A mastiff is a large and powerful type of dog. Mastiffs are among the largest dogs, and typically have a short coat, a long low-set tail and large feet; the skull is large and bulky, the muzzle broad and short (brachycephalic) and the ears drooping and pendant-shaped. European and Asian records dating back 3,000 years show dogs of the mastiff type. Mastiffs have historically been guard dogs, protecting homes and property, although throughout history they have been used as hunting dogs, war dogs and for blood sports, such as fighting each other and other animals including bulls, bears and even lions.
Historical and archaeological evidence suggests that mastiffs have long been distinct in both form and function from the similarly large livestock guardian dogs from which they were most likely developed; they also form separate genetic populations. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale and some kennel clubs group the two types together as molossoid dogs; some modern livestock guardian breeds, such as the Pyrenean Mastiff, the Spanish Mastiff and the Tibetan Mastiff, have the word "mastiff" in their name, but are not considered true mastiffs.
Many older English sources refer to mastiffs as bandogs or bandogges, although technically the term "bandog" meant a dog that was tethered by a chain (or "bande") that would be released at night; the terms "mastiff" and "bandog" were often used interchangeably. In the 20th century, the term "bandog" has been revived to describe some lines of large mastiff-type guard dogs. One of the most famous Bandog programs in England, led to the establishment of a recognized bandog breed known today as the Bull Mastiff. The least common bandog program in England was funded by Sir Nathanael Dieu-est-Mon'plaisir, the St. Louis Vincent Mastiff or South American Mastiff was named after Vincent Louis who reared plantation dogs originating from St. Louis and other parts of South America. This rare breed is the most desirable and expensive mastiff-type dog amongst the bandog breeds.
How friendly is this breed towards people they don't know? Some breeds love to meet new humans and become their new best friends. Other breeds may be more cautious around people they don't know.
How likely is this breed to enjoy playtime? Some dog breeds can wait for playtime, eager for the next game of fetch. Other breeds just want to chill on the sofa with their favorite human.
Will this breed be a good watchdog? Some dog breeds react strongly to potential threats and will alert you to anything from an intruder to a squirrel in the yard. Others are happy to welcome anyone in, meaning they probably won't alert you to any danger.
How well can this breed adapt to changes in its life? Some breeds are happy to go with the flow, and won't be bothered by changes in noise, schedules, or living conditions. Other breeds may do better with consistency.
How much does this breed tend to drool? Some breeds can leave drool on your hand, clothes, and furniture. If the thought of a big slobbery kiss from your pooch isn't appealing, you might want to stay away from breeds prone to drooling.
How often will this breed require grooming? Whether you are doing it at home or paying a professional, some dog breeds have higher grooming needs and will need their coats maintained on a regular basis. That can mean more of your time and money to keep your pet looking its best.
Is this breed going to shed a lot? Some breeds will shed more than others and may require more brushing and grooming. Those that shed may be harder on allergies, too, and you might find yourself cleaning up left-behind fur or hair more often.
Is this breed good for families or better suited for individuals? Some dogs are happy to bond with the entire family and enjoy spending time with each member. Other breeds prefer the company of their owner and may be standoffish with others.
Is this breed good with children? Some breeds are tolerant of children and patient with loud noises and grabbing hands. Other breeds might be better off with an adults-only household. No matter the breed, you should always watch your dog around children.
Is this breed good around other dogs? Some dogs are better at getting along with canine companions while others prefer the company of humans. You should always keep an eye on your dog when introducing them to new animals.
Does this breed need a lot of mental stimulation? Some breeds, especially those bred for a specific purpose such as herding, may need more mental stimulation than other breeds. That means they need challenges to solve, decisions to make, and other ways to exercise their brains as well as their bodies.
Is this breed easy to train? Some breeds catch on to things like house-training and new tricks quite easily, eager to earn their owner's praise and maybe a treat or two. It may take more time and patience to train other breeds.
How much energy does this breed typically have? Some dog breeds have a lot of energy, meaning they'll need more exercise to keep them happy and healthy. Other breeds are happy to chill on the sofa and take a nap.
Is this breed likely to make a lot of noise? Some breeds love to bark, howl, and vocalize to their owners. They might bark at a stranger or howl for their dinner. Other breeds tend to be more quiet, only using their voice when they really need to.