Did you know?
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Zorba, a mastiff from England was the heaviest dog ever recorded in the world. In 1989 at 8 years old, Zorba weighed in at over 315 lbs (143 kg). He stood 37 inches (94 cm) tall at the shoulder and was 8 feet 3 inches (251 cm) long from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail!
What the Lion is to the Cat the Mastiff is to the Dog, the noblest of the family; he stands alone, and all the others sink before him. His courage does not exceed his temper and generosity, and in attachment he equals the kindest of his race. – Cynographia Britannica 1800
The Mastiff is an ancient breed and is believed to descend from dogs brought to Britain by Mediterranean traders in the 6th century BC. He is often called the Old English Mastiff.
Mentioned in Persian and Roman literature, the Mastiff can also be found in Egyptian monuments.
Originally bred to hunt the wolf, he was also used to fight lion and bear in various blood sports. With the banning of blood sports and the advent of war, Mastiff numbers declined to the point of extinction outside of Great Britain. Fortunately their numbers improved in North America because after World War II there was one surviving female in England. Dogs from Canada were exported to the UK to rebuild the breed.
Photos displayed courtesy of Jocelyn Davies, Devon Ridge Farm, Alberta
A massive dog, the Mastiff stands 30 inches (76 cm) tall at the shoulder and is the picture of dignity and strength. Grooming is minimal as the coat is short and dense. It comes in all shades of apricot, silver fawn, or dark fawn-brindle. His muzzle, nose, and ears are black.
The Mastiff is a compact and powerful dog. His fearsome appearance hides a gentle, loving family dog who prefers to remain around his home rather than roam. Loyal and alert, he makes a wonderful watch and guard dog as he is very protective of his family. In 1415 Sir Peers Legh was wounded at the Battle of Agincourt. His Mastiff stood over and protected him for many hours through the battle. The Mastiff was later returned to Legh’s home and became the foundation of his breeding program which in turn helped found the modern Mastiff breed.
He needs an owner who is strong, confident, and patient, and he should be put in obedience training and socialized early on. He does best with consistent, and firm but gentle training.
Due to his size, this dog does best when living in a larger home with a good amount of fenced property attached. He needs regular exercise to keep his muscles toned.
Once used as fighting dogs and dogs of war, today this dog is primarily a guardian and family pet.