Mastiffs are large dogs; in fact, they are the heaviest dog breed, as they can weigh as much as 250 pounds when they’re full-grown! They also have a very muscular build and are on the tall side (about 30 inches). At first sight, they can appear very overpowering and even frightening; however, Mastiffs are actually quite gentle and leery of strangers, which is why it is essential that these dogs receive proper training at an early age. While they are excellent protectors, they are also extremely friendly and loyal. In fact, they are excellent dogs for children!
Mastiff Food and Health
Generally, Mastiffs are healthy dogs; however, there is one problem that they are prone to: orthopedic issues, particularly elbow and hip dysplasia. This is due to their excessively heavy weight and large size. In order to ensure that your Mastiff lives a long and healthy life, feeding him a proper diet is essential.
Due to their exceptionally large size and muscular builds, mastiffs should be fed diets that are made up primarily of high-quality proteins, such as lamb, chicken, turkey, and beef. In fact, a pure meat diet is highly recommended for these dogs. During the puppy years, a diet that contains about 27 percent protein and 15 percent fat is ideal; however, adults require less protein and fat, with a recommended daily intake of about 25 percent protein and about 10 percent fat. Feeding older mastiffs too much protein can result in health problems.
To offset elbow and hip dysplasia, vitamin C is recommended, as is calcium. You can offer your Mastiff supplements or foods that contain these nutrients.
There are several types of commercial dog foods that will meet the dietary needs of a Mastiff; however, if you are going to feed your dog a commercial food diet, make sure that you carefully review the labels. The primary ingredient should be animal proteins. Also, you should never feed your dog foods that contain soybean meal, as this has been found to cause bloat, which can be life-threatening. Two great commercial dog foods for Mastiffs include Diamond Naturals Real Meat Recipe and Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein; but if you are unsure or want other options, speak to your veterinarian, who will gladly provide recommendations.
Due to the large size of the Mastiff, the type of bowl you feed him in is also important. Look for bowls that are situated on stands, such as this Wooden Double-Bowl Stand. This will prevent your dog from having to bend far down to reach his food and will make eating a lot more enjoyable and satisfying. This is particularly true for older Mastiffs who may be suffering from hip dysplasia.
Insurance for Mastiffs
As mentioned, Mastiffs are generally healthy dogs; however, they are genetically predisposed to hip and elbow dysplasia, which is the result of their large size and heavy weight. If your dog does develop this condition, surgeries, medications, and other medical care may be necessary. Furthermore, there is always a chance that your pup could develop an illness or sustain an injury. For example, if you are using your dog as a hunting companion in rocky territories, such as the mountains of West Virginia, injuries are bound to occur.
Medical care for your Mastiff can be expensive. To offset the out of pocket cost, consider investing in a pet insurance policy. This type of insurance is similar to healthcare for humans. Should your dog require medical care, pet insurance will help to cover a portion of the cost, which can save you a great deal of money.
There are several reputable companies that offer pet insurance, including Geico and Progressive. You can also acquire pet insurance through the ASPCA at an affordable rate.
Leashes and Collars for your Mastiff
Part of responsible pet ownership is ensuring that your dog is wearing all necessary tags, including identification and updated vaccinations. A collar is an excellent way to display this crucial information. Moreover, it serves as a way for you to walk your Mastiff, which is essential for exercise.
When selecting a collar for your Mastiff, make sure you choose one that is constructed of highly durable material and can withstand the incredible strength of the dog. Excellent options include leather like leather and nylon. Choose a collar that is thick and easy to adjust. You want to ensure that the collar won’t slip off his neck, but that it isn’t too tight, either. Mastiffs are gentle creatures and are usually very mild-mannered. You can opt for a collar that features a buckle or quick-clasp closure; however, do not opt for one that closes with buttons or snaps, as there’s a good chance that your dog will be able to remove it.
In regard to a leash, consider one that is also made of very durable material, such as leather, like the Fairwin Braided leather dog leash, or nylon, like the Leashboss training leash. Again, you want to make sure that it can withstand the power of this breed. Additionally, ensure that you will be comfortable holding the leash, and that it is just the right length; if it’s too long, your dog will have too much room to roam, but if it’s too short, your dog may feel confined.
Best Crates, Beds, and Doghouses for Mastiffs
When choosing a crate for your Mastiff, size is of utmost importance. You want your dog to have enough room to stand and turn around; however, too much room will prevent the crate from doing the job that it is supposed to do. Also, keep in mind that if you have a puppy, you will need more space as he grows. Invest in a new crate when he grows; or, alternatively, you could opt for one that features a separator, of sorts, that allows you to adjust the size.
A dog bed should offer plenty of room for your Mastiff, but it shouldn’t be so large that it doesn’t offer support. Again, make sure that it fits the size of your pup. And, you should consider something made of durable materials, as these dogs chew when they are pups and their weight can potentially damage flimsy materials.
If you are going to use a dog house, keep the climate of your area in mind. If you are situated in an area where the temperatures are hot, consider a dog house that has built-in air conditioning; if you live in a cold climate, a house with heating (like the ASL Solutions dog palace with floor heater) is a wise idea. Remember: the comfort and safety of your dog is of utmost importance.
Though Mastiffs aren’t highly energetic, they do enjoy playing. Plus, playing is a great way to give them the exercise they need; and, it’s just fun!
Of course, larger toys that are made of durable materials are the best idea. They will be easier for your dog to handle, and they will last a lot longer, too. Treat toys, such as bones like Toys for Medium and Large Strong Chewers and balls that can be stuffed with peanut butter, or other treats, are also excellent for Mastiffs. They’ll keep them occupied and offer your dog a sense of achievement, which is really important for this breed.
For chew treats, such as bones as nylabone dura dog chew, stick to products that are all-natural an organic and stay away from anything that contains additives and fillers that could potentially harm your dog.
Grooming Insights for Mastiff owners
Grooming a Mastiff is pretty straightforward and relatively easy; although their size may be a cause for concern.
These dogs have short fur and do not require frequent brushing; however, brushing is still important, as it removes dead and molting fur. A brush glove or a soft-bristle brush will work well for this breed. For bathing, use a high-quality, perfume-free shampoo like Burt’s Bees natural shampoo. Wash your dog once a month, or as needed. For example, if he hunts with you, he may need to be washed more frequently than if he is just a companion.
Don’t forget to trim his nails, too. Use a high-quality clipper like the Epica professional pet nail clipper that is easy to grip and operate to ensure you don’t inflict any injuries. If you are unsure of how to clip your Mastiffs nails, ask your vet or a professional groomer for tips.
And lastly, make sure that you apply flea and tick control products, like Frontline Plus for dogs flea and tick treatment. This is of particular importance in areas where fleas and ticks are known problems; the Northeast and Southeast, for example. There are several types of flea and tick products, both available as prescriptions and over-the-counter.
The dog accessory market is huge! There are so many different options to choose from, but before you start purchasing any accessory, make sure that it really meets the needs of your dog and will be useful.
One great product to consider investing in for a Mastiff is stairs like Pet Gear Easy Steps that will allow him to access his crate, dog house, or any other area with greater ease. This is particularly true for Mastiffs that are afflicted with hip and/or elbow dysplasia. If you’re trying to train your Mastiff, you might want to consider purchasing a specially designed training leash or a training collar such. These products can help to make training this oversized dog a whole lot easier.
Mastiffs really are gentle giants, and with the right care, you and your four-legged family member can enjoy a long and healthy life together.
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