Cancer, seizures and arthritis are some common health problems with Mastiff breeds. However, other breeds may suffer from similar health issues. Some are more peculiar to others than the rest.

We love big dogs like Saint Bernards, Great Danes, Mastiffs, and Irish Wolfhounds because of their big hearts and gentle nature. It’s crucial to remember that their size also contributes to their shorter lifespans and increases vulnerability to certain health issues.

The Mastiff is the largest of all dog breeds, with a life expectancy of 9 to 10 years. Owners must give special consideration and attention to this breed.

Although all dogs have the potential to experience health issues. However, if you’re serious about bringing a Mastiff into your home, you must ensure that you are ready to deal with any potential health issues.

No matter the breed, all dogs will have health issues. One of the most important things responsible pet owners can do for their animals is to be ready for any health problems. Furthermore, there are a few serious concerns to be aware of and keep in mind regarding Mastiff health issues.

Table of Contents

What are the common health problems with mastiff breeds?

There are three major health problems to be aware of when raising this breed. Also, the most frequent causes of death in Mastiffs are canine cancer.

Some other health problems related to the mastiff breed are:

  1. Hip and Elbow dysplasia
  2. Eye Disease
  3. Life Span
  4. Dilated cardiomyopathy
  5. Hypothyroidism
  6. Bloat
  7. Cherry Eye
  8. Arthritis
  9. Seizures
  10. Cancer

1. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

As a dog grows, it develops a condition called Canine Hip Displacement. This condition causes the hip joint to become unstable or loose. Consequently, hip dysplasia may eventually cause arthritis, joint degeneration, and excruciating pain.

Knowing your Mastiff’s origin is crucial because genetics is the single most significant factor contributing to hip and elbow dysplasia in dogs.

the elbow joint malformation can create excessive joint wear and tear.

At the same time, this eventually causes joint inflammation and osteoarthritis. It would be best to ask your veterinarian how nutrition supports controlled growth to avoid future issues like hip and elbow dysplasia.

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2. Eye Diseases Are Common Health Problems With Mastiff Breeds

A variety of eye diseases can affect the Mastiff. Unfortunately, this giant breed is prone to canine cataracts, eyelid abnormalities, and progressive retinal atrophy.

Furthermore, Mastiffs are prone to corneal dystrophy, retinal dysplasia, and prolapse of the nictitans gland, also known as the “cherry eye”. It is a pink mass that protrudes from the dog’s eyelid.

Congenital weakness of the gland’s attachment to the eye causes Cherry Eye. Additionally, this congenital weakness can affect one or both eyes.

3. Life Span

The Mastiff, like other giant breeds, is not a pet that lives for a long time, with an average lifespan of only 9 to 10 years. However, the Mastiff’s extreme size and weight partly contribute to this short lifespan.

Other common bone diseases in Mastiffs include cruciate ligament rupture, panosteitis, osteochondritis, wobbler’s syndrome, and cervical spine disease at the neck.

4. Dilated cardiomyopathy Is One Of The Common Health Problems With Mastiff Breeds

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a heart disease that is common in giant-breed dogs. This is a condition where the heart weakens and can no longer adequately pump blood throughout the body.”

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The symptoms of this condition include fatigue, intolerance to exercise, coughing, difficulty breathing, and a fluid-filled abdomen if it affects the right ventricle.

5. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a clinical condition caused by the thyroid gland’s decreased production and release of T4 and T3 hormones.

This condition can result in drowsiness, mental dullness, unusual weight gain, hair loss, excessive scaling, and recurring skin infections. Hypothyroidism is common in medium to large-breed dogs, such as the Bullmastiff.

6. Bloat Is Prevalent Mastiff Health Issue

Gastric dilation and volvulus syndrome (GDV), also known as gastric torsion or bloat in dogs, is a condition where the stomach dilates and then rotates, or twists, around its axis.

This twisting prevents the dog from being able to burp or vomit and eventually cuts off the blood supply to the stomach. Also, in some cases,  GDV cuts the blood supply to the spleen, which can quickly lead to shock and death.

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7. Cystinuria

Cystinuria is a genetic kidney disorder. The amino acid cystine is filtered by the kidneys and does not enter the urine, but in dogs with cystinuria, the acid does enter the urine. Cystine is then reabsorbed in the kidney tubule, where it frequently forms kidney or bladder stones, causing urinary blockages and inflammations.

