Does The Bullmastiff Make A Good Domestic Pet?

The bullmastiff is a large, heavy dog breed that has a huge physical presence that is enough to make most people stop and take a second look – and they have been popular guard dogs all across the world throughout their history thanks to their large size and imposing appearance.

They are slow moving, fairly laid back dogs that have an almost ponderous outlook on life, appearing to weigh everything up carefully before taking an action and sometimes, almost seeming to move in slow motion.

Bullmastiffs are very loyal dogs that form strong bonds with their families and that make for great watchdogs – and if you want to own a large dog breed that requires just a couple of moderately paced walks a day to thrive, this might be a good pick.

However, the bullmastiff personality is a complex one that requires an experienced owner who knows how to train and manage the dog in order to keep the dog happy, well behaved and under control – which coupled with the breed’s physical size, can be a challenge.

If you are trying to decide if the bullmastiff is the right choice of dog for you or are doing your research into the right large breed to buy, this article will provide a short basic introduction to the bullmastiff’s personality, temperament and core traits. Read on to learn more.

More about the bullmastiff

The bullmastiff is a large, muscular dog from the Kennel Club’s working group, which was historically used for hunting and guarding.

Their watchful, speculative personalities and large imposing size – often coupled with a fearless nature and natural suspicion of strangers – makes them excellent guard dogs and watchdogs, although managing these traits within a suburban environment can be a challenge.

Bullmastiffs descend from some of the most ancient of recognised dog types like the mastiff and molosser, and dogs of the bullmastiff type have been around for hundreds of years at least, and probably a lot longer.

The core temperament traits of the bullmastiff

The two main temperament traits of the bullmastiff are loyalty and courage, and this breed has both of these things in spades. They are loyal to a fault with the people that earn their trust, and form strong bonds with those they love, often being very protective over them but hugely gentle and tolerant with those they are close to.

The bullmastiff is a very watchful, speculative dog that likes to think things through, but they are fast to react to perceived threats or intruders, which makes them such good watchdogs and guard dogs. They are often highly suspicious of strangers and take a while to warm up to people that they don’t know, which means that introducing new people needs to be handled carefully with supervision and plenty of time.

Even when the dog’s owner invites someone new into their home and introduces them to the dog properly, bullmastiffs are apt to be alert and watchful of the newcomer if left alone with them until they get to know them well.

While dogs of the breed will usually bark and make a big fuss if they perceive a threat to their territory, they are generally quiet in the house, and fairly laid back.

This same watchfulness and highly territorial instinct often extends to other animals as well as people, and they are not tolerant of visiting dogs unless introduced and managed carefully.

Plenty of appropriately planned socialisation from an early age is vital in order to ensure that the bullmastiff behaves well with other people and animals, and can be kept under proper control in new situations.

Whilst bullmastiffs can be very loving and protective of younger family members, they won’t tolerate being pulled around or disturbed and so, are not generally considered to be a sound choice of pet for families with young children who have yet to learn how to handle a dog.

Training and managing a bullmastiff

Bullmastiffs require firm, fair and consistent training and management, with a set routine and clear boundaries.

Due to the sheer physical size and strength of dogs of the breed, teaching them the rules and how to behave properly is something that must begin early, because bullmastiffs are really strong and cannot be controlled by means of sheer brute strength alone!

Dogs of the breed can also be stubborn and need a good reason to do anything – which means incentivising training with plenty of encouragement and rewards. Teaching the dog that compliance with commands results in a treat or praise is the best way to work with a bullmastiff, and training must be consistent and adapted to suit the unique needs of a dog of this type.

The human members of the dog’s pack must be the clear alphas and pack leaders, and a bullmastiff that is dominant, pushy or badly mannered can pose a huge problem due to their physical size and tendency to being protective and territorial.

This is something that must be reviewed and monitored on an ongoing basis, to ensure that the dog knows their place in the pack structure and respects and follows their handler’s commands.

What sort of owner and lifestyle is the best fit for a bullmastiff?

Because bullmastiffs are so large, they need a large home and some outside space to stretch their legs in between walks and planned activity. Good fencing is important to keep the dog contained, and to prevent passers by from reaching in to pet the dog, which may not always garner a positive reaction.

Bullmastiffs require an experienced owner who is well versed in caring for and managing a large, strong and confident dog breed, which means that they are generally considered to be a poor choice of new dog for a first time owner. Channelling the breed’s core traits into positive directions, managing potential dominance and keeping the dog happy and fulfilled is a balancing act, and one that requires an adaptive, switched on handler who can look ahead to potential problems and mitigate them accordingly.

Few dog breeds are as loyal as the bullmastiff, and earning one’s love and respect is an achievement to be proud of – which makes them one of the most rewarding of all dog breeds to own for the right person.


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