When the Romans invaded Britain in 55 b.c., Caesar noticed a powerful, fearless breed of dog that fought beside the British soldiers. He was so impressed by the strength and courage of these dogs that he brought some back to Rome with him, where they were forced to take part in sports such as bull and bear baiting, even fighting against lions.
This dog was the Mastiff, and has been raised in Britain for more than 2,000 years. The Mastiff is one of the biggest, bulkiest dogs of all--some can top 200 pounds. But the Mastiff is a gentle friend to man by nature, always serving as man's watchdog and loyal companion. This is a dog who likes being around people. He needs their company and bonds closely with his family. He takes his time, doing things with a great majesty and steady character.
Because of his large size, he needs room to move. He is best suited to life in the country or suburbs. Mastiffs have a massive head set in a large body. The coat is short and thick fawn or brindle.
Excerpts from the Standard
A large, massive dog, showing grandeur and dignity. Heavy boned.
Size, Proportion, and Substance
Height--males, 30 inches or more at the withers; females, 271/2 inches or more.
Mastiffs are renowned for their loyalty. In 1415, Sir Peers Legh, an English knight, traveled to France for the Battle of Agincourt. He was wounded and fell to the ground. His faithful Mastiff stood guard over him for hours, defending him against attackers. Finally English soldiers were able to rescue the fallen knight and take him to Paris. Sir Peers did not survive his wounds, but his Mastiff was taken back to her master's castle in England to live out her days. There is still a stained glass window in the castle showing Sir Peers with his devoted Mastiff.
Excerpted from The Complete Dog Book For Kids © 1996, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.