Mastiff Breed Magazine - Showsight

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.


Powered by