Monday, June 18, 2007

Most Frequently Asked Questions

Ch. Kiokee Devil Came to Georgia

What is a Mastiff?
A Mastiff is a giant breed of dog descended from the ancient Alaunt and Molossur breeds. Today, mastiffs is a term used to describe many different breeds around the world, all descended from the same rootstock. In the USA and other English speaking countries, Mastiff is used to refer to the Old English Mastiff (OEM) developed in England and was nearly extinct after WWII. With that in mind, Mastiffs (OEMs), are generally very large dogs:fawn, apricot, or brindle in color: all with a black mask and ears; possessing a medium to short coat with very little white (which if it appears, should be confined to the chest but often appears on the toes as well). There is no upper height limit--they may range from the minimum of 27 inches to 36 inches for the exceptionally tall ones. There is no weight range in the Mastiff Standard--they can weigh anywhere from 100 lbs. to the world record of 343 lbs. Most male Mastiffs weigh around 16- 230 lbs. and females weigh 120-170lbs. This breed is suppose to be very broad with a huge head, wide chest and large bone, and is longer in body length than height. Mastiff should posses a calm, self-assured temperament, and be devoted to its family and friends. Mastiffs should be steady, gentle, eager for affection, good with children, and self-assured.

What is an American Mastiff? A cross bred dog not recognized by AKC. Basically a mutt. This breed advocates that it has less genetic problems ( not true--it has it's on set of genetic problems), drools less (only because it has a narrower head and tighter flews), and is an "improved" mastiff. Well, its' makeup is 7/8 English Mastiff--so what are you improving? It's a designer breed created to meet a need in the pet market. Ask any Mastiff rescue volunteer about the temperament problem in this "breed". Rescue has be flooded with these dogs for the past 10 years.

What are Mastiffs Good For? Mastiffs excel at being companions, family members, therapy dogs, and watchers of the home. Mastiffs have also done very well when properly trained and conditioned, at carting, agility, obedience, conformation showing, search and rescue (SAR), and weight pulling. A Mastiff is capable of learning whatever you wish to teach it.

Are Mastiffs easy to Train? Both easy and difficult. Mastiffs are smart and live to please their family. However, they can go through phases where they are also stubborn, and these phases can last anywhere from a couple of weeks and a couple of times in puppyhood to (in some cases) the lifetime of the dog.

The key to training is to keep training sessions short (10-15 minutes) and frequent (several times a day) because in addition to their stubbornness, Mastiffs have sensitive feelings and if they get frightened, hurt, or confused, they cannot be budged. One of my favorite stories is about my friend, Kelly Rea, and my Mastiff, Vesta at their first show Weekend. Upon entering the ring and finding herself in unfamiliar territory, Vesta, became confused and laid down. Once she laid down, she refused to get up!! To make matters worse, she then took her paws and covered her eyes! She did eventually get up--discovered it wasn't all that bad and finished showing. We didn't win that day--but we did show to that Judge a few weeks later and won a 5-pt major! We never got mad at her--we just convinced her it was great fun and she made a fabulous show dog.

Always use lots of treats (Mastiffs love to eat!) and make training a game and fun time. Use a happy excited voice and lots of praise. You have to be consistent and firm to train effectively. For any dog to be well trained, it needs practice on a regular basis. Dogs like to be trained, it gives them a job to do, and they want to please their beloved owners. Once trained, a Mastiff never needs a stronger correction than a stern voice.

Ch. Kiokee Vesta (at 6 1/2 years of age) winning Best Veteran at a SSMF supported show. Shown here by her best friend, Kelly Rea.

Are All Mastiffs the Same?- No. Just like humans, Mastiffs are individuals. Each has its' own genetic and environmental history that affects its' attitude, temperament, health, and responses to stimuli. By testing puppies with the Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT) and reviewing it's scores, a breeder can better determine which puppy suits you and your needs best.

