A POTTED BULLMASTIFF HISTORY
BY BILLY BRITTLE
T he plain truth is that when examining the facts around the history of the Bullmas- tiff, there is little that we can say for certain. We do not know when and where the breed first appeared, nor do we have any concrete evidence how it first evolved, but throughout history there have been references to Bulldog and Mastiff crosses. Dur- ing the medieval period there is much mention of the Mastiff and its use as a guard, but it is unclear if the word is used to describe one type of dog, or a more general term to describe a group of dogs with the same characteristics including the Bulldog and Mastiff cross. Later Buffon, a French naturalist, made clear reference in 1792 of the merits and results of crossing a Bulldog with a Mastiff, and there are many other simi- lar references recorded during the 18th and 19th century. It seems the Bull and Mastiff type was recognized in a similar way to that of the Lurcher today—that a Bull and Mastiff was a recognizable type with animals that shared a similar appearance and similar attributes, but was not a distinct breed as we would accept today. Britain, and England in particular, is a temperate country with no real extremes in weather. It is an island and, unlike the rest of Europe, was pro- tected from migration of both people
20TH CENTURY PROGRESS The Bullmastiff as a breed con- tinued to increase in popularity and, more importantly, be recognized as a breed in its own right. Serious breeders emerged and well–respected dog fanci- ers, such as Count Von Hollander. Writ- ing in 1911, called for recognition of the breed stating that he did so consciously knowing that this dog is the: “bravest the most perfect guard and protector in the world.” PIONEERS The best–known breeder of the 20th century and perhaps father of the mod- ern breed was Mr. Samuel Mosley of Farcroft fame. A small full–time breeder and smallholder. He was first known for breeding Mastiffs and Cocker Spaniels as well as GSD’s, and had been breed- ing Bullmastiffs under both the Farcroft and Hamil prefixes since about 1910. His formula to produce a Bullmastiff still remains the basis for our under- standing of the breed today and is loose- ly based on a 60 percent Mastiff and 40 percent Bulldog mix. However, some of the dogs he produced were far from attractive and appear to have little or no real Bulldog characteristics, resembling very light framed Mastiffs. I am not con- vinced that other breeders of the time were particularly impressed and, given Mr. Mosley’s somewhat cavalier attitude
and animals. Its development as a nation has been markedly different from its immediate neighbors. This isolation has, in my opinion, generated a relative purity and richness in the development of livestock and animals. The number of breeds of cattle, horses and especially dogs, that Britain lays claim to, makes a nonsense of its size. There is no doubt that island isolation encouraged breed- ers to utilise and modify those breeds available to meet particular needs. The Bullmastiff is a typical example. Large estates and its protected game proved an attractive lure to a hungry and desperate people, and a game- keeper with a gun and a Spaniel was little or no deterrent to a determined gang of poachers and their dogs. There- fore, the need for a highly mobile, aggressive and, above all, brave dog to accompany the gamekeeper became more paramount during the 18th and 19th century. Clearly a great success, the demand for the Bull and Mastiff cross increased and the money required to purchase such a dog became quite consider- able. By the end of the 19th century the breed had become fairly well estab- lished and was known generally as the bullmastiff or gamekeeper’s night dog, as both Idstone (Rev. Payne) and Stone- henge (J.H. Walsh), dog writers of the time, made clear in their writings.
256 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , D ECEMBER 2017
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