Breed Spotlight: Mastiff
The colossal Mastiff belongs to a canine clan as ancient as civilization itself. For the uninitiated, a face-to-face encounter with these black-masked giants can be startling. A male stands at least 30 inches at the shoulder and can outweigh many a full-grown man. Mastiffs are patient, lovable companions and guardians who take best to gentle training. Eternally loyal Mastiffs are protective of family, and a natural wariness of strangers makes early training and socialization essential. Mastiffs are magnificent pets, but acquiring a powerful giant-breed dog is a commitment not to be taken lightly.
Caring for your Mastiff:
Mastiffs are the "guardians of hearth and home." They have comparatively low exercise requirements and can live happily in an apartment. They enjoy daily walks and playtime. It's important not to allow growing puppies and young adults to run up and down stairs, jump from heights, or go for long walks. Begin with no more than half a block for a 2- to 3-month-old puppy. Additionally, Mastiffs are notorious for plopping down during walks when they are tired or overheated. Therefore, a rule of thumb is to not walk them farther than you can carry them back!
The Mastiff's short, dense coat is easy to groom, usually requiring only a quick brushing every few days. During periods of heavy shedding once or twice a year, more frequent brushing might be needed. The ears and the deep wrinkles around the Mastiff's head, eyes, and muzzle should be regularly inspected and cleaned, and the nails trimmed short. Finally, Mastiffs drool! Most owners keep cloths at hand to wipe 'slingers' off their Mastiff's face and their own and visitors' clothing.
Mastiffs need obedience training and early socialization. They learn quickly and want to please. However, the repetitions in a typical training class will quickly bore them, at which point they may lie down, snoring. Make eye contact with your Mastiff; they communicate a great deal with their eyes, and they are excellent at reading your expressions and body language. Use praise and positive rewards - you can easily hurt their feelings by raising your voice. When treated with love, inclusion, and respect, Mastiffs can be trained to excel in almost any sphere.