Bullmastiff | The Gamekeeper’s Night Dog

The Total Package
Bullmastiff painting - The Poacher At Bay by Richard Ansdell 1865


Head & Proportions

The headpiece of the Bullmastiff is its crowning glory and a crucial element of breed type. Without the correct proportion of 1/3 muzzle to 2/3 skull, the Bullmastiff could be misidentifiable as any other Molosser breed.

The structure fore and aft should be moderate and balanced. Being slightly longer than tall (at the withers), the Bullmastiff should give the presence of power and stamina needed to work all night with the gamekeeper of old. The breed’s skeletal structure should be sound and accompany a substantial musculature, without compromise to health.


Bullmastiff’s Temperament & Purpose

The temperament should be confident and stable, but not necessarily tail-wagging friendly to every person or dog that it meets. The independent working nature of the Bullmastiff was to bring down a poacher and hold, not savage, him until the gamekeeper arrived.

Bullmastiffs should have the ability to be agile, good nosed trackers and endurance minded. A quiet worker, he should not be prone to bark or growl, unless warranted by a threat, and is a dedicated guardian to his family.

The independent working nature of the Bullmastiff was to bring down a poacher and hold, not savage, him until the gamekeeper arrived.

Bullmastiffs should be discerning and watchful to those he does not know, yet once properly introduced, he should be accepting of strangers that his family approves of.

This is not a breed for everyone. The independent and solitary working nature of the breed can make for difficult training sessions. Once a command or task is understood, they are faithful and consistent workers. Same sex dog aggression can be common and is usually breed-specific.

The essence of the Bullmastiff is all of these things. Owners, breeders, and judges need to be mindful that all of these components present the total package of the Gamekeeper’s Night Dog.



Are you looking for a Bullmastiff puppy?

The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder? Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.


Want to help rescue and re-home a Bullmastiff dog?

Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.


Bullmastiff Dog Breed Magazine

Showsight Magazine is the only publication to offer dedicated Digital Breed Magazines for ALL recognized AKC Breeds.

Read and learn more about the brave Bullmastiff dog breed with articles and information in our Bullmastiff Dog Breed Magazine.


Bullmastiff Breed Magazine - Showsight


  • Denise Borton of Kalamazoo, Michigan, judged her first sweepstakes in 1993 and is licensed to judge 28 Working Breeds, with approved applications for the remaining three. She has judged numerous specialties and supported entries in the United States and Canada, the Bullmastiff Club of Victoria Annual Specialty in Australia, and the ABA National Specialty in 2013. In 2018, Denise was the all-breed judge for the American Bullmastiff Association Top 25. Denise has loved the breed for 51 years—and counting. She has attended National Specialties in the US, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, and at Crufts. She’s bred the first triple-titled (long before Agility was a recognized event) Bullmastiff (Ch. Lady V’s Hot Shot Shelah CDX TD) who was also the first to earn the TD title. Denise was the top owner-handler for four consecutive years with Ch. Ladybug’s Lady Caitlin TD who won seven all-breed BIS, two National Specialty BOB, two Regional Specialty BOB, two Supported Entry BOB, 64 Group Placements, 28 Group Firsts, and BOB/Westminster KC. “Caitlin” is the fourth Bullmastiff to earn a TD and her conformation record stands today as the No. 3 Bullmastiff/top-winning bitch of all time. Denise also breeder/owner-handled Ch. Ladybug’s Heartlink to Cait TD who earned all championship points from the BBE Class and was the seventh Bullmastiff to earn a TD. With this bitch, Denise won BOS back-to-back at the ABA National Specialty in 2001 & 2002. Her littermate brother, Ch. Ladybug Shastid Brahminson, was an all-breed BIS winner as well as a Gold ROM producer. Denise is a lifetime member of the ABA and a member of the Midwest Bullmastiff Fanciers (51 years). She’s served as an ABA Director (14 years), Assistant Editor to the ABA Bulletin (5 years), ABA Futurity Chair (12 years), ABA National Specialty Show Secretary (4 years), and Tracking Test Secretary/Chair (3 years). She has also been involved with health & research opportunities/blood draws/Broad Institute (5 years), and various National Specialty committee positions (14 years). Denise has received certificates of appreciation from the ABA (3 years), formal recognition in outside publications (six different books) that include Caitlin’s picture and accomplishments, and she is the author of seven articles for the Hoflin Annual and was the recipient of the AKC Outstanding Sportsmanship Award in 2009. Outside of dogs, Denise earned a degree in Agricultural Science with a double minor in biology and chemistry. She retired after 28 years with the Upjohn Company, bench trained in veterinary pathology, conducting and writing the clinical phase of drug safety studies for the FDA. Denise is very proud of her 11 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren, and has been married to their grandfather for 41 years. She enjoys raising beef cattle, gardening, orchid growing, quilting, and traveling—when time permits.

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