Bullmastiff Breed Information

Bullmastiffs are a member of the ‘Working’ breed group. Working breed dogs were bred to become guard and search and rescue dogs. Breeds in this group are specialists in their work.

Bullmastiffs are gentle, quiet dogs but can be very over-protective of their families and are not ideal for novice owners. Grooming is fairly straightforward and will be required just once a week.

Breed-related health problems:

Owners are, understandably, upset when their dog develops a health problem linked to its breed. Often they wish they’d known what problems the breed was prone to have. The potential health problems that Bullmastiffs are prone to include:

  • Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) – often known as ‘bloat’, this is a condition where the stomach twists, trapping the contents and gases. This is an emergency and requires urgent veterinary attention. It’s often seen in large, deep-chested breeds
  • Hip dysplasia – hip joint laxity as a result of poor development, which will eventually lead to arthritis.
  • Elbow dysplasia - elbow joint laxity as a result of poor development, which will eventually lead to arthritis.
  • Brachycephalic syndrome – upper airway abnormalities which are commonly seen in flat-faced dogs. Can include stenotic nares (narrowed nostrils) and elongated soft palate. This causes breathing problems and symptoms such as exercise intolerance, increased noise when breathing and difficulty in breathing. Bullmastiffs can be prone to this and it is often the cause of their snoring or wheezing. There are both surgical and medical managements available and you should speak to your vet if you think your Bullmastiff is showing any symptoms of BOAS or having any difficulty breathing.
  • Joint disorders – such as elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia - occur when joints don’t develop correctly and cause degenerative joint disease. Bone and joint problems can be managed but there are schemes to screen your dog and see how likely it is that they will suffer from these joint problems.
  • Skin infections – Bullmastiffs have lots of extra skin, especially over their faces, which folds over and when bacteria builds up in the folds it causes skin fold pyoderma.
  • Cherry eye – eversion of the nictitating membrane or ‘third eyelid’ – generally occurs in younger dogs and can be surgically corrected.
  • Eyelid problems – such as entropion and ectropion – occur in Bullmastiffs due to excessive skin over the face and eyes. This skin causes the eyelids to droop either downwards, or in towards the eye, where the skin rubs and irritates the eye, causing problems.

For some conditions, there are screening programmes available through the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Kennel Club. The Canine Health Schemes allow breeders to screen for a range of inherited diseases, so it’s a good idea to check the parents of any puppy you’re looking to rehome have been screened under these schemes. We’d also recommend discussing the medical history of your potential puppy’s parents and grandparents, and think very carefully before taking on a dog with any of the health conditions listed above evident in the family line.

You can find out more about the Canine Health Schemes on the BVA's website.

Read our statement on the problems with brachycephalic (‘flat faced’) breeds.

Exercise requirements:

Bullmastiffs need around 1-2 hours exercise per day. They’re highly intelligent and can be easily trained, but like to have a reason for doing things. They will get along well with other pets given the right socialisation as a puppy. For more information on how to socialise your Bullmastiff, and training using reward-based techniques, take a look at our dog behaviour page.

Estimated lifetime cost:

The likely lifetime costs for a Bullmastiff are based on estimates calculated using current market prices and include:

The list above does not include veterinary costs if your pet becomes sick or injured, so these average lifetime costs could be even higher.

Insure your Bullmastif with PDSA:

1 in 3 pets need vet treatment each year and vet bills can come to hundreds of pounds. PDSA Pet Insurance can give you peace of mind when your pet is poorly, especially for breeds like Bullmastifs that are prone to certain conditions. PDSA Pet Insurance offers:

  • 5 Star Pet Insurance* - from the vet experts
  • 4 levels of cover to suit you
  • Monthly payment at no extra cost

*Defaqto 5 Star rating applies to our Plus and Premier policies only. Defaqto’s Star Ratings provide an independent assessment of the quality of financial products.

By insuring your Bullmastif with PDSA you’ll also be helping to provide vet care to some of the UK’s neediest pets.

Not sure if the Bullmastiff is the right pet for you?