The definition of temperament is that it is ones basic nature or disposition. Temperament is certainly not the same from breed to breed. Because of the work or purpose of each breed, the temperament of each breed varies. Dogs were developed with not only certain physical characteristics, but also mental characteristics for the work intended for them.
The Bullmastiff was bred as a guard, and has the temperament suited for that job. They are possessive, territorial, loyal dogs with an innate sense of who does and who doesn’t belong on ones property. They seem impelled to stop intruders, yet are (or certainly should be) more than willing to accept those people accepted by their masters.
The Bullmastiff standard describes the breed temperament as “fearless and confident, yet docile. The dog combines the reliability, intelligence, and willingness to please required in a dependable family companion and protector.”
If we follow the description of temperament in the standard, we are describing a dog that will have no hesitation in protecting what he considers his own (family, friends, territory), he is sure of his abilities to do so, and can be controlled without undo effort. He is a dog we can depend on to be consistent in his responses, bright enough to learn what we want, and willing to do what we ask, for whatever reason he attaches to that willingness.
Bullmastiffs, being the territorial, possessive creatures that they are, seem happy to do their guarding on any sized property. They are just fine as long as they understand their position in the family hierarchy, and that position is the proper one. The worst thing that can happen to a Bullmastiff is to belong to someone who is incapable of commanding that dog’s obedience and respect. The dog is first AFTER ALL THE PEOPLE IN THE HOUSEHOLD.
THE BULLMASTIFF IS NOT THE BREED FOR EVERYONE. There is nothing wrong with the Bullmastiff being strong-willed, possessive and territorial. That is the breed’s temperament. On the plus side, there are very few strong-willed dogs who are dumb. On the minus side, if this type of dog ends up with wishy-washy or inappropriate people, there is going to be a problem.
The Bullmastiff is a wonderful breed. Its temperament is ideal for its purpose in life. It needs a home where it is made to understand from the beginning (the second one takes possession) that it is loved, wanted and a part of the household, but as such will obey because that’s the way life is. As with small children, security comes from knowing ones boundaries. A dog that understands its position in the pack (family) is secure and happy. It is a safe pet. It follows the lead of its family superiors.
A strong-willed, fearless and confident dog such as the Bullmastiff is a joy to own, if owned by someone worthy and capable of owning a dog of this temperament.
Taken from “Bullmastiff Temperament” by Carol Beans