Are English Mastiffs Mean, Dangerous, Or Overly Aggressive?

English Mastiff

Dogs are considered man’s best friends, and the loveliest and the most perfect pet one can have are dogs. In short, dogs are a whole in one package.

Owning an English Mastiff might really be an amazing and unique experience. People usually will come to you and talk about your giant yet beautiful and noble-looking dog.

The most common questions they ask are basically about how aggressive or how dangerous they can be and it’s quite understandable. A dog with such a giant size and muscular body will scare anyone in the first encounter.

You will probably think that it’s good to stay away from these dogs because of their terrifying looks and posture. Some people also believe that they are plainly mean dogs. Can a pet that is known for its loyalty over year’s be mean?

With tons of research, I think I can answer all those questions with confidence. It’s time to know the truth about English Mastiff. Get ready for the knowledgeable journey. It’s all about English Mastiffs here.

Physical Traits of Mastiff

English Mastiffs are bred mainly for guarding purposes and have their bodies accordingly. That’s why people usually see them as aggressive and dangerous dogs. A single sight of them can strike fear and its quite understandable.

To be honest, it’s normal as they are built to scare. There are many physical traits that were bred originally into these dogs to help them accomplish their role.

These are some physical traits that help them to accomplish their desire role and make them looks dangerous and aggressive:

  • Giant: The English Mastiffs has enormous body size. They can grow up to 27 to 30 inches and can weigh up to 230 pounds. To be specific, the weight and size vary according to their gender. The male Mastiffs are most likely to grow up to 30 inches and can weigh up to 160 to 230 pounds, whereas the female Mastiff can grow up to 27.5 inches and can weigh up to 120 to 170 pounds. A dog this large can strike fear and you will take Mastiffs as an aggressive or dangerous breed.
  • Muscular Body: Owning Mastiff is a big commitment as you have to feed your dog properly so that they can build a strong muscular body. Well-fed and well-developed Mastiff will have low body fat and a hard and muscular body. Though, English Mastiffs are not a good running companion due to their heavyweight and large size. That does not mean that Mastiffs are not energetic. You can take them for a walk two times a day and you can also train them twice a day. They can run too but they are not the fastest of all dogs.
  • Broad and Powerful Chest: English Mastiffs have a powerful chest and an appealing posture. They are guardian dogs and their looks say it all. A Mastiff standing in your yard will scare away all intruders.
  • Large Head: As they have a giant size so obviously, they have a super large head too. The head of a Mastiff is a lot larger than the size of your palm and that means your one hand is not enough to hold the head of these dogs.
  • Ears: English Mastiffs have long and thin ears. Their ears are placed too low on the head and make them look scary yet cute.
  • Curved Tail: The tail of the English Mastiff is set moderately high on the back. The tails form a slight upward curve when they are in motion.
  • Color: They are usually found in three color shades: Fawn, Apricot and Brindle.

These traits were bred to accomplish the guarding role and are also the reasons behind their negative image. It’s easy to think that they are dangerous and aggressive when you are not familiar with this breed.

These traits are exactly what it takes to be a “villain dog.” They are not as aggressive and dangerous as they look; rather, they are gentle and sweet if you believe me.

General Temperament of Mastiff

These are the temperament and personalities of Mastiffs, making them look dangerously and aggressively:

  • Reserved with Strangers: They are dignified yet good-natured dogs. The Mastiffs are guard dogs so they are likely to manifest themselves with strangers or visitors. They tend to be suspicious of strangers yet protective of their family. English Mastiffs are shy dogs. They maintain their distance from strangers but once they realize that you are not a threat, they will show their loving side to you.
  • Protective of Their Owners: They are usually reserved dogs but they will do anything to protect their owners. They will show their dark side and aggression to any threat towards its owner. After all, this is what they were built for. Their owner’s protection comes first, always.
  • Loyal: Dogs are known as the most loyal animal for centuries. English Mastiffs are also very loyal and they always stick to their owner’s side. They will protect and defend their owner to death.
  • Low Intelligence Level: I am not saying that English Mastiffs are dumb. What I am saying is that they are a slow learner. Their intelligence level is low as compared to other species of dog. They might take time, but once they learned something, they will never forget it. They are slow but great learners.

They have more good temperament that makes them a great family dog. Read English Mastiff as a family dogOpens in a new tab. for more information on how good English Mastiffs are as a pet.

Unfortunately, anyone will see an English Mastiff standing on their owner’s side and will assume that they must be too aggressive and dangerous. That’s good for the owner as it pushes intruders away. But for the dog’s reputation, it’s bad.

Well-socialized Mastiffs are loving and gentle dogs. Probably the best family pet you will ever have.

How Mastiffs Were Bred to Protect

Mastiffs are known as the most ancient breed. They arrived in England from Asia, brought by the Phoenician traders. They were used as a guardian dog for centuries. They were used to protect livestock from wild animals.

They were always used as a protector which, of course, requires an aggressive response. They were used as fighter dogs too. Now, I think it makes sense where all the aggression came from.