How does the Bullmastiff differ from a Mastiff? The Mastiff is an ancient breed and its' history can be traced back over 2,00 years. The Bullmastiff is a relative recent breed developed from crossing the Mastiff (60%) and the Bulldog (40%) stock. The Bullmastiff's body is shorter and squarer, more compact, more muscular looking, the head has a shorter muzzle, as a general rule they possess a higher energy level, and are generally more stubborn (derived from the Bulldog part of the Bull mastiff ancestry). The most noticeable differences are temperament, the conformation of the body and head, and the overall size (smaller) of the dog.

Are Mastiffs Aggressive?-Aggression is unnecessary force or dominance in any situation. Aggression can be confused with protection where a dog uses force or dominance to protect its' people or territory when threatened.

A typical Mastiff's temperament by nature, is one of gentle demeanor. However, as with any breed, a Mastiff can become aggressive for varying reasons. Typically, aggressive behavior is established due to environment as a "learned response" and/or results from a lack of proper socialization during the puppy's development stages.

A certain percentage of dogs may be genetically unstable and inherit aggressive tendencies. For this reason, before you purchase a puppy, it is best to ask the breeders about the temperament of the sire and dam and try to see both if possible. If you are experiencing a problem, consult your Mastiff's breeder, your veterinarian, and/or a trained animal behaviorist before the problem can become serious.

Are mastiffs shy? Because of their great sensitivity, Mastiffs who are not thoroughly socialized while young can very easily become shy of strange people. places, and animals. Such behaviors can be both inherited and/or the result of inadequate socialization. This is why puppy kindergarten, obedience classes over an extended period of time, and visits outside the home are extremely important to the development of your Mastiff. If you do not have time to do these things with and for your Mastiff, you need to carefully think over whether you are in a position to do right by a dog, at least at this point in your life.

My Grand-daughters, Kayleigh & Zoey, Looking for Easter Eggs with Copper.

Are Mastiffs protective? How are Mastiffs with young Children and Strangers? Mastiffs are protective. However, many people do not understand the difference between protection and aggression. If a dog growls when there is no danger, then that is aggression not protection. A protective dog has the judgement to see when there is a real risk of danger. Therefore, if you have a truly protective dog, you may never know it until you are in danger. The ideal temperament is one where you never know that you are being protected unless a true situation arises and the Mastiff's services are needed.

By nature Mastiffs are gentle and protective with young children providing that they have been raised with children and are accustomed to them. Small children should never be allowed to play roughly with young dogs--i.e. "riding the horsey"--because rough handling can permanently traumatize a Mastiff puppy. My daughters and now my grand-daughters have all played with and around my Mastiffs. Mastiffs make great floor pillows for naps and watching TV. Just be prepared for them to take their turn lying on you!

Boudi (at 6 months ) protecting the homestead

Are Mastiffs good watchdogs? How are Mastiffs with Burglars, muggers, and other Miscreants? Mastiffs are excellent watchdogs. They go to the door and bark, their hackles stand up, and they look formidable. But Mastiffs as a breed are not trigger happy. They have a gentle, rather than aggressive nature. Mastiffs need the company of their human family much more than some other breeds of dogs.

Mastiffs tend to react in predictable ways when faced with a threatening person and it's owner is present or when a tense situation arises between a stranger and their owner. Mastiffs view themselves as a giant protector and move between the threat and their owner. No sane mugger would dare reach over a guarding Mastiff. Several years ago while at a dog show, a man walking by the rings was swinging his arm with a short bar in his hand. As he approached me, and before he could hit me; Taz rose from a lying position on the floor and heat butted the man in the chest pushing back away from me. He never bit, never growled, never got angry-just moved him away from me and sat down between us. Of course, it scared the man witless, but he learned a very important lesson--don't walk by the Mastiff ring swinging a bar. Mastiffs don't like for family members to fight and will often try and protect the party on the receiving end of the disagreement. Tuffy would never let my daughters fight, he would push them apart.

