Mastiff Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.
Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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Official Standard of the Mastiff General Appearance: The Mastiff is a large, massive, symmetrical dog with a well-knit frame. The impression is one of grandeur and dignity. Dogs are more massive throughout. Bitches should not be faulted for being somewhat smaller in all dimensions while maintaining a proportionally powerful structure. A good evaluation considers positive qualities of type and soundness with equal weight. Size, Proportion, Substance : Size - Dogs, minimum, 30 inches at the shoulder. Bitches, minimum, 27½ inches at the shoulder. Fault - Dogs or bitches below the minimum standard. The farther below standard, the greater the fault. Proportion - Rectangular, the length of the dog from forechest to rump is somewhat longer than the height at the withers. The height of the dog should come from depth of body rather than from length of leg. Substance - Massive, heavy boned, with a powerful muscle structure. Great depth and breadth desirable. Fault - Lack of substance or slab sided. Head : In general outline giving a massive appearance when viewed from any angle. Breadth greatly desired. Eyes set wide apart, medium in size, never too prominent. Expression alert but kindly. Color of eyes brown, the darker the better, and showing no haw. Light eyes or a predatory expression is undesirable. Ears small in proportion to the skull, V-shaped, rounded at the tips. Leather moderately thin, set widely apart at the highest points on the sides of the skull continuing the outline across the summit. They should lie close to the cheeks when in repose. Ears dark in color, the blacker the better, conforming to the color of the muzzle. Skull broad and somewhat flattened between the ears, forehead slightly curved, showing marked wrinkles which are particularly distinctive when at attention. Brows (superciliary ridges) moderately raised. Muscles of the temples well developed, those of the cheeks extremely powerful. Arch across the skull a flattened curve with a furrow up the center of the forehead. This extends from between the eyes to halfway up the skull. The stop between the eyes well marked but not too abrupt. Muzzle should be half the length of the skull, thus dividing the head into three parts-one for the foreface and two for the skull. In other words, the distance from the tip of the nose to stop is equal to one-half the distance between the stop and the occiput. Circumference of the muzzle (measured midway between the eyes and nose) to that of the head (measured before the ears) is as 3 is to 5. Muzzle short, broad under the eyes and running nearly equal 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 the underjaw. Underjaw broad to the end and slightly rounded. Muzzle dark in color, the blacker the better. Fault - snipiness of the muzzle. Nose broad and always dark in color, the blacker the better, with spread flat nostrils (not pointed or turned up) in profile. Lips diverging at obtuse angles with the septum and sufficiently pendulous so as to show a modified square profile. Canine Teeth - healthy and wide apart. Jaws powerful. Scissors bite preferred, but a moderately undershot jaw should not be faulted providing the teeth are not visible when the mouth is closed.
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Neck, Topline, Body : Neck powerful, very muscular, slightly arched, and of medium length. The neck gradually increases in circumference as it approaches the shoulder. Neck moderately "dry" (not showing an excess of loose skin). Topline - In profile the topline should be straight, level, and firm, not swaybacked, roached, or dropping off sharply behind the high point of the rump. Chest wide, deep, rounded, and well let down between the forelegs, extending at least to the elbow. Forechest should be deep and well defined with the breastbone extending in front of the foremost point of the shoulders. Ribs well rounded. False ribs deep and well set back. Underline - There should be a reasonable, but not exaggerated, tuck-up. Back muscular, powerful, and straight. When viewed from the rear, there should be a slight rounding over the rump. Loins wide and muscular. Tail set on moderately high and reaching to the hocks or a little below. Wide at the root, tapering to the end, hanging straight in repose, forming a slight curve, but never over the back when the dog is in motion. Forequarters : Shoulders moderately sloping, powerful and muscular, with no tendency to looseness. Degree of front angulation to match correct rear angulation. Legs straight, strong and set wide apart, heavy boned. Elbows parallel to body. Pasterns strong and bent only slightly. Feet large, round, and compact with well arched toes. Black nails preferred. Hindquarters: Hindquarters broad, wide and muscular. Second thighs well developed, leading to a strong hock joint. Stifle joint is moderately angulated matching the front. Rear legs are wide apart and parallel when viewed from the rear. When the portion of the leg below the hock is correctly "set back" and stands perpendicular to the ground, a plumb line dropped from the rearmost point of the hindquarters will pass in front of the foot. This rules out straight hocks, and since stifle angulation varies with hock angulation, it also rules out insufficiently angulated stifles. Fault - Straight stifles. Coat: Outer coat straight, coarse, and of moderately short length. Undercoat dense, short, and close lying. Coat should not be so long as to produce "fringe" on the belly, tail, or hind legs. Fault Long or wavy coat. Color : Fawn, apricot, or brindle. Brindle should have fawn or apricot as a background color which should be completely covered with very dark stripes. Muzzle, ears, and nose must be dark in color, the blacker the better, with similar color tone around the eye orbits and extending upward between them. A small patch of white on the chest is permitted. Faults - Excessive white on the chest or white on any other part of the body. Mask, ears, or nose lacking dark pigment. Gait : The gait denotes power and strength. The rear legs should have drive, while the forelegs should track smoothly with good reach. In motion, the legs move straight forward; as the dog's speed increases from a walk to a trot, the feet move in toward the center line of the body to maintain balance. Temperament: A combination of grandeur and good nature, courage and docility. Dignity, rather than gaiety, is the Mastiff's correct demeanor. Judges should not condone shyness or viciousness. Conversely, judges should also beware of putting a premium on showiness.
