Created on Thursday, 20 February 2014 17:43
What is a Mastweiler?
Well, simply put it's a cross between a Rottweiler and a Mastiff type dog. The most popular cross we have found is the Rottweiler/English Mastiff. I started breeding these crosses back in 2005. We did have one Cane Corso we crossed with a Mastweiler as well into our lines; she is far back, but her daughter has had a huge influence in the Mastweiler we see here today.
Mastweilers are modern day large breed family dogs. In our opinion they are the ultimate family dog. While they are not usually driven enough to be Schutzhund dogs (think working Rottweilers or German Shepherds), they are very good watchdogs and protectors of the kids, house, and property. Their sheer size is usually intimidating on it's on and they are usually quick to bark IF something is amiss.
Mastweilers have the natural mastiff ability to discern between a child and an adult and as a result they are gentler with the kids; the worst you usually have to worry about is a rambunctious Mastweiler knocking over a toddler. They are not generally mouthy (play bite) unless you allow them to play that way from a puppy on. Mastweilers have been likened to “nannies” in how they watch over their kids. We have one who has been used as an emotional support dog for autistic child (her story can be found here!) . I know of another whose family believes the dog senses her child’s seizures before they happen.
Mastweilers are easy in some ways and very demanding in others. They want to be apart of your life and everything you do as much as you will allow it. And trust me there is no boundary. If you are cooking dinner, they will be there helping you. If you need to take a road trip, you always have a partner. If you want to go to the bathroom and do not want an audience demanding they be petted because you are sitting down, we suggest you don’t let a mastweiler go to the bathroom with you. They are always ready to do whatever YOU want to do and go where you want to go.
Mastweiler can handle entertaining themselves (and we HIGHLY suggest you crate train them as pups so they learn how to handle being alone without leaning on you) but much prefer you (and they also thoroughly enjoy other dogs as well as other animals in general). They are VERY social creatures and thrive on interaction with their “family” and will express their pleasure at this interaction. This may include running laps out of pure joy, rolling on their back as they wallow in their happiness, giving big wet kisses, jumping up to hug you (and yes, you can teach them NOT to do this, but we here particular love it other than when we are not expecting it).
Mastweilers do not realize how big they are; they are lap dogs of the grandest kind, laying as much of their body as they can on your lap, even if it’s just part of their hind end or their head. They love comfort and will gladly spend many nights snoozing next to you in bed. Some of them just have to touch you when they sleep and yet others just need to be close by and that is enough. If it’s too hot, or if you move around too much and you disturb their slumber, they may move. But if you want them to move because they are disturbing yours; they will most likely dig in deeper, lean against you and demand your full attention, even if it’s the middle of the night and you just wanted to roll over and they were in your way.
Mastweilers have the built in mastiff guilt complex - so if you are upset, they are upset and their feelings can get hurt easily. They are more resilient than a mastiff when it comes to getting disciplined but more sensitive than a Rottweiler. This sensitivity is part of what makes them so intuitive, and it is that intuitiveness that makes them so incredibly smart. (Sometimes too smart at that)! A mastweiler will never cease to amaze you with their intelligence, but they will also frustrate you if you let them. Due to the independent streak of the mastiff, they think for themselves a lot and you will have to follow through on enforcing commands. They will give in, eventually, but sometimes it is just easier to let them get away with things. At the end of the day most of what a Mastweiler wants to do isn’t bad and won’t get the hurt or in trouble. If it’s those handful of times though that what they want could, you must stay two steps ahead and be vigilant.
Mastweilers are usually great off leash and do not necessarily need a fenced in yard. They normally will not wander far from you, but they do like to explore the surroundings that they are allowed to and can get caught up in what they are doing. Some mastweilers naturally stick closer than others and it is important to recognize how cognizant they are of where you are vs what they are investigating when out and about.
Mastweilers are playful for their whole lives; even my older mastweilers are able to find a lot of a joy in very simple things. Pinecones, sticks, rocks. It doesn't need to be fancy, they will find a way to have fun and they will not only entertain themselves with their antics, but they will also entertain you. Some like to play “fetch”, some just like to chew up sticks and plastic bottles. Most like squeaky toys; some will try to destroy the squeaky and others just want to keep squeaking it. There is never a dull moment when a mastweiler is in your life and you will NEVER be lacking a willing partner.
