Cassell' guide

Cassell’ Household Guide ~ New and Revised Edition [4 Vol.] , London ca 1880s

The Dog - Original & Principal Varieties ~ ‘ Next in point of general interest to those varieties of dogs which we described in the previous paper, come those larger animals which , on account of their strength and courage , man allies to himself as the protectors of his property or his person . Of these the most important is undoubtedly the English Mastiff , one of the finest and most powerful of all the many varieties of dogs . This breed is probably that which was so eagerly sought by the ancient Romans for combat in the circus , and was then known as the most powerful fighting dog in the world .

 

William Edwardes relates that in 1615 an English Mastiff killed a tiger in India in single combat ; but it is not certain whether the modern Mastiff is of quite such colossal strength as these ancient animals . Still , he is a grand dog . The height to the shoulder should be from twenty-six to thirty inches [some reach thirty-four inches] ; all the limbs sturdy and strong . The head is massive , with a noble forehead ; eyes rather small and mild ; ears small and pendant ; muzzle broad and square ; chest broad and capacious ; and body very large , with powerful loins ; tail fine, and reaching rather below the hocks .

The handsomest colour is fawn , or dark buff , with a rich black muzzle ; but very handsome dogs all black are sometimes met with ; brindled and red dogs also occur ; but white does not as a rule look well, and is little valued . The character of the Mastiff generally is truly noble .

 

Indeed , he is said to be the only dog from which even his master dare take away a bone . Calm and quiet to all , he takes pleasure in the rough gambols of children, and an infant of a few months old may be fearlessly cradled in his colossal limbs . But let him be set at any living thing , or let danger assail those he loves , or even let him see violence attempted to be done, and all his fearful strength is exerted with a courage that even the Bulldog cannot exceed . What the lion is among wild beasts , the Mastiff is among dogs ~ the strongest , noblest , most dignified : and what the lion is not , the gentlest of them all .’

MB Wynn’ book gives a candid statement regarding pendulosity of lips [157-158] ~ ‘The History of British Quadrupeds by Thomas Bell , published 1837 - figures a Mastiff, drawn & engraved by Dicks & Vasley . In this specimen the white on the face , neck , paws and stern is again shown ; the stern is also slightly rough at the end , but has more of the downward carriage ; this dog is long and low , slightly deficient in depth of chest , lips very pendulous , a characteristic that modern breeders and judges have lost sight of , some even regarding it as derived from the hound , and condemn it in consequence , but this is a mistake , in fact a piece of ignorance .

 

The Asiatic Mastiff has it , and these old pictures of the English Mastiff exhibiting dogs perfectly free from any trace of houndiness , show that the English Mastiff [ previous to the introduction of the tighter skinned Boarhound blood ] had it .'

In the hound the lips of the lower jaw hang down of the corners of the mouth , and there is more or less a fold of loose skin that falls from immediately behind the eye , to the corner or end of the mouth , which causes the deep hanging flews . So termed from fluod , to flow , because this fold of skin acting as a canal causes a certain amount of moistering or slavering , always to be present in dogs in which this pecularity of the true hound is strongly marked , as in the bloodhound ; the Mastiff should be quite free from anything of the sort .

 

In the true Mastiff , also in the Bulldog , the portion of lip that covers the cynodonts should be very pendulous , the upper lip falling forward and hiding the lower lip , and any appearance of the inner hairless skin or true lips , while the corners of the mouth [which in the hound hang , showing the indented hairless inner lip , forming the flew] should in the Mastiff group be puckered up , giving a pouting appearance , as if the animal had a gum boil or swollen face . To describe more technically , while the lips should be deeply pendulous the zygomatic muscles in the Mastiff should be stronger and less relaxed than in the hound, causing the corners of the mouth to be more confined .'