English Mastiff VS American Mastiff: A Gentle Giant Showdown

When it comes to giant dog breeds, the Mastiff family stands proud and tall. Among these colossal canines, two breeds often come to the forefront of discussions: the English Mastiff and the American Mastiff. Although they share a name and have a common ancestry, they are distinctly different breeds with unique characteristics. If you’re considering bringing one of these gentle giants into your home, it’s important to understand these differences to make an informed decision. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of the English Mastiff and the American Mastiff, comparing their history, appearance, temperament, and care requirements.

Origins and HistoryEnglish Mastiff: The Ancient War Dog

The English Mastiff is one of the oldest breeds of dogs, with a history that dates back to ancient civilizations. They are thought to have originated in Asia and were brought to Europe by Phoenician traders. The English Mastiff’s ancestors were used as war dogs, guard dogs, and for entertainment in the brutal blood sports of the past. Despite their formidable history, today’s English Mastiff is bred to be a gentle and loyal companion.

Quote: “The North American Mastiff is a relatively new and distinctive breed that originated from the English Mastiff and the Panja American Mastiff.” Dogs info blog

American Mastiff: A Newer Breed with Old Roots

The American Mastiff, on the other hand, is a relatively new breed developed in the late 20th century by a breeder named Fredericka Wagner of Flying W Farms. She aimed to create a Mastiff that retained the size and temperament of the English Mastiff but with less drooling and better hip health. To achieve this, she crossed the English Mastiff with the Anatolian Mastiff, a breed known for its endurance and strength. The result was the American Mastiff, a breed recognized by the Continental Kennel Club (CKC) but not yet by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Appearance: Size and StatureEnglish Mastiff: The Colossal Canine

The English Mastiff is a massive dog, renowned for its size and strength. It holds the record for the heaviest dog ever recorded, with some males weighing in at over 200 pounds. They have a large, square head with a short muzzle, and their body is muscular and solid. Their coat is short and comes in fawn, apricot, or brindle, with a distinctive black mask around the eyes and nose.

American Mastiff: A Slightly Leaner Look

The American Mastiff is similar in size to its English counterpart but tends to have a slightly leaner build. They share the same muscular and imposing stature but with a tighter, drier mouth, thanks to their Anatolian heritage. This means less drooling – a significant plus for many potential owners. The American Mastiff’s coat is also short and comes in similar colors to the English Mastiff.

Temperament: The Gentle GiantsEnglish Mastiff: The Loyal Protector

Despite their intimidating size, the English Mastiff is known for being a gentle and affectionate family pet. They are known to be good with children and often become deeply attached to their family. English Mastiffs are natural protectors but are not aggressive without cause. They may be wary of strangers but will warm up once they understand there is no threat to their loved ones.

American Mastiff: The Calm Companion

The American Mastiff has inherited the calm and loving nature of the English Mastiff, with perhaps an even greater tendency towards being laid back. They are also known to be excellent family pets, displaying patience and affection towards children. The American Mastiff bonds closely with their family and can be protective, but like the English Mastiff, they are not aggressive without reason.

Health and CareEnglish Mastiff: Watching Out for Giants

The English Mastiff has a lifespan of around 6-10 years, which is typical for a breed of its size. They can be prone to health issues such as hip dysplasia, gastric torsion, and heart conditions. Due to their size, they need ample space to move around and regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight. However, their exercise needs are not excessive; daily walks and play sessions are usually sufficient.

American Mastiff: A Focus on Health

The American Mastiff was bred with health in mind, aiming to reduce the risk of hip dysplasia and other issues common in large breeds. They have a similar lifespan to the English Mastiff and require a comparable level of care. Regular vet check-ups, a balanced diet, and proper exercise are key to keeping an American Mastiff healthy. Both breeds need early socialization and training to ensure they are well-behaved and manageable.

Choosing the Right Mastiff for You

Deciding between an English Mastiff and an American Mastiff comes down to personal preference and lifestyle. If you’re looking for a dog with a long history and don’t mind a bit of drool, the English Mastiff could be the right choice. If you prefer a newer breed with potentially fewer health issues and less slobber, the American Mastiff might be your match.

In both cases, you’ll need ample space in your home and heart for these giants. They require a dedicated owner who can handle their size and provide them with the love and care they deserve. Both breeds are not suited for apartment living and do best in homes with large, fenced-in yards where they can stretch their legs.


The English Mastiff and the American Mastiff are both majestic breeds that offer a unique blend of strength, loyalty, and tenderness. While they share many similarities, their differences are worth considering when choosing a new canine companion. Whichever breed you choose, owning a Mastiff is a commitment to a lifetime of love and companionship with one of the most impressive dogs in the canine kingdom. Remember that regardless of breed, every dog is an individual with its own personality and quirks, so spending time with the dog before making a decision is crucial. No matter which Mastiff becomes part of your family, they are sure to leave a huge paw print on your heart.

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