Are You Buying True Bullmastiff Quality?  Alternative methods of adopting a Bullmastiff, what Registration Papers really represent, etc. Behind the Bullmastiff Breeders Sales Pitch - Identifying vague warranties, interpreting flashy ads, etc. Your Bullmastiff, Your Responsibility - Interacting with Children, Lawsuits, Liabilities, Expenses, etc. Your Money, Your Entitlement - What you should expect for your money, Interview Sheet for Bullmastiff Breeder Hunting, etc. Your Investment, Was It a Wise One? Bullmastiffs - What the Prudent Buyer Should Know....

Your Money,
Your Entitlement

What You Should Expect from the Bullmastiff Breeder
Questions to Ask a Bullmastiff Breeder (With the Answers!)
Articles of Interest

WRAL 5 - It's Important to do Your Homework Before Buying a Dog
WRAL 5 - Apex Woman get a Dog of a Deal from a Breeder Over the Internet
Is Your Dog Breeding Quality?
Holly Martin's Breeder Interview
Eliminating Genetic Diseases in Dogs - A Buyer's Perspective
AKC: Frequently Used Sires Program: Requires DNA Certification for Litter Registration
Lynn's Questions to Ask Breeders While Looking for a Puppy
Questions to Ask the Breeder
Ron Drozdick's - What do you mean I've got to show the dog?
How to Determine if Your Puppy is Show Quality
Show Quality?
How to Select a Pup

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Bullmastiff Breeders Directory
Bullmastiff Rescue Resource Center
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Please remember this:  While asking a Breeder these questions do NOT allow that Breeder to shrug any of the questions off nor tell you that no other Breeder does those things.  The answers to these questions came from actual Bullmastiff Breeders and Veterinarians.  This is basically a summation of the most desirable and most realistic answers you should expect to receive.

My Thought on Contracts:

A written contract is strongly suggested.  As the author of this site, I strongly believe that it never hurts to put anything in writing if both parties are true to their word.  It helps for both you and the breeder to remember what you both agreed to when you adopted the puppy/dog from them.

If you feel comfortable and confident enough to buy from a breeder without a written contract – that is your decision to make. If you do decide to sign a written contract, make sure that you understand and can live with the constraints specified within the contract.     

Realize that not all contracts are created equally.  Some contracts are too constraining to the puppy buyer, and some contracts have no real meaning to them at all and are used as part of a sales pitch.

My Thoughts on Testing:

If the goal of a breeder is to improve upon the Bullmastiff breed with each litter they produce, then this cannot be accomplished without first testing the breeding stock to try and determine genetic soundness.  My personal belief is that all Bullmastiff Breeders should at a minimum certify/register the hips, elbows, eyes, and thyroid of all potential breeding stock with the appropriate certification/registration authority.  Then only breeding those Bullmastiffs that actually "passed" those certifications/registrations.  For breeders that go to the extra time and expense to include kidney, heart, etc. certification/registration in addition to the previously mentioned - this is quite exceptional.  And yes, I would consider it an honor if this type of breeder would allow me to adopt one of their puppies.  

For breeders that do absolutely no testing of congenital defects, cannot provide documented proof of certification/registration, and/or purposely breed Bullmastiffs that did not pass certification/registration - yes, I do question their motivation and ethics for breeding.  And no, I personally would not even consider buying a puppy from them.


General Contract Coverage Information::

A fair contract will generally cover what genetic information the breeder will assume some responsibility for.  Please realize that it is unrealistic for the breeder to guarantee that nothing genetically wrong will ever happen to your Bullmastiff.  A contract will usually cover 1-2 years for general genetic defects and or until certifications are passed.  The contract should also cover care issues for your bullmastiff that you, as the owner, are responsible for such as, yearly vet checks.

For more information on contract types, please read the following articles:

Time Length of Contract as a whole? (1 year, 2 years, 3 years, lifetime of Bullmastiff)

One (1) year contracts are the very minimum you should accept for genetic concerns.  Care concerns the Bullmastiff owner is responsible for will last for the lifetime of the Bullmastiff.

Health guarantee and time limit once puppy is received? (ex: replacement/refund if puppy dies within 72 hours of uncontrollable causes or has a serious health condition)

Refer to the individual questions below for the specific health coverages.  If your Bullmastiff is shipped to you or if you pick him/her up yourself, that puppy should be lively, healthy, and happy.  Be sure to have your vet examine the puppy thoroughly as soon as possible.  You should even consider having a blood panel done to identify the less obvious disorders such as the possible presence of kidney disease (renal failure).  If the puppy is not in good health, it is YOUR responsibility to notify the breeder immediately and return the puppy to them.  You should either get a puppy of the same quality or a total refund.

