Monday, December 15, 2008

Letters about my American Mastiff entry

Since I posted my blog entries on Designer dogs and especially the American Mastiff (the "AmMA" as I refer to it); I have had some very interesting comments and e-mails. A few are from AmMa breeders/owners who are upset and righteously disagree with my comments. Some are from puppy buyers who are trying to learn the difference between the AmMa and the English Mastiffs, but I also receive feedback from owners of AmMa who are experiencing the very problems I have noted.

Below is just a couple of the e-mails I have received this past year. I have posted the original e-mail and then my reply. I have removed the e-mail addy of the e-mail author , their last name, and any contact information so as to protect their confidentiality.

I think these personal stories can speak for themselves. The first is a series of e-mails I received from an AmMa owner.

Subject: American Mastiff

Can you tell me if the article you wrote about the American Mastiff was about the breeder Flying W Farms?

I am thinking it is
My Story goes as follows:

I had a wonderful English Mastiff who unfortunately passed away at the end of March this year. He dies of cancer at the precious age of 7 1/2 years. His was the sweetest and most lovable dog we have ever owned.

Fast forward - We wanted to get another puppy and fell into the "American Mastiff" trap that it was just like an English Mastiff but would live longer and no hip problems. The drool was not an issue for us.

So - we have a 5 1/2 month old puppy that has aggression issues and we have had a trainer/behaviorist work with us.

Still you can not go near the dog while he is eating or he will growl and snarl his teeth at you. There are other times when he got neutered and the drugs wore off - snarled and growled - and now for what seems to be no reason the same thing.

He did bite me when I put my hand in his food dish
We are at a loss of what to do -I had written Fredericka for suggestions but she has not been very helpful and makes it sound like it our fault for the dog's aggression

Any help you can give I would appreciate it - He has been micro chipped - but if he continues to be this mean we will have no choice but to surrender the dog

I would be happy to call you if you think you can provide any additional insight
We are so sorry we did not get another English Mastiff

I am so sorry. As much as I hate to admit it--it's not the first time I have heard it. Those of us connected with Mastiff rescue hear very similar stories all the time. The AmMa folks are now advertising that they will do their own "rescue", but there is no "need for it"-so contact them and give the dog up.

All the training in the world will never make this puppy into a dog that is 100% predictable. Ms. Wagner at one time kept her primary stud dog enclosed in an 8-ft high reinforced hog wire 10 x 10 pen and it would almost come through the pen after visitors. --that says all that needs to be said about that dog.

My advice, if you leave close enough to drive to the breeder's kennel--take it and GIVE the dog back to them. If this puppy is this aggressive at this young age--it's not going to get better--take my word. Save yourself the heart ache--get rid of it now. No amount of training or love will ever make this dog 100% predictable and safe.

No, it's not your fault. Certain types of aggression are inherited--ask your trainer. No 5 1/2 month old puppy should act the way you have described. If the breeder will not take it back--put it down. It will be the most humane thing to do. A dog with the temperament you just described is not a family pet and will be a life long liability for you and your family.

I hate to say it--consider this episode as a life lesson. An American Mastiff is just not the same as an English Mastiff. You can now personally testify why and how it's different. I occasionally get a very defensive letter from an AmMa puppy owner defending their choice of this "breed"; but I do get more letters like yours.

I will be most happy to put you in contact with some very good English Mastiff breeders in your area who can place a very good puppy with you. There is no substitute for a well-bred puppy and the support of an ethical breeder.

Please make your story known. As a breeder of English Mastiffs, I am often accused by AmMa owners/Breeders as a "snob" is just someone who makes up negative stories because I'm afraid I may miss selling a puppy. Not So. You are living proof that what myself and others are trying to make known is all so true.

Please contact me if I can be of assistance. Catie.

Here is her second response.

Sent: Monday, December 15, 2008 4:40:14 PM (GMT-0500) America/New_YorkSubject: Re: American Mastiff

Thank you for writing
Unfortunately I do not live anywhere near Flying Farms
We flew up from Central Florida
Would I just give him to the SPCA??

Since he has a history of aggression--no rescue organization will take him to re-home. When you turn him into SPCA shelter--they will immediately put him down due to his aggression and history of biting.

Please do the responsible thing--take him to your vet and put him down. If you can, stay with him and love him to the end. It's not the dog's fault--he can't help it. Let him leave this world knowing love.

It's painful and it hurts your heart--but please know it's the best for all concerned. As a pet owner, it will be the hardest thing you have ever done.

Be sure you contact his breeder and notify them the dog has been put down and why. Please share your story with others--you may help prevent this same heart ache for someone else. Go to and the mastiff world forum and tell your story. You can met a few others who can relate to your loss and pain.
I am so sorry. Catie

Our third correspondance;

Sent: Saturday, December 20, 2008 2:24 PM Subject: Re: American Mastiff

I did contact Fredericka and she wanted me to ship at my expense the dog back to her and not refund me anything. She also said she would use a shock collar to straigthen out the dog so he could be given to someone else. She let me know under the contract I could not give him to the SPCA etc.

This dog is not fit for any anyone - believe me he just becomes more aggressive and more unpredictable.

On Mon, Dec 15, 2008 at 3:50 PM, <> wrote:

So all that is left is to do the most humane thing for the dog—put the dog down. If you send it back to FW she will just place it or sell it to some other unsuspecting person. Please don’t pass the problem on to someone else.