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Approved November 12, 1991 Effective December 31, 1991
MASTIFF BREED STANDARD
SUBMITTED BY THE MASTIFF CLUB OF AMERICA JUDGES AND MEMBERS EDUCATION
T he writers of this article (representatives of both the Judges Education and Mem- bers Education Committees) have been asked to clarify a couple of statements in our Breed Standard. The first and most important is the last sentence under General Appearance: “A good evaluation considers positive qualities of type and soundness with equal weight.” This is a crucial and EXTREMELY important statement, as it is discussed repeatedly in our Judges and Members Education programs. Judges and breeders need to evaluate the dogs by giving equal weight to their structure and their type. When type is discussed, we are referring to the outline of the dog which should be rectangular, with the height coming from the depth of body rather than the length of leg. The general appearance of the head should appear mas- sive from any angle, and substance should be massive and heavy-boned, with a powerful muscle structure. Great depth and breadth is desirable. Now, massive dogs do not last long without the proper conformation structure to carry them well into old age. The saying used to be, “A Mastiff does not go around the ring on its head.” Now it’s said, “A Mastiff is not just another pretty face.” The point is the same. Breeders must strive to improve and maintain both type and soundness to continue to produce and show healthy working dogs. To a judge, this should mean that Mastiffs are not just a “head breed” or just a “moving breed.” We want judges to find the positive qualities in the dogs, and weigh type qualities equally with soundness qualities. Head and Expression—The Mastiff head is one of our breed’s hallmark features. Our Stan- dard is extremely specific as to proportions and conformation of our dogs’ heads. In the days of AKC point-based Standards (Approved July 8, 1941), the points attributed to the Mastiff head were 32% of our Standard. So they are VERY important. Focusing on the function of the head, Mastiffs were originally war, fighting, and hunting dogs. They needed massive, strong, muscular, and broad heads to grab and hold their prey. They needed their shorter, wider muzzle proportions, their broad and somewhat flat skull, and powerful jaws. For 4,500 years (see Hutchinson’s Dog Encyclopedia, Volume II , circa 1934) the Mastiff has been bred to live with us as companions, go wherever we go, and keep us safe. Hence, the reason for an alert but kindly expression. The Mastiff is a natural guard dog. They should be aware of their surroundings, but they should have a kindly expression that invites you to say hello. A frequently asked question is, “What is well-knit?” This refers to the first sentence in the Standard which states, “The Mastiff is a large, massive, symmetrical dog with a well-knit frame.” Symmetrical is a synonym for balanced. The definition of well-knit is “firmly and strongly constructed.” It’s helpful to talk about knitted sweaters in regard to this. A loose knit sweater would be big and baggy, a tight knit sweater is form fitting and shows all, a well-knit sweater fits with a little extra room for maneuvering. In other words, we want a dog that is balanced, strongly constructed, massive, and looks well put together.
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English Masti ff history of the
submitted by TONI HYLAND, Past MCOA President, Member Judges Education Steering Committee
DIANE COLLINGS, Immediate Past MCOA President and Past Chair Judges Education Committee MARY LYNN SPEER, Chair Judges Education Committee
T he breed now called the Masti ff in English speaking countries is more commonly known as the Old English Masti ff . It is a giant, shorthaired dog with a heavy head and short muzzle that has been bred in England for over two thousand years as a watchdog. The term “masti ff ” describes a group of giant varieties of dog rather than a single breed.
Masti ff s were fi rst depicted in history in 645–635 B.C. on the world-famous bas relief found on the pal- ace walls of Nineveh, a city along the Tigris River. It shows Assyrian hunters on a lion hunt accompanied by their Masti ff s. So far as the Masti ff is concerned, it has a longer his- tory than most. Caesar describes them in his account of invading Britain in 55 B.C., when they fought beside their masters against Roman legions with such courage and power as to make a great impression. Soon after- ward there are several di ff erent accounts of the huge British fi ghting dogs brought back to Rome where they defeated all other varieties in combat at the Circus. During the Anglo–Saxon times, one Masti ff had to be kept for every two villains. By this means, wolves and other savage game were kept under control. Th e nobility also used them in hunting packs. It was as protectors of the home, however, that they were most often used, and probably as a result of centuries of such service that the Masti ff has acquired unique traits as a family dog.
pictured above: Artifacts in the British Museum depicting Mastiff-type dogs from Mastiffs in Ancient Times.
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HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH MASTIFF
Hellingly Kennels, c. 1935.
Anecdotes extolling the power and agility of Masti ff s as well as their devotion to their masters would fi ll a large volume of marvels. Th e story of St. Peers Legh, Knight of Lyme Hall at the Battle of Agincourt, is well known. He brought his favorite Mas- ti ff , a bitch, to France, and when he fell, she stood over him and defended him many hours until he was picked up by English sol- diers and carried to Paris where he died of his wounds. Th e faith- ful Masti ff was returned to England and from her are descended the famous Lyme Hall strain which the family has bred over a period of fi ve centuries. Th e present-day English Masti ff is based on the strains of Lyme Hall and that of the Duke of Devonshire’s Kennels at Chatsworth. Th e fi rst documented Masti ff in what is now known as the United States was “Grace,” an arrival in the fall of 1620 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, aboard the May fl ower. Th e fi rst indica-
A young Mastiff breeder/owner-handler, Damara Bolte, and her young pup.
tions of the continuation of the Masti ff in the United States after 1620 were in the late 1800s with the fi rst AKC reg- istration in 1885. In 1889, there were 373 registered Masti ff s; in 2018, there were 4,045. Today’s Masti ff in Amer- ica is a gentle giant, bred for its even temperament and a love of family.
ANECDOTES EXTOLLING THE POWER AND AGILITY OF MASTIFFS AS WELL AS THEIR DEVOTION TO THEIR MASTERS WOULD FILL A LARGE VOLUME OF MARVELS.”
