Care of your Bullmastiff
This is a list of the more common complaints that Bullmastiffs may suffer from.  As with any breed,
there is a wide variety of problems that your dog may suffer due to genetics or environment, with
prevention and/or early detection being the key to a happy, healthy life for your dog.  Getting the health
history of the parents of your pup, helps to 'weed out' some of these problems.

* Hip Dysplasia - As with any large to very large breed, hip dysplasia can be a problem.

* Osteichondrosis – A group of development diseases resulting in abnormal formulation of joint

* Ostcochondritis Dissccans – Inflammation of the cartilage of certain joints which causes arthritis.

* Distichiasis – Abnormally growing eyelashes.

* Entropion –  Rolling in of the eye lids.

* Vaginal Hyperplasia – An overgrowth of the tissues of the vagina.

* Lymphoma - A malignant cancer that involves the lymphoid system

* Progressive Retinal Atrophy – A developmental abnormality where the membrane forming the iris
does not form properly.

* Eversion of Nictitating Membrane – A condition where the third eyelid is protruding.

* Cancer

* Demodectic Mite

* Pyometra – Infection of the uterus.  In some cases causes infertility in females.

* Bloat – A condition where the stomach produces excessive amounts of gas, enlarging enough to
cause death  without immediate treatment.

While this may seem a large list, it should be remembered that the occurrence of most of the above
conditions are rare.  
As far as the breed as a whole, it is said to have very few commonly occurring medical problems as far
as vet science books are concerned.
   If you are like myself and many other dog owners and/or breeders, you may have done some research,
and had advice, as to what is the best diet for your dog.  Wow, what a lot of confusing, conflicting
information there is out there!  Who do you listen to - the vets (a lot of conflicting and/or confusing
information from different vets), the Pet Food stores (the profit margin can dictate their opinion), the
breeders (can sometimes be too focused on ‘my way is the right way’), Pet Food manufacturers (well that
one is obvious where their opinions lie) or information on the internet (confusion/contradiction???).  Who
do we listen to?
   I myself, as a dog lover/owner/breeder have tried to go somewhere down the middle, giving a varied diet
of raw foods and a quality dried kibble.  Is this the right way?  I’m still not sure; but I suppose I am ‘covering
all bases’ and hope I am doing the best for my dogs’ health and happiness.
   Puppies, especially, need a good balanced diet during their growth stages (up until two years old for a
giant breed).  There are many good quality commercial puppy diets available that are nutritionally
balanced or you can prepare natural, homemade food (though this can be time consuming and extremely
important to prepare a balanced meal, it is worth it for your dog’s health).  Your puppy needs to be fed 3
times a day until he is 3 months old, then twice daily until 12-18 months old, and thereafter, once or twice
a day.
   After weaning, our puppies are introduced to a variety of fresh, raw foods and dried commercial foods.  
This includes a quality ‘Giant Breed’ puppy kibble (Advance Large Breed), and we often mix it with one or
more of the following -  raw fruit and veges (we juice these and feed both the pulp and juice, but grated is
also fine); whole raw egg (with the shell, crushed finely, as it is a  fantastic form of complete calcium)
and/or sardines.  With their ‘raw’ meals, we feed them raw premium beef, chicken or fish (all human grade)
that has been minced/chopped finely and then the meat is combined with previously prepared Vet’s All
Natural Complete Mix Puppy (this ensures they are getting a complete balanced meal and the puppies
love it!)  With supervision, raw meaty bones are great, but NEVER give cooked bones.  Occasional
‘leftovers’ are OK so long as it doesn’t constitute their main diet (but be aware that some human foods can
be poisonous to dogs).  When you want to change their diet, do it gradually, as sudden changes can
cause digestion problems.  Dogs, like humans, get bored with being fed the same thing every day, so they
do enjoy variety!
   There will always be a large variation in advice and opinions, but I feel that everyone needs to choose a
method that they, and their dog, feel happy with.  I would advise all dog owners to do research for
themselves and, hopefully without too much confusion, decide on the feeding regime they feel most
comfortable with, but any changes gradually.  
   If you decide to change their diet, we recommend switching gradually over the course of 10 days to
avoid any stomach upsets.
    To keep your dog's skin healthy, the most important thing is to feed him a healthy diet.  It is also
important to keep him free of parasites such as worms, fleas and ticks.  There are many products
available, including natural products, which will keep your dog healthy and parasite free.  A dog’s skin
does best if they aren’t bathed too regularly as they produce natural oils that are needed for a healthy
coat, and these oils are removed each time they have a bath.
   A Bullmastiff can be prone to hotspots which are ‘wet’ sores that can develop within a day or two.  
These can be easily treated, especially when caught early, and there are a   number of treatments
available from your vet, produce store or a number of natural products.  A number of breeders & vets feel
that these can be caused by stress; overly hot & humid weather; and their diet (artificial colours, flavours
and preservatives are thought to be ‘triggers’).
As with any of the Giant Breeds, Bullmastiffs need very little formal exercise until they are fully mature
around the age of 18 months - 2 years.  Most puppies will exercise themselves running around the yard
or playing with other dogs of the same size and structure.  They can be leash trained at an early age
and when the puppy gets used to the collar and leash, he can go for short walks, but remember that it is
very important not to  allow your puppy to overdo it.  As their bones are growing at a VERY rapid rate,
you need to be very careful that they don’t harm themselves by jumping, climbing or vigorously playing
with an older dog, until maturity.  Bullmastiffs grow very fast, and until they reach their adult size, their
joints are not fully mature and excessive exercise and strenuous activity can do serious damage to their
soft, growing bones.
   Never encourage or train your Bullmastiff to jump over, onto or off things until he is a fully matured
adult, otherwise you will risk expensive injuries.
   If your living arrangements require that your puppy needs to go upstairs/downstairs, you need to be
aware that you must supervise them at all times, as you would a young child, until they are an adult.  
Puppies that fall down stairs at a young age risk major skeletal,  muscular and ligament injuries, so you
need to take special care.  Tiled, wooden and any other smooth surfaced flooring can also be a major
problem with a developing Bullmastiff puppy, and it is essential that you ensure that he doesn’t run/play
on the slippery surfaces as this risks permanent injuries also.
   Adult Bullmastiffs love exercise and enjoy being taken for walks, but remember to use caution in the
summer when it is hot, as you can risk them overheating.
   Strong bonds are formed at a very young age, so normal routines at your home should be established
as soon as possible (where and when feeding, sleeping, playing and toilet duties are going to take
place).  The patterns set in the first four months are vital to the dog’s adult behaviour.  As soon as their
vaccination course has finished, it is important to highly socialise your puppy with humans and other
dogs, and slowly introduce him to as many     different experiences without causing alarm to your puppy.  
There are many puppy socialisation classes and dog obedience classes available to assist you in
establishing a happy and healthy relationship with your dog that will last a lifetime.
   When you start the obedience classes, your puppy may not have the endurance to keep up for the
entire session....this is normal and he may need several rest times during class.  Bullmastiffs are a very
intelligent breed, and each individual dog will have a slightly different aptitude, but, as a general rule,
Bullmastiffs don’t like lot of repetition. Try and make the training interesting and varied.
   Playtime, particularly with children, is an invigorating and stimulating form of exercise and
socialisation, but it is very important to remember that you need to supervise at all times and give
puppies a break from energetic, playful children to prevent them from becoming tired, snappy or
   A Bullmastiff, if socialised from a young age, are happy to meet new dogs or animals and are not
easily provoked by other dogs unless seriously threatened or attacked.  Your Bullmastiff puppy that has
been carefully bred for temperament and has been lovingly cared for, trained and socialised from birth,
loves to meet new people, dogs and animals.
Eyes should be kept clean and free of build up, but if your Bullmastiff has constant running/mucky eyes, it
could be a number of things such as wind and dust (which are almost impossible to avoid, so regular
wiping of the eyes may be necessary), allergies (like humans, dogs can have dietary and/or
environmental allergies which can be identified and avoided), or more seriously, Entropian.  If you are at
all concerned, please contact your vet.
  • 6 – 8 Weeks (C3 - Canine Distemper, Canine Adenovirus & Canine Parvovirus)
  • 9 – 12 Weeks (C3)
  • 13 - 16 Weeks (C3 & your vet may advise additional non-core vaccines at this age)
  • 12 Months after their last puppy vaccination a booster is required
  • Every 3rd YEAR (Triennially) or more/less as your vet advises
**A Triennial vaccination protocol is now advised by the Australian Veterinary Association**

