The German Shepherd Mastiff mix is not a well-known hybrid or crossbreed dog; while they might be few on the ground, that’s not to say this isn’t an excellent mix. Both the parent dogs have beautiful qualities, and the same is true of the Shepherd Mastiff. As you would expect, crossing a German Shepherd with a Mastiff will result in a huge working dog with fantastic guarding abilities.
Mastiffs and German Shepherds don’t appear to have much in common, but the idea of crossbreeding purebred dogs is to create a hybrid dog with the best and most desirable personalities and traits of both parent breeds.
If you can accomplish that, it makes perfect sense to cross a German Shepherd with a Mastiff. One problem for you, if you’re thinking of becoming the owner of one of these magnificent dogs, is their rarity; you won’t see them for sale as you would, for say, a Labradoodle.
Read on to find out as much information as you need on the German Shepherd mix; if you’re lucky enough to find a breeder and you’re seriously contemplating becoming an owner, then this information will be invaluable.
Let’s begin by discussing the parent breeds. This information is essential because there isn’t a great deal of data on the Shepherd Mastiff, so the best way to appreciate this dog is to know as much about the German Shepherd and Mastiff as possible.
Everything You Need To Know About The German Shepherd Mastiff Mix:
1. German Shepherd And Mastiff History
As we say, to build an accurate picture of a German Shepherd Mastiff mix, we need to look more closely at the parent breeds; this is true of any hybrid dog breed, but perhaps more important with a rare hybrid such as the Shepherd Mastiff.
German Shepherd History
The German Shepherd is a large dog originating in Germany in the late 1890s. Breeders developed the German Shepherd as a working dog solely for guarding and herding sheep. In Germany, in the mid-1800s, it was becoming necessary and common sense to standardize dog breeds. Shepherds had the task of selecting dogs for breeding that had the skills to work with them herding their sheep. These skills ranged from strength, intelligence, speed, and an excellent sense of smell. Because shepherds went about the task in an ad hoc manner, the dogs varied in looks and abilities.
To help create one version of these dogs, breeders formed the Phylax Society in 1891. Although the society didn’t last very long because of internal strife, one ex-member Max von Stephanitz purchased a dog called Hektor Linksrhein; von Stephanitz thought this dog could be the forerunner of the type of dog he had in mind.
He changed the dog’s name to Horand von Grafrath and set about forming the Society for the German Shepherd Dog (Verein fur Deutsche Schaaferhunde). Horand became the first German Shepherd to be registered with the society. The breeding program revolved around Horand, although one of his pups, Hektor von Schwaben, became the more prolific stud; he has fathered eighty-four pups.
By 1919 the first German Shepherd was registered with the Kennel Club of England and proved a popular addition because, by 1926, over 8,000 German Shepherds were on the register. After the first world war, the breed rapidly grew in popularity thanks to the famous Rin Tin Tin German Shepherd actor in the United States. In 1937 and 1938, a German Shepherd, Sieger Pfeffer von Bern, became the Gran Victor in the AKC (American Kennel Club) dog shows.
The situation for the German Shepherd didn’t look so good after the second world war because of anti-Germany feelings. But gradually, the German Shepherd regained the lost popularity and surpassed previous levels when by 1993, the German Shepherd was the third most popular dog in America. Today the German Shepherd is number 2 out of 197 on the AKC list of most popular breeds in America.
When we refer to the Mastiff, we are talking about the English Mastiff or, as he’s sometimes called, the ‘Old English Mastiff.’ Giant dogs, commonly referred to as mastiffs, have been around for thousands of years. There is plenty of evidence supporting this from ancient Egypt, Greece, Tibet, China, and Rome. They all bear the characteristics of giant dogs and are known as mastiffs. Some of these dogs are still around today, namely the Neapolitan Mastiff and the Tibetan Mastiff.
But as we say, we will discuss the history of the English Mastiff, which the AKC refers to as the Mastiff. Because of the elapsed time and probably because people hundreds of years ago didn’t think it was that important to their lives to document the history of dog breeds; there’s quite a lot of disagreement on the exact circumstances of how the Mastiff came into being, and how and who bred him.
Whether the facts are lost to the mists of time, one thing’s for sure the Mastiff is a descendent of exceptionally large and fearless ancestors. As big as the modern-day Mastiff is, the ancient dogs were far more significant, more powerful, and ferocious. However, today’s Mastiff is still an incredibly magnificent dog.
For over 2500 years, Mastiff-like dogs are depicted in several art forms, featuring the Mastiff’s huge blocky-looking head and short muzzle and hanging ears. The original ancestor of the English Mastiff is the ancient Molosser dog. As trade and wars flourished, these dogs traveled with their masters, eventually reaching the areas we now know as the Mediterranean and Europe.
Legend has it that Julius Caesar came across these dogs during his 55 BC invasion of Britain. He was so enamored of the dog’s spirit and courage in battle he brought them back to Rome. Unfortunately, many of these dogs became another form of entertainment for Romans as they were thrown into various arenas to battle wild animals.
The Modern English Mastiff
During the 13th and 14th century English Mastiffs were guard dogs for the rich and famous of those times. The English Mastiff’s size was perfect for big game hunting and to protect sheep and cattle from local predators; some owners took them into battle with them, which must have frightened the life out of opposing armies.
