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Rare Mastiff Dog Breeds




The rare mastiff dog breeds are often referred to as giant dog breeds. They are also considered to be among the more exotic and unique breeds. All of these tags certainly fit and contribute to the fact that the cost to obtain one is usually quite high.

Origins Of The Mastiffs:

The origins of mastiffs are somewhat unclear. According to some experts the dogs may have originated in Asia or the Middle East. The American Kennel Club says that images of the Mastiff may be seen dating back to 3000 BC on Egyptian monuments.

Wherever the dogs came from, they were in Persia and Turkey by 485 BC when Xerxes brought them from there into Greece. These large dogs were probably used to guard flocks and herds.

Ultimately, "they" became the ancestors of later war dogs and sheepdogs. Dogs from the Molossia region gave their name to Molossers, a term still used to describe many mastiff-type dogs.

Early on there were differences developing among the mastiffs. Some were being used as shepherds (white with longer muzzles) and the darker, heavier dogs being used in battle.

From these diverse dogs came the Great Pyrenees, the Dogue de Bordeaux, the Neapolitan Mastiff and many other dogs we still know today, as well as the Mastiff found in England. Along with being guard dogs the Mastiff became a powerful hunting dog used to hunt bear and wolf. Some mastiff-type dogs were also used for bull-baiting and dog fighting.

There are countless descendants of the ancient mastiffs today, spread through many breeds. In many cases, wherever the Romans went, they took with them their mastiffs, leading to many areas developing their own versions of the mastiff. For instance, in Gaul, locals changed the Roman mastiffs into the Alpine Mastiff and later the St. Bernard.



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The Rare Mastiff Dog Breeds

Today there are many mastiff breeds that are thriving, such as the St. Bernard, the Great Pyrenees and the Mastiff. But there are also a number of mastiff breeds which are either nearly extinct or which have been reconstructed and are attempting a comeback.

Some of these breeds are known only in Europe. In some cases the breeds were wiped out by World War I and II. In other cases, the numbers have simply dwindled because of a lack of breeders.



Alpine Mastiff

A breed originating in Switzerland that became extinct during the 19th century. This breed bears a strong relationship with some of today's mastiff breeds. It was also among those which contributed to the development of the St. Bernard.

American Mastiff

A breed of dog originating in the United States. A cross of an English Mastiff and an Anatolian Mastiff.


Anatolian Mastiff

An ancient breed of dog originating in Turkey as far back as the Persian Empire. Primarily a livestock guarding dog.


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Bullmastiff

Said to be a cross between the English Mastiff and the Bulldog. One of the rare mastiff dog breeds developed in England. Developed by 19th century gamekeepers to guard estates and to fend off poachers.


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Cane Corso


Also referred to as the Italian Mastiff, a breed which originating in Italy. They are often used to guard cattle and pigs and for wild boar hunting. Brought back from near extinction in the 1970s.




Cuban Mastiff

An extinct breed resembling a Bullmastiff, originating in Cuba. They were used to capture runaway slaves at one time.


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Dogue de Bordeaux

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Also known as the Bordeaux Mastiff or French Mastiff. A French breed and is generally considered to be one of the oldest of the mastiffs.





English Mastiff

A breed of dog in the Molosser group originating in England, usually just called "Mastiff." An ancient breed. At one time used for bear-baiting, bull-baiting, dog fighting and even lion-fighting. Later used as guard dogs. By the end of World War I the breed was extinct outside the UK. Since then, the breed has become much more popular in the U.S. and around the world.

Fila Brasileiro

This breed, otherwise known as the Brazilian Mastiff, is an estate guardian dog from Brazil.

Great Dane

Also called the German Mastiff, a breed of dog originating in Germany. Known as a gentle giant. Speculated to be the result of a cross between the Mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound.


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Japanese Mastiff

All of the rare mastiff dog breeds are very big dogs as we know, but this one stands out as being very large. The Japanese Mastiff is not only powerful, but can weigh as much as 200 pounds. It was originally developed as a fighting dog in the late 19th century. It is also known as Tosa Inu or Japanese Tosa.


Korean Mastiff

A breed of Korea bred from the Japanese Mastiff and European breeds, also known as Dosa Inu.

Neapolitan Mastiff

Another of the rare mastiff dog breeds originating in Italy. An ancient breed. These dogs fought alongside Roman legions in the past.

Today they are guardians and defenders of families and property. The breed was “rediscovered” in Italy in the 1940s and brought back from near extinction.


Pyrenean Mastiff Owner's Guide Pyrenean Mastiff Comprehensive Owner's Guide

Pyrenean Mastiff


Developed as a livestock guardian breed from the Spanish Pyrenees. Intensly loyal, brave and intelligent, and as rugged as the terrain from which he originated!



South African Mastiff

Also known as Boerboel, a breed of dog originating in South Africa. A farmer’s dog used to guard the homestead.

Spanish Mastiff

An ancient breed of dog originating in Spain. One of the oldest mastiffs. Today they are livestock guardian dogs and guardians. They defend flocks and herds from wolves and other predators.

Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff Breed Guide Tibetan Mastiff Comprehensive Owner's Guide) An ancient breed of dog originating in Tibet. They are one of the oldest mastiffs and the ancestors of Tibetan Mastiffs may be the ancestors of all mastiffs. They are kept as a guardian of herds, flocks, the home and family and, in Tibet, are tied outside the home during the day and allowed to run loose at night to protect the property. The Tibetan Mastiff is considered a primitive breed.

The Tibetan Mastiff is one breed that is very expensive to acquire. In March of 2011, it was reported that a TM named Hong Dong was purchased by a wealthy gentleman in China for the sum of $1.52 million! Obviously this rare breed is not one that many individuals could afford.

Overall, the rare mastiff dog breeds are enjoying a great deal of interest today. There are efforts to keep these breeds alive and people interested in owning them all over the world. The Internet has made it much easier to find out about about these dogs and to contact breeders so hopefully no more rare mastiff dog breeds will become extinct.

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