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BY DIANE COLLINGS & TONI HYLAND English Mastiff judging the
T he Mastiff is a large, massive, symmetrical dog with a well-knit frame. The impression is one of grandeur and dignity. Dogs are more massive throughout. Bitches should not be faulted for being somewhat smaller in dimensions while maintaining a proportionally powerful structure. A good evaluation considers positive qualities of type and sound- ness with equal weight. The height of the dog should come from the depth of body rather than from the length of leg. Proportion is rectangular, the length of the dog from the forechest to the rump is somewhat longer than the height at the withers. As the name Mastiff denotes, the dog should be massive and heavy-boned, with a powerful structure. Great depth and breadth is desirable. The head in general outline gives a massive appearance when viewed from any angle. Breadth is greatly desired, eyes set wide apart, medium in size, color the darker the better. Ears should be V-shaped, small and in proportion to the head. Skull is broad and somewhat flat between the ears. Forehead is slightly curved, with a furrow up the center of the forehead, showing marked wrinkles which are particularly distinctive when at attention. The brows are superciliary ridges, moderately raised. The proportion of the head is 1:2—one (1) for the muzzle (tip of nose to stop) and two (2) for the skull (stop to occiput). The muzzle is short and broad, with only a slight taper to the end of the nose. Black mask, colored the blacker the better. Scissors bite is preferred but a moderately undershot jaw should not be faulted providing the teeth are not visible when the mouth is closed. It should be noted that judges should examine the occlusion of the mouth to ensure a wry mouth is not present. The Mastiff is not a “head breed,” it is a “working breed.” Their gait denotes power and strength. The rear legs should have drive, while the forelegs should track smoothly with good reach.
Hellingly Kennels, c. 1935.
In motion, the legs move straight forward as the dog’s speed increases from a walk to a trot, the feet move in toward the center line of the body to maintain balance. When judging temperament, there should be a combination of grandeur, good nature, courage, and docility. Dignity, rather than gaiety, is the Mastiff’s correct demeanor. Judges may find a Mastiff to be rather aloof, but should not condone shyness or viciousness. Conversely, judges should also be aware of putting a premium on showiness. The Mastiff is not typically a “showy breed.” Please do not penalize a dog for his/her reticent attitude. As long as the dog tolerates an examination, it is an acceptable attitude. There are three colors (fawn/apricot/brindle), all are judged equally with no preference for color.
‘Minting,’ a Famous Dog from the Past
Ch. Beaufort, an English Champion
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JUDGING THE ENGLISH MASTIFF
There are three easy landmarks to look for when judging the Mastiff: (1) a promi- nent sternum; (2) when in a stack, the elbow should be directly under the with- ers, denoting the dog has sufficient layback exhibiting a prominent pro-sternum; (3) plum-line dropped from the ischium (far- thest most point of the hindquarters) will pass directly in front of the rear foot. Judging the Mastiff should be an enjoy- able experience. However, bring your spit towel and be prepared to put up with those of us who love and show our own beautiful dogs without benefit of being shown to their fullest potential. The Mastiff Club of Amer- ica is always eager to answer your questions. Please visit our website at www.mastiff.org . All information provided has come directly from the Mastiff History and Standard Judge’s Presentations.
A Lady with Two Young Mastiffs, c. 1930
A Young Mastiff Breeder/Owner/Handler, Damara Bolte, and Her Young Pup
DIANE COLLINGS Diane Collings has been involved with Mastiffs since 1978, when she attended her first MCOA National Specialty. She is a MCOA Life Member, 2x past MCOA President, past JE and JESC Chairperson, and she is currently an active JE Mentor/Presenter. Diane has bred/owned and handled close to 100 champions over the years, including one National Specialty winner, a National BOS winner from the Veterans Class, and MBISS winners. She continues to be active in the Conformation, Rally, and Obedience rings as well as Barn Hunt and FastCat. Diane splits her time in the ring on both sides of the leash as she currently holds provisional/active judging status on 26 Working Breeds and All-Breed Junior Showmanship. She had the immense honor and thrill of a lifetime judging the MCOA National in 2018 and she looks forward to judging at the Mastiff Club show in Denmark in September of 2024. Diane will be applying for the balance of the Working Group this summer and looks forward to adding other Group’s breeds to her resume. AKC Judge #94897. Member in Good Standing: Mastiff Club of America, Life Member (JE Mentor), Great Dane Club of America (JE Mentor), Redwood Empire Mastiff Club, Life Member (BOD), Northern California Working Group Association (President).
TONI HYLAND Toni Hyland has owned and bred Mastiffs for over 30 years, including the 1978 National Specialty winner and several top-ranked dogs. She is an Honorary Life Member and a Past President of the Mastiff Club of America; Life Member and a Past President of the Redwood Empire Mastiff Club, Inc; and a Life Member, Mensona Kennel Club. Toni is a certified evaluator for AKC’s CGC Programs, Therapy Dogs International, and the Foundation for Service Dog Support, and she is an advisor for CHOMPs Therapy Dog Program. She holds a Ph.D. in Administration with dual majors in Business and Education, and she is retired after serving 30 years in private and public school administration. Her Mastiff, “Gideon,” age 4-1/2, and French Bulldog, “Oasis,” age 10, allow Toni to share their home in Salinas, California.
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HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH MASTIFF
THEIR GATE DENOTES POWER & STRENGTH”
When judging the Masti ff your exami- nation in the ring should include the fol- lowing: (1) View the Masti ff in pro fi le, access that balance and proper depth in pro fi le are in balance with proper head type. (2) Th e head viewed from the front, pro fi le and above are in proportion 1:2 (1 part muzzle to 2 parts skull) massive and breadth greatly desired. (3) Feel for a well de fi ned breastbone extending in front of the foremost point of the shoulders (prominent prosternum) as skin and muscle can make it appear that it is prominent. (4) In pro- fi le, the elbow should be directly under the withers. (5) Th e chest is extending at least to the elbow, denoting the dog has su ffi cient layback which establishes the rectangular proportion and assures that overall height will come from depth of body rather than length of leg. (6) Moderate rear angulation is determined by visually dropping a plum- line from the ischium (furthermost point of the hindquarters) that will pass in front of the foot. (7) Proof of proper construction is shown on the move with a straight, level and fi rm topline maintained whether stand- ing or moving. Judging the Masti ff should an enjoyable experience. However, bring your spit towel and be prepared to put up with those of us who love and show our own beautiful dogs without bene fi t of being shown to their full- est potential. Th e Masti ff Club of America is always eager to answer your questions. Please visit our website at masti ff .org . Information submitted has come directly from the Masti ff history and standard judges’ presentations.