Is the Mastweiler a breed?
First of all, what is a “breed”? A definition of the word breed (noun) is: “A stock of animals or plants within a species having a distinctive appearance and typically having been developed by deliberate selection.” In that case, yes, the Mastweiler you see us breeding here in North Carolina is a “breed” and we hope to work with others who want to continue down this path!
There are a lot of people who get bent out of shape when you talk about developing a new breed or crossing different breeds of dogs. We have heard it all, from “It’s a mutt.” to “Couldn’t you have found another (mastiff or rottweiler) to breed your dog too?” (You can credit that to a veterinarian I went to with my very first litter of Mastweilers). But every established “breed” of dog has been created and affected by the humans since the dog was domesticated thousands of years ago. There is even a theory now that the dog was domesticated twice (in two different regions before finally interbreeding) Read the “New Origin Story for Dogs” - Ed Yong The Atlantic.
Dogs are so completely intertwined with our existence; we have selectively breed them for hunting, racing, mushing, herding, guarding among other things. Some dogs are bred only to be companions, some are bred to have jobs, some are bred for both. Within each “established breed” you also see variances as well and some breeders will selectively breed for what is currently popular (and these days it is normally based upon physical traits). The idea that breeding purebred dogs is a much more noble cause and all that different than developing a new breed is just a perception held by some.
Just to give an example faced by a particular breed, a new study has been released about the genome of the English Bulldogs ("Scientists warn about health of English Bulldog” - Science Daily). Basically there is not enough genetic diversity within the dogs left in the breed to right the wrongs of the breed and if breeders want to correct the issues, they will need to bring in new blood. Some Swiss breeders are doing this by crossing the dog with the American “Olde English Bulldogge” (“Olde English Bulldogge vs English Bulldog” - Jane Meggitt) and now we have a third type called the “Continental Bulldog”. We humans are CONSTANTLY breeding dogs selectively, in every breed, in every country on the planet for all different reasons.
Why breed these two dogs together?
Because you really do get a dog that is best of both worlds. The Mastweilers are more aware and agile than the purebred mastiffs. They follow you around like a mastiff; they generally don't have the herding instinct of the Rottweiler and are also less likely to wander off your property. Most Mastiffs will not leave home, Rottweilers on the hand are more likely to wander and get into mischief. Getting into the physical aspects of the cross, Mastweilers generally drool less than their mastiff counterparts – the Rottweiler contributes to a tighter lip (and we here specifically breed for it, though some of our stock does have a looser lip but we are selectively breeding away from it).
Mastweilers can be as small as 90lbs+ and as large as 160lbs+. Males are usually larger than females. On average our females are normally around 110lbs, our males around 130lbs.
I had someone ask me once why am I not breeding my mastweilers as big as I could get them. The goal with the Mastweiler is not ONLY the size. Those who like Mastweiler generally like large breed dogs to begin with, but not everyone who likes large breed dogs wants a “Giant”. Some just want that, large. On top of that, no matter how large or small they are the Mastweilers are very athletic dogs I do NOT want to compromise their athletic ability.
Comparison: English Mastiff Vs. Mastweiler
Ideally to classify a Mastweiler, I think it is good to say for females anything over 135lbs is considered “Giant” and anything over 150lbs for males is considered “Giant”. With that being said, the dog must be considered at a “fit” weight. Mastweilers can have a tendency to overeat so I’m certain there is more than one “Mastweiler” that might be considered “Giant’ using these cutoff’s only because it needs to lose 20lbs. Also, fixing a Mastweiler (or any large breed dog) too young can make them larger than they should be (and NOT in a HEALTHY WAY). I have seen full siblings from the same litter, one fixed young, one still intact and the intact dog is usually smaller and more proportional in general. The fixed dogs are usually oversized and somewhat awkward looking. That is not how a Mastweiler should be built.
Hormones are needed to tell a dog when to stop growing; if we “fix” a dog too young they don’t stop growing like they are supposed to and have the much increased potential to have a whole host of health issues as a result, including that they do not have the proper structure to support the size of the dog that they are. PLEASE READ OUR ARTICLE ON WAITING TO SPAY/NEUTER!
