The rare mastiff dog breeds are large and powerful dogs 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.
While mastiffs have been bred for centuries for various purposes, their origins 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 on Egyptian
monuments. dating back to 3000 BC
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 more than likely 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, differences were 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 throughout many dog breeds.
As the Romans traveled into various regions, they often brought along their mastiffs which stimulated significant interest in these powerful dogs. This led to the breeding of distinct mastiff variations in many of these areas.
For instance, in Gaul, locals changed the Roman mastiffs into the Alpine Mastiff and later the St. Bernard.
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 revived 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 due to a lack of breeders.
So let's explore some of the rare mastiff breeds we know about.
The American Mastiff dog breed (AM) originated in the United States and was,developed over several years through a cross of the English Mastiff and the Anatolian Mastiff resulting in a dog that can weigh up to 200 pounds or more.
The AM breed is registered with the Continental Kennel Club and has been recognized as a purebred breed by them since 2000.
Their overall appearance is that of
a massive, impressive-looking powerful dog
bearing a very similar resemblance to the English Mastiff.
While many may be overawed by an American Mastiff, this large dog is known to be
a very loyal and extremely family-oriented breed - getting along well with children being patient and gentle. Once socialized they will be friendly with family friends and guests.
Though not aggressive, as a family protector, the AM's commanding appearance, standing at 3 feet tall, would make any potential intruder think twice before proceeding.
Families interested in welcoming an American Mastiff puppy or rescue should ideally have plenty of space for exercise and play and be experienced dog owners - particularly with similar sized dog breeds. A list of breeders can be found here.
Because of the large size this dog will become, it's important that puppies be trained and well-socialized from an early age to accustom them to a wide variety of situations including people and other dogs.
Regarding health, the not uncommon issues, which an informed vet will know how to treat, include:
The average lifespan with good care is between 8 to 12 years.
The Anatolian Shepherd dog is descended from ancient mastiff breeds. He is primarily a livestock guarding dog with a strong independent nature.
Also known as
Anatolian Karabash and Turkish Shepherd Guard Dog, the breed originated in Turkey as far back as the Persian Empire.
Historically this breed has a long been recognized as a top mastiff-type flock guardian being renowned for their strong protective instincts and ability to fend off predators.
Anatolians have an affectionate nature and as family companions, one could not wish for a more loyal and protective dog. They get along well with children and other pets.
However, due to responsibilities of working for decades to protect their flocks, it is not surprising that they have acquired an independent streak along with the confidence needed to make decisions.
For this reason, they must be well-socialized and trained from an early age with a self-assured strong leader they can respect and bond with.
Socialization and consistent training are essential to most breeds to become solid citizens, but is especially crucial to large dominant dogs such as the Anatolian.
In terms of appearance, the Anatolian Shepherd dog is a very large, well-muscled and powerful-looking dog breed that can weight up to 150 pounds with a height of up to 30 inches. Along with a dense double coat, these sturdy dogs are ideally suited to perform their outside job duties.
Health: To maintain the overall good health of this breed:
While not commonly disposed to hip dysplasia and
bloat, owners should be informed of these conditions just in case - especially to the latter which can be life threatening. Additionally, this breed may acquire an eyelid condition known as entropian. It is good for your vet to be familiar with these health notes as well as the breed's sensitivity to anesthesia - in case any procedures require this - such as teeth scaling.
The Bullmastiff, one of the rare mastiff dog breeds, was developed in England during the 19th century and is believed to be a cross between two native breeds - the English Mastiff and the Bulldog.
William Burton of Thorneywood Kennels bred an early version of the Bullmastiff. One of his dogs, known as Thorneywood Terror, became famous at gamekeepers’ shows for his ability to catch any person willing to bet that he could escape from the dog. Even with the better being give a head star, the dog always caught and toppled the unfortunate gambler!
This mastiff breed is highly protective but not aggressive, fearless, intelligent, very strong and impressively agile for its large size.
Ultimately, these attributes were put to use in on large English estates where the Bullmastiff accompanied gamekeepers on night patrols to catch poachers and prevent the rustling of game which was pretty common at the time. While poaching was a very serious crime, many intruders were undeterred and the game wardens needed more protection in doing their job..
Enter: the Gamekeeper’s Night Dog as the Bullmastiff became known. A large muscular dog weighing up to 130 pounds and standing up to 27 inches is definitely capable of making quite an impression on potential trouble makers!
