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English Mastiff vs. Bullmastiff: How Are They Different?

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Last Updated: August 17, 2023 | 9 min read | 4 Comments

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Are you thinking of adopting a gentle giant? Have you narrowed your search to the English Mastiff vs. the Bullmastiff as your final two picks? In this rundown, we will examine the differences between the Bullmastiff vs. English Mastiff, both giant dogs with equally big hearts.

Both breeds come from similar origins but are quite different overall. Both breeds make fantastic family pets and are quite popular across the U.S. and England, but some people choose other breeds because of the sheer size of both of these gentle giants.

Make no mistake. If you bring either of these pups into your home, you are committing to bringing a human-being-sized dog into your home. There are other breeds of mastiffs (like the American Mastiff) that have popped up in recent years, but these two breeds are classics.

Breed Comparison

English Mastiff

  • Height 27-32 Inches
  • Weight 130-220 Pounds
  • Temperament Docile, Protective, Loyal
  • Energy Medium
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 6-10 Years
  • Price $1,200 - $1,400

Bullmastiff

  • Height 24-27 Inches
  • Weight 100-140 Pounds
  • Temperament Affectionate, Loyal, Brave
  • Energy Low
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 7-9 Years
  • Price $1,200 and Up

Key Differences

  1. English Mastiffs are much larger. They average between 130 and 220 pounds.
  2. Bullmastiffs are smaller, reaching between 100 and 140 pounds.
  3. English Mastiffs are more docile.
  4. Bullmastiffs are slightly more independent and territorial.
  5. English Mastiffs are slightly less energetic and need less exercise.
  6. Bullmastiffs are less accepting of strangers.
  7. English Mastiffs cost more to feed.
  8. Bullmastiffs shed less due to being smaller in size.

Breed History

Contrary to general belief, a Mastiff isn’t a breed itself but an umbrella term that describes a group of dogs of similar sizes and statures. There are, in fact, at least 18 different types of Mastiff dogs, and there is debate as to whether there are more. For example, most people aren’t aware that the German Mastiff is more commonly known as the Great Dane. Both the Bullmastiff and the English Mastiff fall into the “Mastiff” family.

English Mastiff

Female English Mastiff Outside
English Mastiffs are an ancient line of guardian dogs.

The English Mastiff originated from England and has been around for centuries. Julias Caesar even described them during his invasion of Britain in 55 B.C. as impressive defenders of the land who fought alongside soldiers. He was so impressed by them that he took them back to Rome and used them as gladiators to fight against lions and other beasts (and sometimes men) in the arena.

Bullmastiff

Bullmastiff Looking at Camera
The Bullmastiff is a breed that originates from the English Mastiff.

The Bullmastiff results from breeding an English Mastiff with an English Bulldog. After several generations, they were officially recognized as a breed in their own right in the mid-1920s in Britain and shortly followed by the U.S. in the early-1930s. The Bullmastiff’s nickname, “The Gamekeeper’s Night Dog,” is fitting. They were originally bred to be swift and courageous enough to catch a poacher trespassing on his land at night but trainable and intelligent enough not to maul him to death.

Size & Appearance

English Mastiff next to Bullmastiff
The English Mastiff and Bullmastiff differ in both size and appearance.

Both of these dogs are HUGE. So, if there’s no extra room in your home, I’m afraid neither is for you. You also need to consider whether you have enough space on your sofa for them, and if you haven’t, then either invest in a larger one or be prepared to get squished. Although, from what I’ve heard, most Mastiff parents wouldn’t have it any other way.

As you can see in the table above, the English Mastiff wins the award for being heavier. In fact, the heaviest dog on record was an English Mastiff named Zorba, who weighed a gigantic 343 pounds. This Guinness World Record was recorded in 1989, and he remains undefeated. The English Mastiff also holds the title of the world’s strongest dog. So, if your child ever asks for a pony for Christmas, you could probably get away with buying an English Mastiff.

Despite being the larger of the two dogs, the English Mastiff is surprisingly suitable for apartment life as they are docile creatures, and as long as they get their daily walks, they are happy to relax for the rest of the day. Of course, you will be sharing space with a dog the size of a full-grown man, so you must be ok with being snug in small spaces.

