-stress. Check out the best Mastiff crates on Amazon.com now.
We realize this article is more about Mastiff temperament and personality, 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. You can find out everything you need to know on grooming your Mastiff here.
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
The common health issues to watch out
for with the Mastiff breed include:
- Hip Dysplasia
- 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).
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.
Mastiff Temperament and Personality...Some Final Thoughts
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
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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.
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