About 2 years ago, I went and oicked up for mastiff rescue a starved adult intact male mastiff that had been found wandering. The dog could barely walk. When I picked him up he was sweet and easy to work with.

I spent close to 3 months nursing him back to health. Once he got comfortable here in his surroundings—his true personality came out—the dam dog came after me 3 times in the space of 2 days. He also went after my husband and my daughter. If you reached for his collar he would lunge at you. I had to call animal control to come with catch loops to assist me in removing him from my property—he was put down immediately.

The shape of his muzzle, his eye color, and his behaviors lead me to believe his was an American Mastiff—In over 25 years of rescue I have never had a Mastiff turn on me –even the ones that have been abused. My best guess is that his owner tried to starve him to death—and when that didn’t work-they took him out in the country and dumped him to die..

I saved this dog from death—and he would have ripped out my throat. That’s why I have absolutely no reserves in telling you to put this dog down now. The older he gets and the bigger he gets—the harder it is going to be to control him.

Don’t even think about it twice. If you don’t want to take him into your vet--Take him to your county animal control—tell the officers he is aggressive and has bitten you—ask them to put him down immediately. Catie

Once again, the AmMa founding breeder refuses to take responsibility for a dog she has bred. Of course, she does want it turned over to the SPCA--they would contact her and they also keep records of breeders who produce aggressive dogs. IMO-the ethical move would have been to ask the owner to ship the dog back to her and she pay the shipping expense.

Of course she is not going to refund the $1800.00 this couple spent. Yet, she will turn around and "place" (sell?) this dog again after traing it with a shock collar. Sounds like she has used this method before.

I wonder if she would have accepted it back and paid for the shipping if it was intact? Where is the action on the part of this breeder to back up her claim "we rescue the dogs we breed"? She knows it's her dog--yet has not taken any actions on HER part to get the dog back. Sure, she is willing to take the dog back, IF the current owner foots all the expense of sending the dog back.

This is not my defination of a breeder taking responsibility for the dogs they have bred. That dog did not ask to be brought into this world. As it's breeder, she alone is responsibile for it's existance.

Of Course, It's not just English Mastiffs that are affected by AmMAs.

Cathy: I applaud you for the statements made on your blog ... as a lover/owner of Anatolians for more than 20 years, I can completely relate to your frustration towards folks who can never leave a good thing alone. We each have breeds that have been developed for a specific purpose and have been used for that purpose for thousands of years. Then, along comes some idiot who sees a chance to capitalize on a merging of the two breeds ... my biggest fear is that, in the long run, this will be the downfall of both our breeds as more and more wind up in rescue or shelters. Keep up the good work and God Bless ....


Well, Thank you. I tried to present facts and to be unbiased--but you know, it's hard.

I see both our breeds being defamed and degraded by individuals who simply are opting to seize an opportunity to make money. I'm sure a few are vain enough to think they are in the fore front of developing a "new" breed and consider themselves pioneers.

Both of our breeds have been developed over centuries to meet a specific need and have strong characteristic instincts. You yourself have seen what can happen when the wrong person gets one of these designer dogs. Not only do we have to pick up the slack and deal with the rescue problem, we also get stuck taking responsibility for any negative press.

I think both of our breed clubs need to address and develop a united front to educate the general public about our breeds and this "designer" breed. If we wait any longer, it could be disastrous for all concerned. Catie

Here is a letter from a person looking for information on differences between The EM and the AmMA.

Hi there - I read your article on American Mastiffs, which we were considering. Can you refer us to any reputable breeders of English Mastiffs in the Midwest. We live just outside of Chicago. By the way, does the breed really drool that much?

Thanks for any info and your time, Colleen

LOL! I do hear that question a lot! The EM does not droll all the time. As a rule, the shorter and more shoved yup nose/face you have the more they drool. Most Mastiffs only drool when they eat, drink water, or see you eat something they think will taste good--and that will be everything you eat!

Feed and water them outside and it helps. Just place a few hand towels around your home where you can reach them--and teach your dog to come to you and get his face wiped after he eats and drinks. After a while, you really don't notice it.

By the way, AMs can drool just as much as Mastiffs--esp. since they are 7/8 EM to begin! The only one who don't drool have snippy muzzles ( longer, pointed noses)--and that is just not the "Mastiff" type head which is part of their charm. Do you think that by breeding in 1/8th of a different breed is going to stop drooling? It Just ain't so.

You have several very good breeders in your area--go the the MCOA web site--they have a breeder referral. The Devine Farm site has a litter listing from parents who are health tested--a great place to begin your search.

Please read about our breed--go and visit a breeder's home and meet some mastiffs. Make sure this is the breed for you--don't buy on impulse. Buying the first puppy you find could be a mistake.

I have owned Mastiffs since 1984 and I can't imagine my life or home with out one. Paint your walls with semi-gloss enamel paint or wallpaper--the slingers wipe off easier! LOL! Catie Arney Kiokee Mastiffs Hickory NC

I do encourage any potential dog owner to research carefully into any breed that you may be considering of buying. Don't just get a dog because it's the ladest fad. Pick a dog that fits your lifestyle and family. A dog should be a commitment--not an impulse buy. If you can't give a dog a "forever home," then please don't get one. Get a Chia Pet instead.

Any comments or questions can be forwarded to