Hip Dysplasia - length of time coverage is for? (1 year, 2 years, or until Bullmastiff passes Penn-Hip or OFA)

Hip dysplasia coverage is very controversial because it can be both hereditary and/or environmentally induced.  Some breeders have stopped covering hips because if the puppy (male or female) does not grow in the proper physical environment, that puppy (male or female) can become dysplastic even though his past generations were cleared.  If you can get a two (2) year coverage or passing certification coverage from the breeder, although rare, it is desirable.  If the breeder you are conferring with does not cover hips, that is not unrealistic and does not mean that this breeder is irresponsible. 

Elbow Dysplasia - length of time coverage is for? (1 year, 2 years, 3 years or until OFA passed)

This falls in the same category as hip dysplasia coverage.

Inoculations and worming provided?

Yes, the breeder must do these things to ensure you get a healthy puppy.

Pedigree documentation provided?

Yes, the breeder should provide this information to you without an extra fee.  If you are interested in participating in the professional circuit, this is could be very important to you.  Without a pedigree, you may not be able to show your Bullmastiff.  And if you intend on breeding this Bullmastiff, other Responsible Bullmastiff Breeders will not breed with your Bullmastiff unless you can provide an acceptable pedigree to them.  Read the pedigree!  Who are the breeders that bred these previous generations?  Are they also Responsible Bullmastiff Breeders who do congenital testing?  Or does the previous generations come from less than desirable breeders?

Registration costs included (if you are getting a show quality Bullmastiff)?

Sometimes this is included in the selling price of your Bullmastiff.  If there is a spay/neuter restriction, the breeder may retain the right to withhold your puppy's registration papers until you provide proof that the puppy has been spayed/neutered.  This will need to be discussed with the breeder.

What Registry do you register your Bullmastiffs with?

If you are interested in having your Bullmastiff participate in the professional circuit - this could be very important for you.  If your Bullmastiff is registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC)- that means that he/she will be allowed to participate in AKC related events.  However, your Bullmastiff might not be allowed to participate in any other Kennel Clubs' events that they are not a member of.  This will also affect as to whether your Bullmastiff will be considered as "show quality", "breed quality", or "pet quality" based on the Kennel Club that your Bullmastiff is registered with.

Breeding rights - are there any and what are the requirements?

Be very careful here.  Refer to the "Finding the Right Breeder" document, section "Show-N-Tell Breeders" in order to realize what you are really getting into with this type of a requirement. Responsible breeders will not encourage you to breed nor provide any incentive for you to breed. Breeding is a huge expense and responsibility best left to the professionals.

Showing rights - are there any and what are the requirements?

Again be very careful here.  Refer to the "Finding the Right Breeder" document, section "Show-N-Tell Breeders" in order to realize what you are really getting into with this type of a requirement. This can be a very expensive endeavor on your part.

Spaying/Neutering - what are the requirements?

Expect to either have your "pet quality" Bullmastiff puppy spayed/neutered before you receive the puppy or several months later as a requirement.   Please realize that this is in the BEST interest for your Bullmastiff puppy, especially if you are not going to participate in the professional circuit.  Spayed/neutered Bullmastiffs are less likely to be stolen by undesirables and it helps them avoid future health problems. If you have bought a "show quality" Bullmastiff that is going to perform in the professional circuit, this will be the only exception to the rule.

Home environment restrictions - list any (ex: must be kept indoors, cannot ride in truck beds, etc.)

Expect restrictions such as the quality of food you feed your Bullmastiff, maintaining proper weight, keeping the Bullmastiff as an inside pet, maintaining proper veterinarian care for your Bullmastiff, obedience training, etc.

Additional restrictions not covered in the above questions?

Additional restrictions may also include things like returning your Bullmastiff to the breeder should you not be able to care for it any longer or requiring you to take certain obedience classes.

Sire and Dam Screening (Must provide documented proof of results):

Generation Hip Rating


Elbow Rating


Thyroid Rating


Eye Certification



Request to see documented proof of at least three (3) generations' worth of health clearances from both the sire AND the dam. Believe it or not, some breeders are just now starting to do genetic testing and cannot provide this much information. Tactics a breeder may use on a puppy buyer in order to "seem" legitimate:

  • Claim that they do testing, but in reality they may have tested only the sire OR the dam - but not BOTH.
  • State that they do testing verbally, but upon request of documented proof of certification/registration from their vet - there are no documents to present because they had their vet "look" at their dog - hence, they believe their dog to be "tested".
  • Show bogus documents to the puppy buyer in hopes that the puppy buyer will be too inexperienced to know that what they are reading are not real certifications or medical records.
  • Do actual testing of their dogs and will still breed the dog even if they do NOT pass or qualify for certification/registration.  These breeders are dependent on the puppy buyer to not ask to see the documented proof of results from the breeder's veterinarian.