Bullmastiffs, on the other hand, are not suitable for apartment life as they are slightly more demanding when it comes to exercise. They need a bit of highly active playtime to expel that extra energy. This is not possible in an apartment. Both dogs do well with crate training as long as the crate is big enough to give them ample room to stretch.

English Mastiffs can also have a fluffy coat (a tiny percentage of dogs have this), but owners must note that a very BIG dog with long hair means an impressive amount of shedding.

Temperament

English Mastiff and Bullmastiff Near Each Other
The English Mastiff and Bullmastiff both have a gentle demeanor.

Both the English Mastiff and Bullmastiff are more friendly and docile than their ancestors, but they are still courageous and protective of their family and their estate. They are similar in personality and are both loving, gentle giants who both make great family companions. But there are some slight differences in character.

Despite his impressive stature, the English Mastiff is a couch potato and loves nothing more than jumping on the sofa with his family for cuddles. Be ready. They think they are the size of a Chihuahua and aren’t concerned with climbing all over you.

The Bullmastiff is slightly more independent than the English Mastiff, and although he will still jump on the sofa and you, he isn’t as needy and will be happy in his own company for short periods.

The Bullmastiff is known to be slightly more territorial and hostile than the English Mastiff and will drive unknown animals from his territory, so it is essential to ensure that you have fenced-in land. Of course, the English Mastiff will still let you know if someone unsavory is around, but they are generally more accepting of strangers in the household. They both like to chew and have strong jaws, so make sure you equip them with toys that can handle some abuse.

Exercise

Brindle Bullmastiff and English Mastiff Outdoors
Both the English Mastiff and the Bullmastiff have lower exercise needs.

Both the English Mastiff and the Bullmastiff are average on the exercise scale. The English Mastiff would happily chill with his family all day long. However, in order to keep this large unit healthy, he will require walks to get that heart pumping despite trying to persuade you otherwise.

On the other hand, the Bullmastiff requires a little more exercise than the English Mastiff as he is a bit more playful and boisterous than his English cousin. Alongside their daily walks, the Bullmastiffs could do with a short period of active exercise, such as playing fetch or tug of war, in order to expel some of that energy. This is more for his mental stimulation rather than for exercise.

Be cautious of over-exercising both breeds when they are young. Too much exertion can affect the fast rate at which their bodies grow. Over-exertion can affect their bone and joint growth. Keep walks short, don’t let them overexert themselves, and work to keep them from jumping. If in any doubt about your pup’s development, speak to your veterinarian.

Training

Fawn English Mastiff and Bullmastiff Outdoors in Woods
Both breeds are stubborn and will need regular & consistent training.

Both the English Mastiff and the Bullmastiff aren’t particularly easy to train as they do things in their own time, also known as “Mastiff Time.” It is said that the Bullmastiff is the slightly more stubborn one of the two, and this extra stubbornness can be blamed on the English Bulldog parent. It might come across that both breeds aren’t that smart, but it actually speaks more to their independence.

Due to the difficulty you may face training either of the two, it is best to start training them as early as possible. Due to their protective streak as working guard dogs, socialization is crucial. As always, consistency is the key to training, and the fact that they both love a treat will help you keep them interested.

Health

Healthy Giant Breeds in Field
Both the Bullmastiff and English Mastiff have similar health challenges.

Both dogs are quite similar in terms of their health, and considering how big they are, they can live very long and happy lives. Generally, they share the same health problems, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, gastric torsion, also known as bloat, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which is the degradation of the retina leading to blindness.

Be aware that if you own a Mastiff of any kind, you should familiarize yourself with gastric torsion and its associated symptoms. If your pup displays any of these symptoms, you must get him to the vet immediately.

It would appear the only main difference in the Bullmastiff’s health compared to the English Mastiff is that they sometimes suffer from Brachycephalic syndrome. This is where they experience difficulties breathing because of the inherited English Bulldog’s flat face and snout. The condition may need treatment with either medication or surgery, but it isn’t always an issue. On top of this, the Bullmastiff has a high pain tolerance, making it challenging to identify when something is wrong with your pup.