Today, having left his original job far behind him, the Bullmastiff dog breed has moved on to a less stressful role as a cherished family member. That being said, while Mastiffs make great family companions, being both gentle and affectionate, they do need early training and socialization due to their large size and protective nature.
Health issues common to large breeds include hip and elbow concerns as well as bloat – a very important condition to be aware of.
Overall care of the Bullmastiff includes regular exercise, sound nutrition, and veterinary check-ups on an annual basis to maintain health and a contented life.
The Bullmastiff breed was recognized by the AKC in 1934.
The Cane Corso, also referred to as the Italian Mastiff, is a breed which originated in Italy with a history that goes back to Roman times To be clear, this breed is the result of Italian native dog breeds crossed with Mollosus (mastiff) type dogs obtained during the Roman occupation of the Greek Islands.
Subsequently, after all the fighting was over in the Western Empire, the dogs took on other jobs around farmhouses including herding or guarding cattle and pigs, wild boar hunting, as well as protecting their owners property.
Overtime, their numbers diminished greatly that they almost vanished, but were brought back from near extinction by a group of fanciers in the 1970s. A Society of Cane Corso Lovers was formed in 1983.
Appearance: The Cane Corso has a short dense coat seen in black, gray, fawn, or brindle. The breed is very muscular and can weigh between 100-120 pounds with a height of up 28 inches tall at the withers. Their ears are often cropped.
Characteristics: A loyal and protective breed that likes to keep in close touch with their owners and other family members most of the time. This also means, they don't like being left alone!
can be pretty straightforward if an owner has a strong background in dog training because the CC is very intelligent but can have the tendency to try to take charge. The solution to this tendency is an experienced owner to provide firm guidance and thoroughly socialize the Cane Corso to build their comfort level around people, places and multiple situations - from a very early age.
Daily Activity: In addition to a large outdoor area for play, exercise and training, the CC should be taken out for daily walks for his well-being of mind and body.
Health: Overall the Cane Corso is considered a fairly healthy breed. That being said, there are some health issues associated with them. Those include:
AKC Recognition: The Cane Corso Came to America in 1988, and in 2010 the breed was recognized by the AKC as part of the Working Group of dogs, or Mollosus breeds .
The Cuban Mastiff also known as Dogo Cubano, or Cuban Bloodhound . The variety was introduced in Cuba to capture runaway slaves ( cimarrones ).
An extinct breed extinct Cuban breed of domestic dog resembling the dogo sub-type of the Bullmastiff dog.
It may have been used for bull-baiting or dog fighting as it fits into the profile of dogs in these type activities.
According to Wikipedia, the breed was introduced into Cuba to capture runaway slaves. Subsequently, when slavery was abolished, they ceased to exist.
Originating in France, the Dogue de Bordeaux (DDB) is a large breed originally used as guard dogs and later to drive cattle as well as for hunting purposes.
The breed also goes by other names including the Bordeaux Mastiff or French Mastiff and is generally considered to be one of the oldest of the mastiffs.
The Dogue de Bordeaux was recognized as a breed by the AKC in 2008 and is a very powerful dog with males weighing from 110 pounds or much more and standing up to 27 inches at the withers.
The DDB has a short attractive coat that is seen in shades of fawn, with a furrowed forehead and thick, low hanging jowls.
Sadly, they have a relatively short life of between 5-8 years.
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.
This breed, otherwise known as the Brazilian Mastiff, is an estate guardian dog from Brazil.
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.
All of the rare mastiff dog breeds are very big dogs as we know, but this one stands out as being extra 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.
A breed of Korea bred from the Japanese Tosa Mastiff and European breeds, also known as Dosa Inu.
Images of the breed can be found on a Korean breeder site here.
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.
Developed as a livestock guardian breed from the Spanish Pyrenees. Intensely loyal, brave and intelligent, and as rugged as the terrain from which he originated!
Also known as Boerboel, a breed of dog originating in South Africa. A farmers dog used to guard the homestead.
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.
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.
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.
The Cuban Mastiff, also known as Dogo Cubano, Cuban Bloodhound or Cuban Bullmastiff, is an extinct breed which existed in the early 1800's.
It was developed in Cuba from bulldogs, mastiffs and cattle dogs which resulted inthe breed bearing a resemblance to the Bullmastiff.
This breed was mainly used to guard properties or as watchdogs and there is some indication they may have participated in dog fighting.
At one time, they were used to capture runaway slaves.
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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