The appearance, or "type," of the Bullmastiff is described in the standard of the breed. Type is fundamental and indispensable to the purebred dog. To be able to distinguish the Bullmastiff from other breeds, that Bullmastiff must display obvious and distinctive features that make him recognizable at a glance as one of the breed

The design of the breed has been set down. When taking up the task of breeding Bullmastiffs, there is nothing new to invent. Breeding is merely the picking up of the threads of a genetic tapestry that has been woven by previous breeders. The breeder must breed to the existing standard. Interpretation of the standard by each breeder accounts for the differences in each strain, but ultimately and ideally, all dogs of a breed should look more alike than they look different. This is uniformity of breed type.

The following is the current American Bullmastiff standard, revised and approved in 1992.

Taken from "The Bullmastiff Handbook," compiled by Adele Pfenninger

Bullmastiff Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE: That of a symmetrical animal, showing great strength, endurance and alertness; powerfully built but active. The foundation breeding was 60% Mastiff and 40% Bulldog. The breed was developed in England by game keepers for protection against poachers.

SIZE, PROPORTION, SUBSTANCE: SIZE-Dogs, 25 to 27 inches at the withers, and 110 to 130 pounds weight. Bitches, 24 to 26 inches at the withers, and 100 to 120 pounds weight. Other things being equal, the more substantial dog within these limits is favored. PROPORTION-The length from tip of breastbone to rear of thigh exceeds the height from withers to ground only slightly, resulting in a nearly square appearance.

HEAD: EXPRESSION-Keen, alert and intelligent. EYES-Dark and of medium size. EARS-V-shaped and carried close to the cheeks, set on wide and high, level with occiput and cheeks, giving a square appearance to the skull; darker in color than the body and medium in size. SKULL-large, with a fair amount of wrinkle when alert; broad, with cheeks well developed. Forehead flat. STOP-Moderate. MUZZLE-Broad and deep; its length, in comparison with that of the entire head, approximately as 1 is to 3. Lack of fore face is a reversion to the Bulldog and is very undesirable. A dark muzzle is preferred. nose-Black, with nostrils large and broad. FLEWS-Not too pendulous. BITE-Preferably level or slightly undershot.

NECK, TOPLINE, BODY: NECK-Slightly arched, of moderate length, very muscular, and almost equal in circumference to the skull. TOPLINE-Straight and level between withers an loin. BODY-compact. Chest wide and deep, with ribs well sprung and well set down between the forelegs. BACK-Short, giving the impression of a well-balance dog. LOIN-Wide, muscular and slightly arched, with fair depth of flank. TAIL-Set on high, strong at the root, and tapering to the hocks. it may be straight or curved, but never carried hound fashion.

FOREQUARTERS: SHOULDERS-Muscular but not loaded, and slightly sloping. FORELEGS-Straight, well boned and set well apart; elbows turned neither in nor out. PASTERNS-Straight, feet of medium size, with round toes well arched. Pads thick and tough, nails black.

HINDQUARTERS: Broad and muscular, with well developed thigh denoting power, but not cumbersome. Moderate angulation at hocks. cow hocks and splay feet are serious faults.

COAT: Short and dense, giving good weather protection.

COLOR: Red, fawn or brindle. Except for a very small white spot on the chest, white marking is considered a fault.

GAIT: Free, smooth and powerful. When viewed from the side, reach and drive indicate maximum use of the dog's moderate angulation. Back remains level and firm. Coming and going, the dog moves in a straight line. Feet tend to converge under the body, without crossing over, as speed increases. There is no twisting in or out at the joints.

TEMPERAMENT: Fearless and confident yet docile. The dog combines the reliability, intelligence and willingness to please required in a dependable family companion and protector.

Pictured: Ch. HappyLegs Miss Bigglesworth, aka "Betty."