If a stranger breaks into your home where there is a Mastiff, the Mastiff tends to corner the person and not let them get away, holding them until the owner can deal with the intruder. The dog may snarl or bark or even snap at the intruder to keep hi9m from getting away, but usually they will not actually hurt him unless the intruder has tried to hit the dog or has succeeded in hurting it. Many years ago, I had a meter man entered my yard through my posted gate-"Guard dog on Premises". Tuffy was lying in pine straw across the yard where he waited until the man was about 15 feet from the gate; he then rushed the man putting him with his back up against the house. He was growling and had his hackles up--he was certainly a fearsome sight to see! I was awaken from my sleep (I worked nights at that time) by the meter man's yelling. I stepped out onto the porch and called Tuffy to me, and he came immediately and sat obediently by my side. A very scared man left my yard quickly. For the next five years while I lived in that location, I read my own meter.

Because of the instinctive protective nature of the Mastiff, training it as a "attack dog" is not necessary and to do so may be detrimental to its temperament. Mastiffs are not suitable for attack training or dog fighting, and if raised with loving human kindness and socialized properly, it will be a strong, loving companion who will protect you, your family, and your home when necessary.

When your puppy is young, never let repairmen come into your home when you are not present. This teaches the dog it's "OK" for other people to come into your home when you are away. Many Mastiffs when mature can recognize when people have unpleasant motives, and are watchful or will get between you and that person. If your dog gets between you and a stranger in question, always trust your Mastiff. My Grandfather always said--never trust a man that dogs and little kids don't like!

A Mastiff left alone for long extended periods of time, tied out, or kept in fenced yard with too little human contact, will either pine away or develop destructive behaviors out of loneliness and anxiety. Denied the needed time with the human family, a Mastiff may become LESS protective because it isn't sure it belongs to that family!

A normal well adjusted Mastiff will protect its family, but only if the need arises. You do not want an aggressive Mastiff that protects you from friends and family. The ideal temperament is one where you never know that you are being protected unless a true situation arises where your Mastiff needs to react.

Our Baron loved people. When I would give a party, he would come inside and make his way around the room, stopping to greet each individual. Once at a party, while I was sitting on the couch next to a causal male acquaintance, Baron came over, sat down, and looked the man straight in the eye. "What does he want?", my friend asked. I told him Baron was thinking, "You can sit next to my Momma, you can talk to my Momma, but don't you mess with Momma." As I spoke this out loud, Baron reached up with his paw and placed it on the man's knee and quietly said,"WOO WOO WOO." Everyone burst out loud laughing. There was no doubt in any one's mind that he agreed with what I said.

Henry ( Tina & Butter's Puppy) with his best Friend

Are Mastiffs good with other dogs and animals? By nature a typical Mastiff is friendly and aloof toward other dogs. But, as with any dog, they must be properly socialized around other dogs from early puppyhood. In most cases, proper socialization and adequate stimuli is the best way to break aggressive behavioral disorders before they have a chance to develop. When you have two or more dogs, a "pecking order" will develop. Each dog will have his or her place in the "pack Hierarchy". Often when a puppy is young, all is well. Then one day, the pup decides to move up in the pack and will compete for dominance with the other dominate dogs resulting in family turmoil. Temperament testing (PAT) your puppy and choosing a dog with low aggression/dominance is important when choosing an additional dog to introduce into your group.

A Mastiff who hasn't been exposed to cats, chickens, or farm animals may treat them as prey or as furniture, depending on the temperament of the individual dog. Once again, by using temperament testing and choosing a dog with low prey drive will assist you in the training of your Mastiff. I have raised Mastiffs with cats, toy dogs, chickens, geese, ducks, goats and horses. I socialized my dogs and trained them from a young age what behaviors were acceptable. Mattie would let the baby goats into her doghouse and guard them. Baron and GeeBee would not let other dogs chase our cat, Spencer. Taz would patrol our property at night and keep stay dogs away from our goats and chickens. Zena was my prised possum catcher and protector of the henhouse. Some of my Mastiffs were grown when exposed to other animals, others were raised with them. But in each case, I had temperament tested them as puppies and I knew what behaviors I could expect.

Are Mastiffs Fighters? Mastiffs, with their gentle nature, do not have the instincts that dog fighters are looking for in a dog. Their protective instincts make them actually the opposite to the aggressive personality. However, they will, at times, fight among themselves, or with other dogs, for the typical canine3 reasons such as pack dominance and sexual competition. Two 190 lbs. Mastiffs in combat for pack leadership can be next to impossible, as well as exceedingly dangerous to separate.

