The Mastiff has undergone quite a change over the last 500 years. They were originally bred to be combat dogs, both guarding troops and fighting alongside them. Then they were used in the Roman Coliseum to fight human and animal opponents. In modern times, these massive dogs are wonderful companion animals. They are excellent with children – patient, nurturing, protective, but always up for a romp in the yard, and attach themselves deeply to the people they love. Mastiff owners claim their dogs have no idea just how large they are, and often (hilariously) try climb on couches and even into the bed for a snuggle. They still make excellent guard dogs, protecting their homes and people with great vigilance, but they are not aggressive. Should they encounter a ne'er-do-well they will hold that person at bay until backup arrives. For families with plenty of room and lots of love to give, the Mastiff makes an excellent family pet.
Mastiffs are not apartment dogs, by any means, and houses should be large enough to accommodate these giants, as they can weigh up to 200 pounds. Mastiffs need regular daily exercise which should include walks and the opportunity to run. If this large, naturally rowdy breed doesn't get enough exercise, he will burn off his excess energy in other ways, which usually means destructive chewing.
A Mastiff's yard should always be fenced. They aren't likely to wander too far off, but they will chase away other dogs, cats, squirrels and possibly people, so it's best to keep them safe with a sturdy fencing system. Electrical fences aren't recommended, as this breed has a high tolerance for pain, and is likely to be completely unphased by the shock.
Training a Mastiff can be challenging and should begin as early as possible in order to keep the process as simple as possible. The larger a Mastiff gets, the harder it is to get bad habits under control. Training needs to be conducted by a strong leader, as they will walk all over a softie whose rules are not always consistent.
Socialization should take place early and often, to prevent their natural protectiveness from getting out of hand. Mastiffs need to be taught to accept visitors as welcome guests, and they need to understand that if children are playing rough-and-tumble with neighbors, that the kids are not in immediate danger. Training and socialization are the most key factors in determining the temperament of your adult Mastiff.
Mastiffs are fine with other household pets, when raised alongside them from puppyhood. Once a Mastiff hits adolescence, he will not tolerate new animals coming into his territory. Proper training and socialization is required to keep their protectiveness from turning into animal aggression.
Mastiffs make a lot of noise. They aren't excessive barkers, but their bark is loud and booming, so they need to learn to obey commands to stop barking. They also snore, grunt, wheese, snort and slobber. Some people find these traits to be endearing, while others find them to be intolerable.