superciliary ridges are moderately raised. Th e proportion of the head is 1:2–one (1) for the muzzle [tip of nose to stop] and two (2) for the skull [stop to occiput]. Th e muzzle is short and broad with only a slight taper to the end of the nose. Black mask, colored the blacker the better. Scissors bite is preferred but a moderately undershot jaw should not be faulted providing the teeth are not visible when the mouth is closed. It should be not- ed that judges should examine the occlu- sion of the mouth to ensure a wry mouth is not present. While the head is an important com- ponent of the overall conformation of the breed, the Masti ff is a working breed. Th eir gate denotes power and strength. Th e rear legs should have drive, while the forelegs should track smoothly with good reach. In motion, the legs move straight forward. As the dog’s speed increases from a walk to a trot, the feet move in toward the center line of the body to maintain balance. When judging temperament it should be a combination of grandeur and good nature, courage and docility. Dignity, rather than gaiety, is the Masti ff ’s correct demeanor. Judges may fi nd a Masti ff to be rather aloof, but should not condone shyness or vicious- ness. Conversely, judges should also be aware of putting a premium on showiness. Th e Masti ff is not typically a “showy breed.” Please do not penalize a dog for his/her reti- cent attitude. As long as the dog tolerates an examination, it is an acceptable attitude. Th ere are three colors (fawn, apricot and brindle), all judged equally with no prefer- ence for color.
JUDGING THE MASTIFF Anyone wishing to judge our beautiful breed is encouraged to attend the Masti ff Club of America’s judging education pro- gram given annually at the national special- ty. Judges are provided with presentations on the breed history, the standard, hands-on judging, and ringside mentoring by MCOA approved mentors. To attend, interested judges may contact Jessica Watson at oak- email@example.com . Th e Masti ff is a large, massive, symmetrical dog with a well-knit frame. Th e impression is one of grandeur and dignity. Dogs are more massive throughout. Bitches should not be faulted for being somewhat smaller in dimensions while maintaining a proportionally powerful structure. A good evaluation considers positive qualities of type and soundness with equal weight. Th e height of the dog should come from the depth of body rather than from the length of leg. Proportion is rectangular; the length of the dog from the forechest to rump is somewhat longer than the height at the withers. As the name Masti ff denotes, the dog should be massive, heavy boned, with a powerful struc- ture. Great depth and breadth are desirable. Th e head in general outline giving a massive appearance when viewed from any angle. Breadth greatly desired, eyes set wide apart, medium in size, color the darker the better. Ears should be v-shaped, small and in proportion to the head. Skull is broad and somewhat fl at between the ears. Forehead slightly curved with a fur- row up the center of the forehead, show- ing marked wrinkles which are particularly distinctive when at attention. Th e brows or
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A QUICK STUDY OF THE MASTIFF with CAT ANGUS, BONNIE BLINK, MARY ANNE BROCIOUS, DAVID & LAURA HAGEY, BETSY HARVEY, PAM LAMBIE & HOLLY SCOTT
1. Describe the breed in three words. CA: Grandeur, dignity and good-nature. BB: Massive, powerful and loving. MB: Large, massive and symmetrical. L&DH: Noble, massive and rectangular.
conformity to the breed standard is critical and the standard calls for a dog that is large, massive, and has a powerful structure. Depth comes from depth of body, not length of leg, so the idea of a taller dog does not equate to a “bigger” dog. A correct dog is massive and of appropriate height, with depth of body, is pro- portionately powerful, and should be able to fulfill his function as a protector.
BH: Loyal, gentle giants. PL: Loyal, gentle giants. HS: Massive, gentle and dignity.
2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? CA: Good temperament and size coupled with soundness are critical for the Mastiff breed. BB: Substance, good nature, proper silhouette, substantial bone, box on a box head, height from depth of body not length of leg, powerful movement with reach and drive. MB: Masculine males with all of the attributes of the breed standard in a symmetrical, balanced frame. The females can be smaller, but must still maintain a proportional, yet powerful frame. L&DH: Must haves in the Mastiff would be a stable temperament first and foremost. This is a huge dog which must be safe and sane in all situations. They also must have breed type and soundness in the same package—a typey Mastiff who is not built soundly is not functional, and a flashy Mastiff with great movement must also look like a Mastiff to be correct. There should be no ques- tion as to what breed you are looking at when you see a Mastiff in the ring. This is a breed that has been around for millennia—born and bred to protect its family by the hearth, gentle and thoughtful—but also a working dog capable of bursts of speed and athleticism. BH: Definitely breed type is important, but I really like to see a nice sound dog that moves with great reach and drive. I love to watch a big dog that moves easily with power‚ it’s very impressive. PL: Solid temperament is most important. HS: Breed type, soundness (mental and physical), balance.
“A CORRECT DOG IS MASSIVE AND OF APPROPRIATE HEIGHT...”
BB: Absolutely not. But all other things being equal, bigger is better. MB: No bigger is not always better. According to the Mastiff standard the dog does have to be a large, mas- sive, symmetrical dog of great power through out. The largest dog in the class may not have balanced mass and symmetry which are necessary for every Mastiff. The largest one may not demonstrate the reach and drive that is described, and the largest one may not have a strong head that is in balance with the rest of the dog. BH: I don’t hold to this belief. The standard does call for large and massive, but it also calls for a well-knit frame. To me that means well put together with power and strength. The Mastiff is a Working dog, so I believe that it should be able to move easily to do its job. I’m very will- ing to forgive a little size for a nicely balanced dog. The key words being “a little size.” PL: No, not better. However, we must remember this is a giant breed. Size does matter! It is one of the characteris- tics that make a Mastiff a Mastiff. HS: No. 27 ½ " for bitches and 30" for dogs is our standard. Those are very large dogs when grown up. The Mastiff is the heaviest breed, their bone is dense and heads are large. However, a 180-lb. dog may be just as worthy as a 210-lb. dog. Balance, soundness, type are considerations, not size. (Fat dogs are not big, they are fat!)
