There is so much to learn about mastiffs. We have not even begun to learn all there is to know. But regardless of where and who you get your mastiff from, please keep some things in mind.
THE BREED - Do your research and make sure this is the breed for you! These are big dogs that love to be with their families. Yep, they slobber and drool! Yep, they shed (ALOT)! Yep, they eat a lot! Yep, they are expensive! Did I mention that they slobber? They think it is wonderful to come and cuddle after they take a long drink! Cleaning your windows will now take much longer, that stuff is like glue! Believe it or not, at some point, you will find slingers on your ceiling! They should not ride in the back of a pick-up, you will need lots of space in your vehicle! These are family dogs. They should not be isolated from their family. You will never know the true nature of a mastiff if it is not allowed to be part of your family. They should never have to live outside, they are house dogs. If after all of that, you still think this is the breed for you, be ready for unconditional love, lots of cuddling and a shadow wherever you go. They are very loyal to their family!
HEALTH - There is so much regarding mastiffs and health. A reputable breeder should do as much health testing as possible. There are many tools out there available for breeders, look for those breeders that use those. Do your research! You will avoid a lot of heartache and money, if every step has been taken to keep these guys healthy. There is no guarantee but it is much better to know the effort has been made! These dogs are too special and noble to burdened with avoidable pain. Health testing is not going to a vet and having them say, "Yep, they look good. Go for it!" Health testing involves xrays sent to the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals. It involves DNA testing for CMR, PRA, Cystinuria, etc. and much more.
TEMPERAMENT - Temperament should be in the same category of health. Mastiffs should have good temperaments! Good mastiff owners take the time to socialize their mastiffs as much as possible. This can't be stressed enough, SOCIALIZE!! These dogs are guardians by nature, that is not an instinct you should encourage. Your dog should be a great ambassador to the breed's temperament. Take the time to know the temperaments behind your dogs and in their pedigrees.
PURITY - Mastiffs should NEVER be bred with any other breed! Too many people are creating designer breeds at the expense of these wonderful dogs. Taking two different breeds and combining them is a huge mistake. Combining two breeds is combining two totally different sets of health issues, temperaments, and structures. Unfortunately what began as a horrible mistake, has become a trend. These trends are ruining our breed, dying early from health problems, and filling up shelters that are already too full. If you want a mixed breed dog, the shelter needs your help. If you want a purebred dog, pick a breed and stick with it. Gladiators are not a breed. American Mastiffs are not a breed. There are many excuses out there for these dogs but they are nothing but a lie people are using to make a buck. These dogs are suffering at the hands of people who care nothing about the breed.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A REPUTABLE BREEDER -
- A reputable breeder has been in the breed for several years. Ideally, they show their dogs or have shown their dogs so as to know, not only the breed standard, but how their dogs compare to the breed standard. Ask them, if they haven't ever shown, they might still attend shows and really observe the different dogs out showing. Why buy a mastiff that doesn't look like a mastiff? You want your breeder to know the look, type and conformation of a mastiff.
- A reputable breeder health tests the dogs in their breeding program. We have many tools out there to make sure we are doing the best we can to breed healthy dogs. A reputable breeder might do a breeding with a stud dog that is deceased or not tested, but the dogs in their own breeding program should be tested. These tests and results can be found on the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals www.offa.org website. Type in the registered name of the dog you are looking for along with appropriate breed, and search. If you don't see certain tests listed, ask the breeder. They may have done preliminary tests and the results aren't posted. Don't buy into health certified. There is no such thing. Health testing involves test results, scores, ratings, etc. A regular vet does not provide that, they only help with the xrays or blood samples that need to be sent off.
- A reputable breeder breeds for the reason of not only bettering their breeding program, but to better the breed. They don't just breed the same pair in their house every breeding. They research and look for new lines to improve on what they have already. Some breeders have been in the breed long enough that they have the next several generations planned in their minds and hearts. They strive to improve with every breeding, they don't just buy 2 dogs and breed them over and over.
- A reputable breeder does NOT advertise on Craigslist, Puppyfinder, Facebook groups, newspapers, parking lots, etc. This is absolutely no avenue for screening homes. I myself, stopped one time when I saw (and heard from many people) about a litter of mastiffs being sold on the side of the street in front of Petco. I asked this woman, how can you know what kind of a home these puppies are getting selling them this way? Are you prepared to take these dogs back when their owners no longer want them? Of course, she did not like what I had to say and her response was only, that it hasn't happened before. Well, as I type this, I have fostered and placed 2 puppies from that litter. One was taken to the shelter by it's owner and the other was on craigslist, headed to the shelter after the weekend. A reputable breeder cares more than you can imagine, about where each puppy will live forever.
