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Lisa Nicolello

Questions, Questions.. How to Answer a Hungry Novice!

Although written mainly for humor by Lisa Nicolello, the following is a good representation of the questions you may receive and some answers that can be used.

As a Mastiff owner, you will encounter the following questions, over and over again. Any attempt to walk your dogs in public, will arouse immediate attention. I'm seriously thinking about getting T-shirts done up, with the answers to the commonest ones.

"Wow, What Kind of Dog is He?"
Guesses range from Rottweilders (intentional misspelling), "Turner and Hootch" dogs, pitbulls, or Saint Bernards. While the absurdity of these ideas are apparent to us, they represent a serious lack of knowledge of the public. Please be kind, don't laugh, and try to gently educate the interested person.
The simplest answer is that they are an ancient breed of giant guard dogs known as English Mastiffs. They are the ancestors of many of the large breeds known today. The Bullmastiff, is a combination of the Mastiff and the old-fashioned Bulldog. Many people think the Bullmastiff is the larger of the two breeds!
Do You Have a Saddle for Him? (Referring to my young male)
No, but he can easily pull a cart with a child riding in it.
How Much Do They Eat?
The are very light eaters for their size! My adults eat less than four cups of high quality dry food a day. I do feed them fresh veggies, grains and meats, as well, but compared to a Labrador, or a Great Dane, they are not "big eaters". Puppies require the very best nutrition, in small amounts, three to five times a day. A large litter can clean out your bank account in short order!
Are They Good with Kids?
Yes, those children lying on my dogs are not my kids! Mastiffs usually are very fond of, and attracted to, kids of all ages. They know to be gentle and tolerant of babies of any type.
Do They Drool a Lot?
Yes, and no. They drool after drinking water, or eating. They drool when overheated, or under severe stress. They drool when something you are cooking smells especially good! An easy way to deal with drool, is to water, and feed your Mastiff outside. Wipe his face before coming indoors, and your dog should stay mostly dry-faced.
They can fling slobber ceiling high, and are adept at putting it on the person who is most repulsed by it! Mastiffs do have a fine tuned sense of humor!
Are They Good Guard Dogs?
Yes, when incorporated into a family. They are pretty useless as area guards, such as for a warehouse. They are quite lazy, not hyper like other breeds that are used as attack dogs. They protect what they consider their own "pack", (their family). They look FEROCIOUS behind a fence, but all my protectors are big babies, as you can see here.
Are They Expensive?
Yes, both to purchase, and to maintain. A pet quality pup, from tested clear parents, will cost about $800, whereas a show/breeding prospect will start at $1000. Pet pups must be spayed or neutered. A show puppy should have a written guarantee against any genetic defect.
Are They Worth It?
Definitely! They are so loving, dignified, brave and clever, that I can't imagine life without them. It would be boring to say the least!
What Are They Good For?
Wow, quite a bit! I'll list a few of the activities I've enjoyed with my Mastiffs -- Dog Shows (Conformation and Obedience); Tracking (they love it!); Swimming (great exercise, some of mine swim completely underwater looking for rocks); Boating (my dogs loved going out on the boat, and even on the windsurfer); Jogging (a sound Mastiff is a great jogging partner. My old "Chopper" ran six miles a day with me, in our younger days. He sure kept me safe -- and ran circles around me!); Therapy Dog Work (they are very gentle with the sick and elderly. A perfect job for a Mastiff -- to cuddle and visit lonely people!); Schutzhund (a sport for the obedient Mastiff. It combines tracking, protection, and advanced obedience work -- challenging, fascinating and loved by my dogs! Two of my CH CDX Mastiffs were worked in Schutzhund, they were very good!); Agility (fun, fast, exciting. You can start youngsters over obstacles, through tunnels, around poles, at a very young age. They can move very well for their size!); Search & Rescue (a willing nature, excellent nose, and a dedicated owner, make this a natural for the Mastiff); Weight Pulls (Mastiffs are highly competitive in this sport, they love to please their owners, and have the muscle and heart, to move incredible weights!).
What Should I Look For in a Puppy?
First of all, look for a breeder who tests for genetic defects. You can eliminate most breeders from consideration, simply by asking if they OFA, CERF, thyroid and VWD test. It's sad, but true, that many people who breed Mastiffs are just trying to make a buck. They couldn't care less about health or soundness. Just say, thank you, and walk away. You don't need the problems they offer. The easiest way to find a breeder in your area, is to get a copy of Dog World magazine, (to check out the ads), and to contact your local obedience or Breed Club. They usually advertise in the local newspapers.
Going to a local show is a great opportunity too! Look at all the dogs, ask lots of ques- tions, get business cards so you can call later. Shows are often advertised in the local paper, and always in Dog World. As you can see, I bring dogs that are not entered to shows that allow it, just to meet people and promote the good nature of the Mastiff. Before you go, please shake hands with Marshal, and give Izzy a hug. Prune-Hilda would love a kiss! Thanks, you made their day!

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