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Breed Priorities – The Mastiff

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274 – June, 2018


Mastiffs are 28th in popularity out of 190 breeds according to AKC’s registration statistics. They are the seventh most popular working breed and the second most popular giant breed. AKC recognized Mastiffs in 1885, one of the initial breeds registered, not one of the newer breeds. We found just fourteen Mastiff breeder-judges to invite to take the survey on their breed priorities. When asked about the low number, one of the experts said they were pleased with the number, since earlier there were only two Mastiff breeder-judges.

I reached thirteen of the fourteen breeder-judges, and all of those agreed to participate. However, only ten surveys were returned. About half of these judges have judged the Mastiff National Specialty, and many have judged other Mastiff specialties. They average over twenty-five years in the breed and have been judging Mastiffs on average for about ten years.

With a fewer number of surverys than hoped for, I was concerned that the results might be skewed. But this group was unusually consistent, primarily on their ratings of the virtues and outlines.

When I was first learning about Mastiffs, breed type, especially the head, was most important. The current standard says that breed type and soundness were equally important. Important pro- portions are that the Mastiff is rectangular overall and that the height of the dog comes from depth of body rather than length of leg. I was interested to see if the survey results would reflect what I had been taught.

Prioritizing Virtues

The survey sent to the breeder-judges included a list of virtues from the breed standard for them to rank in the order of priority. Here are the virtues in sequence by the average ranks, with 1 being most important. Note that while ten surveys were returned, two did not prioritize the lists, so these results were from the eight experts that did.

1. Substance massive with great depth and breadth 2. Massive head
3. Heavy bone
4. Topline straight, level, firm
5. Chest wide, deep, rounded, well let down
6. Stifle moderately angulated with matching front angulation 7. Height coming from depth of body rather than from length of leg
8. Grandeur and dignity
9. (tie) Muzzle short, broad, truncated, of great depth
9. (tie) Hindquarters broad, wide, muscular
11. Front legs straight, set wide apart
12. Neck powerful, very muscular, slightly arched, medium length
13. Feet large, round, compact with well-arched toes 14. Dark ears and mask
15. Eyes medium-sized, brown
16. Scissor bite

Click here to read the complete article
274 – June, 2018

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  • June 2019