If a breeder presents the issue that their "bloodline" does not carry any genetic defects OR that these defects are cannot be inherited, therefore there is no need for them to test their dogs - these are false statements.  Be sure to see the documented proof for yourself from their veterinarian for both the sire AND the dam. Please remember that although the breeder's dogs have cleared every test with flying colors, that still does not guarantee that your Bullmastiff puppy will never have health problems as they age.

Have you had any Bullmastiffs of your breeding die from Kidney Disease (or Renal Failure)?

Unless you want to bear the pain of having to put down your newly adopted Bullmastiff before the age of 6 years old (most will die before the age of 3 years old), you need to ask this question.  If the problem has existed within the last 4 generations of their line, ask for documented proof from their veterinarian that the breeder conducts a BUN/Creatine blood panel test and that the parents and grandparents and littermates of the puppies you are inquiring about passed. 

Have you had any indication of Heart Problems within your breeding program?

Some lines do or have had problems with congenital heart disorders.  Ask the breeder if this has been a prevalent problem in their line and if they test for this disorder in their breeding stock, what tests are conducted, what certifications/registrations are completed, how many past generations have proven clear of this disorder, or if they simply have their vet listen to the heartbeat and all's well.

Have you had any Bullmastiffs of your breeding die from Cancer?

Ask what kind of cancer(s).  Some forms of cancer are believed to be an inherited disorder, such as lymphoma sarcoma.  If this has existed in previous litters, ask the breeder what they have done in order to move towards eradicating this defect from their line.  How many past generations have proven clear from this defect?

Have you had any problems in the past with the Temperaments in any of the above generations?  If so, please explain.

Breeders should not have had any temperament problems with the previous generations they have been using as their breeding stock.  Temperament problems include unpredictable and/or uncontrollable aggression and prey drive.  The true nature of any dog is "bred" into them.  Training is only a basis to controlling that true nature to a certain extent.  Bullmastiffs with temperament problems should never be bred. 

Do you Temperament Test your puppies before placement in new homes?  If so, please explain.

Experienced Bullmastiff breeders will temperament test their puppies before placement to ensure proper placement in homes that can handle particular temperament types.  For example, a dominant male puppy will need to be placed carefully in the right home that can handle the extra responsibility.

What is the average lifespan of the Bullmastiffs and their litters in your specific breeding program?

It has been speculated that certain Bullmastiff lines do live longer in different breeding programs.  I know of two breeders whose goal is to increase not only the health and quality of the Bullmastiff, but also their lifespan.   Their personal litters have reported that at least 50% of their puppies produced live up to the ages of 13 years old of quality life, versus the standard 8 - 10 years old.   It has also been reported that puppymilled Bullmastiffs rarely live past the age of 5 years old - averaging death at a short 3 years of age due to various congenial defects.  

Why did you decide to breed this bitch?  Why did you decide to breed this bitch with this particular stud?

The goal of a Responsible and Experienced Bullmastiff breeder is to improve the Bullmastiff breed.  Improvements such as creating a better bone structure, improving on temperament, or preventing a genetic defect by breeding only with genetically tested Bullmastiffs.  If a Bullmastiff breeder cannot substantiate as to why they bred this litter outside of "we thought it would be nice to have some puppies" or "we are trying to get our money back for what we spent on this dog", then you should take your business elsewhere.


How many litters do you have available per month, per year, per 5 years, etc.

As stated before, puppymillers will breed "much more" than two (2) litters per year.  Two (2) litters per year is the general practice that I polled for those breeders that breed every single year.   There may be some exceptions where a breeder has not breed for a year or two and then decides to do three breedings - with different females - within one (1) year.   Read the links I have provided defining puppymills from the "Buyer Beware" page in order to make your own determination as to whether you may potentially be dealing with a puppymiller or not.

What specific congenital defects have you encountered during the course of your Bullmastiff breeding history?

All breeders - repeat, all breeders have experienced some form of congenital disorder during their breeding history.  If a breeder that has been breeding for the last 10 years claims that they have never had a congenital defect of any kind happen in any of the litters they have produced - you might want to reconsider the honesty and/or experience level of this particular breeder.   Breeders with a claim of 10 years or more of breeding history would have definitely encountered several congenital defects that they currently test for in order to avoid these defects from occurring in future litters.

What specific activities, tournaments, and/or special events are you and your Bullmastiffs involved in?

Albertapride Bullmastiffs - Cassie at 8 months oldAsk the breeder what it is they are breeding their Bullmastiff to do.  Some breeders may only breed for the conformation (showing) ring.  Some breeders breed for performance in the agility and/or tracking rings.  What are you looking to get out of your Bullmastiff - one that is built with the intelligence and strength to "work" or one that is bred to be a family pet to just lay around the house?  There is nothing wrong with either so long as you get what you are looking for.  A Bullmastiff built and bred for agility and "Gamekeeper Trials" will be a more energetic and usually dominant dog - preferably not placed in a household with children.  A Bullmastiff bred to be more docile is typically less energetic, less dominant, and will do better with children and as a common family pet.  Keep in mind that the modern Bullmastiff is a much tamer dog that it was 100 years ago.  This breed is not quite the "guard dog" that it once was - it mostly just "looks ferocious".  If you are looking for a "guard dog", a different breed, such as, the Fila would be a better choice. 

