The English Mastiff, often called simply Mastiff,
is a large breed of dog descended from the ancient
Alaunt through the Pugnaces Britanniae. With a massive
body, broad skull and head of generally square appearance,
it is one of the largest dog breeds in terms of mass.
Though the Irish Wolfhound and Great Dane are taller,
they are not nearly as robust.
The Mastiff breed has a desired temperament, which
is reflected in all formal standards and historical
descriptions. Its behaviour must reflect a combination
of dignity and courage. Though calm and affectionate
to its master, it is capable of protection. If an
unfamiliar person approaches near the Mastiff's perceived
territory or its master, ideally, it will immediately
position itself between its master and the stranger.
If the approaching person is perceived as a threat,
the Mastiff may take immediate defensive action. The
breed is characteristically innately good natured,
calm, easygoing, and surprisingly gentle for its size.
The Bullmastiff is a powerful dog, which was originally
a cross between the English Mastiff and the Old English
Bulldog. Originally bred to find and immobilize poachers,
the breed has become popular as a family pet.