How big do your Mastiffs get? This is one question I hate to hear. Is that all you are interested in? Mastiffs may range in height from the minimum height of 27 1/2 inches up to 36 inches. Most my dogs are 32-34 inches high. They can weigh anywhere from 110 lbs to world record of 343 lbs. Most my males weigh between 150-230 lbs and my females weigh anywhere from 120 lbs and up.

If you want a dog higher than 35 inches--go get a Great Dane.

Mona playing in the dog pool on a hot summer day.

Do Mastiff Dig much? Do they Like Water? A Mastiff can only dig a hole the size of small cars. Yes, Mastiffs, like to dig. I usually let them have one area of the yard and let them dig to their hearts content in that spot. I have found that they dig to get to a cool area to lie. I teach them to stay out of my flower beds and away from the rest of the yard. It takes persistence and lots of reinforcement (Hey! Get out of there!), but it will work.

I also get kiddie pools for my dogs--they all love playing in the water, and even as puppies learn to love the water. Most my dog learn to love the water and make great swim buddies at the pool or at the lake.

How much does a Mastiff eat and do they chew much? Mastiffs do not eat as much as you may think. While they are growing, they can pack the food away, but as adult they don't eat much more than a Lab or German Shepherd. Of course, pound for pound the larger the animal the greater the energy needs are for each pound of body weight. So during the colder winter months they will eat more than in the hot summer months. Exactly how much food your dog needs to eat depends on many factors including its' size, age, time of year, and activity level.

Mastiffs require a high quality balance diet in order to live healthily lives and grow correctly. With every puppy we sell, we give detailed instructions on Proper exercise and feeding.

Yes, like any puppy, a Mastiff puppy will chew--anything! Once the pesky baby teeth are out and the new aduklt teeth are in--this problem is greatly resolved. We teach our puppies to chew on hard beef bones and this helps prevent chewing damage!!

Do Mastiffs Bark Much? Puppies will be puppies, and as in most breeds tend to bark more than adults during the excitment of play. Adults rarely bark except when you first arrive home, hear a sound they want you to investigate, or when asked to "speak". My Mastiffs love to howl when the sirens are nearby ( I live close to a Firehouse!), but if they bark a night, I know I need to see why.

Hercules at 7 1/2 years

Do Mastiffs need a lot of exercise? Do they Roam? As they are growing, Mastiffs need moderate exercise to develop the skeletal and muscular frame to carry their weight as they mature. It is important that you do not over exercise Mastiffs under 2 years of age. Mastiffs' sketetal frame often continues to grow untill age 2. Running and road working a young dog can lead to inflammed joints and skeletal problems. Since Mastiffs tend to be stonic and will do just about anything to please their owners, they can end up with very painful conditions due to over or improper exercise. For this reason, each of our new Mastiff puppy owners gets detailed instructions on proper exercise.

My first Mastiff was a rescue dog who lived to please us. My husband was a long distance jogger and would take Baron for 3-5 mile runs daily. Poor Baron had hip dysplasia (we didn't know!) and one day he could not stand and walk without crying. When I took him to the Vet and found out he had hip dysplasia, I was horrified that we had let him run. Of course, the running was out, and he only got to take short walks each day. He would stand at the window and whine as my husband left each day on his run--he still wanted to go.

Puppies should not be allowed to get overweight either. Proper weight and exercise is important for correct growth. Keeping a puppy crated for long periods of time isn't good either. I have found that yard exercise allows a puppy to play and rest to its own schedule. Of course, walking your dog several times a day is also an option. Just rememeber that if the walk is too long and your puppy gets tired, be prepared to carry it home!

As a general rule, a Mastiff will not roam. They are basically a stay-at-home dog and easily learn your property boundaries. Baron hated to be fence up; he would get out of the back yard and lie on the front porch. From that spot, he could watch up and down the street and wait for his family to get home. He didn't leave the yard, but he didn't stay in the back yard either.