The cross helps lengthen the lifespan of the mastiff - the expected Mastweiler lifespan is 9 to 13+ years.
There are things you can do to help increase the chances of a longer lifespan for your Mastweiler, including keeping them intact longer, feeding them less processed foods (this does not mean grain free), NOT giving them booster shots every year, and taking it easier on them when they are under 9 months of age so that they are not injured at a young age.
Health Concerns Associated with A Mastweiler
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I WILL SAY is while we do our best to breed healthy dogs these are living, breathing, creatures and not off a factory production line. Sometimes life can just happen. That is the risk you take in bringing in ANY dog from ANYWHERE. This is also one of the many reason we keep so many of our pups is WE want to know if there are issues in our lines; the best way to find out is keep them and see what, if anything happens throughout the course of their life. We generally have healthy dogs for a lifetime with very few medical issues, but our dogs are also intact, very active and of a proper weight.
Waiting to Spay/Neuter ONLY when dog is Mature of leaving intact for life reduces chances of MANY health issues, including cancers, acl's, and hip problems
Bloat/Gastric Tortion (Article Coming Soon!)
ACL Tears (Chances of these should be reduced with intact dogs/dogs spayed/neutered after maturity and this is the most common BIG issue we have seen in dogs fixed too young)
Hip Dysplasia (HD is based on environment (80%) much more than "genetics" *(20%)); this happened VERY rarely 10+ years we have been breeding the mastweiler and it is the least of my concerns.
What can they do?
Outside they play fetch, they are able swimmers (many love the water!),, they can pull carts if you put them in harness. At a drop of a hat these guys can walk/trot for miles by your side (though they are generally NOT runners and we don’t suggest you run with them on a regular basis other than short distances and ESPECIALLY NOT until they are beyond the 8/9 month mark).
We have had mastweilers that enjoy retrieving and are great hunting companions. Some mastweilers have been trained as non-bite protection dogs. Mastweilers are being used as service dogs as well, both formally (for PTSD) and as emotional support dogs for children. Some Mastweilers are even good mousers. There isn’t a lot a mastweiler can’t do, it just depends upon how you want to help them develop their natural abilities.
Where can they live?
Anywhere you can. Apartments, houses, city, country. They don’t have to have a fenced in yard though as with any dog, it is nice to have. They are good trucking dogs, great campers, they enjoy the cold weather and during the hot weather many like to cool off in a pool, a mud puddle, or just dig a nice hole to lay in with lots of cool earth.
Most Mastweilers are very smart creatures. Some people think Mastiff's are not as intelligent compared to other breeds, but that Mastiff was bred to think for itself more and whereas the Rottweiler was bred to take commands. The Mastiffs was left to go guard property on it's own. The fierceness of the mastiff has been bred out over the years, but the independent thinking dog has not been. You combine this with a the Rottweiler who lives to please and you get a dog that while it still thinks for itself (and will even give you funny looks as to WHY you are asking it to do something), but eventually it will relent. Mastweilers almost always come through when you are asking/expecting something of them, even if there are times before when it wasn't as important that they perform in a certain manner and they (and you) were more lackadaisical about it. They are able to read the situation and and read you. Part of it is the sensitivity of the Mastiff, and part of it is the keen rottweiler that doesn't miss a thing.
Mastweilers use their paws as mastiff's do to get your attention - it is not usually a dominant habit. It is simply I am here. All of my mastiffs and most of my Mastweilers use their paws very readily and as as my one friend used to say, "knight you" on your shoulder or your arm if you sit with them long enough.
Both mastiffs and rottweiler like to sleep on their backs at times and it is prevalent in the Mastweilers as well. Mastweilers will also lay with their hind legs out (Frog Leg style) like a rottweiler when on their stomach. OH, and Mastweilers can snore sometimes, but not nearly as bad as the mastiffs do.
