Can you tell the difference between a Bullmastiff and an English Mastiff? They can look similar, and they have a common background, but they were bred for different purposes.
Let’s dive in and talk about what’s different when looking at the Bullmastiff vs English Mastiff.
Bullmastiff vs English Mastiff: Quick Summary
|Size||up to 27" and 130 pounds||30" or more, up to 230 pounds|
|Lifespan||7-9 years||6-10 years|
What Is a Bullmastiff?
The Bullmastiff is a large working dog that was bred to hunt down poachers on the land of English aristocracy. They can weigh up to 130 pounds.
Bullmastiffs were bred in the mid- to late-19th century to chase and pin down poachers on land owned by English aristocrats. Gamekeepers wanted dogs that were more aggressive than the English Mastiff and bigger than the Bulldog. Eventually, they settled on a dog breed that was 60% Mastiff and 40% Bulldog.
The Bullmastiff lived with the Gamekeeper’s family and worked quietly with the Gamekeeper to stop poachers. Nicknamed “The Gamekeeper’s Night Dog,” Bullmastiffs were shown in competitions to determine which gamekeeper had the best specimen.
As poaching declined, the Bullmastiff was repurposed as a guard dog.
A large breed, Bullmastiffs stand 24” to 27” tall and weigh up to 130 pounds. They have short fur that is typically brindle, fawn, or red. They also usually have a black mask (muzzle).
Thanks to their Bulldog ancestors, they have a shorter muzzle than other mastiff breeds. Like other mastiffs, they have large, flappy lips and tend to drool.
Bullmastiffs are quiet, intelligent, and friendly unless they feel like somebody is threatening their family. They have moderate energy levels for a large dog. As long as they get a couple of good walks each day, they are happy to be lap dogs the rest of the day.
Since they were bred to guard homes somewhat independently, they are less prone to separation anxiety than other breeds. If you don’t leave them outside (they are prone to heatstroke), they can be left alone while you work.
With good socialization as a puppy, Bullmastiffs are good with children. However, no dog should be left alone with small children.
Sadly, Bullmastiffs are prone to a variety of health issues, contributing to their short lifespan of 7-9 years. Some health issues they are prone to include:
- Hip or elbow dysplasia – a painful malformation of the joints
- Entropion – a condition where the eyelid rolls inward, irritating the eye
- Hypothyroidism – an underactive thyroid gland
- Cystinuria – a common cause of kidney or bladder stones
- Bloat – a life-threatening condition when the stomach fills with air and twists on its axis
- Cancer – including osteosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumors
- Torn ACL – a common type of knee injury that may require surgery
- Skin problems – such as sores, rashes, or irritations
What Is an English Mastiff?
The English Mastiff is a close descendant of ancient mastiff breeds that have been around for at least 5000 years. The English Mastiff is one of the heaviest and biggest dog breeds and can weigh more than 200 pounds. The heaviest dog on record was an English Mastiff named Zorba who weighed 323 pounds.
English Mastiff History
Mastiff breeds were long used as war dogs. When Julius Caesar brought British mastiffs to Rome in 55 BC, they were used as entertainment in coliseums. The mastiffs battled gladiators and other ferocious beasts.
The English Mastiff as we know it today was developed in medieval England to hunt big game, guard large estates, and fight in wars. While some people still use them as guard dogs, their calm nature makes them a great family pet.
English Mastiff Appearance
The English Mastiff is a huge dog. It stands up to 30” tall and can weigh more than 220 pounds. Their short fur comes in only 3 colors: apricot, brindle, and fawn. They always have a black mask.
English Mastiff Personality
The English Mastiff is a calm, friendly dog who will protect its family from any perceived threat. Mastiffs will even step between an arguing couple or a parent punishing a child.
English Mastiffs have low exercise needs and can do well living in an apartment – if it’s big enough to accommodate the dog’s size. Many apartment complexes have size restrictions on dogs, so always check the rules before bringing home an English Mastiff.
