Canadian Mastiff Club

Mastiff Puppy HealthLooking for a Mastiff Puppy?

What's hiding under that perfect exterior? Is the Mastiff the right breed for you?

What type of dog will be a good match for your family (temperament, size, grooming requirements, activity level, cost, trainability, the drool factor, etc)? Consider all the pro's and cons about the breed.

A new puppy will take up a lot of your time. Are you able to dedicate time for training classes as well as informal training at home, play time, grooming, vet visits & walks? Are you prepared for the expense of a puppy? Consider the cost of quality food and routine veterinary care as well as supplies such as collars, bowls, crate & toys. Non-routine veterinary care for an ill Mastiff can be exceptionally high. As an example, a torn anterior cruciate ligament can cost $1000 and up to repair. Heartworm medication for a 160 lb dog can cost $150.00 per year alone. Do you have a vehicle to transport a huge dog in safely?

The number of backyard breeders we are seeing in Canada has exploded in the past few years. With this increase, rescue has suddenly gotten quite busy. CMC members are also taking an alarming number of calls from owners having temperament and/or health issues with their Mastiffs. Virtually all of these dogs come from backyard breeders.

Therefore, it is imperative that you really do your research when looking for a breeder. Not only to help ensure you get a quality puppy, but to help protect the breed as a whole.

Below are a few things the CMC feels are important to consider when looking for a puppy:

Does the breeder health test their dogs before breeding them?

If they claim they do health testing, ask for proof – original copies – and then verify those results with the applicable registering body (i.e. OVC, OFA, CERF). CMC members are required to submit all health testing results and those results are verified and posted on our Health Testing Results page.

Please note that routine blood work or a check up at the vet’s does not constitute proper health testing. Health testing can be genetic testing as in the case of Canine Multi-focal Retinopathy and Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Hips & elbows, requiring x-rays, are sent to registering bodies such as OFA, PennHip or OVC where a board of specialists evaluate them. It is not adequate to have a general vet evaluate the x-ray. Same with cardiac, a specific protocol needs to be followed. For a full explanation of the various tests and links to the different organizations, please visit our Testing Requirement page. For explanation of the health concerns, please visit our Health page.

The CMC requires bitches born after January 01, 2007 and dogs born after June 01, 2007 to have at minimum, hips, elbows, cardiac, cystinuria, CERF and PRA testing done.How old are the parents? The CMC recommends bitches be at least 24 months and dogs at least 18 months and all their health testing completed before breeding. Therefore, bitches would be a minimum of 26 months of age upon arrival of her first litter of pups. Additionally the CMC recommends that a female not have more than three litters in her lifetime and not be bred after the age of seven. Also ask to see copies of any registration papers of the parents. Make sure they are registered with the Canadian Kennel Club – NOT the Continental Kennel Club.

It is illegal in Canada to offer a dog as purebred without providing registration papers. If the breeder is in Canada and claims that the parents are registered with the American Kennel Club, the dam must also be registered with the CKC for the pups to be registered in this country. The breeder is required to supply you with your dog’s papers within six month after the date of sale.

Does the breeder show their dogs?

It is important that a breeder actively participates in conformation shows to help ensure they understand the breed standard and what a Mastiff is supposed to look like. It is easy for a breeder to become “kennel blind” if they are only looking at their own dogs.

If they don’t show in conformation, does the breeder participate in obedience, rally, agility or do therapy work? And with more than just one dog?

Is the breeder a member in good standing of their national breed club?

Most breed clubs have a Code of Ethics their members are expected to adhere to. This is done to help protect individual dogs and the breed as a whole.

Breeders are also expected to help participate in some way to the betterment of the breed either through rescue or education.

Visit the breeder’s home.

This will give you an opportunity to meet their dogs and get a feel for their temperaments. Get to know the breeder personally and determine if you feel comfortable purchasing a pup from them. Ask lots of questions and expect to be asked lots of questions in return. If the breeder is most interested in the money, find another breeder. Assess the conditions the dogs are living in.

Ask why the breeder has done this particular breeding.

A breeder should be able to explain why they have chosen the combination of the parents and why they think the breeding will better the breed. No dog is perfect, ask the breeder about their Mastiffs’ faults and how they hope to improve upon them. There are far too many people out there breeding their “pets” just for the novelty of puppies or to help pay for the dog food.

The breeder should provide you with a written contract and registration papers.

This may include any health guarantees, the microchip and/or tattoo number, a requirement that you contact the breeder if you are unable to keep the dog and may include general care instructions. Ensure you read your contract carefully and ensure that it is signed and dated by all parties. The CMC recommends Mastiffs sold in Canada be sold on Non-Breeding contracts, these can be lifted when the dog is of an age to determine its suitability for breeding (i.e. conforms to the Standard, has passed necessary health testing).

Puppies should not leave the breeders until they are at least eight weeks of age.

You may find a lower priced puppy from a backyard breeder, but it’s almost a given that in the long run, you’ll pay a good deal more in veterinary bills, not to mention the heartache if the dog has to be euthanized due to a health or temperament problem.

Most backyard breeders do not have the knowledge and support to raise a healthy, well-socialized litter. If you purchase from such a breeder, you are enabling them to continue to make money off the backs of their poorly bred dogs, and contributing to the over population of pets in the world. Anyone can breed dogs, but it takes a truly ethical breeder to try and better the breed, not just in health, but in conformation and temperament as well.

If you are unable to afford the cost of a purebred Mastiff from a responsible breeder, please consider the many Mastiffs in rescue that are in need of forever homes.

Please help preserve this special breed and put an end to puppy mills and backyard breeders. Get your Mastiff from a responsible breeder.

Recommended Reading

Mastiff Club of America – Questions to Ask Breeders
No Puppy Mills Canada
Puppy Mills and Backyard Breeders VS Responsible Breeders
Breeder Comparison Chart