Sometimes known as the Old English Mastiff, the Mastiff is an ancient breed, associated with Babylonians, Marco Polo, Hannibal, King Henry VIII, and Elizabeth I. Mastiffs are the likely ancestors of the mountain dog breeds, such as the Saint Bernard. A giant breed, the Mastiff was bred to be tough and imposing. Used to guard and fight alongside soldiers, they were well known for their abilities as a hunter, guardian and combatant.
The Mastiff today is a gentle companion. A bit more laid-back than his ancestors (the military hasn’t exactly lined them up for duty lately!) his watchdog instinct still remains an integral part of his identity. His size alone will provide a deterrent to would-be intruders.
Generally tolerant of both children and other animals, the Mastiff makes a good family dog-- if you have room for his sheer size. Although large, his exercise requirements are rather average. A good-size yard is ideal, but owners in small homes can manage a Mastiff if they provide daily walks.
Training a Mastiff may take some patience. Owners should take full advantage of training in the puppy stage, when the dog is small enough to easily manage.