Mastiff Care

The Mastiff, often called the English Mastiff to differentiate it from other, similar Molosser-type dogs, is one of the largest breeds in the world. As such, raising an English Mastiff requires needs that don't really apply to smaller dogs. Overall English Mastiff care will require a good bit of work, and will need to include some daily exercise, early training and socialization, close diet monitoring to prevent obesity, and other general maintenance.

Here you'll find plenty of details on raising a Mastiff: puppy care and development, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and various other Mastiff tips are all covered. Get answers to your question about how to care for a Mastiff in the following sections!

Mastiff Breed Development

As a giant-sized breed, English Mastiff growth stages for puppies can span two years or more from birth to full maturity. These huge dogs also have a pretty short lifespan that averages only eight years, so a senior Mastiff is one six years of age or older.

Physical Development: Mastiff puppies grow steadily in height and length for about the first 12 months, then "fill out" with muscle and fat. And when do English Mastiffs stop growing? These dogs reach their adult height and weight (an average of 30 inches and 175 pounds) at about 16 months of age.

Social Development: Pups reach adolescence at 7-8 months, sexual maturity at 12-13 months, and full mental maturity at about 24 months.

For further details on English Mastiff development, see the chart below.

(NOTE: Though Mastiffs are generally good-natured and docile, they can be ill-tempered and unmanageable without proper training. To help ensure respectful behavior once they're mature, new Mastiff owners must begin obedience training and socialization as early in puppies' lives as possible.)

Mastiff Exercise Needs

Though they're not too energetic, these dogs are very muscular and athletic--so English Mastiff exercise needs are moderately high. Owners need to provide activities that both condition them physically (walking, fetch) and stimulate them mentally (games, canine sports); it's also good to give your muscular Mastiff some weight training a few times a week.

Specifically how much exercise does a Mastiff need each day? Adults, depending on their age and overall activity levels, will need 45-60 minutes of dedicated exercise per day. You can start exercising your Mastiff puppy when it's 3½ months old by taking it on short walks, then you can increase the walks' length as the pup grows.

Precautions with Mastiff exercise:

  • Don't exercise puppies too hard before they're 16 months old
  • A leash is a must when exercising in public; leash training during puppyhood is recommended
  • Yards must be securely fenced to keep the dog under control
  • Will overheat easily; don't exercise in sweltering temps--and provide plenty of water during all exercise sessions
  • Prone to gastric torsion (bloat); allow an hour between exercise and feeding, and vice versa

It's a good idea to exercise your Mastiff every day. Without consistent activity, these dogs will become bored, anxious, and highly destructive; they're also prone to obesity, so regular exercise will help your Mastiff shed extra pounds. A few exercise ideas:

  • Walking: Two 20-minute walks per day is a good target
  • Fetch: Mastiffs can learn to love chasing a ball or stick
  • Tug-of-War: Great indoor activity; use a rope or old towel
  • Canine Sports: Mastiffs can excel at obedience trials, cart pulling, and other events
  • Weight Pulling: Attach one end of a rope to a heavy object like a spare tire, and the other end to a harness for the dog
  • Hiking: Excellent bonding activity; keep the hikes relatively short, and bring plenty of water

When indoors, giving your Mastiff access to chew-toys or balls will allow the dog to burn excess energy. It's also good to have a regular exercise schedule for the dog, such as walks in the morning and evening and playtime in the afternoon.

Mastiff Maintenance

These huge dogs will need a lot of general care. English Mastiff shedding is seasonal: fair for most of the year, but heavier during the twice-yearly shedding seasons. Drooling is a frequent issue as well.

Mastiffs have short, dense, double-layered coats that shed moderately most of the time--but when they blow their undercoats in the spring and fall, the shedding is more profuse. Owners can brush their Mastiffs once or twice a week with a bristle brush or grooming glove to keep the shedding low, and hair cleanup--vacuuming the floors, and lint rollers on clothes and furniture--will be necessary from time to time. (Brushing and cleanup will obviously be required more often during shedding season.)

Owners will also need to clean their Mastiffs' ears and facial wrinkles every few days with a damp cloth or sponge to keep them from getting dirty and infected.

As for drooling: Mastiff dogs do it often. An English Mastiff may drool in anticipation of food, after drinking water, or when especially excited. Owners should keep spare rags or towels in rooms where their dogs spend time, to use to clean up the excess English Mastiff slobber--and they can also tie a bandanna or towel around the dog's neck to keep its chest and neck clean.

Mastiff Diet

The English Mastiff diet, like that of all breeds, will need to include animal proteins, healthy carbs, vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids--nutrients every dog needs to maintain its health long-term. This means the best Mastiff dog food is premium dry kibble, as it has balanced portions of the above-listed ingredients. If consistently fed a premium brand like Royal Canin, Mastiff dogs will be much healthier and longer-living, and they're not as likely to become overweight.

Just how much food does a Mastiff eat? In short, an incredible amount! Adult Mastiff feeding portions: 6-8 cups of dry food per day, divided into two meals. When feeding a Mastiff puppy, food portions are smaller: depending on the pup's age, about four cups per day, divided into three meals (not two) until eight months of age.

And deep-chested breeds like the Mastiff are prone to gastric torsion, aka bloat. To minimizes the chances of bloat occurring, allow an hour between exercise and feeding.

For more info on how much to feed a Mastiff puppy through adulthood, see this English Mastiff feeding chart:

*--Around this time, transition to adult food by mixing in adult formula with the puppy formula, in slowly increasing amounts with each meal, for one week.

Try if possible to stick to the above-listed daily portions. These dogs are highly prone to obesity, and if constantly overfed (and especially, under-exercised!) they'll quickly become overweight--and a fat Mastiff will have major health problems and an even shorter lifespan. You can help control your English Mastiff's weight by having consistent feeding and exercise schedules, by not feeding the dog table scraps, and by not leaving food in the dog's bowl all the time.

If you're worried your English Mastiff is overweight, try this simple test: run a hand along the dog's side, pressing down a bit. If you can't detect any ribs, it's diet time--which means less food and more exercise.

Living Environment

In spite of their size, Mastiffs are actually better as inside dogs. While they'll need some outdoor exercise each day, Mastiffs will be much happier living inside with their people. Be warned, though: these dogs emit a multitude of bodily noises--snorts, snores, and flatulence, to name a few--on a regular basis. And for the Mastiff, apartment living isn't ideal, but it's possible, as long as the dog gets outside every day for a workout.

Another consideration for owners of the English Mastiff: weather. Mastiffs will be okay in cold weather, but they overheat easily, so they shouldn't spend much time in sweltering temps. Overall, these dogs are best suited for life in mild to cooler climates.