What type of environment do your dogs and puppies live in? (ex: crated outside/inside, kennel atmosphere, etc.)

Check to see that the environment where the dogs spend their most time in is clean, and that the dogs themselves are cheery and healthy - especially if the dogs are kept kenneled/outside (yard dogs) for most of their time.     When I visit a breeder, I like to see their dogs integrated with them in the household with the rest of the family as a normal practice.  That is my "personal" preference.  Observe how that Bullmastiff interacts with their owner - how does that Bullmastiff interact with you?   

At least one reference of each of the following categories (none of which may be related to you:

  1. Veterinarian(s):   (The vet should be the one to provide proof of certification/registration of all testing the breeder(s) has done for the sire and dam.)
  2. Past customer(s) who has one or more of your Show Quality Bullmastiffs:
  3. Past customer(s) who has one or more of your Pet Quality Bullmastiffs:

Demand references from all of the above!  If a breeder is reluctant to give you references - it is in your best interest to not deal with them because they may have something to hide.  Proof of certifications/registrations for genetic testing should be acquired from their vet to ensure legitimacy.  A Responsible Bullmastiff Breeder will notify their vet clinic that potential puppy buyers will be inquiring about their breeding stock's medical records so that the vet clinic can openly discuss this breeder's dogs' information with the puppy buyer(s). Another good point of reference is to ask what other breeders and rescue volunteers think about the breeder you are conferring with.

What type of customers do you sell to for your:

  1. Show Quality Bullmastiffs (ex: exhibitors, professional handlers, breeders, etc.)
  2. Pet Quality Bullmastiffs (ex: private individuals, breeders, etc.)

Responsible breeders will sell to quality homes first. Show homes are a secondary concern especially since most breeders will usually keep their best show puppy for themselves.

Your availability should I have a problem concerning the puppy?

Breeder should be available at your every beckoning call - no excuses!

Permission to visit your bullmastiffs and the premises on which they live?  Appointment time?

If at all possible - visit, visit, visit!   If distance makes that impossible, get more references or try to find someone who can visit the premises for you.  If the breeder refuses to allow you to visit them - take your business elsewhere.  Personal interaction with their Bullmastiffs is immeasurable.  This is what your new puppy will grow up to be like - physically and temperamentally!

Will you provide information on where I can visit the stud?

If the stud is not on the premises - and usually they will not be.  The breeder should be more than willing to provide contact information so that you may also visit the stud or call the owner of the stud if you so choose to.   Remember, both parents will have a genetic influence on the puppies and the stud owner should be interviewed just as prudently.   Again, if the breeder refuses to give you this information - take your business elsewhere.

Will you take the Bullmastiff back should I not want it or cannot keep it any longer?

Responsible breeders will not hesitate to take any of their dogs back, no matter what condition that dog is in and whether it is or is not spayed/neutered.  Some breeders may microchip their puppies with the breeder's information and the new owners' information before releasing them to their new owners.

Are there any reasons as to which you would refuse to take the Bullmastiff back?  If yes, what are those reasons?

Be very careful of the "right to refusal" phrase.  Most of the time this phrase means that the breeder gets the dog no matter what if you cannot keep it.  But sometimes, a breeder will say that if your dog is spayed/neutered they will not take the dog back.  Be sure to specifically ask about this!  If a breeder tells you this, there is room for suspicion here and you should consider taking your business elsewhere.

What types of questions should you expect a Bullmastiff breeder to ask you - on a preliminary interview that is?

Closing Thoughts

You deserve the very best for your money!    Yes, you are only buying a dog, but you are buying an expensive dog that is high on the list of having very expensive health problems compared to other breeds.  Whether you are looking for a show quality Bullmastiff or a pet quality Bullmastiff, take the time to investigate and compare breeders.  Choose the breeder that you are the most comfortable with, that you feel is being completely honest with you, and that share the same ideals as you do for the Bullmastiff puppy involved.

Picture Contributions

Bullmastiff pictured in main caption at just 8 months old is CassieCassie's photo was contributed by her breeder and  owner Renee King of Albertpride BullmastiffsCassie is a fine physical specimen of a compact, tightly built, agile Bullmastiff with a gorgeous head. 

Are You Buying
True Bullmastiff Quality?
Behind the
Breeder Sales Pitch
Your Bullmastiff,
Your Responsibility
Your Money,
Your Entitlement
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Was It a Wise One?

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