Helene Nietsch, Banstock Bullmastiffs
You and your large – very large – companion are hanging out together at home. Your dog is calm, cool and collected. He is playful and patient with children. He is well-mannered and responsive to your commands. He may be opinionated, but he communicates his opinions in a timely fashion. He provides thoroughly agreeable company, and you can take him with you anywhere. He is a great guard dog of the quiet but assertive kind. Sounds just like your dream come true? And yes, this is all possible – provided YOU take time to bring up your puppy right and continue training him to realize your dreams.
- Mona Lindau-Webb, Bringing Up A Bullmastiff Puppy
In the early 19th century, English gamekeepers created this noble breed by crossing the Bulldog with the Mastiff to obtain fleet-footed, powerful dogs, known as night dogs, for protection against poachers. These dogs combine tremendous physical strength and guarding instinct with an affectionate disposition and devotion to their master. Because they are so powerful, it is essential that they be trained early not to jump on people. They are most intelligent and easily obedience trained, however, a Bullmastiff has a definite mind of his own. He can be stubborn and his independence of spirit makes your relationship with him more of a working partnership than the conventional dog/master association which some people might expect.
Most of the time the Bullmastiff is not on guard but a family companion. Bullmastiffs bond deeply with their families. Their family relationship is not inflexible and includes friends and acquaintances into an “extended” family. They have an excellent memory of who belongs, and who does not. The dog can even have quite strong opinions about who is “in” and who is “out,” although not always agreeing with the owners in this regard. He will give you and your family boundless love and devotion, but he will retain a portion of himself as a free spirit, capable of making his own decision and acting on them. Your children will be his charges, to protect and love, but they must respect him, and not be allowed to torment or tease him. Nor should children “wrestle” or play tug-of-war with them. Most dogs, even those that are well trained, do not consider children as figures of authority. Dogs, like children, need to be properly socialized into the family and should be taught submissive behaviors. When a cuddly Bullmastiff puppy is brought home, they are freely people-loving, happy and playful pups with people, children and other dogs, even cats. The breed is a definite “people” dog, and does best when treated as a family member and included in family activities. Bullmastiffs love to accompany you to work, in the car, for a walk. They love to hang out with you and watch TV all evening long. They want body contact with “their” people, keeping you company by leaning on you and need only enough space to sit around your feet. They do not even need a lot of action, as long as they are with people.
Owners pride themselves on maintaining an open-door policy with friends and neighbors, lulling themselves into believing that their sweet puppy will remain so throughout its lifetime. Then somewhere between adolescence and puberty, maturity is fast approaching, the instincts are emerging, and your puppy becomes a teenage guard dog. If you have not already taken steps to properly socialize or train your working dog, this is the time to immediately step up. The key to a successful relationship with your adult Bullmastiff is control and leadership. The best time to gain control of this powerful dog is during puppyhood. The earlier the dog’s education starts, the better. It is so easy to teach a little puppy to sit, down, and come when called, using treats and praise, and thus lay a foundation for later control. It is a snap to start a young puppy paying attention to you on command. Pay attention, get a treat. Providing clear limits at an early age, proper socialization, and basic training will allow your working dog to be a discerning guard dog. The dog will be confident, friendly, and discerning in all situations. The puppy socialization is the foundation for the appropriate guard behavior and key for preventing inappropriate aggressive behavior during the rest of the dog’s life. The more assertive working breeds need a major commitment from the owner in providing the right kind of leadership and control. This breed is not for everyone, (not to mention they shed … a lot, “toot” and drool, many do, some don’t) but, if you socialize and guide your puppy and provide strong leadership you will have a devoted companion for many years.
If you still want a Bullmastiff puppy, the only reliable way to buy a puppy is from a reputable breeder. You will be better prepared as a puppy buyer if you do some research, go to dog shows, talk to breeders and owners, meet the breed in person. Make some phone calls, get as much information from experienced breeders/owners as possible to become fully informed. Expect to be interviewed and vetted by the reputable breeder and if lucky put on a waiting list for the next litter. Feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reach out to our membership. You then may end up with a life-long obsession with this breed and make your new best friend.