Blockages can be fatal if cystinuria is not treated. Treatment must be administered as soon as possible and usually consists of a drug that prevents stone formation. It can take years before symptoms appear.

8. Arthritis

Although it can affect any dog, this condition is mainly associated with giant and older dogs.

Because of their growth patterns and weight, the Mastiff breed is especially prone to arthritis. Arthritis symptoms include stiffness, limping, pain, and difficulty moving or exercising.

9. Seizures Are Common Mastiff Health Issues

Seizures can be caused by various conditions, including epilepsy and trauma, and they are often treatable with medication but not cured. With proper management, a dog can live a full and healthy life.

10. Cancer

Like people, dogs can develop cancer. There are different types of cancer, and each patient’s response to treatment is unique. Tumours are surgically removed from some cancers, treated with chemotherapy, and treated surgically and medically in others. Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, is frequent in Mastiffs.

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Lameness is the initial indication of osteosarcoma, but x-rays are required to determine whether cancer is responsible. Osteosarcoma is aggressively treated, typically requiring amputation of the affected limb and chemotherapy. Dogs can live for nine months to two years or longer with treatment.

Fortunately, dogs can live comfortably on three legs and don’t experience the same side effects of chemotherapy as people do, such as nausea and hair loss.

What breeds are considered Mastiffs?

Mastiffs are often referred to as “gentle giants,” whose primary weapons are their size and intuitive awareness of what is and isn’t a threat. They are the largest of the dog breeds.

A well-bred, well-socialized Mastiff will naturally protect his human family, with no special training required other than making him a well-behaved member of the family.

Though taller dogs such as Wolfhounds and Great Danes exist, this giant canine has massive muscle and heavy bones.

Below is a list of the Mastiff breeds:

  1. Bullmastiff
  2. Mastiff
  3. Neapolitan Mastiff
  4. Tibetan Mastiff
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They all suffer from similar Mastiff health issues throughout their lives.

1. Bullmastiff

Common health problems with mastiffs
Bullmastiff – Credit: MaxPixel

In the 1860s, gamekeepers in England bred the Bullmastiff from bulldogs and the Old English Mastiff to help them protect estates and game preserves from poachers. Unlike other guardian breeds, bullmastiffs are relatively quiet, relying on their size, strength, and reputation to deter intruders.

The Bullmastiff is an intelligent, brave, affectionate, and loyal dog.

Bullmastiffs are massive dogs that grow between 100 and 130 pounds. An average male weighs between 120 pounds and stands 26 inches tall. These dogs have powerful, athletic bodies and black face masks. The accepted colours in the breed standard are fawn, red, and brindle.

2. Mastiff

mastiff dog breeds
Mastiff – Credit: MaxPixel

Mastiffs are also known as Old English Mastiffs. Despite being a purebred dog, you can find them in shelters and rescues.

The Mastiff is one of the most ancient dog breeds, and the Molossus, their ancestor, was known 5,000 years ago. Furthermore, they were ferocious war dogs back then, very different from the benevolent behemoth that the breed is now.

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Mastiffs make excellent companions for anyone who can accommodate their massive size and doesn’t mind a little drool here and there.

3. Neapolitan Mastiff

bull mastiff dog
Neapolitan Mastiff – Credit: Anil Sharma, Pexels

Neapolitan Mastiffs are dogs you can easily identify. These Italian dogs, with their distinctive wrinkly skin and impressive jowls. Also, the origin of this dog traces back to Roman war dogs.

Interestingly, they were used to guard estates in Italy, where their large size, weighing more than 150 pounds, kept out all intruders.

Neapolitan Mastiffs are naturally watchful, calm, and loyal companions and come in black, blue, mahogany, brindle, and tawny colouring. Like all mastiff breeds, they require early training and socialization to help them master their protective instincts.

4. Tibetan Mastiff


health problem with mastiff breed
Tibetan Mastiff- Credit: Wiki

Tibetan Mastiffs are a distinct breed. However, these massive, heavy-coated mountain dogs are infamously independent, reserved, intelligent, and fiercely protective.

It would be best to note that the Tibetan Mastiff is not a dog breed for everyone. However, it requires a special type of owner willing to devote the time and patience to train this dog correctly.

Furthermore, Tibetan Mastiffs have independent minds and are notorious for not responding when you call them.

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