3. This is of course a big breed. Is bigger always better?
CA: It depends. “Big” can be a good thing if the dog is sound, strong, and has well developed musculature. “Big” that comes solely from adding weight to a dog that doesn’t have appropriate muscle development and tone is not desirable. All in all,
232 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2017
1. Where do you live? What is your occupation? How many years in dogs? 2. Do you have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? 3. How did you first become involved with the Mastiff? 4. Are there any special requirements for breeding such a large breed? For showing? 5. At what age do you start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness (or lack thereof)? 6. Can you speak to the importance of soundness in the breed?
zation, but still continue as a PHA member even though the breeds are getting smaller and smaller. I no longer handle Mastiffs in the show ring. Over the years, I’ve rehomed eight Mastiffs—three of which had their forever home at Reveille. Now when at shows, I often can be found ringside watching Mastiff classes being judged. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? I sculpted in wax for bronze and gold miniatures. Earlier in life, I enjoyed tennis and horseback riding. How did I first become involved with the Mastiff? Early on while living on a military post, my mother had encountered a house breaker at whom she fired a warning shot to alert him she was armed. Returned fire was immediate and killed my Boxer that was standing in front of my mother. (My father retired from the mili- tary and my parents were living in Alexandria, Virginia.) After the house breaker encounter, Mom didn’t feel comfortable when alone in the house and wanted a dog around that could make her “feel brave.” Upon visiting a friend with Mastiffs, she said, “That’s what I want!” That’s when I purchased the first Mastiff that I delivered the day they moved into the new house. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? You tell the “lack thereof” sooner than the worthiness. You start to hope and pray at eight weeks. Looking at and watching puppies grow is always a time consuming job; fun, though bringing them along physically and socially is not something that happens over- night. Good diet, proper exercise and, most importantly, adequate and frequent socialization are all necessary. Upon reaching about five months you begin seeing the inborn presence and, if apparent, you really get hopeful. Can I speak to the importance of soundness in the breed? I think it is especially important in that the Mastiff is one of the larger breeds. Mastiff breed type calls for power, proper bone, depth of body. Mastiffs are so big that unsoundness is not completing its destiny. All this balances the picture of type and movement, thus soundness is a must. In the show ring, is the Mastiff a “showy” dog? By its nature a Mastiff is not a showy breed. If trained and well-presented, they are impressive. They would rather be home, doing their job of guarding the home front! At home, does the breed make a good family pet? Yes, especially when brought up with children and well socialized with multiple life experiences. What are my hopes for the future of the breed and the sport? From the current track record for Mastiffs, it is a breed that has improved; so to continue in the same vein. As we are still in lockdown or just beginning to open again from the Covid-19 pandemic, I trust the sport will endeavor to return to the importance of breeding programs and discontinue the rankings, advertising, travel and too many dog shows. Do I have a funny story I can share about showing Mastiffs? I did get a laugh when, years ago, a well-known and capable profes- sional handler cruised in to cover a Mastiff. (It was probably sit- ting with its owner.) The handler took the leash, and gave it a little flip expecting to run off with his charge to enter the ring. It didn’t budge! So much for understanding a Mastiff. I’d like to also share that I think they are wonderful, kind, noble, impressive and protective. Not required to jump up and be aggressive. Just their looks provide comfort, companionship and safety. This breed likes to please its owner.
7. In the show ring, is the Mastiff a “showy” dog? 8. At home, does the breed make a good family pet?
9. What are your hopes for the future of the breed? For the sport? 10. For a bit of humor: Do you have a funny story you can share about showing Mastiffs? 11. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. DAMARA BOLTE I live in Leesburg, Virginia,
and grew-up as an “Army- brat.” I graduated from Purdue University in animal husband- ry and studied animal sculp- ture in Paris. I’ve bred Reveille Basenjis since 1955 and have handled a good many Basenjis over the years, including nine Best in Show winners. I have been a BCOA board member and wrote the breed column in the AKC Gazette for over three decades. My avocation
has been professional handling with a career as an Animal Hus- bandman for the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Mary- land. I was involved with producing small laboratory animals (i.e. mice, rats and guinea pigs) for research or testing human diseases. I accompanied Basenji breeders Jon Curby and Stan Carter, DVM on the 1988 Basenji search in Zaire. I received the AKC 2002 Hound Group Breeder of the Year Award, the 1998 PHA Han- dler of the Year, and was the 2008 recipient of the AKC’s Lifetime Achievement Award. I bought my mother her first Mastiff in 1956. For 30 years, I showed and bred, on a very limited basis, the house Mastiffs. I had the privilege and honor to have handled dogs to Best of Breed at the MCOA National Specialty in 1966, ’67, ’68, ’71, ’74, ’76, ’79, ’82, and ’93 with six different dogs. Among those were the following Best of Breed winners at the National Specialty: 1967 and 1968 CH Reveille Juggernaut; 1971 CH Reveille Defender; and 1974, ’75, ’76 CH Reveille Big Thunder. I also won the National with CH Deer Run Zen and CH Matts Joshua of Dogwood Knoll. Some exciting handling moments: I handled the first Mastiff to go BIS in Continental US; my own Brindle Mastiff to win a Group; and the first Mastiff to win a Group in Canada. I retired in 1992 from a 33-year career at the NIH. I was one of the first AKC Registered Handlers. I have retired from that organi-
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Soundness is imperative in a giant breed as weight plays a significant role in the cost of healthcare.
