Breed History / Description

When the Romans invaded Britain in 55BC they found the inhabitants already had a mastiff- type dog, huge and courageous and which defeated the Romans' own dogs in organised fights. The Romans took some of these mastiff types home with them and used them for fighting wild animals in the Coliseum. 

The Mastiff, once known as the Old English Mastiff, was used as a guard dog, a gamekeepers' dog, a hunter of wolves, and for bear and bull baiting. He was also used in the fighting pits until this activity was outlawed in 1835. This threatened the breed's survival. A number of Mastiffs had been exported to the United States between the wars and by the end of World War II, just a single bitch, Nydia of Frithend remained in Britain. The dogs exported to the United States became the progenitors of fourteen Mastiffs who were in turn sent to Britain post-World War II to revive the breed. 

Now, although they are still not numerous, they have their devotees who take on the challenge of achieving type and substance combined with soundness of movement.


Large, powerful, well knit frame. A combination of grandeur and courage. 


Calm, affectionate to owners, but capable of guarding. Usually indifferent with strangers; timidity is unacceptable.

Club, K., 2018. The Kennel Club's Breed Standards. 5th ed. London SW1V 2SA: Ebury Press.

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