They were always the guardian dogs. That’s why people take them as the most dangerous dogs.

The Modern-Day Mastiffs

After their long journey, they are now used as guardian dogs and pet dogs. People soon realized how friendly they are.

They are the best family pets one can have. English Mastiff is a center of attraction due to its enormous size. They are one of the best pets one can have.

How Likely Are Mastiffs to Kill Someone? (With Statistics)

Irresponsible training practice and lack of socialization with your dog can make your dog aggressive and dangerous. So, if your dog turns out to be dangerous, it’s probably your fault in it.

They have the strongest bites among other species. They rank number 6 on the listOpens in a new tab.. If there is a threat or an intruder around, this dog will do whatever it takes to remove the threat resulting in sheer aggression.

The table below shows the breeds of dogs involved in fatal attacks on humans over the last 13-year period from 2005 to 2017:

BreedFatal AttacksPercent of Total
Pit Bull28465.6%
Rottweiler4510.4%
German Shepherd204.6%
American Bulldog153.5%
Mastiff (including Bullmastiff)143.2%
Husky133%
Labrador Retriever92.1%
Boxer71.6%
Doberman Pinscher61.4%

According to U.S Dog Bite Fatality Report 2005 to 2017Opens in a new tab., there were 433 deaths in America from dog bites. From these 433 deaths, only 14 were caused by Mastiffs which is 3.2% of the total deaths. This shows that Mastiffs are much less dangerous than the other species of dogs.

Now we should get to the most frequently asked questions.

Are English Mastiffs Mean?

English Mastiffs are not at all mean by nature. They will just protect themselves or their owner from any coming danger or threat. Any bad behavior of your dog might be the result of your lack of socialization.

Many people think that English Mastiffs are mean. I would say that they are not at all mean but there might be some valid reasons behind if your Mastiff is acting mean.

If your Mastiff is barking a lot, biting anyone coming near them, or struggling from other behavioral issues, it’s not because they are mean. It is because of their poor upbringing.

Any dog that is not socialized enough or lacks human interaction will have behavioral issues. They are not mean dogs but their owner can be.

Are English Mastiffs Dangerous?

They have physical traits and temperaments that make them look dangerous but modern-day Mastiffs are friendly and gentle dogs.

Anyone who sees an English Mastiff coming, they might freak out or change their route. Kids will run away when they see them. Moms are more likely to take their children away from this dog.

No one will enter in your backyard when they see a Mastiff staring at them. They all believe that Mastiffs are dangerous.

They are not dangerous dogs. Yes, they may look a bit scary but they are gentle and loveliest breeds. They are good with kids and are perfect family pets. They are only dangerous to the threats that come to the owner.

Are English Mastiffs Aggressive?

Mastiffs are much more protective than they are aggressive. They only become aggressive while they are protecting themselves or their owners.

English Mastiffs can turn out to be aggressive due to irresponsible training practices and lack of socialization.

Generally, these dogs are protective. They will stick to their owner and will protect them at any cost. They don’t pick up a fight unless they feel threatened. Getting aggressive to protect their owner is good quality, isn’t it?

Reputation vs. Reality

This breed might have a bad reputation. People might not recommend Mastiff as a pet dog. People assume by just looking at them that they are dangerous and aggressive dogs. It really affects the dog’s reputation. As an English Mastiff fan, it hurts me a lot.

Reality is that all the accusations are fake. They are loyal, friendly, and the best family pet one can have.

My Final Thoughts

Mastiffs are the loveliest pet you will ever have. I may say that the accusations on these beautiful creatures are all false. They are neither mean nor aggressive.

They are the most loyal and the cutest pet you will ever have. They will not harm your kids intentionally but I recommend that you do not opt to have a Mastiff if you have small kids in your house. Just to be safe.

Other than that, if you are a person who loves big and giant dogs and who wants this scary aura around them, this breed is perfect for you.

As a bonus, they will gain a lot of attention towards them and as an owner, you will not feel less than a celebrity. I declare Mastiffs as the best family pet one can ever have.

Related Questions

How expensive is to own a Mastiff?

Mastiffs are large dogs and need more attention, extra care, and a lot of food. Owning a Mastiff is a bit expensive. The total estimated one-time cost of a Mastiff is $3,160. So, keep in mind, owning a Mastiff can be really expensive.

How Mastiffs behave with strangers?

Mastiffs may look aggressive but are really shy dogs. They maintain their distance from strangers and are shy in the first meeting.

Are Mastiffs easy to train?

As they are slow learners, they might take some time to learn new things. 10 to 15-minute sessions a few times a day is enough.

Are Mastiffs easy to groom?

Yeah, they are easy to groom. Groom them once every other day. In the shedding seasons, groom them daily.

Are Mastiffs shy?

Mastiffs, if not properly socialized, will result in shy dogs. Otherwise, they are the best pet you will have. Just spend proper time with them and they will give you the best 6 to 10 years of your life.

John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially dogs. I've got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.

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