There is constant record of the English Mastiffs having been kept and carefully bred for many generations in certain old English families. The following description of a perfect Mastiff, taken from the Old English Mastiff Club's "Points of a Mastiff", is admirable as a standard to which future breeders should aim to attain.
POINTS OF THE MASTIFF: GENERAL CHARACTER AND SYMMETRY
English mastiff dogs are large, massive, powerful, symmetrical and well-knit frame. English mastiff is combination of grandeur and good nature, courage and docility.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HEAD
In general outline, giving a square appearance when viewed from any point. Breadth greatly to be desired, and should be in ratio to length of the whole head and face as 2 to 3.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF BODY
Massive, broad, deep, long, powerfully built, on legs wide apart, and squarely set. Muscles sharply defined. Size a great desideratum, if combined with quality. Height and substance important if both points are proportionately combined.
Broad between the ears, forehead flat, but wrinkled when attention is excited. Brows slightly raised. Muscles of the temples and cheeks well developed. Arch across the skull of a rounded, flattened curve, with a depression up the centre of the forehead from the medium line between the eyes, to half way up the sagittal suture.
FACE OR MUZZLE
Short, broad under the eyes, and keeping nearly parallel in width to the end of the nose; truncated, i.e. blunt and cut off square, thus forming a right angle with the upper line of the face, of great depth from the point of the nose to under jaw. Under jaw broad to the end; canine teeth healthy, powerful, and wide apart; incisors level, or the lower projecting beyond the upper, but never sufficiently so as to become visible when the mouth is closed. Nose broad, with widely spreading nostrils when viewed from the front; flat (not pointed or turned up) in profile. Lips diverging at obtuse angles with the septum, and slightly pendulous so as to show a square profile. Length of muzzle to whole head and face as 1 to 3. Circumference of muzzle (measured midway between the eyes and nose) to that of the head (measured before the ears) as 3 to 5.
Small, thin to the touch, wide apart, set on at the highest points of the sides of the skull, so as to continue the outline across the summit, and lying flat and close to the cheeks when in repose.
Small, wide apart, divided by at least the space of two eyes. The stop between the eyes well marked, but not too abrupt. Colour hazel-brown, the darker the better, showing no haw.
NECK, CHEST AND RIBS
Neck - Slightly arched, moderately long, very muscular, and measuring in circumference about one or two inches less than the skull before the ears. The chest is wide, deep, and well let down between the fore-legs. Ribs arched and well-rounded. False ribs deep and well set back to the hips. Girth should be one-third more than the height at the shoulder.
SHOULDER AND ARM
Slightly sloping, heavy and muscular.
FORE-LEGS AND FEET
Legs straight, strong, and set wide apart; bones very large. Elbows square. Pasterns upright. Feet large and round. Toes well arched up. Nails black.
BACK, LOINS AND FLANKS
Back and loins wide and muscular; flat and very wide in a bitch, slightly arched in a dog. Great depth of flanks.
HIND-LEGS AND FEET
Hind-quarters broad, wide, and muscular, with well developed second thighs, hocks bent, wide apart, and quite squarely set when standing or walking. Feet round.
Put on high up, and reaching to the hocks, or a little below them, wide at its root and tapering to the end, hanging straight in repose, but forming a curve, with the end pointing upwards, but not over the back, when the dog is excited.
Coat short and close lying, but not too fine over the shoulders, neck and back. Colour, apricot or silver fawn, or dark fawn-brindle. In any case, muzzle, ears, and nose should be black, with black round the orbits, and extending upwards between them.
Size is a quality very desirable in this breed. The height of many dogs of olden days was from thirty-two to thirty-three inches. The height should be obtained rather from great depth of body than length of leg. A leggy Mastiff is very undesirable. Thirty inches may be taken as a fair average height for dogs, and bitches somewhat less. The method of rearing a Mastiff has much to do with its ultimate size, but it is perhaps needless to say that the selection of the breeding stock has still more to do with this. It is therefore essential to select a dog and bitch of a large strain to obtain large Mastiffs. It is not so necessary that the dogs themselves should be so large as that they come from a large strain. The weight of a full-grown dog should be anything over 160 lb. Many have turned over the scale at 180 lb.
The temper of a Mastiff should be taken into consideration by the breeder. They are, as a rule, possessed of the best of tempers. A savage dog with such power as the Mastiff possesses is indeed a dangerous creature, and, therefore, some inquiries as to the temper of a stud dog should be made before deciding to use him. In these dogs, as in all others, it is a question of how they are treated by the person having charge of them.
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