SHERRY BROWN Just a short note on our beginnings: My mother, Mary LuMur- phy (at that time), bought our first Mastiff, Willowledge North- starVenus, from Willowledge Kennels when there were only 240 Mastiffs registered in North America. I live in Duluth, Minnesota, and spend winters in Texas on the Gulf. I am retired and enjoy our country lake home. I have been in Mastiffs for over 50 years and am a member of the MCOA, Honor- ary Lifetime Member of the Midwest Mastiff Fanciers, and Life- time Honorary Member of the Duluth Kennel Club. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? I dabble in stained glass work, crochet, cross stitch and collecting and reading books. How did I first become involved with the Mastiff? My mother read about them while a teenager and made it her life’s dream to own and breed them. Are there any special requirements for breeding and showing such a large breed? It is important to get your Mastiff socialized from a very early age. Never force a Mastiff, you must finesse them. When a Mastiff understands what you are asking of them they want to please, albeit they do have their moments of stubbornness. You can hurt a Mastiff’s feelings quite easily. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I feel you can see definite signs of soundness, topline and head type at eight weeks. Can I speak to the importance of soundness in the breed? Soundness is imperative in a giant breed as weight plays a significant role in the cost of healthcare. In the show ring, is the Mastiff a “showy” dog? The Mastiff is not a showy breed as our standard states, “Dignity rather than gaiety is the Mastiff’s correct demeanor.” At home, does the breed make a good family pet? The Mastiff makes an excellent family pet. They are generally fond of children, are very loyal, are great watch dogs as they use their common sense as to who is friend or foe and, except for bouts of energetic play, are usually quiet house guests that don’t bark needlessly. What are my hopes for the future of the breed and the sport? I am excited for the future of the Mastiff because of the wonderful, healthy Mastiffs the breeders are producing, They are using tools such as genetic testing to be able to produce sound puppies as well as beautiful representatives of my breed. Do I have a funny story I can share about showing Mastiffs? There are a few, such as the first-time Mastiff show owner who missed her dog’s big, important win because she had to use the ring- side commode and came out screaming that she missed it! GLORIA CUTHBERT I live with my husband, Chuck, a Pug and a three-year-old Mas- tiff (I owned the father) on eleven acres of woods in Concord, Ohio, east of Cleveland. I am retired after 30+ years working in finance and have owned and have shown only Mastiffs for 38 years. My Mastiffs have been my primary interest for those 38 years, though during that time I was very active with the Mastiff Club of America. I was the National Rescue Director, a show chair and, as is true of so many who are deeply involved with their breed, I was never able to say “no” when it came to a Mastiff in need. That is my way of saying we were deeply involved in Mastiff rescue through all
of our years with the breed. I also collect Mastiff memorabilia and have an extensive collection of Mastiff-related art. My involvement with the breed started with our search for a dog. My husband had just read about the English Mastiff–had never seen one other than a picture–and we did what no one should do to obtain one: We looked in the classified ads, picked one and bought our puppy. We were very lucky. We’d picked from a good line, were encouraged to show him, and that was that. Are there any special requirements for breeding such a large breed? There is no doubt that research needs to be extensive when considering breeding. There needs to be testing to eliminate any genetic issues and the reputation of the breeder carries throughout the breed community and not just the casual friend’s recommenda- tion. Always keep in mind that you have taken responsibility for a very large dog and the cost of veterinary care is proportional to the size of the dog. As far as showing a Mastiff, if you have a dog that meets the standard, they are a wash and dry show dog. Add to that a competent handler (or you paying attention in classes) and you are good to go. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? In any litter there always seems that there is one or two, maybe three, that stand out by eight weeks and, unless there is a regression, that little extra should allow you to really know by the first birthday. Can I speak to the importance of soundness in the breed? I am not sure what to say here. By definition, soundness means free from injury, damage and defect or disease. Is the Mastiff a “showy” dog in the show ring? The Mastiff does not present as “showy.” The Mastiff is a “what you see is what you get” type dog. The picture is one of might and strength and dignity coupled with unencumbered drive and smooth movement. Does the breed make a good family pet? The Mastiff is a wash, dry, trim toenails kind of dog. In the home they are easily adapted to where they can or cannot tread. They do take up space, but as is true of all breeds, they are what you make them. That being said you need to know that they are smart—do not let them fool you. If you allow bad habits or lack of restraint they take that to be approval and like children, once spolied, a behavior is very difficult to undo. The Mastiff is a very loyal family dog and will return the care and love you give with undying loyalty. Do not let the size fool you, they are not an outside dog. They need you and you will know it. Lastly, the biggest decision they have to make is where to lay down next. What are my hopes for the future of the breed? When you use the word hope, I can, in a perfect world, hope that Mastiff owners will breed to the standard, test to eliminate genetic issues, place their puppies responsibly, and pass on the love for the breed that the Mastiff has earned. “Grand” and “good-natured” have been used over the years to describe the breed and that has been earned and is fitting. Do I have a funny story to share about showing Mastiffs? The following could be true in the case of many breeds, but it was observed at one of the Mastiff Club of America’s national special- ties. At an obedience demonstration, seven or eight Mastiffs were lined in a row by their owners and given the “Down Stay” com- mand. The owners then went to the opposite end, faced their Mas- tiffs, and gave the command, “Come.” Not one moved, but after a few long moments, the one on the end looked at the next and slowly, one by one, they got up and went to their owners. That is a true story!