- To go along with the previous point, a reputable breeder educates prospective puppy homes. A reputable breeder will never say, "A mastiff is the perfect family dog" or "Everybody should own a mastiff". No they are not and no they shouldn't. Mastiffs are not for everyone. I feel that breeders should never convince somebody to buy one of their puppies. If anything, you tell them all the bad stuff. There should not be a surprise a year down the road, when the dog does something or is too big and the owners never knew or learned about it. This is a tough breed, they take commitment.
- A reputable breeder does not sell all their puppies with a full registration. Not every mastiff should be bred. Not everybody should breed mastiffs. A reputable breeder cares about the hard work they have put into their lines and their breedings, they don't want just anybody to take those dogs and breed it to the mastiff down the street. There should be spay/neuter contracts in place. There are so many mastiffs out there, reputable breeders do not want to carelessly add to that. They keep the best for themselves to continue on their lines, and place the rest in great homes. Their ultimate goal, is to provide families with the perfect companions that are healthy and great representatives of the breed.
- This one may be a more personal preference but a reputable breeder makes the pick for what puppy goes to what home. It shouldn't be first money is first pick, the next in line, etc. Who best knows the temperaments of those puppies better than the breeder? They should be the ones choosing the best fit for each family, money should not be that determining factor. When a breeder tells you that they will make their picks by a certain age, don't be offended, be glad they want this to be the perfect fit.
- Let's talk price...yes, a reputable breeder's puppies will cost more. BUT, a lot of less than reputable breeders are charging an awful lot for their puppies now. I recently came across an ad that a family had been looking at, considering one of their puppies. They asked for my opinion. This person was selling their puppies for $1250.00 This person owned both parents, it was an accidental breeding (supposedly). The mom was only 18 months old. Neither parent had any health testing. This was a natural breeding and a natural whelping. So, this tells me, that this breeder does not put any of that money back into her dogs. And why on earth would anyone pay $1250.00 for an accident when the breeder has zero money into the parents? Some of the expenses that a reputable breeder puts into their dogs? In addition to purchasing their dogs for the same price (if not more) than what they are asking for their puppies, they may have the cost of showing (not cheap). Then there is the cost of health testing, we are talking several hundred dollars in health testing. Most have to pay a stud fee (usually the same amount as the purchase price of a puppy). Then you have the cost of shipping the semen. Then you have to cost of the artificial, or surgical, insemination. That also includes multiple blood tests to determine progesterone levels in the female to know when she is ready to be bred. Some breeders, like myself, monitor progesterone throughout the pregnancy. Cost of an ultrasound to confirm pregnancy. Cost of an xray to estimate how many puppies there are, so that if they are doing a C-section, they can be sure to have adequate staff at the veterinarian, or if they natural whelp, to be sure they know how many to expect when she whelps in case she ends up needing a C-section if they don't all come naturally. The cost of progesterone testing to know when it is safe to do the C-section. Some of the costs that go into raising a litter? First, you have the time off work. We don't leave babies with mom. A 1-2 lb puppy does not fare well alone with a 200+lb mom. So for the first 1-2 weeks, we take mom in to the babies every 2 hours. Well we are absolute fanatics about keeping the puppies clean, you would be amazed at the amount of wipes, laundry detergent, potty pads, etc. we go through. We supplement with formula to make sure they are all gaining properly until mom has enough milk. Even then, sometimes we have to continue to supplement to help mom. I buy way too many toys for my puppies. We deworm them weekly to make sure there are no parasites. Then we give first vaccinations and reputable breeders microchip their puppies before they leave, so that also includes a vet visit and check for each puppy. We could also talk electricity LOL, heat lamps, night time feedings. And in my case? As soon as they can hear, I play a lot of different movies for mine so they hear a lot of different sounds. Some breeders do eye tests on their puppies before they leave. This is just brushing the edge of some of the expenses we have for our litters. When done right, there is no money to be made off a litter. We do this because we love it. And remember, whatever we keep out of each litter? We start this all over again for the next generation.