Top 6 Massive Mastiff Breeds

There are many breeds within the mastiff family, ranging from Tibetan mastiffs to the Dogue de Bordeaux, all with their own unique characteristics.

Apr 19, 2024By Thalia Oosthuizen
massive mastiff breeds

Known for their imposing figure and excellent capabilities as guard dogs, mastiffs are very popular. While we may colloquially refer to mastiffs as a breed, there are actually many breeds within the type, each with its own unique qualities and traits.

Here is a quick breakdown of some of the many breeds of mastiffs and why they make excellent companions beyond being guard dogs. Knowing the characteristics of the different mastiff breeds will help owners choose the best dog for their home, lifestyle, and personality.

English Mastiff

English Mastiff Running on Grass
Image Credit: Daily Paws

This is the classic breed that most people think about when thinking of mastiffs. English Mastiffs are incredibly large, weighing up to 230 pounds and reaching a height of up to 36 inches. However, these dogs are gentle giants, known for their easy-going, gentle personalities and general friendliness toward others.

This makes them excellent family dogs, as they are excellent with kids and highly protective of their families. While English Mastiffs take up a lot of space, they don’t have high exercise requirements. They’re content with hanging out on the couch, making them great apartment dogs.


Bullmastiff Dog Lying on Grass
Image Credit: Pet Sure

The Bullmastiff originated as a crossbreed between the English Mastiff and bulldogs. The result was a large, powerful dog—though not as large as the English Mastiff—with a distinctive wrinkled face. These dogs were originally bred to protect against poachers and still carry that highly loyal and protective nature for their families.

These dogs remain similarly gentle and friendly, but their protective nature can often be taxing for some owners. Bullmastiffs are known to always be at their owner’s side, even following from room to room. They are highly stubborn and generally calm unless provoked or in the presence of other animals.

While they are similar in many ways to English Mastiffs, they differ in how they treat others. They are loyal to their owners and families but intolerant toward other animals. They can also be problematic with children who aren’t raised alongside them.

Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff)

Dogue de Bordeaux Standing in Grass
Image Credit: The Spruce Pets

The French Mastiff is considerably smaller than mastiff breeds, weighing up to only 150 pounds and reaching a height of 27 inches. However, they are still reasonably large dogs and are known for their large heads and powerful, muscular build. Like other mastiffs, they are incredibly loyal and affectionate toward their families, but French Mastiffs are distinctly more territorial.

Their territorial nature means early socialization and good training is necessary if they are going to regularly interact with other animals and children. A leash and fenced yard are also highly recommended, as these dogs are natural hunters and chase small prey. While excellent companions, these dogs are recommended for experienced owners because of the amount of supervision and training they require.

French Mastiffs respond well to training and are very patient, calm, and loyal. They also don’t drool as much as other large dog breeds––which is why many big dog lovers prefer them.

Dogo Argentino (Argentine Mastiff)

Dogo Argentino Standing in Leaves
Image Credit: Britannica

Even smaller than the French Mastiff, the Argentine Mastiff weighs up to 99 pounds and reaches a height of 27 inches. These dogs are similarly muscular and powerful but are most well-known for their stark white coats. They are incredibly loyal and protective of their families and territory, so they need a confident, experienced trainer to thrive.

These dogs are also highly intelligent, a contributing factor to their need for a consistent trainer. With early socialization, they are also very playful and great with children. Still, their powerful builds and intelligence call for regular stimulation to avoid common problem behaviors, such as counter-surfing and destruction.

Boerboel (South African Mastiff)

Boerboel Dog Standing on Farm
Image Credit: Select a Dog Breed

Originating from South Africa, Boerboels are a larger breed of mastiff that was originally bred to protect the homes and livestock of farmers. Weighing up to 200 pounds but remaining squat at around 27 inches tall, their most distinctive feature is their highly expressive, square-shaped face.

These dogs are highly intelligent and loyal but have a unique independence and stubbornness to them. This makes training and socialization best left to more experienced trainers, as it’s crucial to get them used to others and become well-behaved. Boerboels tend to be wary of strangers, and while not outright aggressive, they can present problems when not properly introduced.

Their intelligence and physique will require plenty of room for exercise, and these dogs will need both physical and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. They can also be quite energetic and will require a balanced diet given their squat size but heavy musculature.

Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff Dog Standing in Garden
Image Credit: The Spruce Pets

The Tibetan Mastiff is similar to the Boerboel in that they are both independent and territorial dogs. Originally bred to protect livestock, these dogs are similarly protective of their homes and wary of strangers.

The Tibetan Mastiff has an aloof and independent nature to them - a unique characteristic of this breed. They are affectionate toward their family but remain distant from others and prefer to be on their own instead of socializing like many other dogs. They also tend to be far more relaxed and calmer than other mastiff breeds and are primarily active when outdoors.

Their medium to long coats are high maintenance, requiring brushing with special combs several times a week. They also require longer, daily walks to get their energy out, as these dogs can be destructive when confined for too long, despite their relaxed temperament at home.

Many Mastiffs Make Great Companions

Black and Brown Tibetan Mastiff Dog in Snow
Image Credit: Be Chewy

Mastiffs are wonderful dogs for anyone looking for a loyal companion for themselves or their family. While most of these breeds will need some time and training to socialize and behave around other dogs and children, they can become some of the friendliest and most affectionate dogs one could ever own and make lifelong companions.

Thalia Oosthuizen
By Thalia Oosthuizen

Thalia has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a dog (and animal) lover for over 30 years. She grew up on a farm where, at one stage, she had 15 dogs. She currently has one dog, Avery - an adorable pavement special with an extra toe on each foot, and two rescue cats - Boris and Mango. In her spare time, Thalia enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and reading