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In the late 1800’s the then newly formed Old English Mastiff Club began drawing up a Breed Standard. The standard is a written description of what a Mastiff should look like. The standard that was drawn up is still used in England today and Australia has adopted the English Standard without change. The United States has a standard that is based on the English standard but is not identical.

Before you buy a Mastiff puppy, you should study the standard thoroughly. Try to see as many Mastiffs as possible and try to assess every Mastiff you see against the description in the standard. Mastiff puppies look very different from adult Mastiffs and the standard describes the ideal adult Mastiff. You may therefore find it hard to make a detailed assessment of a puppy against the standard. It does however, provide you with a guide for the things you should be considering when you look at a puppy.

You can also use the standard to assess the puppy’s parents and other dogs in its pedigree. There is no guarantee that a puppy will turn out like its parents and other relations. In fact, quite often it does not. But looking at the dogs in a puppy’s pedigree is the best guide there is to what a puppy may turn out like.

Note: One word of warning about the standard. It describes the IDEAL adult Mastiff. That does not mean that you will find a Mastiff that matches the standard in every respect. It is very easy when you first start looking at Mastiffs and comparing them to the standard to start disregarding dogs as soon as you see that they do not match the standard in some way. By focusing entirely on whether a dog varies in any way from the standard you will quite often overlook Mastiffs that are in fact, overall, excellent examples of the breed. That is why it is important to try and see as many Mastiffs as you can before you buy. This is the only way to get an idea of what you should be looking for and the extent to which you should be concerned about a particular fault.




General Appearance:

Head, in general outline, giving a square appearance when viewed from any point. Breadth desired and in ratio to length of whole head and face as 2:3. Body broad, deep, long, powerfully built, on legs wide apart, and symmetrically set. Muscles sharply defined. Size is desirable, but only if combined with quality and if absolute soundness is maintained. Height and substance important if both points are proportionally combined.


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.

Head And Skull:

Skull broad between ears, forehead flat, but wrinkled when attention is excited. Brows (superciliary ridges) slightly raised. Muscles of temples and cheeks (temporal and masseter) well developed. Arch across skull of a flattened curve, with depression up centre of forehead from median line between eyes, to halfway up sagittal suture. Muzzle short, broad under eyes, and keeping nearly parallel in width to end of nose, truncated (i.e. blunt and cut off squarely), thus forming a right angle with upper line of face, of great depth from point of nose to under-jaw. Under-jaw broad to end. Nose broad; with widely spreading nostrils when viewed from front, flat (not pointed or turned up) in profile. Lips diverging at obtuse angles with septum, and slightly pendulous so as to show a square profile. Length of muzzle to whole head and face as 1:3. Circumference of muzzle (measured mid-way between eyes and nose) to that of head (measured before the ears) as 3:5. Whilst in repose, any exaggeration or wrinkle of excess of loose skin is unacceptable in mature adults.


Moderate size, wide apart. Stop between eyes well marked but not too abrupt. Colour hazel brown, darker the better, showing no haw. Loose eyelids highly undesirable. Free from obvious eye problems.


Small, thin to touch, wide apart, set on at highest points of sides of skull, so as to continue outline across summit, and lying flat and close to cheeks when in repose.


Canine teeth healthy; powerful and wide apart; incisors level, or lower projecting beyond upper but never so much as to become visible when mouth is closed.


Slightly arched, moderately long, very muscular, and measuring in circumference about 2.5 - 5 cms (1 - 2 ins) less than skull before ears.


Shoulder and arm slightly sloping, heavy and muscular. Legs straight, strong and set wide apart; bones being large. Elbows square. Pasterns upright. Balanced and in harmony with hindquarters.


Chest wide, deep and well let down between forelegs. Ribs arched and well rounded. False ribs deep and well set back to hips. Back and loins wide and muscular; flat and very wide in bitch, slightly arched in dog. Great depth of flanks. Topline level and maintained whilst on the move. Length of body taken from point of shoulder to point of buttock greater than height at withers.


Broad, wide and muscular, with well developed second thighs, hocks bent, wide apart, and quite squarely set when standing or walking. Strength in hindquarters is of paramount importance, cow hocks in mature adults unacceptable.


Large, round and tight. Toes well arched. Nails black.


Set on high, and reaching to hocks, or a little below them, wide at its root and tapering to end, hanging straight in repose, but forming a curve with end pointing upwards, but not over back, when dog is excited.


Powerful, easy extension, driven from the rear, fluent, sound, with ground covering strides. Tendency to pace is undesirable. Absolute soundness essential.


Short and close lying but coarser over neck and shoulders.


Apricot, fawn or brindle. In any case, muzzle, ears and nose should be black with black around eye rims, and extending upwards between them. Excessive white on body, chest or feet is unacceptable.


Not specified.


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

Last Updated: 22 May 2009