Colossal, massive, powerful, gentle giant – these are the words commonly used to describe the Mastiff, also known as English Mastiff or Old English Mastiff.
If you’re interested in this ancient breed, you might be wondering whether a male or female Mastiff will suit you better as a pet dog.
If you want a Mastiff that is heavier-boned, active, and more affectionate, you are better off with a male Mastiff. However, if you want a Mastiff that is highly trainable, amenable to living with kids, and has a smaller dimension, then you should consider getting a female Mastiff.
Apart from these differences, there are other gender-specific characteristics that may help you decide which one to buy or adopt. Read on and judge for yourself whether a male or a female is the right companion for you.
Just like other dog breeds, male Mastiffs tend to be bigger and heavier than female ones.
The American Kennel Club’s (AKC) standard for the Mastiff breed requires male dogs to have a minimum height of 30 inches at the shoulder. Their weight range is placed somewhere between 160 and 230 pounds.
However, male Mastiffs can certainly be so much larger. The record holder for the world’s largest dog is a male Mastiff named Zorba.
At eight years old, he stood at 37 inches at the withers and weighed 343 pounds! That’s almost three times the weight of an average adult human!
As for general appearance, male Mastiffs are described to be heavier boned than females. They look more imposing especially with their more noticeable grandeur and dignity.
The AKC describes their chest to be more rounded and deep and their forechest is inarguably more defined.
These all contribute to their menacing physique which is ideal for owners who are after the Old English Mastiff look.
Female Mastiffs should stand at least 27.5 inches at the shoulder, according to the same AKC standard. They can be as heavy as 120 pounds up to 170 pounds.
When placed side by side with a male Mastiff, you can immediately see how much more massive the male is compared to the female Mastiff. Even so, female Mastiffs are still very big dogs compared to other breeds.
Their features are also a bit softer as compared to the males. But to the untrained eye, this is not easily noticeable.
They have a massive head that is ever so slightly smaller than males and they have wrinkled foreheads which makes them look alert.
The AKC clarifies that even though female Mastiffs are a tad smaller in dimensions, this is not considered a fault and they are welcome to join conformation shows.
Aside from being good-natured and loyal guard dogs, male Mastiffs tend to be more affectionate and may want your attention more.
If you’re a dog lover who enjoys constantly showering your pet with love and affection, then a male Mastiff satisfies this specific criterion.
Breeders also emphasize that male Mastiffs are not shy or timid which fits their large and powerful build.
However, this can also mean that they can manifest some level of dominance, especially if another male dog is around. They tend to vie for the alpha rank, thus they would do everything to assert their power.
As observed by many pet owners, male Mastiffs can also be more active and playful. Be very observant of your male dog’s behavior as they may try to outwit you and overtake your role.
This may seem laughable, but this happens especially when you give in to their every request.
Female Mastiffs are also good-natured and loyal guard dogs, but they can be more gentle than their male counterparts.
This is partly because of their smaller and lighter mass and also because they are generally better at socializing with other animals.
A female Mastiff may not be as needy for attention as a male one. So if you are someone who wants to bestow their dog a normal amount of affection, then a female Mastiff is a check for you.
Females are highly suggested for those whose lifestyle won’t allow consistent cuddling with their dogs.
As females are a bit more independent, you can do house chores or work in your home office without worrying that they are being destructive because they weren’t given attention.
Although male Mastiffs are agreeable for training due to their eagerness to please their humans and their intelligence, they can easily get bored with repetitive training activities.
When you train them, try your best to provide short and varied training exercises spread throughout the day.
Male Mastiffs can be stubborn and will try to test boundaries, especially during their puppy phase. If you plan on getting a male Mastiff, be sure you can be firm, consistent, and assert your alpha dog status.
Your male Mastiff must know, time and time again, that you are his leader and he has to always follow your commands.
Unlike their opposite gender, female Mastiffs are less easily distracted which makes them more trainable. However, if you don’t spay them at the appropriate age, they will be a headache once they go into heat.
This is because their hormone fluctuations make their behavior extremely unpredictable. You’ll see them refusing treats or even running away from you when you ask them to execute a certain trick.
Nevertheless, when it comes to following commands, spayed female Mastiffs are way advanced than males. They mature faster which makes them a little more calm and easy to tame.
Unlike males who will drain you out by following them around just so you can teach them obedience tricks, females will gladly “sit” or “stay” according to your will.
Note, though, that this is highly observed in quality pups that are bought from professional breeders.
It’s a totally different story training a female Mastiff bought from a backyard breeder or a puppy mill.
The body mass of male Mastiffs makes them more susceptible to heart diseases such as the following:
- Subaortic Stenosis: This heart condition, common in large-breed dogs, causes the narrowing of the area below the aortic valve which then obstructs the flow of blood to the heart.
- Cardiomyopathy: This disease causes the thinning of the heart’s muscles affecting its ability to contract and pump blood.
- Mitral Valve Disease: This occurs when the mitral valve “leaks” due to high pressure of contracting and pumping blood over time. An early sign of a “leaking” mitral valve is a heart murmur.
- Pulmonic Stenosis: This hereditary disorder causes a deformity of the pulmonic valve which blocks the blood flow from the heart to the lungs.
Because they are heavier than females, male Mastiffs can also have a harder time if they get bone and joint problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia.
If you plan for your female Mastiff to have puppies, be on the lookout for possible reproductive difficulties.
Female Mastiffs tend to have issues with giving birth because of their small pelvis and the puppies’ large heads. They may even need to deliver their litter by C-section.
