Sweet but Still a Beast

I was very disturbed to read this article about a bullmastiff in Massachusetts.. and then I found this one which references the same incidnet but says the dog is an English Mastiff.

Being a lover of the Mastiff breeds, I was relieved to see that they were ruling this as an accident. Some may disagree with me but many responsible dog owners like myself are not keen on breed specific legislation, and I certainly don’t want my loveable bullys on that list!

Long story short, apparently, a neighborhood kid was playing in a neighbors yard when the neighbors dog attacked and killed him. The owners promptly euthanised the dog.

Although I can’t begin judge that decision (after all, the kid WAS in his yard and they are a guarding breed, but English Mastiffs have not been bred for killing in almost a century and BullMastiffs were bred to dispatch a poachers dog and hold the poacher by sitting on them.. they are not primarily bite dogs.. more sit on you and stay there dogs) , since I only have a piece of the information, what I can say is this:

Mastiff Breeds are NOT for everyone!

They are a strong willfull breed and should only be owned by an experienced handler. Yes, they are cute and cuddly.. yes, they are big gentle giants.. but they are animals. Animals. Just like any other dog (yes even the cute little chi’s who in my opinion should be not be laughed at when they attack a police officer. Things like this are the reason that breed specific legistlation is so common. A dog bite is a dog bite. Those Chi’s owners should have been made to pay the same penalty as the pitbull owners. But I digress)

English Mastiffs were the original war dog. They were pictured fighting lions, horses, and even elephants. They were rumored to be sent to fight in the Roman Coliseums.

They were almost non existant but in the Victorian Era, the breed was “saved” by reintroducing Bullmastiff genetic material and the Mastiff became the “Nanny”. You may see many pictures of Baby Buggies and a BIG dawg sitting next to it.. That is most likely an English Mastiff.

Mastiff or Bullmastiff, they are a breed that is Massive in size (our own Targ goes 160 lbs, too big for a bullmastiff and is often mistaken for a mastiff) and if he were not trained, socialized and handled properly, he could be deadly. And if we hadn’t gotten his thyroid straightened out, he probably would have killed someone. We were facing the terrible decision of having to euthanise him. Fortunately, for now, we have been spared having to make that choice.

Mastiff breeds require constant vigilance. Training does not stop in the obedience class. Targ has graduated through level 4 obedience and we continue to “work” him on walks, in the house, or just for fun. It keeps his mind active and reminds him that we are the boss.

It has been my experience that they get bored quickly in training and have a good streak of “Why should I?” when asked to do something. Training a Bully is a team effort. You cannot Bully a Bullmastiff.. you end up with an agressive, frustrated, unhappy and stressed out dog. You know, the kind that “snaps for no reason”? (For the record: there is ALWAYS a reason. You just may not know what it is)

Consider that the bullmastiff was bred to be part of a team. He was the GameKeepers Night Dog, working with the GameKeeper to rid a plantation of poachers. The GameKeeper came to rely on his dog to find poachers in the dark. It is said that the Bully has wrinkles so that when the dog is “on alert” or finding someone where they shouldn’t be, the GameKeeper need only put his hand on the dogs head. Wrinkles? Dog is alert. No Wrinkles? Dog is relaxed.

At any rate, I could go on for days about this.

My main point is this DO YOUR RESEARCH before you get a dog. Perhaps, and I don’t know if this is the case, but perhaps, if the owners of that dog had handled him better, be it through emotional health (ie: training and socialization) or physical health (i.e. hormonal issue, pain issues, etc) both he and the child would still be alive.