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AKC Mastiff Breed Standards


Newman and Harley of EastWind

Champion Lord Henry

 of Mystery Mountain


General Appearance


The Mastiff is a large, massive, symmetrical dog with a well-knit frame. Dogs, the males, are more massive throughout their appearance than bitches, the females. Bitches should not be faulted for being somewhat smaller in all dimensions if they maintain a proportionally powerful structure. A good evaluation considers positive qualities of type and soundness with equal weight. The general impression when shown is one of grandeur and dignity. The mastiff is a member of the AKC Working Group.

Size, Proposition, Substance

bulletSize - Dogs, minimum, 30 inches at the shoulder.
Bitches, minimum, 27-1/2 inches at the shoulder.
Fault-Dogs or bitches below the minimum standard. The farther below standard, the greater the fault.
bulletProportion-Rectangular, the length of the dog from   fore chest to rump is somewhat longer than the height at the withers. The height of the dog should come from depth of body rather than from length of leg.

bulletSubstance-Massive, heavy boned, with a powerful muscle structure. Great depth and breadth are desirable. Fault-Lack of substance or slab sided.



In general outline giving a massive appearance when viewed from any angle. Breadth is greatly desired.


bulletEyes -set wide apart, medium in size, and not too prominent.


bulletExpression- alert and kindly. The eyes should be brown, the darker the better, and showing no haw. Light eyes or a predatory expression is undesirable.


bulletEars- small in proportion to the skull, V-shaped, and rounded at the tips. Leather moderately thin, set widely apart at the highest points on the sides of the skull and continuing the outline across the summit. They should lie close to the cheeks when in repose. Ears should be dark in color, the blacker the better, and conforming to the color of the muzzle.

bulletSkull- broad and somewhat flattened between the ears, forehead slightly curved, showing marked wrinkles that are particularly distinctive when at attention. Brows (superciliary ridges) moderately raised. Muscles of the temples well developed, those of the cheeks extremely powerful. Arch across the skull a flattened curve with a furrow up the center of the forehead. This extends from between the eyes to halfway up the skull.


bulletThe stop between the eyes will be well marked but not too abrupt.


bulletMuzzle- should be half the length of the skull, dividing the head into three parts: one for the foreface and two for the skull. In other words, the distance from the tip of the nose to stop is equal to one-half the distance between the stop and the occipital. The circumference of the muzzle (measured midway between the eyes and nose) to that of the head (measured before the ears) should be 3  to 5. The muzzle will be short, broad under the eyes and running nearly equal in width to the end of the nose. It should also be truncated, i.e. blunt and cut off square, forming a right angle with the upper line of the face. This should also form a great depth from the point of the nose to the underjaw. The underjaw will be broad to the end and slightly rounded.  Muzzle dark in color, the blacker the better. Fault- Any snippiness of the muzzle.

bulletNose- will be broad and always dark in color, the blacker the better, with spread flat nostrils (not pointed or turned up) when seen in profile.


bulletLips -diverging at obtuse angles with the septum and sufficiently pendulous so as to show a modified square profile.


bulletCanine Teeth- will be healthy and wide apart. A Scissors bite is preferred, but a moderately undershot jaw should not be faulted providing the teeth are not visible when the mouth is closed.


Neck, Top line, Body

bulletNeck- powerful, very muscular, slightly arched, and of medium length. The neck gradually increases in circumference as it approaches the shoulder. Neck moderately "dry" (not showing an excess of loose skin).


bulletTopline-In profile the topline should be straight, level, and firm, not swaybacked, roached, or dropping off sharply behind the high point of the rump.

bulletChest -wide, deep, rounded, and well let down between the forelegs, extending at least to the elbow. Fore chest should be deep and well defined with the breastbone extending in front of the foremost point of the shoulders. Ribs well rounded. False ribs deep and well set back.


bulletUnderline-There should be a reasonable, but not exaggerated, tuck-up.


bulletBack- muscular, powerful, and straight. When viewed from the rear, there should be a slight rounding over the rump.


bulletLoins- wide and muscular.

bulletTail -set on moderately high and reaching to the hocks or a little below. Wide at the root, tapering to the end, hanging straight in repose, forming a slight curve, but never over the back when the dog is in motion.



bulletShoulders - moderately sloping, powerful and muscular, with no tendency to looseness. Degree of front angulation to match correct rear angulation.
bulletLegs- straight, strong and set wide apart, heavy boned. 
bulletElbows parallel to body.
bulletPasterns - strong and bent only slightly.
bulletFeet - large, round, and compact with well arched toes. Black nails preferred.


The hindquarters should be broad, wide and muscular.


bulletSecond thighs- well developed, leading to a strong hock joint.


bulletStifle joint- is moderately angulated matching the front.


bulletRear legs -are wide apart and parallel when viewed from the rear.  When the portion of the leg below the hock is correctly "set back" and stands perpendicular to the ground, a plumb line dropped from the rearmost point of the hindquarters will pass in front of the foot. This rules out straight hocks, and since stifle angulation varies with hock angulation, it also rules out insufficiently angulated stifles. Fault--Straight stifles.


Outer coat straight, coarse, and of moderately short length. Undercoat should be dense, short, and close lying. The coat should not be so long as to produce "fringe" on the belly, tail, or hind legs. Fault-Long or wavy coat.


Fawn, apricot, or brindle. Brindle should have fawn or apricot as a background color, which should be completely covered with very dark stripes. Muzzle, ears, and nose must be dark in color, the blacker the better, with similar color tone around the eye orbits and extending upward between them. A small patch of white on the chest is permitted. Faults-The presence of excessive white coloring on the chest or white coloring on any other part of the body. Also, the lack of dark pigment on the mask, ears, or nose.


The mastiff will show a combination of grandeur and good nature, courage and docility. Dignity, rather than gaiety, is the Mastiff champion's correct demeanor. 


Reference: The American Kennel Club, Breed Standards for Mastiffs. Please click the Mastiff link for the exact AKC standards.