The Belgian Mastiff is a brave, intelligent, and hardworking breed. Though not known to be overly friendly, these devoted dogs are loyal to their families.
Belgian Mastiff History
Despite the name, experts believe the Belgian Mastiff originated in France because it resembles French Hounds from the Middle Ages. As these dogs made their way into Belgium, they developed characteristics that made them better at pulling carts. But with the introduction of the automobile, this first iteration of the Belgium Mastiff eventually disappeared.
In the late 1980s, G. Glineue de Boussu and Alfons Bertels started a reconstruction program for the breed. They crossed rural dogs believed to be descendants of the original "Matin Belge" with English Mastiffs, Bullmastiffs, Briards, and Belgian Sheepdogs. Unfortunately, this more recent incarnation of the breed has also all but vanished.
Though some groups claim efforts are underway to revive the breed again, Belgian Mastiffs are considered extinct, and the FCI no longer recognizes the breed.
Belgian Mastiff Traits
The Belgian Mastiff is a massive dog with an athletic and almost imposing muscular build.
Coat and Colouring
Belgian Mastiffs have short, sleek coats that are usually reddish-brown, brindle, fawn, or black. Some feature white markings and—every once in a while—a dark mask.
Distinctive Physical Traits
Along with impressive body strength, the Belgian Mastiff has a large head, strong neck, and deep, wide chest.
Belgian Mastiff Temperament
Belgian Mastiffs are loyal, dutiful, and obedient companions. They are even-tempered and athletic, with good guarding instincts. These dogs love their families and are fearless in protecting them and tireless in working for them.
Because they are natural guardians, Belgian Mastiffs tend to be wary of strangers and can sometimes be reactive toward other animals. So, early socialization is vital to help them develop into well-mannered dogs. With the right training, these dogs make devoted pets.
Belgian Mastiff Care
Belgian Mastiffs need high-quality food formulated for their life stage (e.g., puppy, adult, senior). They also benefit from diets designed for large dogs—particularly when they're young. This helps prevent them from growing too fast and developing skeletal problems.
The Belgian Mastiff's short coat requires brushing just a couple of times a week to stay looking its best. (You'll likely need to increase the frequency during seasonal shedding periods.)
Nail trims, ear cleanings, and regular dental care—including at-home teeth brushing and professional cleanings—should also be part of their grooming routines.
Belgian Mastiffs are working dogs that need plenty of regular exercise. They seem to enjoy daily walks and romps in the backyard. But avoid long-distance runs or vigorous exercise until your dog is past the puppy phase and their bones and joints have developed.
Belgian Mastiffs are obedient and easy to train. They respond well to positive, reward-based methods. Beyond basic training, be sure to provide early socialization to help prevent or reduce fear-based defensive behaviors.
Reviewed 5 September 2020 by Annette Louviere, DVM