Our Gentle Giants

The story of two Floridians and their foster Great Danes

July 17th, 2015

7 Mastiffs (plus a Surprise at the End!)

By Tara

When people normally hear “Mastiff”, they immediately think of the fawn-colored, sweet English Mastiff (exactly what Christian wants). But there are so many more Mastiffs than just the English Mastiff! I’ve put together collages and fun facts about each one and have shared them below. I did everyone a favor and included cute puppy photos as well. You’re welcome.

English Mastiff

Photo credit: Puppy and Adult

Photo credit: Puppy and Adult

English Mastiffs are the “classic” Mastiffs (at least in America). English Mastiffs are generally found in 4 colors: apricot-fawn, silver-fawn, fawn, or dark fawn-brindle. Their average lifespan is 6-10 years (according to dogtime.com) and males can weigh up to 220 pounds!

These guys and gals are definitely considered to be gentle giants. They are couch potatoes and a great family dog due to their calm nature. They are also very drooly, so they are not a good dog for the faint-of-heart.

Neapolitan Mastiff

Photo credits: Puppy and Adult
Photo credits: Puppy and Adult

Often misspelled as “Neopolitan”, the Neapolitan Mastiff hails from Italy and is often called an Italian Mastiff (Cane Corsos are also referred to as Italian Mastiffs). Neapolitan Mastiffs are known for their long, droopy, jowls and are usually black, blue, mahogany, and tawny. Their average lifespan is 8-10 years (according to dogtime.com) and males can weigh up to a whopping 200 pounds.

They have strong protective instincts which make them a good guard dog. Because of their strong personalities, they’re not always the best first dog for a person/couple/family. Fun fact: did you know that the dogs that played Fang in the Harry Potter movies is a Neapolitan Mastiff? In the books, though, he’s a boarhound (which apparently, is an older term for a Great Dane).


Bullmastiffs are one of the smaller giant breeds. These dogs are essentially a mix of English Mastiffs and English Bulldog. Bullmastiffs are typically either red, fawn, or brindle and aren’t as wrinkly as English Mastiffs. Their lifespan averages from 8-10 years (according to dogtime.com) and males weigh up to 130 pounds.

Bullmastiffs are intelligent and make great guard dogs. They are also very affectionate and loyal to their families. They aren’t overly active, so a small home or apartment would be fine as long as they do receive regular exercise. Despite their size, they can be amazing with children, due to their patience.

Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff)

Photo credits: Puppy and Adult

Photo credits: Puppy and Adult

French Mastiffs have wrinkly faces (as the previous Mastiffs have had) and come in fawn, isabella (a light shade of fawn), mahogany, and red. These pups have an average lifespan of 8-10 years (according to dogtime.com). They are also heavier Mastiffs; males usually weigh up to 145 pounds.

From what I’ve read, they are very similar to Bullmastiffs in terms of temperament: great guardians, and very affectionate and loyal. They can be stubborn little guys, so patience and persistence during training is key.

Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff)

Photo credit: @caitbelladone

Photo credit: @caitbelladone

As previously mentioned, Cane Corsos are Italian Mastiffs. Their coats come in a variety of colors (black, black brindle, chestnut brindle, fawn, gray, gray brindle, red) and their ears are often cropped into a small, triangular shape. Their average lifespan is 10-12 years (according to dogtime.com) and males can weigh up to 120 pounds.

They are, arguably, the most active Mastiffs that are out there, which makes them a terrible choice for apartment dwellers or the indoorsy type (there’s a reason why I like couch potato dogs, like English Mastiffs and Great Danes!) They are very sweet creatures, but without proper socialization, they can grow to be aggressive.

Presa Canario

Photo credits: @presasofhouston and D&G Kennels

The Presa Canarios are a Mastiff breed that originated in Spain. Their average lifespan is above average for large breeds (9-11 years according to Dog Breed Info) and males can weigh up to 100+ pounds.

Again, Presa Canarios are very affectionate and loyal dogs. Like Cane Corsos, they require proper socialization at an early age to prevent aggressive tendencies later on.

German Mastiff (Great Dane)

Photo credits: Puppy and Adult

Photo credits: Puppy and Adult

My favorite Mastiff: the German Mastiff AKA the Great Dane! Not many people know this, but Great Danes are not actually Danish. According to this Dogs 101 video, it’s unknown how the word “Dane” got a spot in their name because they are actually from Germany.

Great Danes an average lifespan between 7-10 years (according to dogtime.com) and males can weigh up to 200 pounds. Their coats are short, require very minimal maintenance, and come in a large variety of colors: black, blue, harlequin, fawn, brindle, mantle, merle, and white (although many, if not most, white Danes are deaf, blind, or both). They are considered the second tallest dog breed, after the Irish Wolfhound, and the last two Tallest Dog(s) in the World were Great Danes (Giant George and Zeus).

Great Danes are couch potatoes, just like their English Mastiff cousins, and are very affectionate.

Bonus: Dutch Mastiff (Pug)


Photo credits: Puppy and Adult

Bet you didn’t know about this Mastiff! I actually didn’t either until I started doing research for this article.

Pug Village states:

…a third theory [of the origin of the Pug] speculates it is a miniature form of the French Mastiff (Dogue de Bordeaux).

DogChannel states:

Many people believe that the Pug descended from the Mastiff breeds, with ancestors such as the fighting dogs of ancient Greece.

petMD states:

Nicknamed the “Dutch mastiff,” the Pug is a small dog with a wrinkled face, short legs and barrel chest.

The general consensus is that we have no idea if they actually do share the same ancestors as Mastiffs, but many people believe they do.

There are actually quite a few more Mastiffs, but they are a little more obscure than these ones. I will write a list of them another time. Actually, I just noticed that I like making lists of breeds. Here are the ones I have so far:

Do any of you have any of these Mastiffs? Please share your photos and stories below!

P.S. I would like to thank our friends @hooch.the.bullmastiff@caitbelladone@presasofhouston, and D&G Kennels for allowing me to share photos of their babies. They found out about this blog post through our Instagram page. Are you following @ourgentlegiants yet?