The Mastiff by Philip Reinagle, 1805

A mastiff is a large and powerful type of dog.[1][2] Mastiffs are among the largest dogs, and typically have a short coat, a long low-set tail and large feet; the skull is large and bulky, the muzzle broad and short (brachycephalic) and the ears drooping and pendant-shaped.[1][2] European and Asian records dating back 3,000 years show dogs of the mastiff type.[3] Mastiffs have historically been guard dogs, protecting homes and property, although throughout history they have been used as hunting dogs, war dogs and for blood sports, such as fighting each other and other animals, including bulls, bears and even lions.[2][3]


Historical and archaeological evidence suggests that mastiffs have long been distinct in both form and function from the similarly large livestock guardian dogs from which they were most likely developed;[4] they also form separate genetic populations.[5] The Fédération Cynologique Internationale and some kennel clubs group the two types together as molossoid dogs; some modern livestock guardian breeds, such as the Pyrenean Mastiff, the Spanish Mastiff and the Tibetan Mastiff, and an extinct draught dog called the Belgian Mastiff, have the word "mastiff" in their name, but are not considered true mastiffs.[6]

Many older English sources refer to mastiffs as bandogs or bandogges, although technically the term "bandog" meant a dog that was tethered by a chain (or "bande") that would be released at night; the terms "mastiff" and "bandog" were often used interchangeably. One of the most famous "bandog" programs in England, led to the establishment of a recognized "bandog" breed known today as the Bull Mastiff. The least common "bandog" program in England was funded by Sir Nathanael Dieu-est-Mon'plaisir, the St. Louis Vincent Mastiff or South American Mastiff was named after Vincent Louis who reared plantation dogs originating from St. Louis and other parts of South America. This rare breed is the most expensive mastiff-type dog amongst the "bandog" breeds.[7] In the twentieth century the term "bandog" was revived to describe some large fighting mastiff type dogs crossed with any bulldog in the United States.[8]

List of mastiff breeds

Extant breeds

Breed Alternate name(s) Country of origin Use Image
Alano Español
  • Spanish Alano
  • Spanish Bulldog
Spain War dog, bull-baiting, big-game hunting
Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog United States Guard dog
American Bulldog
  • Old Southern White Bulldog
  • Old Southern White
  • English White Bulldog
  • White English
  • Hill Bulldog
  • Country Bulldog
United States catch dog, farm dog
Boerboel South African Mastiff South Africa Guard dog
  • German Boxer
  • Deutscher Boxer
Germany big-game hunting
Broholmer Danish Mastiff Denmark Guard dog
  • English Bulldog
  • British Bulldog
United Kingdom (England) Companion dog, formerly bull-baiting
Bullmastiff Gamekeeper's Night Dog United Kingdom (England) Guard dog
Bully Kutta
  • Indian Mastiff
  • Pakistani Mastiff
  • Sindhi Mastiff
  • Indian Bully
  • Pakistani Bully
India and Pakistan dog fighting
Campeiro Bulldog
  • Brazilian Bulldog
  • Countryside Bulldog
  • Pampas Bulldog
Brazil Catch dog, butcher's dog
Cane Corso
  • Italian Mastiff
  • Italian Corso Dog
  • Italian Corso
  • Cane Corso Italiano
Italy Guard dog, catch dog
Cão Fila de São Miguel
  • São Miguel Cattle Dog
  • Saint Miguel Cattle Dog
  • Azores Cattle Dog
  • Azores Cow Dog
Portugal Cattle-herding dog, catch dog
Chongqing dog China Guard dog
Cimarrón Uruguayo
  • Cimarrón
  • Uruguayan Cimarrón
  • Cimarrón Creole
  • Maroon Dog
  • Cerro Largo Dog
  • Perro Cimarrón
  • Cimarrón Dog
  • Uruguayan Gaucho Dog
Uruguay Guard dog
Continental Bulldog Swiss Bulldog Switzerland Companion dog
Dogo Argentino
  • Argentine Dogo
  • Argentine Mastiff
Argentina Guard dog, big-game hunting, dog fighting
Dogo Guatemalteco
  • Guatemalan Dogo
  • Guatemalan Bull Terrier
  • Bullterrier Guatemalteco
Guatemala Guard dog, formerly bull-baiting
Dogue Brasileiro Brazil Guard dog
Dogue de Bordeaux
  • French Mastiff
  • Bordeaux Mastiff
  • Bordeaux dog
France Guard dog
English Mastiff
  • Old English Mastiff
  • Mastiff
United Kingdom (England) Guard dog
Fila Brasileiro
  • Brazilian Mastiff
  • Cão de Fila Brasileiro
Brazil Guard dog
French Bulldog Bouledogue Français France Lap dog
Great Dane
  • Deutsche Dogge
  • German Mastiff
  • German Boarhound
Germany Big-game hunting
Kurdish Mastiff
  • Pishdar dog
  • Assyrian Shepherd
Iraq Guard dog
Neapolitan Mastiff Mastino Napoletano Italy Guard dog
Olde English Bulldogge United States Modern-day re-creation of the extinct Old English Bulldog
Perro de Presa Canario
  • Canary Mastiff
  • Canary Catch Dog
  • Presa Canario
  • Dogo Canario
Canary Islands Guard dog, catch dog
Perro de Presa Mallorquin
  • Ca de Bou
  • Majorca Mastiff
  • Perro Dogo Mallorquin
Spain Bull-baiting
Rottweiler Germany Guard dog
Serrano Bulldog Buldogue Serrano Brazil Herding dog, butcher's dog
  • Tosa Inu
  • Tosa Ken
  • Tosa Tōken
  • Japanese Mastiff
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Japanese Fighting Dog
  • Tosa Fighting Dog
Japan Dog fighting

Extinct breeds

Breed Alternate name(s) Country or region of origin Era Use Image
Alaunt Alaunt de Boucherie Europe, Central Asia Big-game hunting, guard dog, dog fighting
  • Bärenbeisser
  • German Bulldog
Germany to World War II Bull-baiting (as Bullenbeisser), bear-baiting (as Bärenbeisser)
Córdoba fighting dog
  • Córdoba dog
  • Córdobese dog
  • Perro de Pelea Cordobés
Argentina to the 1920s Dog fighting
Dogo Cubano
  • Cuban Mastiff
  • Cuban Bloodhound
  • Cuban Dogo
  • Cuban Dogge
Cuba 16th – late 19th C Recapturing runaway slaves, bull-baiting, dog fighting
Fila da Terceira
  • Terceira Mastiff
  • Cão de Fila da Terceira
  • Rabo Torto
Portugal to the 1970s Catch dog
  • Molossian Hound
  • Epirus Mastiff
Southern Europe Classical antiquity War dog, guard dog, big-game hunting, dog fighting
Old English Bulldog Great Britain and Ireland 17th–19th C dog fighting
Toy Bulldog
  • Miniature Bulldog
  • English Toy Bulldog
United Kingdom (England) 18th – early 20th C Lap dog