Nutrition

Healthy Giant Dogs Outside
Both the English Mastiff and the Bullmastiff have a healthy appetite.

Both the English Mastiff and the Bullmastiff eat. They eat a LOT. Expect to feed your dog anywhere from 6 cups of food daily up to 10. This is going to depend on their genetics and their size. You don’t want to underfeed either breed.

They also need similar amounts of dog food specifically for Mastiffs or giant-breed dog food to meet their healthy nutrient requirements. Mastiffs will likely be on the higher end of that ratio, and Mastiffs need nutrient-dense dog food, especially when they are young. You’ll want a giant breed-specific puppy food for both of these giants. Otherwise, they won’t get the nutrition they need as they grow.

When comparing the two breeds, the English Mastiff costs more to feed. They are generally bigger in size than a Bullmastiff, and you can expect to feed them closer to that 8 to 10-cup range per day, depending on their weight. It’s common for some English Mastiffs to clear 200 pounds, which may even require 12 cups of food daily, depending on the formula.

Bullmastiffs eat less and cost less to feed. But they still need high-quality kibble from puppyhood to adulthood. Either way, both dogs will be expensive to feed. Expect to pay over $1,000 per year in dog food expenses for an English Mastiff and close to that for a Bullmastiff.

Grooming

Molosser Dogs needing Groomed
Both the English Mastiff and Bullmastiff will need regular grooming and upkeep.

When it comes to grooming, both of these pups have double coats and will shed year-round. Mastiffs and Bullmastiffs have twice a year when they “blow their coat,” meaning they shed more than usual.

The wintertime is usually the worst, as they prepare for a thicker undercoat to prepare for the elements. Bullmastiffs may seem like they shed slightly less because they aren’t quite as big. But make no mistake. You’ll be dealing with dog hair no matter which breed you pick.

Both the English Mastiff and Bullmastiff have sensitive skin. The Bullmastiff, especially in their facial area, due to the way their nose forms genetically. You must be sure you dry your Bullmastiff thoroughly after any bathing. Not doing so can end up in unwanted infections.

Sensitive skin or oatmeal shampoo is best during bathing sessions. Neither breed comes out ahead, and you’ll expect monthly grooming sessions for both.

Puppy Prices

Olde English Mastiff and Bullmastiff Puppies
Expect to pay upwards of $1,000 regardless of if you adopt a Bullmastiff or English Mastiff.

The price of an English Mastiff starts from $1,500 from a breeder, whereas the price of a Bullmastiff starts at $1,000. You can expect to pay more for the pup, dependent on their heritage and characteristics. Champion lines from either breed can fetch well over $2,000 for a purebred puppy.

Although the Bullmastiff may be slightly cheaper to buy, both dogs will be expensive to insure as they age. Keep this in mind if you intend on getting dog insurance, which we recommend. Giant breeds are more costly to insure, and the Bullmastiff can cost even more than the English Mastiff, depending on insurance carriers due to their health concerns.

Final Thoughts

To recap, the English Mastiff and the Bullmastiff are similar in temperament. They are both sweet, loyal, and protective of their family, and they both have a whole lot of love to give.

There isn’t a great deal of difference between the two breeds, but one of the few differences could be the deal-breaker as to which dog is for you. The most significant and obvious difference between them is their size, with the English Mastiff being a lot larger than the Bullmastiff.

The other main difference is that the Bullmastiff is somewhat more active and needs slightly more energetic and playful exercise. So, if you have a yard and are looking for a more athletic dog, the Bullmastiff may be the better option for you.

Lastly, the Bullmastiff is slightly more territorial and will guard his perimeter more often and more ferociously than the English Mastiff. So, if you are after more of a guard dog, then maybe the Bullmastiff is the hero you are looking for. Or if you prefer a laidback companion, then the chilled machine that is the English Mastiff might be preferable. Either way, they are both big-hearted dogs, and they will love you and your family endlessly.

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