Mastweilers are also quirky and each dog has it’s own quirks. I have one who when she gets excited she barks at a concrete block (of any size) and will push it around with her paws as well as lick the whole surface. I have some that just have to inspect every new object you carry. I have some that get excited by the crinkling of a water bottle. I have some that like to chase the shadows of bugs. I have some that put splash themselves with water from a bucket or tub. I have some that like to chase mice. I have some who like to talk back to you when you are talking to them. Their quirky nature is part of what makes them so interesting.
Mastweiler Colors - IN DEPTH DESCRIPTION/PICTURES
Mastweilers come in many colors - basically all the rottweiler shades and all the mastiff colors and then a mix of the both - you have brindles and solids. Black and various shades of tan. Brown and various shades of tan. Solid colored dogs with black masks. You see saddles markings a lot, which are a blonde stripe over the shoulders. You have Brindles with Brindle Points (they are marked like the rottweiler, with often a lighter color brindle where the tan points with be). You also get black dogs with brindle points where the tan points would be. See the in depth description/pictures here.
Mastweilers can be climbers - or even jumpers. They love to climb and jump on things. I have had a number that can easily scale four foot fences and a few that learned how to scale six foot ones. They will sometimes dig; sometimes to lay in a hole to cool off like a rottweiler would, but less likely to dig under a fence. They are more like, as a mastiff would - try to go right THROUGH the fence. They also like to chew if they are bored – much like a mastiff. They are often drawn to wood – be it outside or inside. You never want to let a Mastweiler (or a mastiff for that matter) know that your furniture is made of wood.
Mastweilers CAN be VERY jealous of other dogs getting your attention/affection. The more dominant they are, the more you will see the jealousy, but they will often express this in various ways. Sometimes they will simply push their way between you and another dog. Sometimes they will growl at another dog if it dares come by while they are receiving attention. Sometimes they will simply claim your lap and refuse to move. If you have multiple dogs or multiple mastweilers it is important as an owner to recognize when your mastweiler is behaving in this manner and know how to manage it (quashing it right off is the best way to deal with this).
The Myth of Hybrid Vigor
I'm going to take a moment to dispel the myth of "Hybrid Vigor". While we have many different dog breeds all these breeds are from the same species. if you want "Hybrid Vigor" you are going to want to be breeding the domesticated dog to foxes or wolves or other similar species. Otherwise, within the genetic code of a dog is that of a dog. If you want to understand the science behind the genetics of dogs and how selective breeding creates all these amazing differences in our breeds, I highly suggest you watch is video,"The Science of Dogs". It is a free to watch online at this link or it can be found on Netflix.
Is the mastweiler a healthier dog than the purebred rottweiler or mastiff? It might be, it might not be. The biggest thing I am going to to tell you to ensure you have an HEALTHY large breed dog of ANY BREED is to keep it intact until it is at least 2-3 years old (1 year at minimum). In fact I am one of the few breeders that will tell you - keep your dog intact for life IF you feel you are responsible enough to keep it from reproducing. I can honestly say the families my dogs go - most of them ARE responsible enough to ensure this.
Large breed dogs take A LOT longer to mature than the smaller breeds and they need those hormones to grow correctly. For example Bone Cancer plagues all large breed dogs and a huge part of the reason it is such an issues is because if you fix your animal before it turns 1 year old, you are going to double the chances your dog could end up with bone cancer!! Not only does early spay/neuter increase the chances of bone cancer, but it also increases the chances of other cancers, including lymphoma. On top of that, early spay/neuter can cause the dogs to grow improperly and can create structural issues for the dogs, including cruciate ligament problems as well as hip dysplasia.
There have been studies done that prove this and there was a study published in February 2013 that shows what we are doing to our dogs is NOT right. It something I came across in the later part of 2013 and after further research I realized how wrong I was to go along with the status quo and promote early/spay neuter in my dogs because it was somehow "morally" better. I think so many people are in this mindset that they are doing right by their animals by fixing them young and what we are really doing is increasing the chances that they are prone to a lot more issues later on in life.
Furthermore I'm working on adding more research to this site and that discusses what you can do as an owner to ensure your dog is healthier, from nutrition to vaccinations to parasite control. There is so much stuff that simply makes sense and it's not hard to understand, it's just both the veterinary community and the pet product manufacturers are very good at selling you on things that don't benefit your dog as much as they make you feel better about what you are doing for your animals.