Some other health conditions often observed in female Mastiffs include:
- Osteosarcoma: This health problem is a tumor in the limb bones but can also grow in the skull, spine, or ribcage. Reports also claim that this can cause cysts in the mammary glands and muscles.
- Lymphosarcoma: Common cancer in female Mastiffs that involves the dangerous growth of lymphocytes in the bone marrow, thymus, lymph nodes, or spleen.
- Ovarian Remnant Syndrome: This occurs when there is an ovarian tissue left after spaying a female Mastiff. The common signs are flagging and swelling of the vulva.
- Vaginal Overgrowth: This disease, which is also called vaginal prolapse or vaginal hyperplasia, is evident when your female Mastiff is in heat. Your pup’s vaginal tissue can be seen through their vulva and cause them so much discomfort.
READ NEXT: Mastiff Lifespan: How Long Do Mastiffs Live?
With Other Dogs and Pets
Male Mastiffs can show aggression toward other dogs of the same sex if they are not neutered. This often occurs when there is a female dog in your household who is currently in heat.
Since males are born to assume the alpha role, they would try to assert themselves among other dogs to impress the female.
Apart from this phenomenon, male Mastiffs may also be aggressive towards the same gender and other household pets when they mistake a certain posture or gesture as a threat towards them.
Often, this is a result of poor socialization so it is best to start your male pup’s exposure to your environment at an early age.
While the same holds true regarding early socialization and training for female Mastiffs, they tend to be better than male Mastiffs at socializing with other animals.
This is because they are more receptive to training so you can expect to have an easier time with a female Mastiff when training them to be friendly with your other pets.
However, female Mastiffs can also show aggression towards other female dogs. If you don’t intend to have a litter of puppies, having your female Mastiff spayed is an important consideration if you already have a female dog as a pet.
Once the procedure is done, you’ll see that they’ll even treat your other pets as a child they need to protect.
Their motherly instinct develops and they become more accepting of others, be it a dog of the same sex or other household pets.
Since male Mastiffs are larger than female ones, they would do better in a family with older children as they are less likely to knock them over accidentally.
Remember that aside from their size, males can also be very active. They’ll treat your child as a playmate completely unaware that they don’t have the same level of energy.
Although this may prove beneficial in the beginning – with your child getting occupied and your dog exhausting its energy – problems will soon arise.
Possible scenarios would be your male Mastiff disturbing your child’s sleep just so they can play, your little kid being accidentally dragged to the floor, or your little one being overly stimulated that you’ll find it hard to control their behavior.
A female Mastiff’s slender and lighter frame is more suited to a family with younger children. The natural mothering instinct of female Mastiffs is another reason they are more ideal for toddlers and babies.
Instead of exhausting your child with running and goofing around, you’ll see the female Mastiffs lying beside them like a grownup who is tasked to babysit.
Sure, they’ll try to play a little bit, but they are a toned-down version of their male counterparts.
However, as they are still very large dogs, it’s always a good idea to keep a watchful eye when your female Mastiff and child are playing or interacting.
See for yourself how gentle Mastiffs are with toddlers and babies in this compilation video:
Are Male or Female Mastiffs Better Guard Dogs?
In general, Mastiffs are great guard dogs no matter the gender. They are bred for this purpose after all.
But if you’re a believer in the saying “the bigger the better,” then get a male Mastiff to guard you and your property. They are very capable of doing this daunting task due to their imposing body build.
Their size alone is intimidating enough to deter anyone from crossing boundaries or attempting to rob your house.
However, if you want a guard dog that’s more on the lighter side and can move a lot quicker, then a female Mastiff will suit you fine.
In the end, it all boils down to your preference. Although both genders may tend to be “more bark than bite,” they can definitely stand their ground and defend their owners if they need to.
Are Male or Female Mastiffs Better Family Companions?
The question of whether a male or female Mastiff is a better family pet is really a question of individual preference and specific circumstances. Mastiffs are fantastic family pets either way.
What can help you decide is whether you have smaller children in the family or whether you intend your Mastiff to be a guard dog for your house.
For people with very young kids, a female Mastiff is a better choice, while for those who want an intimidating guardian for their property, a male Mastiff serves this purpose better.
It’s important for you to know that having a Mastiff, whether male or female, means dealing with their unique characteristics.
They drool a lot, especially during feeding time. You might want to consider having a designated feeding area for your Mastiff to make cleaning easier.
Mastiffs are also known to snore. If you’re sensitive to sound or are a light sleeper, you have to think about whether you can live with a pet like this.
Which Gender Should You Choose?
Mastiffs are indeed wonderful pets. Deciding whether to get a male or female Mastiff depends on your lifestyle and family situation.
Male Mastiffs are suitable for:
- Those who want a dog to protect or guard their property.
- Those who already have a female dog in their house.
- Those who want a really massive dog.
- Those who want a Mastiff that is active and alert.
Female Mastiffs are suitable for:
- Those who have young children or are planning to have a baby soon.
- Those who have a male dog as a pet.
- Those who want an easily trainable dog.
- Those who want a more laid-back pet companion.
Choosing what kind of dog to get requires a lot of thought and consideration for what you like, how you live, your house, your budget, and your family.
This can be exhausting sometimes but can also be rewarding. All the effort you’re exerting now is going to be worth it in the end.
Certainly, choosing to have a giant dog as a companion and a best friend is not for everyone.
And choosing between a male and female Mastiff comes down to your particular likes and dislikes as well as your household situation. In the end, deciding which one suits you best will make your life so much better.