English Mastiff history dates back as old as (or older than) man itself. True Mastiff origin begins with a type called the Molosser, a huge guardian dog that likely populated the mountains of Asia. Other descendants of Molossers are the Saint Bernard, the Dogue de Bordeaux, the Rottweiler, and even the Pug.
The history of the Mastiff (or "history of the English Mastiff") navigates through previous cultures including the Greeks, Egyptians, and Carthaginians--all of whom used these massive dogs to guard property, fight in war, and as entertainment fighting lions. As the centuries passed, Mastiff-type dogs accompanied troops throughout Europe and Asia.
Actual English Mastiff origin is recorded as early as the 1400s, when the dogs were known to guard British palaces and estates. Starting in the 15th century, a kennel in Cheshire County, England called Lyme Hall began breeding and refining these dogs; the Lyme Hall Mastiffs were bred for centuries, and are the basis for the Mastiff as we know it today.
In the 19th and 20th centuries the Mastiff faced extinction multiple times (mainly due to dog fighting and World Wars I and II), but a few were able to survive. In the U.S. the breed, which probably made its way over from England during colonization, gained popularity in the late 1800s; the American Kennel Club recognized the Mastiff in 1885, and the Mastiff Club of America (which is still the official U.S. breed club) was created in 1929.
Today the Mastiff ranks 29th out of 195 recognized AKC breeds.