Although the Bullmastiff standard varies slightly between countries, we align generally accepted South African breed standards. These standards are defined by the relevant South Africa Kennel Club or Registry as to what that particular Kennel Club or Registry recognizes as a “Purebred”, “Show Quality”, and/or “Breeding Quality” Bullmastiff.

The Bullmastiff Club of Southern Africa
The Cape Bullmastiff Club

This site does not endorse the quality or legitimacy of any Kennel Club or Registry listed on this page with regards to the Bullmastiff Breed Standard – SARGETHRUST is registered with the Kennel Union of Southern Africa (KUSA) and strives to maintain the  KUSA Bullmastiff breed standard.

The following Bullmastiff Breed Profile write-up pdf link, compiled by Nicky Robertson, contains comprehensive information on the ideal bullmastiff: Bullmastiff breed focus (Nicky Robertson is a KUSA registered All Breeds Judge (Championship level) and a Bullmastiff Specialist Judge with 37 years of experience in dealing with the breed). The AKC (American Kennel Club) describes the breed as brave, affectionate and loyal. Click on the number below to view a summary of the AKC standard:





The Bullmastiff is massive, very powerfully built, but is not a cumbersome dog. The large, broad skull is wrinkled and the muzzle is broad, deep and usually darker in color. The forehead is flat and the stop is moderate. The black nose is wide and has large nostrils. The teeth meet in a level or undershot bite. The medium sized eyes are dark hazel. The V-shaped ears are set high and wide, carried close to the cheeks, giving a square appearance to the skull. The strong tail is set high, thicker at the root and tapering and is either straight or curved, and reaches to the hocks. The back is short, straight and level between the withers and the loin. The short, dense, slightly rough coat comes in brindle, fawn, red or brown, often with black markings on the head.


The Bullmastiff is a devoted, alert guard dog, with a good-natured temperament. Docile and affectionate, but fearless if provoked. Although unlikely to attack, it will catch an intruder, knock him down and hold him. At the same time, it is tolerant of children. Intelligent, even-tempered, calm and loyal, these dogs crave human leadership. The Bullmastiff is extremely powerful and needs a firm master who is confident and consistent with the rules set upon the dog. They should be thoroughly obedience trained, and should be taught not to pull on the leash. When going in and out gateways or doorways the dog should allow the humans to enter and exit first out of pack respect, because in the dog’s mind, the leader goes first. The dog must heel beside or behind the human. This is most important, as not only do dogs have migration instincts and need to walk daily, but instinct tells a dog the pack leader goes first. Be sure to socialize extensively with both people and other dogs at an early age. They can be okay with other pets, depending on how well the owners communicate with the dog. The Bullmastiff is a more dominant breed than the Mastiff. He tends to drool, slobber and snore. Puppies may seem uncoordinated. These dogs are very sensitive to the tone of your voice and need someone to speak with an air of assertiveness, but not harshness. It is not a difficult dog but does require a handler who can assert his authority. The Bullmastiff should never be banished to a kennel. Meek or passive owners will find it hard to control this dog. It will appear willful, possibly aggressive with other dogs and reserved with strangers if owners do not take the time to socialize, and know how to properly communicate what is expected in a meaningful manner.


Extremely loyal to its own family. Often preferred by parents as the Bullmastiff does not easily change temperament around children like the South African Boerboel often does after 4 years of age


Refer to our Bullmastiff Colour page for a full explanation

Similar Breeds

The Bullmastiff is sometimes confused with other broad-mouthed breeds.
• The Boerboel, an indigenous South African breed, has a longer muzzle with less facial wrinkles, and a docked tail. The Bullmastiff always has a long tail and a black mask. Boerboels often do not have black masks.
• The Mastiff is a larger, heavier dog with a larger head and more wrinkles above the eyes. It is of British origin.
• The Boxer, which originated in Germany, is slightly smaller than the Bullmastiff, with a more athletic build, a smaller head and a docked tail. Boxers often also have white markings on their faces, chests and legs. The only white allowed in a Bullmastiff is a small white patch on the chest.



Height: Males 63 – 69 cm; Females 61 – 66 cm
Weight: Males 50 – 60 kg; Females 45 – 54 kg

Health Problems

Prone to cancer, hip dysplasia, tumors, eyelid problems, PRA and boils on the lips. Also prone to bloat. It is a good idea to feed them two or three small meals a day instead of one large meal. Gains weight easily, do not over feed. Prone to mast cell tumors.

Living Conditions

Bullmastiffs require sufficient exercise. They are relatively inactive indoors, but a medium size yard is preferred. They cannot tolerate extremes of temperatures.


Bullmastiffs need to be taken on a daily walk to fulfill their primal canine instinct to migrate. Those individuals who do not get this need met are more likely to have behavior issues.While out on the walk the dog must be made to heel beside or behind the person holding the lead, as in a dog’s mind the leader leads the way, and that leader needs to be the human. Teach them to enter and exit all door and gateways after the human.

Life Expectancy

+-10 years.

Litter Size

4 – 13 puppies, average 8


The shorthaired, slightly rough coat is easy to groom. Comb and brush with a firm bristle brush, and shampoo only when necessary. There is little shedding with this breed. Check the feet regularly because they carry a lot of weight, and trim the nails.


The Bullmastiff is of British origin and was obtained by crossing 60% Mastiffs with 40% Bulldogs in the country of England. Mastiff Bulldog types can be found in records as early back as 1795. In 1924 Bullmastiffs began to be judged. Three generations of breeding of Bullmastiffs was required for Bullmastiffs to be registered as purebreds. The Bullmastiff was used as a gamekeeper’s dog to track down, tackle and hold poachers. The dogs were fierce and threatening, but were trained not to bite the intruders. When the need for gamekeeper’s dogs decreased, the dark brindle dogs so good for night camouflage gave way in popularity to the lighter fawn coloration. It has been prized as a hunting guard, as an aid in army and police work, and is used as a watchdog by the Diamond Society of South Africa. Today’s Bullmastiff is a reliable family companion and guardian. It enjoys living with the family, with whom it comforts itself well.

Faults and Undesirable Characteristics

The following renders the pup outside breed standards. It bares no indication whether your pup will or will not make an excellent family companion. A responsible breeder will typically ensure that when such a pup is registered a breed restriction be noted
  1. Wry mouth (Lower jaw does not line up with upper jaw)
  2. Light or yellow eyes
  3. Tail carried too high (like Hounddog)
  4. Nostrils placed on top of muzzle (like the Bulldog or Bullterrier)
  5. White toenails (not critical, but is still undesirable)
  6. White marking on body (only small white patch on chest is acceptable)
  7. Dudley’s (light/albino-like pigmentation in exposed skin areas like nose and eyelids)
  8. Rose-shaped ears (usually occurs when ears are tied incorrectly)
  9. Cow hocks or shortened hocks (joint between the tarsal bones and tibia)
  10. Light or pink nose
  11. Splay feet
  12. Long hair

S Nehring / Breeder

Avid and diligent breed standard maintainer

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