During the same period, dogfighting and bull-baiting was a popular form of entertainment, and once again, the Mastiff’s size and ferociousness proved very useful in this utterly disgraceful pastime. Times began to change, and during the 19th-century, blood sports were banned throughout England. Numerous English Mastiff breeding lines came into existence and continue into the modern day.
If you fast forward to the period between the two World Wars, the Mastiff population shrunk to less than 20 dogs in the whole of the British Isles. However, help was on hand, and purebred Mastiffs from the United States and Canada led to increased numbers and popularity.
The English Mastiff enjoys a long history in the United States; one rumor claims that an English Mastiff was on board the Mayflower with the Pilgrim settlers. The AKC officially recognized the Mastiff in 1885 and classified the dog into the working group. Today the Mastiff ranks number 29 out of 197 most popular dog breeds in the AKC.
2. German Shepherd Mastiff Mix Characteristics
As with all hybrid breeds, it’s challenging to know the exact characteristics until after they are born and are upwards of one year old. Of course, they will take their features and personality from the two parents, but you never know which characteristics they will or will not inherit.
A German Shepherd Mastiff mix can vary both in height and weight. But on average, you would expect a height to the shoulder of between 21 to 36 inches and a weight range between 80 and 200 pounds; they are a significant and heavy dog.
The life expectancy of a German Shepherd is between 12 and 14 years, and the life expectancy of a Mastiff is 6 to 10 years; it’s safe to assume that the majority of German Shepherd Mastiff mixes will have a lifespan from 8 to 14 years.
3. German Shepherd Mastiff Mix Temperament
To get some idea of the temperament of the German Shepherd Mastiff mix, we have to refer to the parent breed’s personality. Let’s talk about the German Shepherd first. To appreciate any dog’s core personality, you need to look at his original breeding. What was he bred to do? Nearly all dogs were bred for a purpose, usually work; they earned their food and lodging by working for their owners in almost all cases.
The original German Shepherds were working dogs, earning their keep by herding sheep. Because of this, you would expect to see some natural traits come through their personality, such as a deep desire to chase animals, strength, intelligence, and enthusiastic response to a human owner. Throughout the German Shepherd’s history, they were also bred to be protection, military, and police dogs. So you will see an inbuilt wariness of strangers and a protective and territorial personality.
Modern English Mastiffs are a calm and polite dog; once he reaches maturity, he needs plenty of room to move around easily. Because they come across as so passive and don’t push you to take them for walks, it’s easy to forget they still need daily exercise to keep them in the best health. They are also immensely family-oriented and love to be with their family all the time; they don’t respond well to being left alone for long periods. The average Mastiff is laid-back, polite, and friendly to everyone they meet.
But Mastiffs are a giant breed, intelligent and sometimes stubborn, so they need early socialization when they are very young puppies; it’s so much easier to train and socialize a giant dog when you can still pick them up with one hand. If you enjoy your home looking spik and span at all times, then the English Mastiff is the wrong choice; they snore, drool, slobber, and are incredibly gassy, not everyone’s cup of tea.
What about the German Shepherd Mastiff mix’s personality? You cannot predict the exact character of the mix until the puppy comes along, and you begin to see how he’s developing. But you can expect to see a blending of the two-parent breed’s personality in your puppy. Your German Shepherd Mastiff mix will be friendly and polite towards strangers or might be wary and a little timid. He should be placid as long as he doesn’t suspect any threat to his family. Your mixed puppy will be very family-oriented and prefer to be with you at all times. There’s no reason for them to bite strangers; their size intimidates enough. There’s something wrong with his breeding lines if he attempts to bite anyone.
The German Shepherd Mastiff mix will instinctively be an excellent watchdog but will need specific training if you want him to be a guard dog. Depending on how the mix turns out, you might have a slimmer version, but he will still be a significant size. Because of this, you must train and socialize very early on in their life. It’s crucial if you want a calm, well-mannered and polite dog that does not have a nervous or timid disposition. With a mix like the German Shepherd and Mastiff, it’s always wise to take things cautiously until you fully understand the dog’s temperament; this includes around children and other pets; always supervise them until you’re sure.
4. How Much Do German Shepherd Mastiff Mix Shed?
The German Shepherd and the Mastiff both shed all year and profusely in the spring and autumn. So the mix will be precisely the same.
You would be best brushing your dog two to three times each week and probably every day during spring and autumn unless you don’t object to a significant amount of hair on your furnishings.
5. Typical Health Problems Of A German Shepherd Mastiff Mix
German Shepherd Mastiffs are prone to obesity, urinary tract infections, von Willebrand’s disease, hip and elbow dysplasia, and Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), commonly known as bloat.
Bloat is severe and can be life-threatening. It occurs mainly with large, deep-chested dogs and can occur at any time. The dog’s stomach is packed with food fluid or gas and, for some reason, flips or twists. When GDV develops, and if this happens to your dog, you should treat it as an emergency because it’s dangerous.
Final Thoughts – German Shepherd Mastiff Mix
This hybrid dog is a combination of two significant dogs, quite rare but also exciting. Putting together a dog with an ancient past and a military, police protection, and herding dog makes for a fascinating combination.
If owning a German Shepherd Mastiff mix is an exciting prospect for you, remember there will be a considerable amount of work needed on your part. Early training and socialization are crucial if you want a well-adjusted calm individual, and with dogs of this size, that’s something you must work towards tirelessly.