All our puppies are fully wormed before leaving us, then they will need to worm your puppy at 3
months old, then monthly until 6 months old, then every 3-6 months, depending on the wormer.  Talk to
your vet for all worming requirements, including Heartworm.

   All our puppies are microchipped before leaving us, and are registered with Central Animal Records
which is accredited by the Australian Veterinary Association.  It is also important to register your puppy
with your local council according to their local laws (most councils require puppies over the age of 12
weeks to be registered with them, but just check with your local council to be sure).  Being responsible
in both of these areas, ensures that you have the best chance of keeping your Bullmastiff safe and at
home where he belongs.

   If you bought your puppy as a pet and do not intend to breed or show, neutering him will prolong his
life and will not affect his temperament (he or she will be just as good a guard dog and companion
neutered).  Neutering can make dogs more stable and can prolong their life (bitches neutered at a
young age do not get potentially deadly breast cancer  or pyometra and neutered males will not develop
prostate problems).  A bitch can be spayed from six months of age before she comes into heat, and
between nine and ten months is a good age to castrate a male.
   If you do not neuter your Bullmastiff, you will need to routinely check your bitch for lumps in her
breasts, and after every season you need to be extremely aware that they can get an infection of the
uterus (Pyometra).  Also be aware that middle aged males may develop prostate problems (you may
notice blood in the dog’s urine) and the only truly effective treatment of an enlarged prostate is
castration, but as with many things, prevention is better than cure.

   24 hour care by a qualified vet must be available at all times.  Don’t assume that every vet has
experience treating a giant breed, so you may need to find the closest ‘expert’ in case of an emergency
that requires more care that any general vet can give.
   Whenever you are at the veterinarians for the diagnosis of a specific problem, don’t hesitate to ask
him what he is doing, what lab tests he is having done, what medicine he is prescribing, and what is the
exact name and nature of what he is diagnosing.  If it is your local vet, ask him in a tactful way how often
he has seen the problem, and if this is the first time he has diagnosed this particular problem, you may
decide you need a second  opinion, to be sure of the diagnosis.  Remember that your Bullmastiff is a
part of your family, and he deserves the best treatment he can get.