English Mastiff Health
Like the Bullmastiff, the English Mastiff is prone to a variety of health problems, including:
- Hip dysplasia – a painful condition where the thighbone doesn’t fit properly in the hip socket
- Seizures – which can be scary but are often treatable with medication
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) – an eye disease that leads to blindness
- Bloat – a deadly condition where a dog’s stomach fills with air and rotates
- Cystinuria – a condition that causes kidney or bladder stones
- Cancer – especially bone cancer
Bullmastiff vs English Mastiff: Key Differences
Let’s talk a little more about the differences between the Bullmastiff and the English Mastiff.
The biggest difference between the Bullmastiff and the English Mastiff is their size. The Bullmastiff tops out around 130 pounds, while the English Mastiff can weigh more than 220 pounds.
Bullmastiffs and English Mastiffs have similar personalities. They both love their families and will protect them if necessary. The Bullmastiff, however, tends to have more energy and can be more territorial.
Both breeds need plenty of socialization and training from a young age. Thanks to their size, obedience and friendliness are even more important than for smaller breeds.
Exercise Requirements Comparison
English Mastiffs are quite happy to be giant lap dogs with a couple of short walks each day. Bullmastiffs have slightly more energy than English Mastiffs but are still happy with a couple of walks. They don’t have as much energy as many of the retriever or sheepdog breeds.
English Mastiff vs Bullmastiff Health Differences
The English Mastiff and Bullmastiff have similar health conditions. With an average lifespan of up to 10 years, the English Mastiff has slightly fewer common health problems than the Bullmastiff.
We have written more about how long English Mastiffs live here.
Since English Mastiffs are more popular than Bullmastiffs, breeders charge more for puppies.
English Mastiffs, due to their size, will eat a lot more food over their lifetime than Bullmastiffs. However, Bullmastiffs may have more health problems than English Mastiffs.
Without health as a factor, English Mastiffs are more expensive throughout their lives than Bullmastiffs.
Other Mastiff Dog Breeds
Since mastiffs are an ancient dog breed, there are variations all around the world. Here are some of the most common mastiff dog breeds.
Also known as the Mastino, the Neapolitan Mastiff hails from Italy. You can recognize a Neapolitan Mastiff by their giant, wrinkly, droopy face. In terms of size, the Mastino is larger than a Bullmastiff but smaller than an English Mastiff.
Males can weigh up to 150 pounds. The average lifespan is 7-9 years.
Some may mistake this dog for a giant Chow Chow thanks to their thick coat. Developed in the Himalayas, this may be the oldest mastiff dog breed.
Tibetan Mastiffs can weigh up to 150 pounds and have a surprisingly long lifespan for such large dogs – 10-12 years.
While Great Danes are skinnier than most other mastiff breeds, they share the same molosser ancestor. Great Danes are the tallest dog breed and stand 32” high at the shoulder.
The Great Dane lifespan is 7-10 years, and they can weigh up to 175 pounds.
Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff)
This dog is older than the country of France. Interestingly, the Dogue de Bordeaux also has the largest head, proportionately, of any dog breed.
The Dogue de Bordeaux has a short average lifespan of only 5-8 years and weighs up to 110 pounds.
This Argentinian mastiff works in packs to hunt large prey like pumas, wild boars, and peccaries. Topping out at 100 pounds, the Dogo Argentino lives an average of 9-15 years.
The Dogo Argentino is often mistaken for a Pitbull, especially since their ears are traditionally cropped.
The Cane Corso has a varied history as a war dog, hunter, livestock drover, farmer, and guard dog. They nearly went extinct when modern farming equipment took over, but they are becoming popular family dogs.
This Italian Mastiff lives 9-12 years and stands up to 27.5” tall.
Boerboel (South African Mastiff)
The Boerboel can weigh up to 200 pounds and was bred to protect farmers in South Africa. They’re large enough and aggressive enough to chase off or hunt down wildlife as intimidating as lions.
However, they are gentle with their families and commit themselves to guarding them.
English Mastiff vs Bullmastiff: Which Breed is Best?
As you can see, there are a lot of similarities between the Bullmastiff and the English Mastiff. Their size is the biggest difference between the two breeds, with the English Mastiff outweighing the Bullmastiff by 100 pounds.
Neither breed is inherently better than the other. It’s just a matter of which breed will fit into your family – quite literally!