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shoulders are very important, as they carry most of their weight in the front. In the ring, the Mastiff is a free-moving dog with good side-gait; strong reach and drive. On the down and back, the legs move straight forward, converging to the center as the speed increases. They do not single track! They are big, ground-covering dogs. In my opinion, reach and drive is desired over a clean down and back. In the show ring, is the Mastiff a “showy” dog? The Mastiff standard states that a premium should not be put on showiness. A Mastiff should have dignity and grandeur. In my opinion, an overly shy dog that can’t stand for examination should never be tolerated. However, it is a dog show. This means in Breed and Group competi- tion a Mastiff has to “shine” to be noticed. At home, does the breed make a good family pet? The Mastiff is often referred to as the children’s nanny. They are great family dogs, once you learn to step over them! They will be found usually in one of two places: laying on the air conditioning vent or sleeping in front of the refrigerator. They like to hang out with the kids, and usually will step between the child and perceived danger, be that a car or a threatening stranger. What are my hopes for the future of the breed and the sport? I think the Mastiff has improved by leaps and bounds in the last 20 years. The days of dogs with rears so bad they truly couldn’t walk are, thankfully, gone. Bites and toplines have also come a long way! I do, however, think that the essence of the breed has been com- promised. When you see a Mastiff, you should think Hummer, not sports car! A big, rectangular dog with a posts for legs. I recently saw an illustrated article [in another publication] and the majority of answers were very disappointing! Many said so-and-so has a pleas- ing expression. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but our standard describes a one to two ratio; muzzle one, skull two. A broad, square, truncated muzzle, etc., not a one-to-one ratio that looks like a Rho- desian! I’m hoping that in this stay-at-home time, judges will study those odd breeds–or breeds they aren’t as familiar with–more. And reach out to mentors! As far as the future of our sport, time will tell. Perhaps we will get back to basics? Less grooming, less pomp and circumstance, more judging! To be involved with the Mastiff, you have to have a sense of humor; when exhibiting them and when judging them! I remember a dog laying down in the ring at Bucks County that literally had to be dragged out of the ring! I’ve had many Mastiffs sneak in a huge, sloppy kiss on the judge’s face! MARTY HANCOCK My husband and I live in Denton, Texas. I am a registered nurse, currently working in Surgical Services as an Analyst. We have both had dogs all our lives, but have been participating in AKC events since 2007. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? Between work and spending time with our dogs, I don’t have time for much of anything else. How did you first become involved with the Mastiff? My hus- band and I were researching Boxers and came across some informa- tion on the Mastiff. We became intrigued and did some research, deciding that the Mastiff was the breed for us. Are there any special requirements for breeding or showing such a large breed? Like most breeds, there are specific health tests to be completed/passed to help determine if a Mastiff is suitable for breeding. Those tests include, but are not limited to, OFA hips and elbows, cardiac evaluation, CERF, DNA tests for Cystinuria, CMR, DMR, and DM. A breeder should have basic knowledge of the pedigrees involved in the history of the breed. To determine if a Mastiff is worthy of being shown in con- formation, as with all breeds the dog should be compared to the
In my 35 years showing Mastiffs, I have won BOB at the MCOA National 13 times, with nine different dogs. I’m proud to say that Scott Phoe- bus and I retired the Breeders Cup, and won many Tourna- ments, WD and WB in our years together. I’ve also won 42 all-breed BIS on seven different dogs, including the largest BIS ever for a Mastiff. I’ve handled the all-time top-winning Mas- tiff in history, and co-bred the
top-winning Mastiff bitch ever. I have also handled the top-win- ning brindle in history, and was involved in the breedings that made it happen! Honestly, I’m proudest of the fact that all these dogs go back to the very first Mastiff that I’d made number one all-systems, CH Iron Hills War Wagon, even though he was a fawn. One of his last breedings was to a brindle bitch that started our top-winning brindle journey! As a handler, I have shown and finished dogs in all seven Groups, including a BIS on a LC Chihuahua. I live in Colorado, at the beginning of the plains on six fenced acres. I’ve lived all over the USA, but Colorado is my favorite place! I’m a third generation dog person. My grandmother had English Setters in Germany and my parents had a big breeding/ showing kennel. We never had fewer than 30 dogs. Bob and Jane Forsyth showed our dogs. I miss the big breeding kennels. I still have my hand in breeding Mastiffs, despite being a full-time professional handler. Specialing a Mastiff keeps me pretty busy. When I’m at home, I love to plant and tend my garden. I presently have a litter of Chi- huahuas. I find learning about other breeds, in depth, is fascinating! I have a rescue Paso Fino horse that I love to ride, but he’s in Texas! Hope to get him here for some trail rides soon! How did I first become involved with the Mastiff? In 1985, I was hired to show my first Mastiff; she finished quickly. Soon after that a handler friend of mine, Cathy Babbins, asked me to help her out at the Mastiff National in Strawberry Banks, Virginia. Well-known breeder judge Richard Thomas, from England, was judging. Long story short, I was BOB with the WD! That was the beginning! Are there any special requirements for breeding and showing such a large breed? Showing and breeding Mastiffs can be very daunting! Mastiffs require quite a bit of testing for genetic prob- lems, including PRA and Cystinuria (and a few others), on top of the usual hips, elbow, and CERF. It can be very costly, but is absolutely necessary before breeding quality, healthy Mastiffs. Showing Mastiffs can also be very humbling! They are big dogs, requiring really big crates! They also need to be kept cool; they hate being hot! They are natural worriers–about storms, heat, strang- ers, the list goes on. To successfully show Mastiffs requires a lot of individual time. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I like to evaluate Mastiff puppies at eight weeks, and then again at three months. After that I reevaluate at nine months—often doing hip and elbow prelims at this time—then again at 18 months. (If you’re still here at two, you’re a keeper!) Mastiff puppies go through a lot of physical and emotional growth between birth and early maturity at two. It’s best to not take them too seriously in between these evaluations. Can I speak to the importance of soundness in the breed? Soundness in a Mastiff is very important! This is a big dog that can breakdown at a very early age if unsound. I believe elbows and