Never leave your Mastiff outside unsupervised. Dogs will be dogs--an unaltered male will leave and follow a female in heat. Puppies may leave and follow another dog or go to kids playing close by. Dogs and puppies have been picked up and stolen out of yards by a passerby. As a general rule, it's a good idea to keep your Mastiff in a secure, fenced enclosure.

How Long Does a Mastiff Live? Most experts agree that the adverage Mastiff life span is 6-10 years. Some have lived to be 13 or 14; a tiny handful has lived to be 16-17. Assuming no accidents, an individual dog's life span will depend on its bloodlines, weight, and freedom from significant problems such as blindness, heart disease, and hip or elbow dysplasia, spondylosis, immune disorders, etc.

Do Mastiffs live indoors or outdoors? Why indoors of course! It can't protect you and your family shut up in a pen outside. Besides, who is going to keep the Boogieman away while your 4-year old sleeps in his room? No child has ever been abducted while a Mastiff slept at its bedside.

Seriously, Mastiffs have an instinctive need and esire to be as close to their human family as possible. When more than one is inside, they will divide up and each will have their "own" person to guard and watch. It was standard rule at our house that a Mastiff was in each part of the house, one with me, one with the kids, and one with my husband.

Keeping your Mastiff outside deprives him of the closeness he needs to develop proper emotional bond with you and can stunt their emotional growth. Mine take turns inside, and each easily learns the house routine. Zena loves to sleep all day by my bed when I work nights. Boudi keeps the house guarded at night when I'm away.

Reba taking up her half of the bed--down the middle!

Do Mastiffs make good house dogs? Do they slobber, snore, shed, smell, or pass gas? Mastiffs love to be inside with their family. They are quiet, clean, and undemanding, A rug or mat by your bed is all that they need. Mastiffs are naturally clean (except for slobber!) and are quick to housebreak. Mastiffs don't chew what they shouldn't (after they get rid of those pesky baby teeth!) and are quick to learn house rules. Mine are not allowed in the kitchen when I cook, but they will line up at the doorway edge and watch me!

Most Mastiffs only drool when (1) they have just had a drink of water, (2) are extremely agitated or fearful, or (3) when watching you eat something they think will taste good (and that will be everything you eat!). Mastiffs with less flews tend to drool less. The experienced Mastiff owner keeps "slobber towels" handy, and wipes faces after they drink and when they need it. I feed and water my dogs outside to decrease the mess inside. It also helps keep the "slingers" of drool that may occur while they are eating and drinking. If you are going to keep their water outside, then close the lids on the toliets. To a Mastiff, a toliet is an all you can drink bar. Just remember "Spit Happens" when you own a Mastiff.

They snore like freight trains. They can't help it--it's genetic. Some worse than others. I keep two inside at once that way I have stereo.

They shed twice a year like most dog breeds. A good daily brushing will prevent accumulation of hair around the house. I also vacuum about every other day so that loose hair is not a problem. Baron would stand while I vacuumed him, too.

Mastiffs need an occassional bath, but since they have a short coat, they dry quickly. Drooling can cause odors if there is a problem with their teeth. There are a few health problems that may cause foul odors. If your Mastiff continues to have a bad odor after bathing, then an examination by a Vet is in order.

Do they have Gas? Like a beer drinking, bean eating Bubba. Actually, it depends on the dog, his age, what you feed him, and how his digestive tract handles his diet. Feeding a good dog food that your dog can digest easily can help eliminate this problem. Sometimes excess flatus can be a sign of parasites (whipworms) but an exam by your Vet can rule this out. If your Mastiff continues to get gas in spite of all your efforts, roll down the windows and pull out the air freshener. It is overpowering!

Wasn't that a Mastiff in .......?

Beethoven? No, a St Bernard.

Cybil? Yes.

Howard Huge? No, a St. Bernard.

Marmaduke? No, A Great Dane.

Sandlot and Sandlot 2? Yes.

The Secret Garden? Yes.

That's my Dog? Yes.

The truth about Dogs? No.

Turner and Hooch? No, it was a Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff).

Meet Wally Sparks? Yes.

Gone in 60 Seconds? Yes

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