The Mastiff is one of the oldest and most typical of British dogs. It is probable that he owes his origin to the dogs of similar type that were used by Assyrian kings for lion hunting. There is also a similarity between them and the fierce Mollosian dog of the ancient Greeks. However this may be, there is no question but what the Mastiff has been cultivated in the British Isles for many centuries. It is mentioned in Roman history of the eighth year of the Christian era that the Mollosian dogs of the Greeks were pitted against the Pugnaces of Britain and that the latter overpowered them. It is also further stated by the same writer, Gratius Falliscus, that there were two kinds of British Pugnaces, a large and a small type, the latter probably being the prototype of the present Bulldog.
The word “Mastiff” is derived from the Latin massivius, meaning massive or large, but at different times the names Tie-dog and Ban-dog have been applied to the Mastiff’. At an early date they were undoubtedly used to guard flocks and herds as well as homes. Later they were trained to fight bulls, bears, lions, and other animals imported for that purpose. Three well-trained Mastiffs, it is recorded, were considered a fair match for a bear, four for a lion. Fashions in dogs fluctuate. At one time the Mastiff was the pride of the British Show Ring and one of the most popular breeds in the couutry, but for some reason hard to understand-for the Mastiff is one of the most impressive of dogs-the public lost interest in the breed, and for the past twenty years it has steadily declined in favor, and the classes, once so well filled, are now deserted. It is to be hoped sincerely that ere long interest in this magnificent breed will be reawakened and that a resolute effort will be made to regain some of their old time popularity and glory, for as guards and companions they are unsurpassed
In the selection of Mastiff puppies two to four months old, look for: Great size; massive, short head; deep, square muzzle; big, well-chiseled skull; short, deep, round body; straight forelegs and enormous bone.
The standard of the Old English Mastiff Club is as follows:
GENERAL CHARACTER AND SYMMETRY (value 10). -Large, massive, powerful, symmetrical, and wellknit frame. A combination of grandeur and good nature, courage and docility.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HEAD.-In general outline, giving a square appearance when viewed from any point. Breadth greatly to be desired, and should be in ratio to length of the whole head and face as 2 to 3.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF BODY (HEIGHT AND SUBSTANCE) (value 10).-Massive, broad, deep, long, powerfully built, on legs wide apart and squarely set. Muscles sharply defined. Size a great desideratum, if combined with quality. Height and substance important if both points are proportionately combined.
SKULL (value 12).-Broad between the ears, forehead flat, but wrinkled when attention is excited. Brows (superciliary ridges) slightly raised. Muscles of the temples and cheeks (temporal and masseter) well developed. Arch across the skull of a rounded, flattened curve, with a depression up the center of the forehead from the medium line between the eyes to half way up the sagittal suture.
FACE OR MUZZLE (value 18).-Short, broad under the eyes, and keeping nearly parallel in width to the end of the nose; truncated, i. e., blunt and cut off square, thus forming a right angle with the upper line of the face, of great depth from the point of the nose to underjaw. Underjaw broad to the end; canine teeth healthy, powerful, and wide apart; incisors level, or the lower projecting beyond the upper, but never sufficiently so as to become visible when the mouth is closed. Nose broad, with widelyspreading nostrils when viewed from the front; flat (not pointed or turned up) in profile. Lips diverging at obtuse angles with the septum, and slightly pendulous, so as to show a square profile. Length of muzzle to whole head and face as I to 3. Circumference of muzzle (measured midway between the eyes and nose) to that of the head (measured before the ears) as 3 to 5.
EARS (value 4).-Small, thin to the touch, wide apart, set on at the highest points of the sides of the skull, so as to continue the outline across the summit, and lying flat and close to the cheeks when in repose.
EYES (value 6).-Small, wide apart, divided by at least the space of two eyes. The stops between the eyes well marked, but not too abrupt. Color, hazel-brown, the darker the better, showing no haw.
CHEST AND RIBS (value 8).-Neck slightly arched, moderately long, very muscular, and measuring in circumference about one or two inches less than the skull before the ears. Chest wide, deep, and well let down between the forelegs. Ribs arched and well rounded. False ribs deep and well set back to the hips. Girth should be one-third more than the height at the shoulder. Shoulder and arm slightly sloping, heavy, and muscular.
FORELEGS AND FEET (value 6).-Legs straight, strong, and set wide apart; bones very large. Elbows square. Pasterns upright. Feet large and round. Toes well arched up. Nails black.
BACK, LOINS, AND FLANKS (value 8).-Back and loins wide and muscular; flat and very wide in a bitch, slightly arched in a dog. Great depth of flanks.
HINDLEGS AND FEET (value 10).-Hindquarters broad, wide, and muscular, with well-developed second thighs. Hocks bent, wide apart, and quite squarely set when standing or walking. Feet round.
TAIL (value 3).-Put on high up, and reaching to the hocks, or a little below them, wide at its root and tapering to the end, hanging straight in repose, but forming a curve, with the end pointing upward but not over the back when the dog is excited.
COAT COLOR (value 5).-Coat short and close lying, but not too fine over the shoulders, neck and back. Color, apricot or silver fawn or dark fawnbrindle. In any case muzzle, ears, and nose should be black, with black around the orbits, and extending upward between them.