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absolutely certain of is that there will always be more for me to learn, both in the ring and in the whelping box. JAMIE MORRIS I live in Western Washington. We purchased our first purebred dogs in 1996 after a seven year wait for the right time and breed, and after much research. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? You mean there is life outside of dogs? How did I first become involved with the Mastiff? Mastiffs were on our “short list” during a seven-year-long search. After rescuing a Mastiff mix, our fate was sealed. Are there any special requirements for breeding or showing such a large breed? Breeding: Perseverance, patience, time, money, and good veterinarians. Showing: Removing blinders and being honest about the attributes of your dog. Just because a dog can be finished doesn’t mean it should be. As a breeder, it is my responsibility to only put the best out in the ring. Mastiffs have no breed specific dis- qualifications. However, just because they can hold a stack and have all their reproductive organs doesn’t mean that they should receive their championship. People complain about judges and handlers. Well, if the breeders were more interested in showing off the best of our breed rather than the numbers of champions produced, there wouldn’t be dogs lacking for the judges to put up or the handlers to exhibit. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? For puppies that I have raised, it is eight weeks of observation. I put less weight on manually stacking puppies, etc. at certain ages, and more on simply watching them; how they stand naturally, how they move, confidence levels, etc. It is just something you know if you are observant. However, I am not in a big rush to get them into the ring either. Slow maturing, in my opinion, holds up over the long haul. An 18-month-old Mastiff shouldn’t look like a mature dog. I expect to see the teenagers that they are. The differences in the breed between six months, 18 months, 2 ½ years and 4 ½ years are amazing. Can I speak to the importance of soundness in the breed? This is a Working breed. While they may not have a physical job these days, the breed should still be sound in both body and mind. They should have a proper foundation (feet) to carry their substance. They should have the length of body and balance to move with power and ease. Just because they are a massive breed doesn’t mean they can’t be fit, athletic and sound. If any part of that structure is lacking, the soundness will not hold up. In the show ring, is the Mastiff a “showy” dog? Per the stan- dard: “…a premium should not be put on showiness.” They should exhibit grandeur, good nature, courage, docility and dignity. Does the breed make a good family pet? They make an unbe- lievably good family member. However, with their size comes cer- tain challenges. More body equals more coat to shed. They do slob- ber. Tails can clear everything from coffee tables to countertops. They are not for the house that cringes at the thought of dust bun- nies, hair and slobber on furniture, walls and even ceilings. They need larger transportation. Everything about a Mastiff is big, so one must be prepared for that. What are my hopes for the future of the breed and the sport? For the breed: This is a tough one. Longevity is always a dream for the breed. I have been very fortunate that many of my dogs have lived to 11, 12 and even 13 years, but this is something that not everyone is lucky enough to enjoy. I can’t describe how much I wish that everyone could enjoy their Mastiffs for an extended period of time. With today’s veterinary medicine, I hope that more and more of the breed will exceed the ten-year mark. Eventually making even 15 years seem normal.
breed standard. Many breeders have specific characteristics that they put an emphasis on. Experienced breeders can assess basic show-worthiness by approximately eight weeks of age. Personally, I like to watch my puppies from the day they are born, continually assessing and watching for trends. Often, the first puppy to catch your eye doesn’t turn out to be the best puppy in the litter when you make a final assessment. If you know your pedigree well, you will have a good idea what to expect of your puppy as he/she devel- ops. As for showing a Mastiff, one needs to be humble. Folks often say that Mastiffs are one of the more difficult breeds to show—not because of grooming or requirements for presentation—but because a Mastiff will teach you humility early and often. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I assess my puppies from their first breath and can often spot a prom- ising headpiece in the early days. Overall conformation is more dif- ficult to begin assessing until the puppies get their feet underneath them. No matter what my first impressions are with subsequent evaluations, I don’t make a final decision about my personal picks and recommendations until the puppies are eight weeks old. From then on, there are stages of growth that are generally awkward for a breed that grows so quickly. Some puppies are beautiful at six months and start winning early, particularly bitches. Other puppies require patience and may not be a dog you want to take into the ring until they have matured some. Can I speak to the importance of soundness in the breed? Because the Mastiff is a breed that will commonly approach 225- 250 lbs in males and 175-200 lbs in females, soundness is critical for the welfare and longevity of the breed. A Mastiff that is genetically prone to be sound and has been responsibly exercised and condi- tioned throughout its lifetime can live 10-14 years. In the show ring, is the Mastiff a “showy” dog? In the breed standard there is a phrase that specifically cautions against “putting a premium on showiness.” The breed is one with an aura of gran- deur. The gaze should be confident and kind. The dog should move easily (because of the aforementioned soundness). However, the dog should not be overly showy. At home, does the breed make a good family pet? The Mastiff is an incredible family dog and is at their best living alongside their humans. Because of their ultimate size, early, frequent, and contin- ued socialization is critical to responsible ownership. What are my hopes for the future of the breed and the sport? On behalf of the Mastiff, I hope and pray that breeders will continue to learn, with an open mind, what the Mastiff should be. I hope and pray that judges will continue to familiarize themselves with the standard and choose the best example of the breed, not the most popular/frequently advertised dog in the ring. For the sport, I hope folks will take seriously the overwhelming need to take newcomers under our wings, support them, teach them, and stop taking the joy of the sport away before people can truly find it. Do I have a funny story I can share about showing Mastiffs? I had a bitch who loved the show ring. She was the number one own- er-handled Mastiff for 2014. Several times, her lead came unclipped going around the ring. She would move out ahead of me, no longer held back by my hand, and arrive in front of the judge several strides before me. She would stack herself up and turn to look over her shoulder as if to ask, “Are you coming?” My first Mastiff was a rescue from a shelter. He taught me what unconditional love really is. After watching dog shows on Animal Planet every Saturday morning, I thought, “How hard can it be to run around in left-hand circles?” I started showing a puppy from my first litter and I learned quickly that I had underestimated the sport. Through the generosity of handlers and other owner-handlers, my own studious observation, and listening to criticism with thick skin and a will to get better, I continued to learn. The one thing I am
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